Is the US government using drones to support Yemeni dictator? Reply

Article by Nick Robertson. Hat tip to Jim Duncan.
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Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) — The Yemeni government has lost control over five provinces, and security in the country is deteriorating, the nation’s acting president told CNN in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

In his first interview with a Western TV network, Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansoor Hadi detailed how U.S. drones are using voice recognition to target al Qaeda leaders and help the government win back control.

Hadi has been Yemen’s acting president since June 3, when President Ali Abdullah Saleh was wounded in an attack on the mosque at the presidential palace.

During Wednesday’s hour-long meeting, Hadi said Saleh’s wounds from what he described as an assassination attempt were so severe that he has no idea when the president will return from medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Gottfried on Mencken 4

Paul Gottfried on the figure from American history hated by neocons and liberals alike.

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The Irrepressible Mencken HL Mencken celebrates the end of Prohibition.

Recently I’ve been thinking about someone whose name is attached to an organization I’m currently president of, H.L. Mencken (1880-1956). For years I’ve tried to understand why the Baltimore Sage has been branded, mostly recently in The Weekly Standard (see here and here) and in a voluminous biography by Terry Teachout, as anti-Semitic and anti-Black. The closest I could come to documenting these charges is that Mencken joked in his diary about the bad table manners of an obviously Jewish diner in a club that he frequented. He also said in a moment of levity that “an anti-Semite is someone who dislikes Jews more than is absolutely necessary.” This, as everybody who knew him was aware of, was a quip that Murray Rothbard was fond of repeating.

As for Mencken’s supposed revulsion for Blacks, I can’t find any evidence of it, although he may not have used “African-American,” or whatever is the now fashionable PC term in referring to the minority in question. We know that Mencken criticized segregation in his native city of Baltimore. He also never tired of attacking lower class White Southerners of the kind who wanted to keep Blacks segregated. Indeed if I were going after Mencken for his intolerance, I would have to notice his invectives against Southern Fundamentalists rather than his scattered, insignificant jokes about Jews and Blacks. That said, however, White Southerners don’t count as victims in their own eyes or in anyone else’s. In fact their politicians and journalists seem quite happy to view them as onetime racial victimizers, who were redeemed by civil rights legislation.

In any case, it seems to me that the recent attacks on Mencken have nothing to do with his prejudices. Liberals and neocons hate him for taking stands that don’t have much to do with the accusations made against him. One, Mencken opposed America’s entry into both World Wars, and during the First World War, he was expressly pro-German. (He was after all a German-American.) His predilection for the Central Powers in 1914 elicited a bitter tirade from Fred Siegel in (where else?) The Weekly Standard (January 30, 2006), a screed that charges the “horrid” Mencken with being a lifelong enemy of democracy and decency. Supposedly Mencken’s fondness for Nietzsche (about whom he produced a not very useful or scholarly biography) shows for all to see that he worshipped the “will to power” and saw this incarnated in the Teutonic enemy of Anglo-American democratic civilization. Someone who took such reprehensible positions in foreign affairs, we have to infer from Siegel’s remarks, must also have been against Jews, who represent all that is good and radiant in the West and (lest we forget) Israel.

Two, Mencken expressed anti-egalitarian views that are now unfashionable, and he never missed a chance to cast ridicule on the democratic welfare state. There are more than a few of Mencken’s unseasonable remarks that would cause blood to surge to the head of David Brooks, the New York Times’s “resident conservative,” who has just written about “national greatness” and the role to be assigned to the federal welfare state in making us all “great”: the most famous are “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard” and “every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.” And how about this one for the fans of public administration: “I believe all government is evil and that trying to improve it is a waste of time.” And this for the devotees of judicial activism: “A judge is a law student who grades his own examination papers.”

Not all politically incorrect figures have suffered humiliation at the hands of our academics and journalists. For example, the Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who helped build the foundations of our gargantuan administrative state and advocated a “crusade to make the world safe for democracy,” is given a fairly wide berth, despite the facts that he kicked Blacks out of the civil service and promoted “scientific racism.” And if Wilson, whom Mencken despised, railed against Jews, that too was forgivable. After all, didn’t Wilson agree to a Jewish political entity in the Middle East, while making war on the Germans and Austrians, who were later ruled by Hitler?

Moreover, it hardly seems that the “Great Emancipator” qualifies as the racial egalitarian that he is now depicted as. That honor devolved on our 16th president because he freed slaves in seceded states, as a military measure. And then many decades later Lincoln became identified with a civil rights movement that represented positions that were not at all his. But Mencken was not as useful as Lincoln or Wilson. He did not write or do much that would please our present rulers. Except for his rants against Christianity, this satirist did not leave behind the sorts of slogans that would suggest that he was politically progressive. In fact, if Mencken had gotten what he wanted, most of our political class would lose their public financing and be forced to become gainfully employed.

Bitcoin: Comes out swinging off the ropes 1

Vince
vince@thedailyattack.com
The Daily Attack

In spite of attention grabbing headlines, Bitcoin has proven its resiliency the past few days by maintaining a stable price in the $16-17 per BTC range. Many wrote off Bitcoin as doomed after it’s largest exchanger, MtGox was taken off line following a wave of abuse, hacks and fraudulent manipulation that resulted in prices on the exchange market to drop as low as $0.01 per Bitcoin. What most have failed to realize, however, is that the attacks were not on the infrastructure of Bitcoin itself, but on MtGox. Bitcoin itself remains intact and as secure as ever. The only thing that has changed is that scammers have taken note of what was an immature, innocent community that had sprung up around the crypto currency. That same community has pulled through, and is unlikely to fall for the same tricks again.

Why has Bitcoin retained value through it all? The reason is that its fundamentals are intact.

What are its fundamentals?

  • Its low transaction cost – you can send payments across the world for less than a penny. Try that with a credit card.
  • Its decentralized nature – no issuing authority can manipulate it, nor can an outside entity. Compare that to E-gold or the Liberty Dollar. Granted, Bitcoin is yet to be tested by a crackdown from the Federal Government. Still, what exactly could they seize? They’d have to shut down the internet or at least ban individual users to fully stop it.
  • Its relative anonymity – taking a few precautions, you can expect a pretty reasonable level of anonymity in spending bitcoins.
  • Its cash like nature – what’s spent is spent. There are no automatic charge-backs. Though some may count this as a fault of Bitcoin, I know there are merchants out their who would see it as an asset, compared to the nightmares that a service like paypal and credit cards can cause.
  • Its finite nature – we know the maximum number of Bitcoins that will ever exist, 21 million. The usefulness of this feature is debatable. But one thing is for sure, this feature differentiates Bitcoin in the market from fiat currencies, which tend to be inflationary.

Bitcoins other strength is its development focused economy.

Author and urbanist thinker Jane Jacobs argued that the economic engines of the world weren’t Nation States as a whole, nor were they to be found in high efficient, high capacity corporations and factories. She argued that at the forefront of technological innovation and economic growth was small firms and individuals, working on innovative projects with high rates of failure within the messy, seemingly disorganized networks only to be found in great cities. The development of the automobile in Detroit can be attributed to this process. The consolidation of the auto industry and its subsequent demise shows the innovative dead end of abandoning small entrepreneurship, and the process of development work through decentralized networks. The dot-com boom has followed a similar pattern thus far, with a number of innovative leaps having been made in web development and programming over the past two decades; all driven, at least at first, by small firms and individuals pushing boundaries, mostly failing, but also succeeding brilliantly. The community of developers that has sprung up around Bitcoin is an offshoot of this development process.

Take a look at the Project Development sub-forum at the Bitcoin.org forums. Everyday you’ll find new projects proposed, and a network of web developers, programmers and designers ready to jump on board for little or no pay up front. This is the making of explosive growth. It was from the garages of tinkerers that we got the automobile, flight, computers, electricity, and virtually every good or service you use today. They can all be traced back to hot beds of innovation; networks of inventors, and high concentrations of talent working together on an ad hoc basis. This is exactly what you’ll find in the Bitcoin community of entrepreneurs.

Bitcoin is creating its own economy, much like the internet did in the late 90’s and 00’s.

The environment that this innovation and development is taking place is itself a technological leap forward: Bitcoin. Think of Bitcoins features as the infrastructure and economic policy of a city, Bitcoin City. This city has infrastructure to move goods and services around, between producers and to consumers. The anonymous, decentralized nature of the currency creates a virtual free market when coupled with Tor that is highly difficult to regulate or tax. It has the ability to import goods and services, add value, and export them. To begin with, much of the imports will be goods and services targeted at Miners.

