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  1. This is an interesting video. I will say that though I identify with the traditionalist/alternative Right, Chomsky is someone I have a great deal of respect for and therefore would not dismiss his argument out of hand. His critique of US imperialism, for example, is pretty much right on.

    On this point as well I do think Chomsky has a point that we should be developing local networks and alternatives to the state. Indeed, large numbers of people would suffer if the state disappeared today. But I still think we should push for the public rejection of the state as an institution. This will only resonate with a limited number of folks. Most people are emotional, not logical or intellectual and lots of people even amonst those who are open to logic will not agree with us anyhow so there is no chance we will ever convince anything like a majority and certainly not significant numbers of the people Chomsky is primarily concerned about. However, as we grow the number of thinking folks who reject the state that will expand the range of discourse and thus the range of possibilities. In the meantime, I agree with Chomsky that we have to focus on building networks. I am doing that locally where I live.

  2. Firstly did I just hear the left wings favorite anarchist proclaim that abolishing the state is not the answer? Secondly without the state no one is going to pay for the health care of people they don’t know, that does not mean that churches and communities will be unwilling to look after there own sick and needy, but not for people they don’t know. Thirdly if you did not know this was Chomsky you could be excused for thinking this was someone who just defended the existence of the state. Ok, I have never taken a hand to revolutionary strategy before but here goes, and again I can only speak from my own experience: In South-Africa most provincial government agency’s run as section21 company’s that is company’s that exist without the profit motive (taxes pay of course). So if it is a fundamental/essential service they are providing they simply start charging a fee – if they have purpose they will make a profit if not they will go bankrupt – now I’m sure America has it’s equivalents of what I am speaking of. Town councils and metro councils will still exist – the central state can cease within a month and you will get up and go to work and life goes on, “large numbers of people would suffer if the state disappeared today” – not true I think you are vastly overestimating the states value to society . Spontaneous order evolves from that point forward, the state can not evolve because of it’s monopoly nature.

  3. I’m in agreement with Chomsky on the spirit of his statement regarding abolishing the state: what do we replace it with? Simply put, anarchist and local oriented, self sufficient, resilient economic, political and social infrastructure is not currently in place. The state is intertwined into society at a very deep level., If it disappeared overnight you’d see a pretty drastic collapse of the economy as it exists today. Right now thousands of laws prop up the current economic model, which in turn forms the economic base for local and state government monopolies on violence, justice as well as social services. IP laws, copyright & limited liability laws artificially orient the economy toward powerful corporations. State subsidized oil and transportation infrastructure artificially orient the economy toward big box retailers, agribusiness conglomerates, etc. Local laws support these same business interests through zoning laws, licsensure, and regulations that only larger firms can tolerate. So if the federal government disappeared overnight the tax base & bread and butter of local governments would disappear with it. No more courts or police.

    From a theoretical standpoint this is what we are going for. From a practical standpoint we need to be prepared for thousands of businesses to fold . So we need an alternative economic model in place. For instance, here in Portland some of the major employers include Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear & Intel. These are companies that rely heavily on federally enforced IP laws and international trade agreements with a lot of muscle behind them (the US military and police state.) I have a hard time imagining these companies continuing to exist in their current form absent the state. So if the state folded, imagine what unemployment levels would be in Portland and what that would in turn do to property values and thus to tax revenue for the city government?

    Just feeding this city takes a constant flow of food trucked in from the midwest where agricultural conglomerates (operating in the same legal and trade framework as Nike, Adidas, etc.) control the production of food and ship it across federally funded transportation infrastructure. With the state being abolished overnight we’re looking at massive food shortages across the country. Combine this with the fact that most Americans are 100% dependent on the government to provide them with protection, justice, law, social order, some sense of identity (a very weird one,) and I see food & unemployment riots followed by some new despot, at either the federal, regional, state or local level stepping in to maintain law and order: so long as you turn in your guns, rat out your neighbors, give up your freedom of speech, consent to spying on your personal life, consent to conscription, etc. etc.

    So yes, he’s right that we are currently unprepared to abolish the state in this country. He points to the Spanish anarchist revolution as an example of how we might prepare: with an alternative economic model, neighborhood militias, social services, etc. That is the sort of groundwork we are advocating for here at ATS/ARV. We may differ with Chomsky in that we appeal to a truly diverse set of American values that are often at odds with the mainstream American anarchist movement. In that regard we are simply being practical about strategy. We are maintaining our focus on the revolutionary struggle against the state, and avoiding unnecessary and counterproductive debates and clashes around lifestyle choices and values that should be local matters handled at the local level.

