Former Love and Rage leader and defector from Anarchism to Maoism denounces Keith Preston

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.

Read the thread here.

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

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19 replies »

  1. Unfortunately I missed his comments towards the end, wish I hadn’t. I was accused of being a white supremacist for tweeting out a Tom Naylor article a few months back under the OS operation…I don’t really care all that much. These types are fairly easy to put up an argument against. This exchange on OA took place in October was not the reason why I was excommunicated as far as I know. Most of the other posters didn’t seem to agree with him and I question whether or not people like him are even worth replying to for anything other than dismissal. I’m beginning to think that about the majority of leftists posting on Occupy, Ron Paul and other political pages on Facebook…

  2. Keith, you in Minneapolis in the eighties? I went up there for the Anarchist Gathering in 87 or 88, I was fifteen and it was one of the best weeks of my life.

  3. I missed the one in Minneapolis in ’87. They were held four years in a row. The first was in ’86. Chicago, I think. Minneapolis in ’87. The first one I made it to was Toronto in ’88. I was also in San Francisco in ’89 for the biggest (and last) one. At the SF gathering, a group of anarchists went on a rampage down Telegraph Ave doing a lot of vandalism and even looting a Coca-cola truck. After that, no group anarchists in any US city would host another gathering for fear of reprisals if another such rampage occurred.

    I agree those were a great time.

  4. I like how the others on the FB thread than the leader seemed less willing to denounce OS and you outright. I see these kinds of cracks in the coalitions of the leftists all the time. Some of the fiercest debates in the left-libertarian groups I frequent have to do with whether or not use of the word “faggot” as a pejorative is acceptable or not. It’s normally the “leaders” with their “experience” in the field as radicals or those who have ties to the university system who take the PC position and a motley crew of kids from across the political spectrum, those less likely to act like haughty intellectuals, who take the “reactionary” position. When I was on a queer studies kick earlier I saw plenty of people on the boards who were willing to say that the idea of “queer anarchism” was a joke.

    But unfortunately it seems like radical movements nowadays are consistently plagued with egotistical leaders with inflated self-importance. I’ve noticed this in the Free State Project, a group I consider ripe for outreach. And this was one of the problems I’d anticipated we’d have to deal with when I came here.

  5. “It’s normally the “leaders” with their “experience” in the field as radicals or those who have ties to the university system who take the PC position and a motley crew of kids from across the political spectrum, those less likely to act like haughty intellectuals, who take the “reactionary” position.”

    There’s definitely a generation gap on this. I’ve also noticed a lot of younger people are starting to get bored with the whole PC thing, as I predicted they would.

  6. “You can always tell when the attacks against Keith are unsettled personal disputes that somehow end up in public forums. They’re always bitter.”

    Yes, and the one involving Gunderson is the oldest one. It’s goes back over 20 years. Apparently, he’s still miffed that I was the among the first to call him out as an aspiring communist dictator.

  7. “Indigenous self determination is racism? Go figure…”

    I don’t think race is the real reason for the persistent attacks on me from the Left. I think that’s a smokescreen. I think my radical anti-statism offends these people because they see the state as some kind of means to an end, whether professional, personal, financial, or ideological.

    I think the other issue is hedonism. The Left despises me because of my tolerant and conciliatory attitude towards social and cultural conversatives, whom they view as threatening left-wing pet causes like carte blance abortion and gay marriage.

  8. Whenever I see these clowns in action I get this mental image of the last true believer in Berlin ’45 telling the incredulous survivors of his platoon they are fighting for the Fatherland. Such passion, such belief, such utter conviction, such obvious bullshit.

  9. I remember you being at the Chicago conference, Bob, and discussing your Neither East Nor West anti-Cold War project at the time.

    I tried to warn everyone about Gunderson after that event. I saw it all coming. The first time I ever met him was in Canada in ’88 and I remember thinking at the time he was an aspiring Bob Avakian.

  10. I too was at the Love and Rage founding meeting, as well as Minneapolis, Toronto, and San Francisco. My strongest memories are of the “Smile” guys from Madison… Eric and … the one with the wire rimmed glasses. Wired-rimmed glasses were very popular amongst anti-capitalists at that time!

    I wonder if anyone here remembers me… I tried to argue against the inherent authoritarianism in the process pushed by Gunderson and the RSL, but I was about 20 years old, and just didn’t have the vocabulary or experience to be persuasive.

    My guess is that Gunderson was already some variety of authoritarian communist at that time, or even deep undercover for some intel organization. If not the latter, he might as well have been – same effect.

    I’m still an activist, but that experience really soured me on groups, organizations. It was a bad time.

  11. Ah, who doesn’t get called a racist, homophobic, bigot, fascist or whatnot these days. Now the PC left is even subdividing further and calling one another that it seems. The Propaganda tool of labeling is the weapon against all non-PC heretics. Keith will have to wear the scarlet letter ‘R’ from now on.

    • Yeah, it’s interesting how in 25 years I’ve managed to go from “communist” to “racist” just by standing in the same place. Maybe in the future I’ll somehow become a “Muslim,” lol.

  12. Well, according to Bush administration propaganda, you’re anti-war so it logically follows that your pro-terrorist. I would definitely say you’re an anarchist, Muslim brotherhood, Islamofascist.
    You’re anti-establishment, so you can bet, in another 25 years you’ll be called whatever the established political, economic, or cultural trends declare its mortal enemy. Given the ridicule PC receives now, who knows what the State and the Univerisities will morph PC into over time. Whatever that is, you will undoubtedly be called whatever that cultural zeitgeist declares it’s mortal ideological enemy. “Racist” replaced “communist” which replaced “Nazi.” I have no clue what nonsense will be next. I guess as we begin another cold war, the next derogatory label may have something to do with Russian politics.

  13. According to Orwell the State always needs an enemy, so maybe in the future, when Hillary or Cruz get into power, we’ll declare war with Mars. I can just see all the digital Martian terrorist videos Dream Works Theater in collaboration with the CIA will dream up. Maybe they’re preparing us for that with all of that Ancient Aliens nonsense that’s always on the ‘History’ channel. Bush, ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the Martians. hehehe. ‘ Martianofascist.
    I think an old Outer Limits episode had a plot along those lines.

  14. I keep reading all these older articles, and….damn! I didn’t know shit was that bad already back in 2012! I was in my last year of high school back then, kept hearing whispers of “social justice” and “political correctness” from the Tumblr kids, but I didn’t really realize it was already an issue with “grown-ups” too. Thought it was just some dumb teenage shit that didn’t blow up until 2015. All I remember from 2012 is the hype about December 21, the day the world was supposed to end.

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