Miners are the folks who are creating new Bitcoins, each new Bitcoin being harder to mint and consuming more energy than the last. Entrepreneurs who recognize the fundamental advantages of Bitcoin can offer goods and services to miners, everything from inputs of production like graphics cards, to consumer goods like BitMunchies and the Silkroad are offering. Of course, the economy of Bitcoin City can’t experience explosive growth serving only miners. But, important development work to serve customers within Bitcoin City is generating exports for the economy. The Silkroad has set up an important marketplace for illegal drugs (like it or not.) Think of it this way: Bitcoin City has legalized drugs, and anyone across the world can order otherwise illegal drugs from Bitcoin City. And the only currency this market accepts is Bitcoin. Bitcoin City has just expanded its economy through this export work. This isn’t the end point of this development work, either. I imagine next up will be money transmittal services, much like Hawala, which can settle cross border transactions for a fraction of the price of other services, and with a few keystrokes. Bitcoin City is the easiest and cheapest place through which to clear payments. Bitcoin City will further expanded its economy with this offering.

And this is just the beginning. There’s discussion of starting a physical onion routing courier system, lotteries, banks, escrow services; and all manner of goods and services. Some of these will succeed, many will fail. But what is important is the Bitcoin has provided all the necessary ingredients to encourage explosive growth. If not Bitcoin, then the next crypto currency will. Watch out, we’re not finished yet!

6.30.11 UPDATEMt Gox apologizes for data breaches.

A Reply to Matthew Lyons, Part Two: The Subjectivity of Authoritarianism and Special Pleading as Ideology 28

This is the second in a series of essays in response to Matthew Lyons’ critique “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism.” And here is the transcript of a recent lecture by Lyons where yours truly gets a couple of mentions. Part One may be viewed here.

by Keith Preston

“If the individual cannot get along with the community, and the community cannot tolerate the individual, what real good will state intervention produce—wouldn’t separation be, in any world, the rational, noncoercive, nonviolent solution? Yes, it might be possible to contrive a state process that would force a Jewish Community to accept the Nazi Individual, or a White Community the despised Black, or a Fundamentalist Community the threatening Atheist. But it needs only for the principle of free travel to be observed—to the advantage of both the leavers and the stayers—and the Nazi, the Black, the Atheist can all find congenial communities of their own. The virtue of a multi-communitied world would be precisely that there would be within its multitude of varieties a home for everyone.”

Kirkpatrick Sale

“Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town meeting would be an asshole.”

–Karl Hess

“When a previously disadvantaged group rises to power, it exploits its new position just as did the group or groups it has displaced.”

-Mark A. Schneider, American sociologist

“The ultimate aim of multiculturalism is the creation of a totalitarian state ordered as a type of caste system where individual privilege is assigned on the basis of group identity and group privilege is assigned on the basis of the position of the group in the pantheon of the oppressed.”

-Keith Preston

The core aspects of Lyons’ objections to my own outlook are fairly well summarized in the following passages from his critique, and these comments from Lyons are also fairly representative of the most common arguments against my views offered by Leftists:

Preston only acknowledges oppression along lines of race, gender, sexuality, or other factors to the extent that these are directly promoted by the state, particularly through formal, legal discrimination against specific groups of people. Arguing that “the state is a unique force for destruction,” Preston ignores or trivializes the dense network of oppressive institutions and relationships that exist outside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the state. It is these societally based systems of oppression, not state intervention, that perpetuate dramatic wealth disparities between whites and people of color, widespread domestic violence that overwhelmingly target women, and suicide rates much higher among LGBT teens than heterosexual teens, among many other examples.

Preston portrays secession as a voluntary process, in which many varied groups of people decide to go their own separate ways and coexist peaceably side by side. But what does “voluntary” mean in a context where wives are expected to submit to the authority of their husbands, workers to obey their bosses, or homosexuality is regarded as a perversion and a crime? And how long would peaceable coexistence last in the face of absolutist ideologies that are inherently expansionist? The leaders of a Christian Right statelet would believe that homosexuality and feminism are wrong not only within the statelet’s borders, but everywhere, and they would feel a religious duty to enforce this belief as widely as possible.

The bottom line is that the primary objection to anarcho-pluralism, pan-secessionism, national-anarchism, anarcho-libertarianism and overlapping perspectives raised by leftists such as Lyons is their fear that some individuals, institutions, organizations, or communities is such a meta-political framework will practice values disapproved of by leftists or engage in discrimination against groups favored by leftists. The selective and arbitrary nature of such criticism is easy enough to identify. Imagine if a right-wing critic of anarcho-pluralism were to make comments such as the following:

Preston only acknowledges oppression resulting from liberalism and the Left to the extent that these are directly promoted by the state, particularly through formal, legal discrimination against specific groups of people. Arguing that “the state is a unique force for destruction,” Preston ignores or trivializes the dense network of oppressive institutions and relationships that exist outside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the state. It is these societally based systems of oppression, not state intervention, that perpetuate dramatic disparities in  the rate of violent crimes perpetrated against whites by blacks and Hispanics, widespread dissemination of pornography that contributes to sex crimes and social decay, and the promotion of drug use, sexual promiscuity and homosexuality leading to teen pregnancy, illegitimacy, drug abuse, broken families, child neglect, venereal diseases, crime, welfare dependency and other social pathologies .

Preston portrays secession as a voluntary process, in which many varied groups of people decide to go their own separate ways and coexist peaceably side by side. But what does “voluntary” mean in a context where leftist localities have the option of banning private firearms and private property, where urban white families have to live among and send their children to schools with violent black youth, or where Christianity is regarded as a backward superstition and a dangerous threat to freedom and progress? And how long would peaceable coexistence last in the face of absolutist ideologies that are inherently expansionist? The leaders of a Marxist statelet would believe that Christianity and private property are wrong not only within the statelet’s borders, but everywhere, and they would feel an ideological duty to enforce this belief as widely as possible.

Such criticisms would correctly be dismissed as special pleading on behalf of right-wing ideological values, political interest groups and favorite causes. One of the principal ideas behind anarcho-pluralism is the recognition that irreconcilable differences between different political factions and population groups will always exist, and the need to establish societal institutions that are capable of accommodating such differences in a way that avoids both bloodshed and the subjugation of some groups by others. With regards to the “authoritarianism” question, it is necessary to point out that abstract notions like “freedom,” “liberty,” and so forth are understood in radically different ways by different kinds of people. Lyons gives no evidence that his own ideological preferences are somehow decreed by the cosmos, by some divine creator, or by natural law. The bottom line is that the political and social preferences of leftists like Lyons reflect the subjective value judgments of individuals and groups in the same manner as any other kind of assertion of ideological principles. Leftism is ultimately just another tribe like Christianity, Islam, fascism, libertarianism, Satanism, or veganism.

The selectivity of Lyons’ criticisms is further illustrated by his choice of which groups to attack from the list of potential constituents for anarcho-pluralism that I have identified. He focuses on three of these: the League of the South, Christian Exodus, and believers in Christian Identity. He chooses not offer any criticism of “Marxist-Leninists,” “Islamic rightists,” “people of color nationalist movements,” “militant environmentalists,” and so forth. It is only those tendencies that claim to speak for the interests of white Christians that he seems particularly concerned about. This raises the question of whether it is really “authoritarianism” that Lyons is worried about or whether it is merely white Christians as a general population group whom he regards as the problem with political “authoritarianism” not really being all that important if it is controlled by leftists and their allies or constituents.

More…

Census shows whites lose US majority among babies 4

The Census data is now available.

The two most obvious political implications of this are that the anti-immigration movement is a failure and that the future of ethnic conflict in North American will be a scenario where everyone is a “minority.” This second point is one where both the Left and the far Right lack foresight. Both camps continue to view everything from the “people of color vs whitey” paradigm. Ethnic conflict in the future will be sharpest between those groups who are in the closest competition for scarce resources.

Common Sense from Veteran Secessionist Carol Moore Reply

Let’s talk about widespread consciousness, not “concentrated forces.”

Once everyone realizes the US is in worse shape than Greece, secession
will look better and better. Of course some of the leaders may be state
bureaucrats who want to ensure their own big fat pensions by cutting off
the feds ability to tax their subjects!

Keeping representative majority rule governance in seceded entities is
not sufficient a solution, since it always leads to minority rule, with
politically motivated promises of social welfare programs inevitably
based on unsustainable grounds. Direct democracy where only say 80% of
80% of eligible voters (or better 95% of 95%) can pass a law or tax is
best way to ensure freedom and sustainability. And of course sunset or
minority repeal provisions so bad laws passed by majorities in haste can
be revoked in a timely manner also important. And of course strong
individual bills of rights.