  4. “He points to the Spanish anarchist revolution as an example of how we might prepare”

    That’s the main problem I have with Chomsky’s views on these issue. He knows perfectly well that there actually exists a historical model of a functional anarchist revolutionary movement. But instead of trying to figure out how to transfer this concept to modern American society and culture, he simply falls back on the position of being barely to the left of the Democratic Party.

    The Spanish (and French and Portuguese) anarchist movements of the 1930s are the model for what I do. I see ARV/ATS as a prototype for something like the FAI: an anarchist leadership group that is committed to the pluralist “anarchism without adjectives” concept of the Magon brothers and others. I see the pan-secessionist confederation I envision as the equivalent of the CNT only instead of being specifically oriented towards proletarians proper it is a type of libertarian-populist communitarian movement oriented towards creating autonomous radical communities (kind of a Tucker and Hess meets Kropotkin and Bookchin scenario). I see my advocacy of building bridges to paleocons and constitutionalists on the right and Greens and socialists on the left and my endorse of antigovernment militias to be the equivalent of the “anti-fascist” alliance put together by the anarchists during the Civil War (which also included social democrats, classical liberals, conservative peasant organizations, and even some non-Francoist nationalists). My liberty and population/ten core demographics strategy is simply about building as many constituents for our perspective as we can.

  5. “We are maintaining our focus on the revolutionary struggle against the state, and avoiding unnecessary and counterproductive debates and clashes around lifestyle choices and values that should be local matters handled at the local level.”

    It was pointed out to me recently that it’s not like I’ve ever really asked the mainstream anarchists to abandon their lifestyle or broader ideological preferences. I’d be fine with them keeping the same outlook they have now but expanding it a bit to include the possibility of bringing all kinds of anti-state radicals into a broader tactical alliance against the state and to cultivate an even broader array of constituent groups towards this end. I think their general adherence to the paradigm of the academic left is a bit one-sided and cliched, but that by itself doesn’t bother me so much. It’s more the way they let such matters get in the way of building a larger, more effective anti-state movement. For instance, rejecting antiwar palecons because some of them look askance at same-sex marriage and mass immigration seems silly, especially given that most of them are also radical decentralists.

  6. Imagine if some public intellectual, an opinion leader on the level of Chomsky, were to actually endorse our positions. What a coup that would be. 🙂

  7. Exactly. I just don’t understand Chomsky. I’d almost even say Anarchism is gaining more popularity than Democratic Socialism right now. (A Socialist friend of mine even admitted it) Yet, he embraces Obama over Ron Paul even calling Obama “at least somewhat grounding in the real world” as if bombing the shit out of Muslim children is a degree saner than ending entitlement programs.

  8. I think the most disgraceful thing about the American left is its insistence that defense of the welfare state and identity politics are more important than ending the massacres the empire is carrying out overseas. When even the empire’s foremost critic from the left takes such a position, it’s even more troubling.

  9. I am still taken back by the fact that he said ending the state is not the solution, so I have to push on. There are levels of government, – any medium size state in America apart from federal government has more organizational skills, resources, technology and centralized power then Nazi Germany had at the height of its power. So you end the federal government, you don’t have anarchy but if people see the sky does not fall on there heads they will be more receptive to the idea of decentralization. If you take it a bit further and say you abolish state/provincial government depending in which country you live – you still have municipal government which simply raise taxes and take over the business of government -you don’t have full blown anarchy but at least you are closer –if you plan to wait and organize only for some yet undetermined event that may or may not happen or for a consensus amongst dissidents you will wait forever. At the end of apartheid people reckoned whites only had 3 choices 1)integrate 2)segregate 3)emigrate (all other options are dust in the wind) so what was the right answer? Well all 3 because people chose differently to there own interest. So, what will happen 1)Anarcho-capitalism 2)Syndicalism 3)National-Anarchism. Well all of them, as people get to choose differently to there own interest. Even Anarcho-communism except I don’t think people will call it that, they will simply call it “culture” – the one thing so many communist were so quick to criticise is probably the only sphere of human existence where there theories could work on a voluntary basis.

  10. I agree, Kan-Wil-Sal. Fortunately, we are not looking at one single event that will cause the state to evaporate, but will instead see it gradually replaced at the local level. This is as good as saying, “let’s abolish the state,” which any authentic anarchist should be saying in one form or another.

