Christopher Gunderson aka “Ned Day,” “Chris Day,” and other pseudonyms recently posted this about yours truly on Facebook.
“Keith Preston is a known racist, though with a peculiar anarchist pedigree, and the fact that you are quoting him favorably confirms my suspicion that there is something rotten in Occupy Appleton. Preston’s fantasy that poor Blacks will “trade” civil rights protections and affirmative action for “reparations” resulting in mutual “sovereignty” (that is to say some David Duke-style scheme to partition the country on racial lines) should not require the dignity of refutation. Here, for the benefit of others is a link to the full piece of Preston’s lunacy that is being promoted by whoever has admin privileges for Occupy Appleton: http://attackthesystem.com/liberty-and-populism-building-an-effective-resistance-movement-for-north-america/ Similarly, the terrorist nature of an unashamed and undisguised neo-Nazi outfit that marches with swastika emblazoned flags through Black communities and that hunts Mexicans in the desert is also self-evident.”
Clearly, this individual has a very limited understanding of the ARV/ATS concepts of separation of race and state, liberty and populism, pan-tribalism, class theory, and just about everything else.
I first encountered this guy around 24 years ago when he was heading up an anarcho-leftoid group based in Minneapolis called the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League (RABL). From what I recall, they got their name after one of them threw a bowling ball through the window of a military recruitment office. The first time I saw Gunderson in action was at an anarchist “gathering” in Toronto in the summer of 1988. An anarchist friend remarked at the time that he seemed like bad news and the kind of personality that would eventually head up some kind of commie cult like the Maoist RCP. That’s more or less what eventually happened. Eventually, “RABL” merged with the Revolutionary Socialist League, a Trotskyite group that converted en masse to anarcho-communism, and an equally idiotic group from Chicago called the “Heyday Anarchists” (I remember them mostly for the feminazis in their ranks). The outcome of this merger was the “Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation.”
I was at Love and Rage’s founding conference in Chicago in 1989. The name was actually suggested by a woman whom, I believe, was Gunderson’s girlfriend at the time. I remember saying that it sounded like a good name for one the heavy metal “hair bands” that were around at the time. The ideology of Love and Rage was a very Weatherman-like “white skin privilege” type of thing (although, predictably, nearly all of the founding members were white, except for maybe 2 or 3 out of 40 or 5o early members). One of their former members, Wayne Price, tells the story of what happened afterwards. Here’s the most interesting part:
A continental anarchist paper was produced for nine years, on a more-or-less monthly basis. Some activities were done on a federation-wide basis, including participating in several national U.S. demonstrations.
However from the beginning there had been certain undemocratic aspects of what many members meant by ‘revolutionary anarchism’. One was a widespread sympathy for Leninist-Stalinist movements of the ’60s and ’70s. Many members admired the Weatherpeople, the German Red Army Faction, the Black Liberation Army, and other groups who wanted to create revolutionary dictatorships over the mass of people. The very last L&R issue included a very favorable article about imprisoned members of the Weatherpeople, titled, Enemies of the State. It would have been better titled, Enemies of This State, Friends of a New State.
The other undemocratic weakness was the lack of interest in, or orientation to, the North American working class. At most there was a patronizing acceptance that some of us were interested in workers as workers. As an influential member told me, workers did not identify as workers. When a major student strike broke out in New York City public colleges, our members did excellent work in organizing and leading it (‘leading’ in a non-authoritarian way). But they sneered at the idea of orienting the student struggle toward the workers (who, at the time were also struggling against the city government over comparable issues).
Later, our Detroit members got involved in support work for the striking newspaper workers. Our people put out a flyer raising the general strike. L&R people in New York did not want to cover this in the continental paper. One member asked if the ‘general strike’ was a ‘Trotskyist idea’, so little did they know anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist history.
Ultimately, contempt for the workers, their organizations (unions), and their struggles, must be undemocratic. It leads to a view that a little group of young radicals, mostly college students and ex-students from the middle classes, can transform society by themselves – without going deep into the working class and the oppressed sections of society. This is consistent with an identification with radical Stalinism.
A final conflict broke out during the last two years of L&R. Chris Day, a founder and influential member (that is, a ‘leader’) had concluded that it was time to abandon anarchism. He told people informally that we had reached the limits of the anarchist ‘milieu’ and it was time to move on. He wrote a paper on The Historical Failure of Anarchism, emphasizing the programmatic weaknesses of anarchism. He declared that no revolution could succeed without a centralized, regular army and a revolutionary state. A group formed around him, particularly of people who had never had to chose between anarchism and authoritarian Marxism. Although they suddenly discovered the value of the international working class, their new-found Marxism was not of any of the libertarian or humanistic varieties (autonomes, council communism, CLR James, Eric Fromm, Hal Draper, etc.). It was Maoism – one of the most Stalinist, authoritarian, versions.
A small number of us began to resist, at first by writing counter documents. We were mostly, but not entirely, former members of the RSL, and were mostly older than the average member. What was upsetting and confusing to us was that most L&R members did not react to the dispute. They stayed out of it. This nonreaction was helped by the neo-Maoists’ maneuver of rarely stating openly that they rejected anarchism. Instead the group talked around this. They made hints, and then denials, and then direct statements, and then withdraw the statements. If people wanted to ignore the issue, it was made easy for them. We, the group that said there was a crisis, were treated as troublemakers.
As we saw it, the issue was the rejection of anarchism for Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. We were accused of being dogmatic, not active enough, being troublemakers, wrong on any number of other issues, and so on. There is a myth in the present anarchists movement that L&R collapsed due to weakness over African-American liberation. This was never a major dispute inside the organization, although perhaps it should have been. It was raised at the last minute, the main supporter of Race Traitor politics blocing with the Maoist faction. But it was never the issue in the faction fight, that being anarchism versus Maoism.
When this group was first formed I circulated a critical analysis of them throughout the anarchist milieu that was published in most of the anarchist magazines that were around back then (this was before the internet, of course). What I basically said was that Love and Rage were a bunch of crypto-commies trying to coopt anarchism for some kind of totalitarian leftism and promote a race war in the process. Unfortunately, my critique seems to have been accurate. That was really the beginning of my longstanding feud with the anarcho-leftoids. It still comes up even today: http://www.onepeoplesproject.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=724:keith-preston&catid=16:p&Itemid=3