A libertarian philosophy also helps. See http://secession.net

-Carol Moore

How a new type of social movement is transforming Detroit 4

Article by Michel Bauwens.

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What has developed through both conscious organizing drives and the actions of many individual residents is a significant urban agricultural movement in Detroit. All over the city there are now thousands of family gardens, more than two hundred community gardens, and dozens of school gardens. All over the city there are garden cluster centers that build relationships between gardeners living in the same area by organizing garden workdays and community meetings where participants share information on resources and how to preserve and market their produce.

Excerpted from Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige, in Yes magazine:

“The Detroit Summer began in 1992 and has since been an ongoing and developing program for more than fifteen years. Since 2005 it has been organized by a multiracial collective of twentysomething young people, many of whom have been a part of our past summer programs. With this younger generation now at the helm of leadership of the Detroit Summer Collective, the organization continues to tap the creative energies of urban youth.

Some skeptics question whether a program such as Detroit Summer can make much of a difference, given the magnitude of the city’s problems. They doubt that a program, which at its greatest capacity involved sixty youth, could have an appreciable effect in stemming the crises of school dropouts, violence, and incarceration that are stealing lives by the thousands. They ask how tending to a handful of gardens, painting one or two murals a year, and fixing up a house or vacant lot here and there can address the blight that has taken over much of the urban landscape. And they lament that small dialogues—between youth and elders, between neighbors, between people of different backgrounds, and between activists from various cultural and political traditions—cannot match the force of large demonstrations involving tens of thousands.

What they don’t understand is that our goal in creating Detroit Summer was to create a new kind of organization. We never intended for it to be a traditional left-wing organization agitating masses of youth to protest and demonstrate. Nor did we intend that it become a large nonprofit corporation of the sort that raises millions of dollars from government, corporations, and foundations to provide employment and services to large populations. Both of these forms of organizing can be readily found in Detroit and all major cities in the United States, but the system continues to function because neither carries the potential to transform society.

By contrast, our hope was that Detroit Summer would bring about a new vision and model of community activism—one that was particularly responsive to the new challenges posed by the conditions of life and struggle in the postindustrial city. We did not feel this could be accomplished if control of our activities was ceded to the dictates of government or the private sector, even though this meant that we would be working on a small scale. However, by working on this scale, we could pay much closer and greater attention to the relationships we were building among ourselves and with communities in Detroit and beyond.

The result has been that we have been able to develop the type of critical connections—of both ideas and people—that are the essential ingredients of building a movement. The best metaphor Detroit Summer has come up with to characterize itself is “planting seeds of Hope.”

What has developed through both conscious organizing drives and the actions of many individual residents is a significant urban agricultural movement in Detroit. All over the city there are now thousands of family gardens, more than two hundred community gardens, and dozens of school gardens. All over the city there are garden cluster centers that build relationships between gardeners living in the same area by organizing garden workdays and community meetings where participants share information on resources and how to preserve and market their produce.

When I think of this incredible movement that is already in motion, I feel our connection to women in a village in India who sparked the Chipko movement by hugging the trees to keep them from being cut down by private contractors. I also feel our kinship with the Zapatistas in Chiapas, who announced to the world on January 1, 1994, that their development was going to be grounded in their own culture and not stunted by NAFTA’s free market. And I think about how Detroiters can draw inspiration from these global struggles and how—just as we were in the ages of the CIO unions and the Motown sound—our city can also serve as a beacon of Hope.

Living at the margins of the postindustrial capitalist order, we in Detroit are faced with a stark choice of how to devote ourselves to struggle. Should we strain to squeeze the last drops of life out of a failing, deteriorating, and unjust system? Or should we instead devote our creative and collective energies toward envisioning and building a radically different form of living?

That is what revolutions are about. They are about creating a new society in the places and spaces left vacant by the disintegration of the old.”

 

Smoking, Class and the Legitimisation of Power 1

New book from Sean Gabb.

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The “War against Tobacco” is one of the central facts of modern life. In this book, Sean Gabb analyses the nature and progress of the “war”. The stated reasons for the war have varied according to time and place. According to Dr Gabb, however, all reasons have one thing in common—they rest on a base of lies and half truths. But this is not simply a book about the history of tobacco and the scientific debate on its dangers. It also examines why, given the status of the evidence against it, there is a war against tobacco. Dr Gabb shows that this war is part of a much larger project of lifestyle regulation by the ruling class, and that its function is to provide a set of plausible excuses for the extraction of resources from the people and for the exercise of power over them. This book provides a kind of “unified field” theory to bring within a single explanatory structure some of the most important attacks on free choice and government limitation that we face today.

2011 Conference of the Property and Freedom Society Reply

Watch videos of this event filmed by Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance.
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Property and Freedom Society
Sixth Annual Meeting
Bodrum, Turkey, 26-30 May 2011
Karia Princess Hotel

Video shot by Sean Gabb,
Director of the Libertarian Alliance

Friday, May 27

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Welcome and Introductions
Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Politics, Money and Banking. Everything You Need to Know in 30 Minutes
Mateusz Machaj, How and How Not to Criticize the Central Bank
Philipp Bagus, The FED and the ECB: Banksterism Compared
Doug French, Going Broke: The Ethics of Default
Thomas DiLorenzo, The Fallacies of “Happiness Research”
Nikolay Gertchev, Psychology Ain’t Economics. New Fads in Economics
Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Mateusz Machaj, Philipp Bagus, Thomas DiLorenzo, Nikolay Gertchev, Discussion, Q & A

Saturday, May 28

Stephan Kinsella,Correcting Some Common Libertarian Misconceptions
John Derbyshire, Understanding China and the Chinese
John O’Sullivan, Understanding Europe and its Bureaucrats
Norman Stone, Understanding Turkey and the Turks
Mustafa Akyol, Drawing Borders in the Middle East: Ottoman Provinces v Western State Creations
Roman Skaskiw,Fighting for Freedom” in the Middle East. A Combat Soldier’s Report
Derbyshire, Stone, Akyol, Skaskiw, Discussion, Q & A

Sunday, May 29

Sean Gabb,The Case Against the American War of Independence
Paul Gottfried, How the Left Conquered the Right
Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple), The Mirage of “Equal Opportunity”
Nicola Iannello, Of Producers and Parasites
Yuri Maltsev, Of Customs and Condoms. Moving from One Empire to Another
Gabb, Gottfried, Daniels, Iannello, Kinsella, Maltsev, Discussion, Q & A
Hans-Hermann Hoppe,Concluding Remarks and Announcements

Syria and the “Popular Will” Reply

Article by David D’Amato.

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Against the backdrop of anti-government protests and his regime’s brutal response, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed the country on June 20. Downplaying both the demonstrations and the dissatisfaction that they represent, Assad called on “the people and the state [to] come together.”

With the death toll climbing, Assad’s assurances about “getting the military back to their barracks” hardly ring believable, but there was a faint truth to his words. Although the insight is no doubt lost on Assad himself, by appealing for the unification of the people and the state he implicitly acknowledges that the two are quite distinct.

Summarily taking to the streets following Assad’s speech, unconvinced protesters met his talk of “reform” with chants of “liar.” For market anarchists, their chants were loaded with subtext regarding the relationship between society and state. Nietzsche perhaps said it best: “The state is called the coldest of all cold monsters. And coldly it lieth; and this lie creepeth out of its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’”

Far from personifying some collective will, the state is merely the unwieldy implement of a power elite, plotters who conspire not behind a curtain, but right out in the open. The political class, the parasitic few who contrive the system of state capitalism, feel no need whatsoever to hide; they cheat and extort the public from behind protestations of the “popular will.”

We will find, though, that historically the “popular will” has been no more than an assiduously attuned cover for the will of rulers, rhetorical chicanery to hold the ruled in line. Other meanings, any formulae that advance the phrase as something beyond just the sum of individual wills, proves elusive or altogether illusional.

To market anarchists, abstract notions like the “free market,” “the popular will,” and “democracy” are, by definition, not things that can be orchestrated according to design or imposed by some governing body. To have any real significance, such expressions must be properly understood as verbal proxies for complex webs of voluntary interactions.

Popular concerns about what is now considered “the free market,” warranted as they are, are in fact worries about an economic reality in which the state has intervened for powerful business interests at every level of analysis. Distinguished by its Himalayan peaks of concentrated wealth separated by vast expanses of poverty, today’s system is a product of the state rather than of a pure free market.

Consider, by analogy, the tendencies of liquid or gas molecules, their natural drift from areas of higher density into areas of lower density. As related in a popular science text, “Unequal pressures will always equalize themselves if given a chance.” The functioning of a genuine free market — one composed of the unobstructed trades of self-ruling people — would achieve the same kind of balance.