  11. I’m with Chompsky on this. If there is one constructive thing any individual or group can do to actually bring a stateless society which is not actually worse than the state we already have it is to devise and implement some sort of practical techniques people can use to reduce their dependence on the state. Demanding the abolition of the state is like attempting to defend yourself against a psychotic serial killer by persuading him to commit suicide or wishing him to explode.

    Ultimately it’s a simple as this, by building the parallel structures a post state society must have if you hope for anything better than Hobbs “war of all against all” you are already doing everything practical and constructive you can towards bringing about a world, or at the very least your world, free of the tyranny of the state. Let’s be absolutely honest, we are the kind of people who enjoy arcane discussions about political philosophy and, better yet, political taxonomy; however we should not imagine for one second that this is having the slightest effect on the viability of the state. Not to beat up on ourselves or anything, I mean we could be doing less, like waving a placard or trying to gnaw through the bars of a fed pen window or something.

    I mean I sympathise with the mission to produce a “grand unifying theory” of radicalism, but it’s not like it’s that hard to work out what that is; “I won’t tell you what to do if you don’t tell me what to do”. It’s pretty hard to imagine that anyone worth recruiting from the various radical traditions wouldn’t have worked that out for themselves if they in anyway had the mental resources to deal with the implications of not being a perfect cunt.

    The task we must apply ourselves to surely must be to work out the hard part which is not “why you should do it?” but “how you should do it?” or better yet “how could we do it?”. If we could say to people “if you do THIS (which works as I’ve just proven) you can reasonably expect to be as free as anyone normal person ever has been, and probably wealthier, happier and healthier as well” then we could probably afford to leave the working out of the reply to the objection “why?” to just about everyone with an IQ above 80.

    For a slightly more coherent discussion of related points check out that seminal Crimethinc essay “your politics are as boring as fuck” ( http://crimethinc.com/texts/selected/asfuck.php ).

    “Imagine if some public intellectual, an opinion leader on the level of Chomsky, were to actually endorse our positions. What a coup that would be.” 🙂

    Be easier just to get you hired as a Prof. of Linguistics at MIT.

  12. The issue I have with Chomsky on these questions is not that he says that carte blanche abolition of state-administered social services might be a bad idea if no constructive alternatives are waiting to replace them. I don’t even have a problem with his advocacy of strategic voting for Democrats or Greens in order to keep Sanitarium, Bachmann, or The Grinch from getting their hands on America’s nuclear arsenal.

    The problem is that he doesn’t even try to articulate alternatives to the statist paradigm beyond the most superficial levels (like an occasional reference to Mondragon or the CNT). On virtually every question, he adopts the standard left-liberal, social democratic position, even on non-economic issues like gun laws. He also supports the UN (which has always been an administrative unit for the major imperialist powers), denounces the anti-Fed movement, accepts the cliched liberal position on public schools, affirmative action, and tons of other things without trying to inject any nuance at all, much less making an actual effort to develop a consistently anti-state position.

    That said, I still think he does a lot more good than harm, of course. His critique of US foreign policy is still among the best out there, and his diagnosis of the media and academia as the intellectual and propaganda wings of the empire is spot on. Plus, unlike most leftists, he understands that capitalism as he criticizes it has nothing to with lassez faire but rests decisively on statism.

  13. RJ, I understand your argument about constructing an intellectual anti state movement. However I just wonder if rather than advocate an intellectual position, which like all intellectual positions, can only appeal to the minority who have developed a political consciousness, might it not be more effective to advocate practical measures which appeal to naked self interest and greed?

    After all the Ancien Regime and the Feudal paradigm did not fall because of an intellectual argument against its moral basis, it fell because a new class arose as the result of a new economic system. That system was not enthusiastically taken up because it was morally/intellectually superior, but because it allowed elements of the population to get their dirty hands on resources, some of which they later turned on the old elite in order to get hold of their resources as well.

    The argument should not be “do this because it’s right” or even “do this because the current system is bullshit” but “do this because it you will benefit in every respect”.

  14. It’s kind of mind blowing that John Logue, the director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, has a more “anarchist” perspective than Chomsky on solutions.

    “progressives [need to] stop seeing the state as the only way to handle issues of income inequality and start thinking about how to generate more economic equality in the market. Progressives today look like the proverbial squirrel on the treadmill: they keep having to run faster and faster to stay in the same place. This won’t change unless they get to the source, which is within the market economy.”

  15. I don’t even know where Mosier is!

    A programmer friend of mine describes democracy as hacking the human mind, specifically emotions and belief structures. I’d expand that to all politics, including what we are doing here. I agree that the political must precede the economic.

    I would love to hear you on the ATS show.

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