It is the concentration of power in society, with the state falsely holding itself out as “the people,” that gathers wealth into the hands of a small coterie. The social phenomenon of the state, then, is thoroughly tied to the economic conditions we observe today. As is very apparent in countries like Syria, for the yawning breach between the “haves” and the “have-nots” to exist, the introduction of coercion is necessary.

The public outcry in Syria demonstrates that there’s distinction between political and economic problems — or between political and economic freedoms. Market anarchism is the idea that all relationships, whether of a social or commercial kind, ought to be grounded in consent and mutual respect. This is the simple idea that can unchain a true social will from the state’s ruling classes.

Our Corporate Military Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.
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Nicholas Kristoff, in a New York Times op-ed (“Our Lefty Military,” June 16), lauds the “astonishingly liberal ethos” that governs the military internally — single-payer health insurance, job security, educational opportunities, free daycare — in support of Gen. Wesley Clark’s description of it as “the purest application of socialism there is.”

For me — an avowed libertarian socialist as well as a market anarchist — at least two howlers stand out here. First, when I think of “socialism,” I think of all the liberatory things originally associated with that term back in the days of the early working class and classical socialist movement in the nineteenth century: Empowerment of the working class, worker control of production, and all the rest. Last I heard, the U.S. military isn’t set up as a worker cooperative, with enlisted men electing officers, managing their own work, or voting on whether or not to go to war. Taking orders from a boss “because I said so” isn’t my idea of socialism.

Second, the primary external mission of the U.S. military is to keep the world — or rather the corporate pigs who claim to own it — safe from anything remotely resembling worker empowerment. To me, that’s pretty unsocialistic. For the past sixty-odd years since WWII (a lot longer, actually), the primary focus of American national security policy has been to protect feudal landed oligarchs from land reform, protect Western-owned corporations from nationalization, act as collector of last resort for the company store known as the World Bank, and enforce the draconian “intellectual property” protectionism which is the central bulwark of global corporate power today. Kristoff’s “socialist” military’s primary mission is keeping the world firmly in the hands of its corporate rulers.

Aside from that, I think Kristoff has it exactly backward: The military is almost a parody of American corporate culture. It’s riddled with hierarchy, with Taylorist/Weberian bureaucratic work rules and standard operating procedures, and all the irrationality that goes with them. The only difference is, the pointy-haired bosses wear a different kind of uniform. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Brazil,” or read Dilbert on a regular basis, you get the idea.

Kristoff has one point on his side: The differentials between production workers and senior management are a lot lower in the military than in present-day Corporate America. But that just means the military is structured more along the lines of old-style bureaucratic “Organization Man” capitalism of the sixties (as described by J.K. Galbraith), in which CEO salaries were typically only fifty times that of a production worker, rather than the current pathological model of cowboy capitalism where it’s more like five hundred.

The military, like the large corporation, is plagued by enormously high overhead costs (the cost of training a soldier), and enormously wasteful capital outlays. The military, like an oligopoly corporation, can afford to be so wasteful because it doesn’t bear the full cost of its own activities.

Corporate America’s prevailing management accounting system, invented almost a century ago by Donaldson Brown of DuPont and GM, equates consumption of inputs to creation of value. You know, like the Soviet centrally planned economy. Administrative costs like management salaries, along with wasteful capital expenditures, are incorporated — through the practice known as “overhead absorption” — into the transfer price of goods “sold” to inventory. And in an oligopoly market, the corporation is able to pass those costs — plus a profit markup — on to the customer through administered pricing. The military shares that pricing system, with its incentives to maximize costs (Paul Goodman called “the great kingdom of cost-plus”). Ever hear of those $600 toilet seats? But in the case of the military, the administered pricing is called “taxation.”

In short the military, like the large corporation, is a giant, bureaucratic, irrational, and authoritarian institution which can only survive through parasitism — enabled by the state — on the working class.

A Dozen Miami PIGS Shoot Unarmed Man 100 Times Reply

Article by Jean-Guy Allard.
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22 year old Raymond Herisse, shot to death while sitting in his car, by Miami police on May 31 during Urban Beach Week. Police say they found a gun in his car after they killed him and made vague references to an unnamed witness who said that Raymond was shooting at the cops. The remaining question is why the police tried to destroy videotaped evidence.

 

To Protect and Serve

In the meantime, the ”big” press agencies maintain an alarming silence around this scandalous event, demonstrating that, in the country that continuously accuses the nations it attacks of violating human rights, skin color alone justifies a death sentence.

Not one word has yet been published by the international press agencies, which are so prone to broadcasting the minor incidents that happen in countries who confront the American imperial power, about the execution in Miami of a 22-year-old-Haitian man by 12 police officers who fired on him 100 times while he was unarmed in his car.

In Miami itself, the local press — characterized by its blind cooperation with calls from law enforcement — has diverted public attention with a controversy over a cellphone, whose owner was filming the savage police intervention that ended with the death of young Raymond Hérissé.

Apparently the murder of this son of a humble Haitian immigrant doesn’t interest anyone, including those holders of power in this city with their persistent traits of racial hate and segregation.

Following Shooting, Miami Cops Grab Cell Phones at Gunpoint, Destroy Them. But video survives.

Criticized for confiscating and destroying cameras and mobile phones after killing Hérissé during the hip-hop festival, Urban Beach Week, the municipal authorities of Miami Beach questioned one witness’ testimony that said a police officer had aimed a gun at his head, handcuffed him and destroyed his mobile phone by kicking it.

The testimony confirms that the police detained a witness — an African American — not because he was filming but because he was “very similar” to the description of the suspect that was supposedly seen fleeing. This is a version of the story whose racist tones don’t escape anyone.

No report of the events in the local press mentions Hérissé’s death nearly as much as they have, with the help of the police, been encouraged to describe a criminal, with an emphasis that is more than suspicious. The court file resembles those of thousands of young African Americans in this city whose segregated neighborhoods are patrolled daily by SWAT teams with horrible reputations.

A few days after Herisse’s death, the Police announced that they “found” a gun “hidden” in his car, something very suspicious in a city where cases of ”planted guns” have been cause for scandals in the past.

Hérissé was shot after crashing his Hyundai into a police barricade. He then fled into the popular event that attracts thousands of hip-hop fans annually, most of whom are African American.

Six youths from segregated neighborhoods in Miami have become victims of fatal police shootings within the last 10 months, without even one investigation report having been filed, or one police officer accused, even of criminal negligence.

In the meantime, the ”big” press agencies maintain an alarming silence around this scandalous event, demonstrating that, in the country that continuously accuses the nations it attacks of violating human rights, skin color alone justifies a death sentence.

Reflections on the Stalinist Revolution in France Reply

Article by Max Read
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The trial of fashion designer John Galliano, who was fired from his own label earlier this year over charges that he made anti-Semitic comments to a woman at a French bar, starts this week in Paris—and the new details emerging aren’t pretty.

It wasn’t just the one incident in February that got Galliano fired; it’s been alleged that the designer had thrown around anti-Semitic slurs (“People like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed”) on at least two other occasions—at the same bar, no less. But on the night in question, the police were called, charges were filed (it’s illegal to make public anti-Semitic statements in France), and the allegations were extensively documented.

And according to Géraldine Bloch, the art curator who was the subject of Galliano’s alleged outburst, we’re not talking a tossed-off insult or drunkly slurred sentence, but a sustained barrage of misogynistic, racist bullshit, including:

  • Calling Bloch a “dirty whore”
  • Telling her she had a “dirty Jewish face”
  • Mocking her “revolting” eyebrows
  • Sneering at her “low-end boots and low-end thighs”
  • Pulling her hair
  • Calling her companion (receptionist Philippe Virgitti) a “fucking Asian bastard” and “a dirty Asian shit”

Galliano was apparently tanked: His blood-alcohol content, as measured by the police, was four times the legal driving limit. (According to Newsweek, he’s expected to invoke “dueling addictions to booze and anti-anxiety medicine” in his defense.) But apparently these outbursts were common enough that his driver and a security guard were unfazed when he unloaded on Bloch:

By the time Galliano got to La Perle that February night, his antics were so well known to the people who worked around him that when the “f—k you”s began to fly, his driver, watching from the sidelines, calmly called a lawyer and tried to put him on the phone with Bloch to calm her down or warn her off. She refused, and when she complained, a security guard told her it was Galliano and that she could just change seats, according to the dossier.

Socialite Daphne Guinness tells Newsweek that “[t]he whole thing struck me as completely out of character.” But not so out of character that it bothered the driver or the security guard, it seems.

Barney Frank and Ron Paul will Introduce Legislation on Thursday to Fully Legalize Marijuana Reply

Article by Mike Riggs. This kind of thing is an example of how fast the political climate can change. Stuff like this would have been unthinkable twenty years ago.
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Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) will introduce “bi-partisan legislation tomorrow ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states legalize, regulate, tax, and control marijuana without federal interference,” according to a press release from the Marijuana Policy Project that just hit my inbox. More from that email:

Other co-sponsors include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal. The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.

Rep. Frank’s legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens.

I called Morgan Fox at MPP to ask about the chances that this bill will get any serious debate time in the House (a fair question, considering that it has only one Republican supporter at the moment). “It’s definitely going to get a serious debate, probably more in the media than on the floor of the House,” Fox told me. “But I think it needs to be debated on the floor.”

What does MPP see as obstacles?

“Someone in the prohibitionist camp could hold it up as long as they wanted, but the slew of opinion pieces that came out last week calling for the end of the failed drug war will give this momentum,” Fox said.

While Paul’s status as a declared presidential candidate should help with media pick-up, Frank is leading the press teleconference tomorrow, and Paul’s not even on the call.

Previous Frank-Paul partnerships include a 2010 op-ed to reduce military spending and a marijuana decriminalization bill introduced in the House in 2009. In the intervening two years, Arizona and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, and the Connecticut legislature has moved to decriminalize it. Now former U.S. Attorney John McKay and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes are organizing to completely legalize marijuana in Washington State. The time is ripe.

Paul Gottfried on Totalitarian Humanism: "The Only Solution is to Destroy the State" 2

That’s not the term he uses, but he describes it perfectly and offers the correct solution. Watch Sean Gabb’s video of Gottfried’s lecture at the 2011 annual conference of the Property and Freedom Society in Bodrum, Turkey. It’s interesting how a former leftist radical like me and a former Buckleyite conservative like Gottfried eventually came to almost identical views from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

The Rising Generation of Illiterates Reply

Article by Pat Buchanan. As much I have always disagreed with Buchanan’s unrepentant Nixon-Reagan Republicanism and his philistine “culture warrior” outlook, he is one of the few relatively mainstream commentators that qualifies as a competent political analyst. The analysis of prevailing trends that Buchanan offers here is basically the same as my own: A combination of neoliberal economic policies (globalization, “free trade,” mass immigration) and Cultural Marxist social policies (multiculturalism, radical egalitarianism, and the use of education merely as a means to political indoctrination) are having the effect of creating a Third World model class system in the United States and a racial/ethnic stratification and spoils system of the kind that has led to horrific bloodshed in other societies.

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“Is our children learning?” as George W. Bush so famously asked. Well, no, they is not learning, especially the history of their country, the school subject at which America’s young perform at their worst.

On history tests given to 31,000 pupils by the National Assessment of Education Progress, the “Nation’s Report Card,” most fourth-graders could not identify a picture of Abraham Lincoln or a reason why he was important.

Most eighth-graders could not identify an advantage American forces had in the Revolutionary War. Twelfth-graders did not know why America entered World War II or that China was North Korea’s ally in the Korean War.

Only 20 percent of fourth-graders attained even a “proficient” score in the test. By eighth grade, only 17 percent were judged proficient. By 12th grade, 12 percent. Only a tiny fraction was graded “advanced,” indicating a superior knowledge of American history.

Given an excerpt from the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education—“We conclude that in the field of pubic education, separate but equal has no place, separate education facilities are inherently unequal”—and asked what social problem the court was seeking to correct, 2 percent of high school seniors answered “segregation.”

“The boot about to trample the Statue of Liberty had a huge swastika on the sole.”

As these were multiple-choice questions, notes Diane Ravitch, the education historian, the answer “was right in front of them.”

A poster put out by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, circa 1940, was shown and the question asked, “The poster above seeks to protect America and aid Britain in the struggle against …” Four countries were listed as possible answers.

A majority did not identify Germany, though the poster contained a clue. The boot about to trample the Statue of Liberty had a huge swastika on the sole.

“We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” historian David McCullough told The Wall Street Journal.

“History textbooks,” added McCullough, “are “badly written.” Many texts have been made “so politically correct as to be comic. Very minor characters that are currently fashionable are given considerable space, whereas people of major consequence”—such as inventor Thomas Edison—“are given very little space or none at all.”

Trendies and minorities have their sensibilities massaged in the new history, which is, says McCullough, “often taught in categories—women’s history, African American history, environmental history—so that many students have no sense of chronology … no idea of what followed what.”

But if the generations coming out of our schools do not know our past, do not know who we are or what we have done as a people, how will they come to love America, refute her enemies or lead her confidently?

This appalling ignorance among American young must be laid at the feet of an education industry that has consumed trillions of tax dollars in recent decades.

Comes the retort: History was neglected because Bush, with No Child Left Behind, overemphasized reading and math.

Yet the same day the NAEP history scores were reported, The New York Times reported on the academic performance of New York state high school students in math and English. The results were stunning.

Of state students who entered ninth grade in 2006, only 37 percent were ready for college by June 2010. In New York City, the figure was 21 percent, one in five, ready for college.

In Yonkers, 14.5 percent of the students who entered high school in 2006 were ready for college in June 2010. In Rochester County, the figure was 6 percent.

And the racial gap, 45 years after the federal and state governments undertook heroic exertions to close it, is wide open across the Empire State.

While 51 percent of white freshman in 2006 and 56 percent of Asian students were ready for college in June 2010, only 13 percent of New York state’s black students and 15 percent of Hispanics were deemed ready.

The implications of these tests are alarming, not only for New York but for the country we shall become in this century.

In 1960, there were 18 million black Americans and few Hispanics in a total population of 160 million. By 2050, African Americans and Hispanics combined will, at 200 million, roughly equal white Americans in number.

If the racial gap in academic achievement persists for the next 40 years, as it has for the last 40, virtually all of the superior positions in the New Economy and knowledge-based professions will be held by Asians and whites, with blacks and Hispanics largely relegated to the service sector.

America will then face both a racial and class crisis.

The only way to achieve equality of rewards and results then will be via relentless use of the redistributive power of government—steep tax rates on the successful, and annual wealth transfers to the less successful. It will be affirmative action, race preferences, ethnic quotas and contract set-asides, ad infinitum—not a prescription for racial peace or social tranquility.

Non-conformists of the 1930s Reply

From Wikipedia

The Non-Conformists of the 1930s refers to a nebula of groups and individuals during the inter-war period in France which was looking for new solutions to face the political, economical and social crisis. The name was coined in 1969 by the historian Jean-Louis Loubet del Bayle to describe a movement which revolved around Emmanuel Mounier‘s personalism. Locating themselves rather on the right-wing of the political spectrum, they attempted to find a “Third Way” between socialism and capitalism, and opposed liberalism, parliamentarism, democracy and fascism.

Three main currents of non-conformists may be distinguished:

These young intellectuals (most were about 25 years old) all considered that France was confronted by a “civilisation crisis” and opposed, despite their differences, what Mounier called the “established disorder” (le désordre établi). The latter was represented by capitalism, individualism, economic liberalism and materialism. Opposed both to Fascism and to Communism (qualified for the first as a “false Fascist-spiritualism ” and for the latter as plain materialism), they aimed at creating the conditions of a “spiritual revolution” which would simultaneously transform Man and things. They called for a “New Order,” beyond individualism and collectivism, oriented towards a “federalist,” “communautary and personalist” organisation of social relations.

The Non-Conformists were influenced both by French Socialism, in particular by Proudhonism (an important influence of Ordre nouveau) and by Social Catholicism, which permeated Esprit and the Jeune Droite. They inherited from both currents a form of scepticism towards politics, which explains some anti-statism stances, and renewed interest in social and economical transformations . Foreign influences were more restricted, and were limited to the discovery of the “precursors of existentialism” (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Max Scheler) and contacts between Ordre nouveau and several members of the German Conservative Revolution movement . They were in favor of decentralization, underscored the importance of intermediary bodies, and opposed finance capitalism.

The movement was close to liberalism in the attention given to civil society and in its distrust of the state; but it also criticized liberal individualism and its negligence of “intermediate bodies” (family, village, etc. — the reactionary writer Maurice Barrès also insisted on the latter). They were characterized by the will to find a “Third Way” between Socialism and Capitalism, individualism and collectivism, idealism and materialism and the left-right distinction in politics .

Radical Kirk: Kirkpatrick Sale’s Secessionism Brings Left and Right Together Reply

Article by Jack Hunter.

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Part of being the “Southern Avenger” —the talk-radio moniker I have used for over a decade broadcasting from Charleston, South Carolina—means defending a political act many Americans consider radical: secession. In May 2009, I quoted a contemporary advocate of disunion, Kirkpatrick Sale, in my weekly column for the Charleston City Paper: “Of course, it is true that the particular secession of 1861-65 did not succeed, but that didn’t make it illegal or even unwise. It made it a failure, that’s all. The victory by a superior military might is not the same thing as the creation of a superior constitutional right.”

After the column was published, I received an email from my editor telling me that Mr. Sale had contacted his office, said he enjoyed the piece, and in fact was living in Charleston. That Kirkpatrick Sale was living in the cradle of Southern secession didn’t seem that strange. That Sale arrived at his radically decentralist philosophy as a man of the left, however, might surprise those who associate disunion exclusively with the old Confederacy.

Sale’s hard-left credentials began as a writer for the New Leader, a magazine founded in 1924 in part by socialists Norman Thomas and Eugene Debs. His book SDS is still considered one of the best sources on the youth activist organization that helped define 1960s radicalism, Students for a Democratic Society. And Sale has been a regular contributor to progressive magazines like Mother Jones and The Nation for the better part of his writing career.

His philosophy springs not only from his anti-authoritrianism, his support for environmentalism, and his opposition to globalization, but also from what some have called his “neo-Luddite” tendencies—a term he has embraced. Sale told Wired in 1995:

The Amish have said there are limits: There are certain things that we like, that seem to enhance our lives, and that do not do danger to our sense of family and community, and therefore we can use them; and there are others, quite clearly, that do harm. This is intelligent decision making. The Luddites were the same. The Luddites all worked with machinery, some with fairly complicated weaving machines in their cottages. They were not against machinery, but against ‘machinery hurtful to commonality…’

Sale’s critiques of modernity are not unusual on the left, but they can also be compared to thinking of neo-agrarian author Wendell Berry, who defies the categorization, or even to conservative standard-bearer Russell Kirk. Sale’s contention, for example, that American Indian society was preferable to what followed after Christopher Columbus—Sale wrote an entire book on this—isn’t dissimilar to Kirk’s criticism of “mechanical Jacobins” (automobiles) or “Demon TV.” In fact, Sale’s writing about the downsides of modernity reminds me of the enthusiasm I experienced upon first discovering Russell Kirk in my early 20s.

Sale and I soon got in touch. At one of our early lunch meetings that began in 2009, I asked Kirk—as he likes to be called, and for me appropriately enough —about how his Nation colleagues might feel about his secessionist views. Kirk was more interested in telling me how he felt about his Nation colleagues—noting that he asked to be removed from the magazine’s masthead the moment they began to go gaga over Barack Obama. He preferred not to have anything to do with our president or his admirers.

More…

A Reply to Matthew Lyons, Part One: Anarchism Contra Marxism Revisited 5

This is the first in a series of essays in response to Matthew Lyons’ critique “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism.” And here is the transcript of a recent lecture by Lyons where yours truly gets a couple of mentions.

by Keith Preston

Part One

Anarchism Contra Marxism Revisited: The Role of the State in Political Economy

Engels pretty aptly summed up the difference between anarchists and state socialists over a century ago: “They say abolish the state and capital will go to the devil. We propose the reverse.

-Kevin Carson

Let me say to M. Blanc: you desire neither Catholicism nor monarchy nor nobility, but you must have a God, a religion, a dictatorship, a censorship, a hierarchy, distinctions, and ranks. For my part, I deny your God, your authority, your sovereignty, your judicial State, and all your representative mystifications.

-Pierre Joseph Proudhon

Matthew Lyons summarizes his objections to my views on political economy as follows:

Preston portrays the state as the only significant source of oppression, and sees “corporate plutocracy” purely as a result of state interference in the market economy. It’s quite true as he argues that the state has actively promoted the concentration of wealth and economic power, but his assumption that “natural” markets can be separated from “unnatural” state involvement is a libertarian myth. Both state and market are institutions created by human beings, and the two are closely intertwined. Market relations have expanded enormously under capitalism — not in spite of, but largely through, state intervention (forcing subsistence farmers across the globe to become wage laborers, for example). “Freeing” markets from the centralized state would certainly reshape capitalist power, but would not abolish it. Rather, it would benefit certain forms of capital and certain business factions over others.

This is a restatement of relatively standard Marxist views of political economy. According to such views, capitalism is the outgrowth of the market economy itself with the state existing as a manifestation of the collective power of the capitalist class. It is this view of the state that has been among the principal sources of contention between Marxists and Anarchists in past times. Lyons also grossly oversimplifies my own views regarding the relationship between the state and ruling class power generally:

Although Preston is an elitist who expresses contempt for most people, he is also a populist. More specifically, his anarcho-pluralism represents a form of right-wing populism — that is, it seeks to rally “the people” against established elites based on a distorted analysis of power that both masks and reinforces oppressive social relations. Right-wing populism offers a plausible target for anti-elite rage that channels it away from a thoroughgoing attack on the oppressive order. Some right-wing populists target a specific ethnic group (such as Jews) or even a specific sub-group within the elite (such as bankers or multinational corporations). Preston targets the state. More precisely, he falsely equates oppression in general with the large, centralized state, in a way that both obscures and promotes other forms of social oppression and political authoritarianism.

The state by itself does not comprise the full body of the elite or the ruling class as a whole. Rather, the state is the core institution through which layered networks of systems of institutional power interact. The political class is merely the highest body of the ruling class, its top layer. The state contains within itself multiple layers and contending factions. It is the state through which the other core institutions of ruling class power such as banking and finance, international commerce, industrial corporations, systems of mass propaganda (i.e. education and the media), the legal caste, other professional castes such as medicine (“the white coat priesthood”), and military and police power are coordinated. These latter two institutions-the military and the police-are particularly important to the development of an understanding as to how the state interacts with the broader array of systems of power in a modern society.

Virtually all modern states claim a monopoly on military and police power. For instance, the organization of private armies outside the prerogative of the state is either formally or de facto prohibited in most U.S. jurisdictions. Anti-militia and anti-gang laws are examples of this. Now, there are also formally private but state-connected military organizations which operate on behalf of the state or to which to the state has “farmed out” aspects of its claimed military monopoly. The Blackwater mercenary corporation is an illustration of this. Ostensibly private entities such as Wackenhut or the Corrections Corporation of America that have existed for the purpose of constructing and maintaining aspects of the U.S. prison-industrial complex are another. But these institutions have as their function the implementation of policies specifically decreed and pursued by the state, such as mass imprisonment of subjects or military occupation of other nations. Genuinely private military organizations, such as the Black Panthers of the 1960s, the Order of the 1980s, or the militia movement of the 1990s, that act outside of or in opposition to the specific objectives pursued by the state always come under severe repression.

Modern economies are not strictly “capitalist” or “socialist” according to the classical definitions of these terms. The capitalist/socialist dichotomy emerged in the nineteenth century as a descriptive concept developed for the purpose of understanding and analyzing particular systems of political economy and manifestations of socioeconomic conflict as they existed then. But the capitalist/socialist dichotomy became somewhat obsolete following the major changes in the nature of the political economies and systems of class relations that emerged in the industrialized nations in the twentieth century. Rather, the systems of political economy found in the advanced nations might be regarded as kinds of capitalist/socialist hybrids. The development of this hybrid was indicated by the emergence of the so-called “managerial revolution” in the industrialized nations in the middle part of the twentieth century and the related evolution of the “New Class” of technocratic and bureaucratic elites. This hybrid developed in the various industrialized nations irrespective of the official ideology of each individual nation. Thinkers such as Lawrence Dennis and James Burnham observed and wrote about this phenomenon as far back as the 1930s.

It is indeed interesting to attempt to identify a system of class hierarchies within the context of a contemporary system of corporate-social democratic political economy and mass democracy. As mentioned, the traditional anarchist view is that the state is the highest class, over and above socio-economic elites. The financial oligarchy and the largest, most politically influential corporate entities might be the second layer with national corporations of lesser influence or large regional corporations being the third layer. The fourth layer might be the increasingly expansive professional and bureaucratic class along with more localized or nationally or regionally organized but less wealthy and influential business interests. The traditional white collar class and the self-employed or small business class (the “petite bourgeoisie” in Marxist terminology) might be the next level. Following this conventional middle class would be the upper strata of the working class, such as high wage union workers. The lower socioeconomic levels consist of  the lower wage/lower proletarian sector, the lumpen proletariat of the unemployed and marginal or criminalized populations, and the neo-peasantry of rural agricultural workers and small, almost subsistence level farmers. This general outline is an oversimplification, of course. Within each of these classes, there is an array of sectors with sometimes contending or conflicting interests and there are a number of economic sectors whose specific class identity is a bit difficult to classify. Within the context of modern mass democracy generally, it has to be considered to what degree class identities and manifestations of class power actually share political power with organized interests of a not specifically economic or material nature, i.e. so-called “interest group politics” of the type that emerged in the mid to late twentieth century. Examples include ethnic lobbies, environmentalists, feminists, gay rights, pro-gun control, anti-gun control, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, et. al. Leftists recognize this latter concept in their own way with, for instance, their criticisms of racial, ethnic, gender, or cultural interests which they consider to be forces for oppression.

I am a bit baffled as to where Lyons gets the idea that I am an apologist for vulgar capitalism as many of his comments regarding my economic outlook would seem to imply. Lyons discusses the role of rivalries between contending capitalist factions in the shaping of U.S. politics at both the regional and national levels. I acknowledged as much in my interpretation of the rise of the postwar conservative movement as representing an insurgency by the Sun Belt factions of U.S. “capitalism” , with these being heavily intertwined with the military-industrial complex which emerged during precisely the same era, and acting against the traditional northeastern plutocratic and financial elites. I also largely share his apparent interpretation of the U.S. Civil War as a class conflict between northern industrial capitalism and southern agrarian remnant feudalism. Having been involved in municipal politics for years, I am well aware of the role of local financial, commercial, and real estate oligarchies in manipulating the reins of local and state governments. I also see the current manifestation of the Democratic/Republican divide as in part representing a political rivalry between newer, more high-tech industries such as those related to mass communications and the cyber-economy on one hand and the older, more established industries, such as oil, banking, armaments, and agriculture. Indeed, I regard present day American party politics as representing a class conflict between the older bourgeoisie WASP elites and the rising cosmopolitan, multicultural upper-middle class.

Nor I have ever suggested that business power should reign unchecked in a stateless economy or that there should not be institutional arrangements or mechanisms established for the purpose of preventing an excessive concentration of control over resources and property. In fact, I have repeatedly argued for just the opposite in an extensive and detailed manner. Unlike the Marxists, I regard “private property” as essential to both economic prosperity and individual liberty. This does not necessarily imply a vulgar neo-Lockean or classical bourgeoisie conception of “property rights” in the same manner as conventional “right-wing libertarians” of the kind Lyons obviously despises. Rather, it implies a dispersed and decentralized control over resources minus an overarching state apparatus of the kind favored by Marxists or plutocratic corporations of the kind favored by the conventional Right. Of the contending economic factions of the Right, I am probably much closer to the distributists than to the vulgar libertarians.

It is indeed true that much of the corporate apparatus and its supporting institutions are either directly created or assisted and maintained by the state. Kevin Carson, for instance, has documented this extensively, above and beyond the dissection of the relationship between state and capital offered by Marxist critics like Gabriel Kolko. Now, it is also true that without, for example, central banking, laws of incorporation, or corporate welfare, corporate entities of the kind we are presently familiar with might exist anyway, though on a more limited scale. My prediction would be that the breaking of the alliance between state and capital would mean the elimination of the super-plutocracy. There might still be a less concentrated wealthy class, a larger middle class, and a class of the poor that is still capable of living a dignified existence but not the large underclass we have at present. To some degree, I think inequality is inevitable. Most sober thinkers since the Greeks have recognized this. There is inequality of both individuals and groups: nations, regions, communities, businesses, socioeconomic classes, and other demographic groups. Some individuals are more intelligent, motivated, skilled, wise, and virtuous. Some simply have better luck than others. Nature is kinder to some than others. So is chance or fate.

But that does not mean we should not challenge abusive or exploitive economic arrangements when possible. As Aristotle observed, the most successful societies are those that are able to maintain a large middle class. The question is how to go about doing that. The key is to avoid the establishment of a plutocracy at the top or an underclass at the bottom. This implies both a widespread dispersion of property and resources and the existence of institutions that counter balance the influence of commercial and financial interests. Lyons recognizes my endorsement of labor militancy and the creation of alternative economic enterprises of the kind represented by the Mondragon workers cooperatives, anarcho-syndicalist labor unions, consumer cooperatives, tenants unions, non-state social services, private relief agencies, land trusts, and mutual banks. I also support agitation for the repeal of state policies, such as those mentioned in Carson’s “Political Program for Anarchists,” that have the effect of centralizing control over wealth.  I also think we need strong intermediary institutions as a counterweight to the power of economic institutions. One of the effects of managerial liberal-capitalism is its tendency to undermine or absorb institutions other than the state, the economy, and entertainment. Other aspects of life are eradicated. Larry Gambone’s “The Myth of Socialism as Statism” contains an extensive overview of the vast array of alternatives to both state and plutocratic rule that different thinkers have at times proposed.

My own approach to economics is pluralist: Proudhon, anarcho-syndicalism, Henry George, Austrianism, distributism, populism, paleoconservatism, Kirkpatrick Sale and Kevin Carson. Regarding the question of institutional checks on economic power, even orthodox libertarian thought on this question is not as monolithic or lacking in nuance as its critics often suggest. Lyons raises the issue of company towns, which Friedrich Hayek also found problematical. Mutualist and Georgist theories of land ownership suggest the legitimacy of limits on individual or collective accumulation of land wealth. The great libertarian-classical liberal Thomas Szasz has expressed sympathy for antitrust legislation. Later in his career, Robert Nozick came to endorse the need for limitations on inheritance so as to prevent the entrenchment of family dynasties in economic life. Murray Rothbard considered fractional reserve banking to be a form of fraud and thought it should be illegal in a libertarian society. Hans Hermann Hoppe has endorsed the syndicalist model for the distribution of state-owned property and Rothbard and Karl Hess, at least for a time, expressed sympathy for student occupations of state-run universities and worker occupations of welfare corporations and state-subsidized industries. The agorist philosophy of Samuel Edward Konkin III postulated the concept of counter-economics and counter-institutions as antagonisms to the status quo. And while it is true, as Lyons points out, that libertarianism is the faction of the US right-wing that has most impacted my thinking, classical European anarchism has been an even greater influence on my own outlook

The state has unique coercive powers that other institutions do not have such as a legal monopoly on the use of violent force, and an ideological superstructure that legitimizes this monopoly. Max Weber regarded this monopoly as the essence of the modern state as it has existed since the time of the Treaty of Westphalia. The modern state’s powers of taxation and conscription have provided the state with unique capacities for destruction such as the production and amassing of nuclear weapons and the ability to amass the resources necessary to wage war on a total level. The state has a unique penchant for genocide. This is one of the chief political lessons of the 20th century. Whatever one thinks of McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, or Microsoft (and I think very little of these), such corporations simply do not hold a candle to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot regarding the question of institutional propensities towards the extermination of human beings on a massive scale.

The standard efforts at rebuttal offered by contemporary statists to arguments such as those mentioned above almost always involve an invocation of “democracy.” The presumption is that democratic states are of a fundamentally different nature than the more overtly totalitarian manifestations of the state associated with ideologies like Nazism or Stalinism. The assumption behind this argument is that democratic states are essentially peaceful and generally benign in their actions and not specifically inclined towards aggressive warfare, mass killing, or exploitation of subject populations in the same manner as non-democratic states. A school of political science, commonly labeled “democratic peace theory,” is even built up around this presumption. Therefore, a vitally important consideration that must be addressed by any contemporary critic of the state involves the question of the nature of the modern mass democratic state.

It is no mere coincidence that states have become more powerful and intrusive as they have become more democratic, and Plato’s ancient observation that democracy is typically the final stage in the degeneration of a political order before full-blown tyranny begins has been borne out by historical experience. The most vicious totalitarian states of the twentieth century emerged only after the traditional monarchies and aristocracies in their respective nations (e.g. Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia) had been overturned. Likewise, the rise of statism in the United States has transpired in direct proportion to the expansion of democracy. Indeed, the United States provides an excellent case study in how a traditionally democratic state can engage in mass killing and oppression in a way comparable to that of a formally totalitarian regime. It is widely known, for instance, that the USA incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than the ostensibly totalitarian Chinese regime. Likewise, the body count generated by American foreign policy during the Cold War and the subsequent era of the U.S. as the “sole superpower” often matched that of America’s totalitarian rivals. A number of researchers-Johann Galtung, John Stockwell, Peter Dale Scott, Noam Chomsky-have documented that the probable number of casualties generated by U.S.-directed counter insurgency and destabilization campaigns during the Cold War era was approximately six million, roughly the same number of casualties produced by the Jewish Holocaust. The hundreds of thousands of casualties produced by the American invasion and bombing of Cambodia during the early 1970s rivaled the casualty count achieved by the Khmer Rouge regime during the latter part of that decade. A similar comparison could be made between the Cambodian holocaust and the massacres generated by American puppet regimes in Central America during the 1970s and 1980s or the American-sponsored and financed Indonesian occupation of East Timor during the same period. The number of persons killed as a result of U.S. aggression against Iraq over the past two decades easily rivals the number of casualties produced as a result of actions taken by the regime of Saddam Hussein. The American empire is as pertinent an illustration as any of the inability of so-called “democracy” to act as a constraint on the destructive nature of the state.

As a less severe but still significant example of the relative power of the state versus non-state institutions, we might wish to take a look at the practice of debt enforcement and collection in the present day United States. Traditional debtors’ prisons have for the most part been abolished in modern societies. At present, the only debts on which default can lead to imprisonment in the United States are those debts imposed by the state such as taxes, criminal fines, child support, and, in some instances, civil damages awarded in lawsuits. Forms of private debt such as that pertaining to credit cards, utility bills, rent or mortgage payments, bank loans, car loans, school tuition, and so forth can carry significant consequences in the event of default but rarely if ever lead to imprisonment in instances of non-payment not involving actual acts of fraud. To break it down even further, we might wish to take a look at the differences in collection and enforcement practices between state-issued student loans and private student loans. Default on a state-issued student loan can lead to administrative wage garnishment and asset seizure, while private student loan creditors have to go to court to get an order of garnishment. State-imposed debts and state-issued student loans are the only forms of debt which are non-dischargeable through bankruptcy. Private student loans are also non-dischargeable, but are considered an unsecured debt which in turn places greater limitations on the ability of creditors to pursue debt enforcement. The law always prioritizes the interests of the state over and above the interests of private competitors to state power. Even Bill Gates is not exempt from the clutches of the state. George W. Bush, on the other hand, was able to start a war under fraudulent pretenses and kill a million people thus far with impunity.

The evidence from both historical and contemporary experience overwhelmingly affirms the traditional Anarchist view, contra the Marxists, that it is the state that is the ultimate power in society, that the state is a uniquely destructive institutional force in human civilization, and that the state is a privileged class unto itself over and above commercial or socioeconomic interests.

Lyons gives no specific indication of what his own ideal economic arrangements might be. At one point in his critique, he claims to oppose the “centralized state” along with other “hierarchies” but provides no description of how a non-market, non-statist egalitarian economy might actually work. This has been the norm among Marxists for the past one hundred and fifty years.

Op-Ed: Anarchist publisher making waves Reply

Article by Alexander Baron.
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It is difficult to imagine a less appealing human being than Aleister Crowley. Okay, there are serial killers, and the usual bogeymen: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Tony Blair!, etc, but of those human beings who have not committed actual murder, surely he must rank as one of the most odious, so why has a man whose concerns include fighting globalisation and opposing Western intervention in the Middle East published a collection of essays about him?

For those who are not au fait with the self-proclaimed Great Beast, Edward Alexander Crowley (1875-1947) was left well provided for by his father, attended Cambridge University, then wrote and published obscene poetry, and a hodgepodge of his own mystical, religious and philosophical nonsense. In his personal life he was a truly horrible man. Although he didn’t actually kill them, he was morally responsible for the deaths of four men in a mountaineering incident; he also drove his own wife mad, and practised perverted sex with both women and men. One of his acolytes is said to have died after drinking the blood of a sacrificed cat. In 1934, he lost a libel action after his testimony revolted the jury; having squandered both his inheritance and his life, he died in a Hastings boarding house in December 1947, an impecunious heroin addict. It is for his philosophy though that Crowley is best known, which is often summed up in one trite phrase: Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law.

Ayn Rand espoused a similiar philosophy which is still thriving today; the big difference between Crowley and her though is that Miss Rand added a formidable qualification to Libertarianism, namely do no harm to anyone, do not compel anyone, and expect the same in return. Unlike Crowley, Rand was also an atheist who believed admirably that “Every man is an end in himself”. Two decades after his death, Crowley was resurrected with the mantra of the Swinging Sixties – which for those like the current writer who are old enough to have lived through them but not old enough to have to have our brains fried by the mind-altering drugs which were de rigueur throughout the decade – was a time of free love, hippies, and doing what though wilt. Crowley’s philosophy gelled with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page and John Lennon, who either hadn’t heard of or decided to give a miss to sacrificing cats, sodomy in the desert, and leaving men to die in avalanches.

In his personal life, Troy Southgate could not be more different from Crowley. Coming from a far from privileged background, he put a youthful misadventure behind him by graduating from the University of Kent with a degree in theology and religious studies, then went on to develop his own political theories, and found the New Right in 2005. His personal life is free of scandal; one of his daughters, Maria, has worked with him on his music projects, which have a folk/spiritual dimension.

So what is the Crowley connection? The book THOUGHTS & PERSPECTIVES, VOLUME TWO: Aleister Crowley is the second in a series; it includes contributions from a number of authors including astrologer Hekate Perseia and Julius Evola (1898-1974). Volume One was devoted to Evola, and the forthcoming Volume 3 to Friedrich Nietzsche. Southgate’s aim is to provoke both controversy and critical thinking. Crowley’s personal life and much of his belief system may revolt many people, but by dismissing him and others like him on account of their personal flaws and mistaken beliefs, we risk throwing out the baby with the bath water. Sir Isaac Newton may have dabbled in alchemy, but that hardly invalidates the laws of motion. And the fact that both Robert Stroud and Phil Spector were convicted of murder does not negate their respective contributions to the study of bird diseases or the creation of modern music.

THOUGHTS & PERSPECTIVES… Aleister Crowley can be ordered from the Black Front Press in softback at a hefty £22 UK, £24 Europe and £25 rest of the world, but if you ask him nicely, Mr Southgate may autograph your copy for you.

If This Be ‘Isolationism’. . . Reply

Article by Justin Raimondo.

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The mainstream meme emerging from the CNN/Union Leader Republican presidential debate is apparently that everyone went easy on Romney, which makes him, somehow, the “front runner.” Less noticed but more credible – and much more interesting – was what one post-debate analysis by Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl expressed in the form of a question: “Will the GOP nominate a dove?” That was the title, no doubt the work of a relatively fair-minded editor, but Diehl’s take is more ideological:

“Is the Republican party turning isolationist for 2012? No doubt it’s too soon to know–but the responses of GOP presidential candidates to questions about Libya and Afghanistan in Monday night’s debate were striking. None supported President Obama’s decision to join NATO’s military intervention against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. ‘There was no vital national interest,” said Rep. Michelle Bachmann, summing up what appeared to be the prevailing view.”

The term “Isolationism” was originally coined as an epithet, and the word certainly has about it a troglodytic air: one imagines a cranky old man yelling “get off my lawn” to children passing in the street. Yet that’s an image which surely fits the mood of the American public these days, and certainly they have much to be cranky about – especially when it comes to the conduct of American foreign policy.

During the Bush era, they were subjected to a regime of constant and costly warfare, with US policymakers determined to “democratize” and otherwise “liberate” the Middle East – “draining the swamp,” as neocon ideologues so blithely described their war aims. Having discovered that the swamp was, instead, draining the US, the American public has turned – albeit not on a dime – and now opposes all foreign adventurism with a stubbornness that our elites disdainfully refer to with the “i”-word – as if they were doctors diagnosing the foreign policy equivalent of gout.

Yet, in reality, there is no such thing as “isolationism,” and no such creature as an “isolationist”: it is a fiction manufactured by the interventionist politicians of both parties to characterize any and all opposition to aggressive and unnecessary wars. No one, not even the hardcore protectionists in the labor unions and on the paleoconservative right, wants to isolate America from the rest of the world, and Diehl’s use of the term is particularly egregious: after all, if ever there was a “war of choice,” then it is the Libyan adventure, which the US officially describes as a “humanitarian” effort launched (initially at least) in order to “save countless lives.” As Glenn Greenwald and others have pointed out, it’s more likely pressure from oil companies locked out of lucrative Libyan contracts – Libya has the richest oil reserves in North Africa – that motivated US intervention in what is essentially a civil war.

In any case, the official explanation for the Libyan war is an ideological one, one that abjures any concept of national self interest, and indeed this appears to be Diehl’s litmus test indicating the presence of the “isolationist” virus. If you believe, like Bachmann and the rest of the GOP candidates, that self-interest must determine our actions abroad, then you’re an isolationist, but this is obviously nonsense, as most of the candidates at the debate – with the lone exception of Ron Paul – have at one time or another endorsed some form of foreign intervention, whether it be in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever.