by Keith Preston
“I am not bound to defend liberal notions of tolerance.” –Left-wing anarchist activist to the author
The rise of the New Left is typically considered to have its origins in the student rebellions of the late 1960s and early 1970s when the war in Vietnam was at its height and cultural transformation was taking place in Western countries with dizzying rapidity. Yet scholars have long recognized that the intellectual roots of the New Left were created several decades earlier through the efforts of the thinkers associated with the Institute for Social Research (commonly known as the “Frankfurt School”) to reconsider the essence of Marxist theory following the failure of the working classes of Western Europe to produce a socialist revolution as orthodox Marxism had predicted.
The support shown for their respective national states by the European working classes, and indeed by the Socialist parties of Europe themselves, during the Great War which had broken out in 1914 had generated a crisis of faith for Marxist theoreticians. Marx had taught that the working classes had no country of their own and that the natural loyalties of the workers were not to their nations but to their socioeconomic class and its material interests. Marxism predicted a class revolution that would transcend national and cultural boundaries and regarded such concepts as national identity and cultural traditions as nothing more than hollow concepts generated by the broader ideological superstructure of capitalism (and feudalism before it) that served to legitimize the established mode of production. Yet the patriotic fervor shown by the workers during the war, the failure of the workers to carry out a class revolution even after the collapse of capitalism during the interwar era, and the rise of fascism during the same period all indicated that something was amiss concerning Marxist orthodoxy. The thinkers of the Frankfurt School sought to reconsider Marxism in light of these events without jettisoning the core precepts of Marxism, such as its critique of the political economy of capitalism, alienation, and the material basis of ideological hegemony.
The Institute attracted many genuine and interesting scholars some of whom were luminaries of the unique and fascinating German intellectual culture of the era of the Weimar Republic. Among these were Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Otto Kirchheimer, Franz Neumann, and Erich Fromm. But the thinker associated with the Institute who would ultimately have the greatest influence was the philosopher and political theorist Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979). The reach of Marcuse’s influence is indicated by the fact that during the student uprisings in France during 1968, which very nearly toppled the regime of Charles De Gaulle, graffiti would appear on public buildings with the slogan: “Marx, Mao, Marcuse.” Arguably, there was no intellectual who had a greater impact on the development of the New Left than Marcuse.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School immigrated to the United States and reestablished the Institute at Columbia University in New York City. Marcuse became a United States citizen in 1940 and during World War Two was employed by the Office of War Information, Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency), and the U.S. Department of State. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Marcuse was a professor of political theory at Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis, and the University of California at San Diego. During his time in academia, Marcuse continued the efforts to revise Marxism in light of the conditions of an industrially advanced mid-twentieth century society. One of his most influential works was an effort to synthesize Marx and Freud, Eros and Civilization, published in 1955, and One Dimensional Man, a critique of the consumer culture of the postwar era and the integration of the traditional working classes into the consumer culture generated by capitalism. Both of these works became major texts for the student activists of the New Left.
Because of his legacy as an intellectual godfather of the New Left and the radical social movements of the 1960s and 1970s generally, Marcuse is not surprisingly a rather polarizing figure in contemporary intellectual discourse regarding those fields where his thinking has gained tremendous influence. Much of the curriculum of the humanities departments in Western universities is essentially derived from the thought of Marcuse and his contemporaries, particularly in sociology, anthropology, gender studies, ethnic studies, and studies of sexuality, but also in history, psychology, and literature. It is quite certain that if Marcuse and his fellow scholars from the Frankfurt School, such as Adorno and Horkheimer, were still alive today they would no doubt be regarded as god-like figures by contemporary leftist academics and students. From the other end of the political spectrum, many partisans of the political right, traditionalists, religious fundamentalists, nationalists, and social conservatives regard Marcuse as the personification of evil. Because the legacy of Marcuse’s work is so controversial and polarizing, it is important to develop a rational understanding of what his most influential ideas actually were.
Although he remained a Marxist until his death, Marcuse was never an apologist for the totalitarian regimes that had emerged in Communist countries. Indeed, he wrote in defense of dissidents who were subject to repression under those regimes, such as the East German dissident Rudolph Bahro. Marcuse considered orthodox Marxism as lacking concern for the individual and criticized what he regarded as the insufficiently libertarian character of Marxism. Like many associated with the New Left, he often expressed a preference for the writings of the younger Marx, which have a humanistic orientation inspired by the idealism of nineteenth century utopian socialism, as opposed to the turgid and ideologically rigid writings of the elder Marx. The thinkers of the Frankfurt School had also been influenced by the Weberian critique of the massive growth of bureaucracy in modern societies and strongly criticized the hyper-bureaucratic tendencies of both capitalist and communist countries as they were during the Cold War period.
Marcuse regarded the consumer culture that emerged during the postwar economic boom as representing a form of social control produced and maintained by capitalism. According to Marcuse, capitalist productivity had grown to the level where the industrial proletariat was no longer the impoverished wage slaves of Marx’s era. Economic growth, technological expansion, and the successes of labor reform movements in Western countries, had allowed the working classes to achieve a middle class standard of living and become integrated into the wider institutional framework of capitalism. Consequently, workers in advanced industrial societies no longer held any revolutionary potential and had become loyal subjects of the state in the same manner as the historic bourgeoisie before them. This by itself is not an original or even particularly insightful observation. However, Marcuse did not believe that the rising living standards and institutional integration of the working classes represented an absence of exploitation. Rather, Marcuse felt that the consumer culture made available by affluent industrial societies had multiple deleterious effects.
First, consumer culture had the effect of “buying off” the workers by offering them a lifestyle of relative comfort and material goods in exchange for their continuing loyalty to capitalism and indifference to struggles for social and political change. Second, consumer culture created a kind of a false consciousness among the public at large through the use of the advertising industry and mass media generally to inculcate the values of consumerism and to essentially create unnecessary wants and perceived needs among the population. The effect of this is that people were working more than they really needed to sustain themselves in order to achieve the values associated with consumer culture. This created not only the psychological damaging “rat race” lifestyle of the competitive capitalist workforce and marketplace, but generated excessive waste (demonstrated by such phenomena as “planned obsolescence,” for example), environmental destruction, and even imperialist war for the conquest of newer capitalist markets, access to material resources, and the thwarting of movements for self-determination or social change in underdeveloped parts of the world. Third, Marcuse saw a relationship between the domination of consumer culture and the outlandishly repressive sexual mores of the 1950s era (where the term “pregnant” was banned from American television, for instance). According to Marcuse, the consumerist ethos generated by capitalism expected the individual to experience pleasure through material acquisition and consumption rather than through sexual expression or participation. The worker was expected to forgo sex in favor of work and channel libidinal drives into consumerist drives. Material consumption was the worker’s reward for avoiding erotic pleasure. For this reason, Marcuse regarded sexual expression and participation (what he famously called “polymorphous perversity”) as a potential force for the subversion of the capitalist system. As the sexual revolution grew in the 1960s, student radicals would champion this view with the slogan “make love, not war.”
As the working class had ceased to be a revolutionary force, Marcuse began to look to other social groups as potentially viable catalysts for radical social and political change. These included the array of the traditionally subordinated, excluded, or marginalized such as racial minorities, feminists, homosexuals, and young people, along with privileged and educated critics of the status quo such as radical intellectuals. Marcuse personally outlined and developed much of the intellectual foundation of the radical movements of the 1960s and exerted much personal influence on leading figures in these movements. The Black Panther figure Angela Davis and the Youth International Party (“Yippie”) founder and “Chicago Seven” defendant Abbie Hoffman had both been students of Marcuse while he taught at Brandeis. However, it would be a mistake to regard Marcuse as having somehow been a leader or founder of these movements. Marcuse did not so much serve as a radical leader during the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s as much as he was an interpreter of social and political currents that were then emerging and a scholar who provided ideas with which discontented thinkers and activists could identify. It is often argued by some on the political right that the thinkers of the Frankfurt School hatched a nefarious plot to destroy Western civilization through the seizure and subversion of cultural institutions. This theory suggests that radical Marxists came to believe that they must first control institutions that disseminate ideas such as education and entertainment in order to remove the false consciousness previously inculcated in the masses by capitalist domination over these institutions before the masses can achieve the level of radical consciousness necessary to carry out a socialist revolution. Those on the right with an inclination towards anti-Semitism will also point out that most of the luminaries of the Frankfurt School, such as Marcuse, were ethnic Jews.
Yet the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was the product of a convergence of a vast array of forces. The feminist revolution, for instance, had as much to do with the integration of women into the industrial workforce during World War Two while the men were absent fighting the war and the need for an ever greater pool of skilled workers in an expanding industrial economy during a time of tremendous technological advancement and population growth as it does with the ambitions of far left radicals. The real fuel behind the growth of the youth and student movements of the 1960s was likely the war in Vietnam and the desire of many young people of conscription age to avoid death and dismemberment in a foolish war in which they had no stake. The sexual revolution was made possible in large part by the invention of the birth control pill and the mass production of penicillin which reduced the health and social risks associated with sexual activity. The racial revolution of the era was rooted in centuries old conflicts and struggles that had been given new impetus by growing awareness of the excesses which occurred during the Nazi period. The heightened interest in environmental conservation, concerns for populations with serious disadvantages (such as the disabled or mentally ill), increased emphasis on personal fulfillment and physical and psychological health, and concern for social and political rights beyond those of a purely material nature all reflect the achievements and ambitions of an affluent, post-scarcity society where basic material needs are largely met. Suffice to say that the transformation of an entire civilization in the space of a decade can hardly be attributed to the machinations of a handful of European radicals forty years earlier.
There is actually much of value in the work of the Frankfurt School scholars. They are to be commended for their honest confrontation with some of the failings and weaknesses of Marxist orthodoxy even while many of their fellow Marxists continued to cling uncritically to an outmoded doctrine. Marcuse and his colleagues are to be respected for their skepticism regarding the authoritarian communist states when many of their contemporaries, such as Jean Paul Sartre, embraced regimes of this type with appalling naivete. The critique of consumer culture and the “culture industry” offered by Marcuse, Horkheimer, and others may itself be one-dimensional and lacking in nuance at times, but it does raise valid and penetrating questions about a society that has become so relentlessly media-driven and oriented towards fads and fashions in such a “bread and circuses” manner. However, while Marcuse was neither a god nor a devil, but merely a scholar and thinker whose ideas were both somewhat prescient and reflective of the currents of his time, there is an aspect to his thought that has left a genuinely pernicious influence. In 1965, Marcuse published an essay titled, “Repressive Tolerance,” which foreshadows very clearly the direction in which left-wing opinion and practice has developed since that time.
The essay is essentially an argument against the Western liberal tradition rooted in the thinking of Locke, with its Socratic and Scholastic precedents, which came into political reality in the nineteenth century and which was a monumental achievement for civilization. In this essay, Marcuse regurgitates the conventional Marxist line that freedom of opinion and speech in a liberal state is a bourgeois sham that only masks capitalist hegemony and domination. Of course, there is some truth to this claim. As Marcuse said:
But with the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination, effective dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge; in the formation of opinion, in information and communication, in speech and assembly. Under the rule of monopolistic media – themselves the mere instruments of economic and political power – a mentality is created for which right and wrong, true and false are predefined wherever they affect the vital interests of the society. This is, prior to all expression and communication, a matter of semantics: the blocking of effective dissent, of the recognition of that which is not of the Establishment which begins in the language that is publicized and administered. The meaning of words is rigidly stabilized. Rational persuasion, persuasion to the opposite is all but precluded.
Marcuse proceeds from this observation not to advocate for institutional or economic structures that might make the practical and material means of communication or expression more readily available to more varied or dissenting points of view but to attack liberal conceptions of tolerance altogether.
These background limitations of tolerance are normally prior to the explicit and judicial limitations as defined by the courts, custom, governments, etc. (for example, “clear and present danger”, threat to national security, heresy). Within the framework of such a social structure, tolerance can be safely practiced and proclaimed. It is of two kinds: (i) the passive toleration of entrenched and established attitudes and ideas even if their damaging effect on man and nature is evident, and (2) the active, official tolerance granted to the Right as well as to the Left, to movements of aggression as well as to movements of peace, to the party of hate as well as to that of humanity. I call this non-partisan tolerance “abstract” or “pure” inasmuch as it refrains from taking sides – but in doing so it actually protects the already established machinery of discrimination.
This statement reflects the by now quite familiar leftist claim that non-leftist opinions are being offered from a position of privilege or hegemony and are therefore by definition unworthy of being heard. Marcuse argues that tolerance has a higher purpose:
The telos [goal] of tolerance is truth. It is clear from the historical record that the authentic spokesmen of tolerance had more and other truth in mind than that of propositional logic and academic theory. John Stuart Mill speaks of the truth which is persecuted in history and which does not triumph over persecution by virtue of its “inherent power”, which in fact has no inherent power “against the dungeon and the stake”. And he enumerates the “truths” which were cruelly and successfully liquidated in the dungeons and at the stake: that of Arnold of Brescia, of Fra Dolcino, of Savonarola, of the Albigensians, Waldensians, Lollards, and Hussites. Tolerance is first and foremost for the sake of the heretics – the historical road toward humanitas appears as heresy: target of persecution by the powers that be. Heresy by itself, however, is no token of truth.
This statement on its face might be beyond reproach were it not for its implicit suggestion that only leftists and those favored by leftists can ever rightly be considered among the ranks of the unjustly “persecuted” or among those who have truth to tell. Marcuse goes on to offer his own version of “tolerance” in opposition to conventional, empirical, value neutral notions of tolerance of the kind associated with the liberal tradition.
Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word. The traditional criterion of clear and present danger seems no longer adequate to a stage where the whole society is in the situation of the theater audience when somebody cries: “fire”. It is a situation in which the total catastrophe could be triggered off any moment, not only by a technical error, but also by a rational miscalculation of risks, or by a rash speech of one of the leaders. In past and different circumstances, the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi leaders were the immediate prologue to the massacre. The distance between the propaganda and the action, between the organization and its release on the people had become too short. But the spreading of the word could have been stopped before it was too late: if democratic tolerance had been withdrawn when the future leaders started their campaign, mankind would have had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a World War.
The whole post-fascist period is one of clear and present danger. Consequently, true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs.
Here Marcuse is clearly stating that he is not simply advocating “intolerance” of non-leftist opinion in the sense of offering criticism, rebuttal, counterargument, or even shaming, shunning, or ostracism. What he is calling for is the full fledged state repression of non-leftist opinion or expression. Nor is this repression to be limited to right-wing movements with an explicitly authoritarian agenda that aims to subvert the liberal society. Marcuse makes this very clear in a 1968 postscript to the original 1965 essay:
Given this situation, I suggested in “Repressive Tolerance” the practice of discriminating tolerance in an inverse direction, as a means of shifting the balance between Right and Left by restraining the liberty of the Right, thus counteracting the pervasive inequality of freedom (unequal opportunity of access to the means of democratic persuasion) and strengthening the oppressed against the oppressed. Tolerance would be restricted with respect to movements of a demonstrably aggressive or destructive character (destructive of the prospects for peace, justice, and freedom for all). Such discrimination would also be applied to movements opposing the extension of social legislation to the poor, weak, disabled. As against the virulent denunciations that such a policy would do away with the sacred liberalistic principle of equality for “the other side”, I maintain that there are issues where either there is no “other side” in any more than a formalistic sense, or where “the other side” is demonstrably “regressive” and impedes possible improvement of the human condition. To tolerate propaganda for inhumanity vitiates the goals not only of liberalism but of every progressive political philosophy.
If the choice were between genuine democracy and dictatorship, democracy would certainly be preferable. But democracy does not prevail. The radical critics of the existing political process are thus readily denounced as advocating an “elitism”, a dictatorship of intellectuals as an alternative. What we have in fact is government, representative government by a non-intellectual minority of politicians, generals, and businessmen. The record of this “elite” is not very promising, and political prerogatives for the intelligentsia may not necessarily be worse for the society as a whole.
In this passage Marcuse is very clearly advocating totalitarian controls over political speech and expression that is the mirror image of the Stalinist states that he otherwise criticized for their excessive bureaucratization, economism, and repression of criticism from the Left. Marcuse makes it perfectly clear that not only perceived fascists and neo-nazis would be subject to repression under his model regime but so would even those who question the expansion of the welfare state (thereby contradicting Marcuse’s criticism of bureaucracy). Marcuse states this elsewhere in “Repressive Tolerance.”
Surely, no government can be expected to foster its own subversion, but in a democracy such a right is vested in the people (i.e. in the majority of the people). This means that the ways should not be blocked on which a subversive majority could develop, and if they are blocked by organized repression and indoctrination, their reopening may require apparently undemocratic means. They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc”
Marcuse’s liberatory socialism is in fact to be a totalitarian bureaucracy where those who criticize leftist orthodoxy in apparently even the slightest way are to be subject to state repression. This is precisely the attitude that the authoritarian Left demonstrates at the present time. Such views are becoming increasingly entrenched in mainstream institutions and in the state under the guise of so-called “political correctness.” Indeed, much of the mainstream “anarchist” movement reflects Marcuse’s thinking perfectly. These “anarchists” ostensibly criticize statism, bureaucracy, capitalism, consumerism, imperialism, war, and repression, and advocate for all of the popular “social justice” causes of the day. “Tolerance” has ostensibly become the ultimate virtue for such people. Yet underneath this “tolerance” is a visceral and often violent hostility to those who dissent from leftist orthodoxy on any number of questions in even a peripheral or moderate way. Indeed, the prevalence of this leftist intolerance within the various anarchist milieus has become the principle obstacle to the growth of a larger and more effective anarchist movement.
A functional anarchist, libertarian, or anti-state movement must first and foremost reclaim the liberal tradition of authentic tolerance of the kind that insists that decent regard for other people and a fair hearing for contending points of view on which no one ultimately has the last word must be balanced with the promulgation of ideological principles no matter how much one believes these principles to be “true.” A functional and productive anarchist movement must recognize and give a seat at the table to all of the contending schools of anarchism, including non-leftist ones, and embrace those from overlapping ideologies where there is common ground. A serious anarchist movement must address points of view offered by the opposition in an objective manner that recognizes and concedes valid issues others may raise even in the face of ideological disagreement. Lastly, a genuine anarchist movement must realize that there is no issue that is so taboo that is should be taken off the table as a fitting subject for discussion and debate. Only when anarchists embrace these values will they be worthy of the name.
William S. Lind. The Origins of Political Correctness. Accuracy in Academica. 2000. Archived at http://www.academia.org/the-origins-of-political-correctness/. Accessed on May 12, 2013.
Herbert Marcuse. Repressive Tolerance. 1965, 1968. Archived at http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/pubs/60spubs/65repressivetolerance.htm Accessed on May 12, 2013.
Martin Jay. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research. University of California Press, 1966.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Marcuse – cite_note-marcuse.org-9
Categories: Left and Right
Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
Herbert Marcuse was surprisingly honest.
I really enjoyed this analysis. I was surprised at how much I agree with Marcuse, especially on the so-called “mental environmentalist” approach he seems to take. The pedigree of Adbusters and, by extension, Occupy is clear as day here. I don’t see why it’s so unlibertarian, either, to remark that mass society might have psychic “pollution” as a negative externality.
What I keep asking myself when I read this essay is how he could be so certain his institutions of choice (be they state, academia, media, etc.) would accurately identify the correct information to repress? As Keith said, it seems to surpass hypocrisy and lean towards full-on disassociation to, on the one hand, dissent against Stalin and Mao, and to, on the other hand, advocate for the unilateral repression of heretic opinion. Does Marcuse ever address this glaringly obvious hole in his entire approach?
And this line of his:
sounds a hell of a lot like Carl Schmidt, no (tolerating certain kinds of dissent leads to the breakdown of Constitutional order that makes free dissent possible)? Only coming from a somewhat opposite set of values, I suppose, but a very similarly constructed argument. But this seems to almost be a blueprint of modern left anarchism: anti-state but focused on cultural reproduction more than statecraft.
What Marcuse is advocating sounds a lot like Article 55 of the constitution of Enver Hoxha’s communist Albania:
The creation of any type of organization of a fascist, anti-democratic, religious, and anti-socialist character is prohibited.
Fascist, anti-democratic, religious, war-mongering, and anti-socialist activities and propaganda, as well as the incitement of national and racial hatred are prohibited.”
The German legal system today is actually based on a lot of Schmitt’s ideas. For instance, the German constitutional court has the authority to ban political parties that are declared unconstitutional. A number of far right, neo-nazi, or communist groups have been banned there as a result.
LOL, I supposed we could also make a comparison with Hans Hermann Hoppe’s often quoted statement about banning socialists from libertarian proprietarian communities. Interesting how all these guys were/are Germans.
‘Fascist, anti-democratic, religious, war-mongering, and anti-socialist activities and propaganda, as well as the incitement of national and racial hatred are prohibited.”’
Besides ‘anti socialist’, this is the radical left wing in AmeriKa.
Racists who hate white peeps GUTS.
Nice essay. It is refreshing to see people on the neo-right grappling with reality instead of wallowing in their own propaganda. For further reading, Kolakowski’s Herbert Marcuse: Marxism as a totalitarian Utopia, in the third volume of his main currents of Marxism, is an excellent resource. (No serious anti-communist should neglect Kolakowski.)
Marcuse’s arguments in the quoted passages essentially boil down to the assertion that a revolution cannot tolerate the freedom of its enemies. This is hardly novel. Neither is the plan to set up a new system of repressive power. Both ideas predate Marxism, indeed both predate “the left” itself. All Marcuse did was offer them again in a language that was accessible and attractive to a new generation, claiming that this was a form of authentic “tolerance”.
As a Marxist he actually wasn’t that bad, in as much as he wanted to silence people rather than murder or enslave entire social classes.
What was original about Marcuse was that he synthesized aspects of classical Marxism with Freud, that he shifted the focus of leftist struggle from economics and politics to culture and psychology, and that he changed the location of the revolutionary class from the proletariat to the disaffected college student. The last was the primary source of his appeal to the new left, and is his enduring legacy in the left. This is why you today find Marxists in the language studies department rather than the shop floor.
It you want to blame someone for the authoritarian tendencies of the left, the man to blame is Marx, not Marcuse. That these tendencies have persisted so long after Marxism completely collapsed as a political project and fell entirely out of fashion is just evidence that they are an enduring part of human nature. They find expression in ideas and ideologies, but the source is deeper any system of words. You can see the same mentality at work in the libertarian right among orthodox ARI Objectivists, with all their sad little witch hunts.
Americans have always had authoritarian tendencies, and they go back to the founding. The libertarian myth of an original “pure liberty” can only be believed in if you ignore the real history of this country. The ruling elite have always tried to regulate public morality with brute force, and so has the mob of common people. Remember prohibition? That wasn’t a leftist project. 100 years ago you could be sent to a prison or a mental hospital, or even get murdered by a mob, for being a homosexual. Now you can be harassed by a protest group, or fired from your job, for saying something homophobic. What has changed is the morality of the ruling class, and the specific methods it uses to enforce it. Nothing is new about Americans using the state to regulate speech and behavior, and historically it has been the right that primarily engaged in it.
There is also something bizarre about focusing on campus speech codes and stupid leftism as evidence of a police state. College campuses are not North Koreas. Any idiot can see that. You are far more likely to get violently murdered by the police in this country for transgressing laws supported by the cultural right (drug laws) than you are for breaking a speech code. The modern American gulags full of millions of innocent people are a product of the drug war, not the campus thought police. The people on the wrong side of the razor wire fences, trapped in a modern system of state run slavery, are mostly black, brown and working class. I guess recognizing this would conflict with your conservative-victimhood ideology, however, and in that you mirror the very identity politics left you so despise.
I also have to wonder why it is that the anarcho-right is so desperate to be accepted by the anarchist left. To begin with, this is never going to happen as long as you associate with white supremacists (however rebranded) and insist on using the symbols and language of fascism.
Since you claim to be tribalists, let me explain something to you:
Nazism is the great tribal enemy of the anarchist left. Always will be.
Is that hard to understand?
It is about the only thing leftist anarchists agree on. If you want to go around with fascist symbols and hang out with neo-nazi scum, you have forsaken any possibility of a “pan anarchist alliance”, by definition. Whining about it is just stupid. Either make a clean and permanent break with all your racist friends and all your` tendencies to use racist and fascist symbols and code language, or accept that you will never be accepted by left anarchists.
What exactly is it that you think you would gain from this alliance? The track record of leftist anarchism in the US for the last thirty years is a track record of pathetic failure. It is mainly a drop out subculture for middle class white losers. It has not produced a single revolutionary idea in generations. It has no roots in any of oppressed classes in our society, it has no legitimacy with the vast majority of the populace, and aside from retarded protest antics it has no political strategy to speak of. Did you really want to go and live in a pissed on tent during occupy? Are you a scabies infested vegan hippie? Do you really want to go to GA meetings? Why are you trying to join the most discredited and hopeless political movement in the country?
If right wing anarchism has any future (aside from being a loser subculture of the fringe right) it would be in the direction of inciting the white working class. They certainly have plenty of grievances, and plenty of enemies. If you could get beyond your reflexive racism of scapegoating Mexicans for the disasters of neoliberalism, you could do some real damage. It would take a lot of hard work and hard thinking, but the opportunities are there. The modern left certainly isn’t going to make use of them.
Stop trying to join “the left” and go investigate the lives of the people in the trailer parks, and figure out how to fuck up their actual enemies. Like Wal-Mart, for example. Or the local child-confiscation department of “human services”. Or the parole and work release programs that have half of the trailer park living in a system of open slavery. Setting your sights on academic liberals is cowardly, and beside the point. Pick your fights with real enemies, not stupid college professors or retarded leftists.
Thank you for an excellent post. I agree with most of what you said, particularly your discussion of Marcuse, Marx, and the Left.
“You are far more likely to get violently murdered by the police in this country for transgressing laws supported by the cultural right (drug laws) than you are for breaking a speech code. The modern American gulags full of millions of innocent people are a product of the drug war, not the campus thought police. The people on the wrong side of the razor wire fences, trapped in a modern system of state run slavery, are mostly black, brown and working class. I guess recognizing this would conflict with your conservative-victimhood ideology, however, and in that you mirror the very identity politics left you so despise.”
“If right wing anarchism has any future (aside from being a loser subculture of the fringe right) it would be in the direction of inciting the white working class. They certainly have plenty of grievances, and plenty of enemies. If you could get beyond your reflexive racism of scapegoating Mexicans for the disasters of neoliberalism, you could do some real damage. It would take a lot of hard work and hard thinking, but the opportunities are there. The modern left certainly isn’t going to make use of them.
Stop trying to join “the left” and go investigate the lives of the people in the trailer parks, and figure out how to fuck up their actual enemies. Like Wal-Mart, for example. Or the local child-confiscation department of “human services”. Or the parole and work release programs that have half of the trailer park living in a system of open slavery. Setting your sights on academic liberals is cowardly, and beside the point. Pick your fights with real enemies, not stupid college professors or retarded leftists.”
You are a bit confused about our purpose and aims. Our mission is to oppose the very things you are describing. That’s what “attacking the system” is all about. I criticize the left-anarchists and PC academics not because I regard them as the primary enemy, but because they are a nuisance that is in the way.
“I also have to wonder why it is that the anarcho-right is so desperate to be accepted by the anarchist left. To begin with, this is never going to happen as long as you associate with white supremacists (however rebranded) and insist on using the symbols and language of fascism.
Since you claim to be tribalists, let me explain something to you:
Nazism is the great tribal enemy of the anarchist left. Always will be.
Is that hard to understand?”
I have no interest in joining the anarchist left. My aim is to build a pan-anarchist movement that reaches out beyond the left-anarchist subculture and eventually supersedes and eclipses it. Some years ago I called for “a revolution within anarchism itself” and that’s precisely what I’m developing.
“It is about the only thing leftist anarchists agree on. If you want to go around with fascist symbols and hang out with neo-nazi scum, you have forsaken any possibility of a “pan anarchist alliance”, by definition. Whining about it is just stupid. Either make a clean and permanent break with all your racist friends and all your` tendencies to use racist and fascist symbols and code language, or accept that you will never be accepted by left anarchists.”
If I were accepted by left-anarchists, I’d be doing something wrong. As a pan-anarchist or anarcho-pluralist, my view is that every anarchist sect or wider cultural tribe is entitled to the symbols and flags they wish. Certainly, there are things I might personally look askance at, like a groups that placed a swastika, hammer and sickle, or NAMBLA acronym on a black flag with a circle A imposed over the top. But that’s my problem. As pan-anarchist, I believe it’s possible and legitimate for different tribes, sects, and communities to have different and even polar opposite values. Hence, there can be LGBT tribes and skinhead tribes and Christian or Muslim or Black Panther tribes.
“The track record of leftist anarchism in the US for the last thirty years is a track record of pathetic failure. It is mainly a drop out subculture for middle class white losers. It has not produced a single revolutionary idea in generations. It has no roots in any of oppressed classes in our society, it has no legitimacy with the vast majority of the populace, and aside from retarded protest antics it has no political strategy to speak of. Did you really want to go and live in a pissed on tent during occupy? Are you a scabies infested vegan hippie? Do you really want to go to GA meetings? Why are you trying to join the most discredited and hopeless political movement in the country?”
No disagreement there. There are many Occupiers who are no doubt serious enemies of the system, but as a general observation I share your dismissive attitude towards the Left in its present form.
Many years ago I came to the realization that left-anarchism had a rather limited growth potential, in addition to its general lack of competence when it comes to meat and potatoes activism. The problem is that left-anarchism is more of a youth subculture than a political movement, and that by itself is inherently self-limiting for obvious reasons.
Additionally, most left-anarchists insist that anyone who comes into their milieu adopt a very comprehensive and rigid view of a wide range of political and social issues, not to mention lifestyle concerns. In this respect, left-anarchists are no different from a sectarian religious movement with very rigidly defined theological dogmas and sets of norms and taboos.
My approach is precisely the opposite, i.e. to adopt an open-ended approach to anarchist theory that reaches out to people all over the spectrum of human population groups (and individuals) and to do so by meeting them where they’re presently at.
The conflict between myself and left-anarchists is primarily rooted in the fact that I will accommodate people with un-PC views about all kinds of things in the wider anarchist milieu without expecting a rigid ideological conformity, including people that sometimes have polar opposite values from those of many left-anarchists.
I should be clear and say that I consider the PC Left to be a legitimate sect, tribe, or tendency within anarchism (and within society generally) as much as anything else, but no more so than Scientologists, Mormons, or any of the various denominations within Christianity or Islam.
For instance, if PCers believe that perfect and total non-discrimination or non-differentiation on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, nationality, class, height, weight, looks, age, ability, species, etc. is the highest of all human values, then that’s fine, but no more so than Muslims who believe in praying to Mecca five times day, or the Amish who reject the use of modern technology, or Mormons who abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, or sexual conservatives who reject extramarital, promiscuous, or same-sex relationships. Likewise, if left-anarchists wish to accept in their ranks only those who adopt their sectarian dogmas and exclude or disassociate themselves from those who don’t, that’s fine as well, but no more so than when American Renaissance or Bob Jones University does the same.
This will limit their growth potential substantially. They will never be more than a sect like the Christian Scientist followers of Mary Baker Eddy, but that’s their business.
What I reject is the claim that PCers are legitimate in imposing their own values on everyone else in the form of a de facto “secular theocracy” (at least outside the context of their own communities and institutions). I also reject the claim that PCers are legitimate in trying to monopolize other movements such as anarchism, libertarianism, antiwar, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, secessionism, decentralism, etc. In fact, they are not entitled to monopolize anti-racism, feminism, gay rights, or any comparable issues. The idea that PCers speak for all blacks, all women, all gays, etc is ridiculous.
The purpose of pan-anarchistm is to build genuine mass movement against the state, and against the power elite generally, in a way that reflects a libertarian, populist, and decentralist outlook, and is capable of reaching a vast array of demographic tendencies and cultural undercurrents.
I should also point out that it’s by no means no true that all left-anarchists or lefties generally reject what we do at ARV-ATS. Some of our most important participants are from the Left. I know leftists, liberals, and progressives who sympathize with us on grounds like these: http://attackthesystem.com/why-the-radical-left-should-consider-secession/
Or these: http://www.amazon.com/Better-Off-Without-Manifesto-Secession/dp/145161666X
It is certainly true that within the context of a pan-anarchist movement there might be sub-tendencies that reflect the stereotypical left-anarchist outlook, even to the point of excluding un-PC people from their own groups while participating with them in wider projects like labor organizing, antiwar protests, civil disobedience, etc. There might be “conservative” tendencies that do the same. I believe the Anarchist People of Color group excludes whites as members (which I am completely fine with as a white person). I used to know a lot of left-anarchists who were into the neo-pagan/goddess religion and who would have separate gathering for themselves only even within the context of wider anarchist events. I’ve seen anarcha-feminists do the same thing.
Also, it’s not true that left-anarchists have some special monopoly on tolerance, as anarcho-capitalist Bryan Caplan explains concerning Spanish anarchism: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/spain.htm
Or as this left-libertarian explains:http://attackthesystem.com/2009/04/12/why-i-am-an-anarcho-pluralist/
So all things considered, I suppose it’s not even PC Leftism I’m opposed to so much as statist PC Leftism or monopolistic PC Leftism. I may reject it for myself, just as I reject the Jehovah’s Witnesses for myself, but I have no concern for what other people do.
Modern leftist anarchism is a lifestyle subculture of political consumerism that mainly acts as the radical fringe of mainstream social democratic politics. As a form of political consumerism it provides a fantasy world for the temper tantrums of upper class white dropouts and functions mainly as a form of entertainment for them. As a radical fringe of mainstream social democratic politics it is simply a screaming disheveled liberalism with a black flag and a soy latte.
Occupy is a perfect example. The dual crisis of legitimacy triggered by the economy and the blatant betrayals of Obama were entirely squandered in a spectacle of unprecedented leftist idiocy. We seriously had a political movement that made having politics against the rules. The entire strategy was to threaten to play homeless the park until the system met demands that we refused to make. As usual, nothing was learned from the inevitable defeat. Even after it was beyond any question that the whole thing was a complete failure, any serious criticism of it was met with ferocious hostility from the left.
At the battle of Seattle anarchism scored an amazing tactical victory. In the anti-globalization movement that followed it failed to develop any kind of a strategy, and simply repeated the same tactic like a windup toy, to less and less effect, until the movement finally disintegrated. In occupy it adopted the stupidest tactics possible, and made leadership and strategy against the rules. Not only has anarchism learned nothing from decades of defeat, it appears to be getting even stupider as time goes on.
The way in which the hard left was hollowed out and turned into a form of political consumerism is a very important phenomenon for revolutionaries to understand, as a fundamental goal of any new revolutionary project must be to escape from this trap by any means necessary, and to arm itself against the pathologies of political consumerism.
The centrality of the protest spectacle in the modern left is one of the key components of political consumerism. It creates the false image of revolutionary action in the minds of its participants, largely through the magic of herd thinking. Instead of all the hard, boring work of building a real movement, you go to a protest event for a single serving of disposable radicalism.
This experience of disposable radicalism is justified by a political cause, but it is completely disconnected from any real method of actually achieving it. It is focused on the emotional experience of the participants instead. This experience is usually framed in therapeutic metaphors.
This was driven home to me during the antiwar movement in 2003 when I went to a meeting in a public building and accidently walked into the wrong room and sat down. What was actually a support group meeting began, and I didn’t notice this until it was well under way.
It dawned on me that we were using the exact same format for our antiwar meetings. This is a profound reorientation that snuck into the left largely unnoticed. The purpose of support groups is to transform the individual, or to help them cope with an incurable condition. The presumable purpose of a political movement is to transform the outside world through analysis and action. These two purposes are diametrically opposed.
This reorientation from changing the political order to providing a “radical” experience to the consumers of the event is the Hallmark of political consumerism. Politics cease to be work and become a form of entertainment instead. Like all consumerism, it comes in a rich variety of flavors. You can have a dangerous, grungy anarchist experience, or a safe, middle class white bread protest experience, but in the end it is the difference between coke and pepsi.
Marcuse and the Frankfurt school are important milestones in this transformation of revolutionary politics.
Classical Marxism was a hard doctrine of apocalyptic class war. It was a true child of the radical enlightenment, and it cast the proletariat in the role of a world historical Prometheus who would remake the whole of mankind. In the hands of Lenin it matched a hard optimism to a ruthless praxis with an iron discipline. It was his species of Marxism that conquered two thirds of the world against impossible odds, that savaged an entire continent, that erected the most brutal police states in human history, and that largely immolated itself in the insane spasms of Stalinist paranoia.
Classic Marxism was the fighting doctrine of a revolutionary class. The Frankfurt school was the Marxism of socially alienated upper class academics. It is convenient for demagogues to conflate the two, but this is to mistake the poodle for the wolf. They are related, but hardly the same thing. The wolf was evil, but it also awesome and tragic, and its evil was integral to the titanic contests and impossible tasks it set itself to. The poodle is docile, housebroken, safe, and ultimately insipid.
In Adorno the hard optimism of the radical enlightenment in mankind’s ability to know and control his world was replaced with a hopeless despair that saw man as the helpless victim of reification, exchange value, and mass culture. This hopeless position could only be escaped through a radical theory that had abandoned science, logic and even math, because these were all tools of the “totalitarian” status quo. The revolutionary project, thus blinded, castrated, and lobotomized by its own hand, is left to colonize academic positions and pollute the social sciences. The Marxist project of transforming the world is thus reduced to a method of complaining about it, preferably in the most obscure and incoherent terms. As the Promethean dreams of the wolf collapsed into totalitarian nightmares, so the radicalism of the new left was eventually transmuted into the institutionalized ideology of tenured windbags. The terrible violence of the wolf was thus reduced to the endless barking of the lap dog.
Marcuse’s revolution consisted mainly on the creation of controls on thought and speech that would be operated by a nebulous elite that had somehow transcended normal human experience. This elite was to be drawn from the ranks of the outsiders, mostly college students. How exactly they were to discover the true essences of humanity is not very clear. How they were to take power was left completely off the table.
Thus the followers of Marcuse were able to turn their own limited arenas of academia into shabby little pseudo police states, but the real systems of power and domination remained untouched. The main effect was to create a new form of liberal morality that sacrificed the traditional liberal values of intellectual freedom and tolerance in exchange for the social engineering projects of the new left. Instead of liberating Logos and Eros, Marcuse laid the groundwork that would eventually lead to colleges issuing rule books for the socially authorized forms of sexual contact.
Thus tragedy is repeated as farce. As the original Marxist project of curing the evils of capitalism led in the end to systems that magnified them to unprecedented levels, so the new left’s rejection of consumerist society contributed to (but did not truly cause) the evolution of the revolutionary left into a hollow and toothless form of political consumerism. It did this mainly by forsaking a doctrine of revolutionary power (which was by then irreparably tainted with human blood) without formulating a new doctrine that could actually contest the domination of the system, and by centering its membership base in demographics that come from the middle and upper classes.
Revolutionary leftist politics are thus finally reduced to sealed off subcultures, incoherent protest spectacles, and academic leftism. It finds itself watching helplessly from the sidelines as the empire is defeated in the field of battle by salafist Islam and sabotaged from within by libertarian hackers. It is not so much conservative as it is a festering corpse. There is much to learn from the history of the revolutionary left, but in terms of actual politics, is time to bury the corpse and move on. The last thing we need is to catch any of its diseases, or to pollute our own projects with its unbearable stench.
Your post may well be the most cogent critique of the Left I have ever encountered.
I agree with KP, that was brilliant stuff! thanks.
re: cultural impedance mismatch? (from anti-pattern analysis)
Describing the “unmanageable” complexity in things like cultural impedance mismatches between subcultures of IT communities (software development and data management) is a common element in attempts at grasping the inability of many humans to understand their existence at this point in history, see for instance Robert Bellah’s work. (this of course also reflects the failure of the corrupted elements of education and academia under examination here.)
The problem of feel-good therapy/healing paradigms, which were brilliantly described by James Hillman (in his quest for higher levels of meaning and purpose) do not exhaust the possibilities for the discovery or rediscovery of meaning and purpose in a world dominated by modernist (industrial/prometheus archetype) and postmodernist (information/hermes archetype) paradigms that are hostile to spirituality and “grand narratives”.
Some post-postmodern (holistic/integral) elements of the “spiritual left” have defined the issue as “the tag team from hell, narcissism and nihilism” (Ken Wilber, Esalen). In other words, the postmodern Left suffers from deep spiritual and moral rot (a theme that KP has heroically advanced against the wishes of the corrupt forces on the left).
In hindsight it seems obvious that the postmodern project of “deconstructing” the nature of the moral and cultural foundations of the great imperialist-patriarchal civilizations would lead to a collapse of meaning and purpose and create a vacuum that various pathologies would then seek to fill to advanced the interests of those that seek ego gratification and fulfillment of greed in the exploitation of others.
We now know that the conventional Axial model of a Divine Hand that is present and guides humanity toward redemption and salvation is inadequate, at this point it can not satisfy the coherence needs of emerging forms of culture. Marx made clear that evolutionary forces, or at least the emergence of new technologies and economic structures and practices, are what actually changes individual consciousness and culture and drives crisis of legitimization that cause experimentation with new forms of social organization (decentralization, or Ronfeldt’s TIMN model, or other Holistic models).
In that context, the trick is to turn postmodern narcissism into “spiritual” self-realization via traditional practices such as yoga, meditation and other contemplative practices, as informed by consciousness studies, brain science, and so forth.
An examination of the cultural archeology of contemplative practices in Axial cultures (Greek Rationalism, Dharma, Judeo-Christian-Islamic) leads to an openness to pre-monotheistic approaches to spirituality as well, such as tantra and shamanism, at least to the extent that they are validated by brain science, etc.
The deep need that human beings have for magic and myth is not actually done away with by industry and modernism, or postmodernism, only marginalized into places where it develops “unhealthy” tendencies, such as within “rational” corporate organizational structures. (see Bernie Neville @ latrobe.edu in Australia)
re: THE LEFT ABANDONS LABOR
The current crisis in holistic/integral thought, what is holding it back from growing beyond a “life coaching” industry buzzword used to sell the notion of “spiritual new age capitalism”, is the same lack of visceral, tactile revolutionary commitment to social and economic justice (labor rights) that sorelianist points out as infecting the left.
My populist tendencies make me want to think that this is caused by a disconnect from nature and community, and a lack of honest work and artisanal pride in making real things that resist the dehumanizing forces in industrialized modern culture and its corrupt symbols/images.
While that is probably true on some level, the forces of technology cause disruption in the alignment of consciousness, culture and systems that are also highly damaging.
re: TRANSCEND, BUT INCLUDE?
I know brilliant, enlightened people (such as Joe Corbett, an Integralist in China) that think that “spiritualized socialism” can provide the basis for a successful revolutionary, violent anti-capitalist world movement for labor rights.
As an anarcho-libertarian, I am skeptical, but am willing to consider the possibilities for such types of socialism. It is certainly true that if one wants to use the forces of the state-capitalist military system against itself (for instance, carpet bombing Wall Street with B52 bombers), that would presumably be the better model.
On the other hand, if the populists/revolutionaries in the military-industrial-complex are not able to turn on their masters as part of a mass uprising (or something like committees of correspondence) to purge or destroy corrupt central institutions, then another set of more incremental responses would presumably be required. from consciousness raising to development of decentralized institutions/practices, to alternative technologies (permaculture), to new religions (“the religion of no religion”), many of which have been explored by KP and his team.
In any case, what is required is a “depth” analysis that goes beyond structural and systems issues, that “transcends, but includes”.
To clarify my comments about neo nazi scum and racists in the anarcho right:
I agree that freedom includes the freedom to be racist. This is in order to protect all the other valuable freedoms. It is fine with me if all the racists go form their own country and leave.
I think the antifa crowd is hysterically leftarded. I completely oppose thought crime laws.
That doesn’t mean that I will join a movement that includes racists.
I grew up white trash. I had to listen to white trash talk about black people for years. I understand what the racists are. The basic structure of my politics is an unreconstructed abolitionism, of the john brown faction.
I am not standing on a barricade next to racists. Full stop, no debate.
I tend to be highly sympathetic to the non racist part of libertarianism and the anarcho-right on most of the critical issues of the day, but I know something about the far right and can recognize the residues of bircherism, klu kluxery, and neo nazism. I can also recognize classical fascist tendencies. The rebranding into white nationalism or national anarchism isn’t going to fool me (or anyone else who can use google). When you start talking about “International Zionist conspiracies” you lose me as an audience completely.
(You who want to resurrect the left wing of fascism might care to remember what happened the last time. You were all put to the wall as soon as your usefulness as tools ran out, and by the very movements you had started.)
I would also point out that the stormfront crowd has the most FBI informants per capita of any fringe movement, and that it has a long and sorry history of backstabbing and collapse among viscous and scandalous infighting. The percentage of sociopaths with fantasies of mass murder is also an issue. McVeigh did more damage to the militia movement than the state ever could have. FBI informants and heavily armed psychos are a really fucking bad mix.
Furthermore a theory of pluralism cannot negate the social force of nationalism. The nazis are the great mythical enemy of American Nationalism. Including militant racists in the coalition also writes off Black Nationalism and Latino Nationalism as major social forces.
What kind of populism writes off the main forms of actually existing nationalism in order to satisfy a fetish for fascism or an abstract ideal of tolerance? Alienating the anarchist left is no real loss, but trading the Crips and the Bloods for the Stormfront crowd is flat out RETARDED.
In an ideal world a revolutionary coalition is to be as wide as possible, but one of the deep lessons of true pluralism is that some conflicts and groups of people are irreconcilable. The art of creating revolutionary coalitions is a balance between the need to be as large as possible and the iron law that the worst drive out the best, and that lines must be drawn somewhere.
It is Utopian to believe that some theory of decentralization can overcome the iron law that some factions will be irreconcilable. We can aim for a world of true pluralism, but we must build the movements that will take us there within the hard realities of human nature. That means some people must be excluded from the coalition so that others are not driven out by them.
A strategic theory that refuses to recognize this law simply means that you will fail by default.
No revolutionary movement that gets the coalition question wrong ever gets anywhere. It is not a simple question, and it can only be answered as an integral part of the strategic theory of the revolution. Every potential ally must be studied, and hard choices must be made between them. These choices must be made in view of the task at hand, revolution, not on the basis of ideological preference. The two great communist revolutions in Russia and China would have failed without the alliance with the peasant, which was completely counter to the Marxist orthodoxies of their times.
A deep study of possible allies must be conducted simultaneously with the construction of a strategic theory. The factions that must be had at all costs are identified by their total potential revolutionary energy. The strategic theory must be constructed in light of the history and culture of the main factions in the coalition, and in light of the conflicts that make them potentially revolutionary.
This coalition will be a modus vivendi that is found in a particular historical location, not a Universalist model derived from first principles, yet the strategic theory that orders the creation of this coalition must be drawn from the universal principles of strategy, and informed by a long study of revolutionary history.
This modus vivendi will be inherently unstable to the very extent that it is actually revolutionary. The art of riding the tiger is to keep it together long enough to prevail in the revolution. The balancing act that maintains this coalition will be like walking a tightrope under machine gun fire. It will never be perfect, but it has to get us to the other end of the rope before it is cut out from under us by the system.
This coalition is not a model of future society but a weapon with which to destroy the system. We may very well intend to tolerate all sorts of things in the future society, but the weapon we build to get there must be constructed by the hard logic of war, with an eye on the enemy and an analysis of the nature of the battle to be fought. The design will, in the end, be dictated more by the materials at hand and the battle ahead than any of our beliefs or desires.
Or it will fail.
Furthermore the fetish for decentralized fourth generation warfare among the anarcho-right has tended to ignore the fact that it appears to require a level of ideological unity and common practice that borders on fanaticism in order to prevail. Hezbollah is decentralized on a tactical level, but it is a strict party system that demands total commitment and loyalty from its membership. The assertion that you could build a combat effective guerrilla movement out of people with opposing worldviews, contesting ideologies, and deeply conflicting interests is not in any way supported by the actual evidence of history. This does not mean that it is impossible, but no “out of the box” model exists of how it would actually work. The strategic problems such a model poses are severe, and it is not obvious that they can even be solved.
“I agree that freedom includes the freedom to be racist. This is in order to protect all the other valuable freedoms. It is fine with me if all the racists go form their own country and leave.
I think the antifa crowd is hysterically leftarded. I completely oppose thought crime laws.”
That’s my perspective as well.
“That doesn’t mean that I will join a movement that includes racists.”
It seems that would be something rather difficult to avoid. If you have a labor union of any size, you’ll have racists. If you organize among poor and working class whites, particularly in certain geographical areas, you’ll have racists. If you attempt to organize among prisoners, you’ll have racists.
“Including militant racists in the coalition also writes off Black Nationalism and Latino Nationalism as major social forces.”
There’s plenty of racism in that. Racism doesn’t just come in one color.
“Alienating the anarchist left is no real loss, but trading the Crips and the Bloods”
There’s plenty of racism among those, not to mention intra-racial violence.
“The nazis are the great mythical enemy of American Nationalism.”
That’s one reason why neo-Nazis are not a political threat in the US: They won’t “play in Peoria.”
Other than these few nuances, I agree with just about everything else you said.
What I try to do here is disseminate ideas that can take root in many different kinds of political and cultural communities.
By advocating pan-secessionism as a political tactic, that guarantees us an audience with the radical right in the US, but there are also left-regionalists and “Marxist secessionists” who have expressed interest in our work.
If we identify the global plutocratic order as the universal enemy, then obviously the resistance will take on difference forms from country to country, and among different regions, cultures, religions, ethnic, political, or socioeconomic groups within countries.
Obviously, I identify with anarchist and libertarian traditions in their various forms, and I think these traditions can also inform other movements, even those that will never accept the labels.
But it’s the ideas and tactics rather than the labels that matter. For instance, if the National Rifle Association or NAACP or GLAAD or Focus on the Family started creating mutual aid networks for their own supporters out of economic necessity, and building local autonomous communities out of hostility to the political elite, then they would be practicing pan-anarchism, even if they eschewed the labels and formally expressed hostility to anarchism.
sorelianist seems to have ignored his own historical observation:
(You who want to resurrect the left wing of fascism might care to remember what happened the last time. You were all put to the wall as soon as your usefulness as tools ran out, and by the very movements you had started.)
Maybe the anarchists could learn the same thing. They always ally with the dominant leftist movement in the society and then get liquidated at the end: Makhno in Russia, the CNT in Spain and Zapata in Mexico. Anarchism, as it has been practiced, is no less suicidal than left-fascism.
The Strasserites were massacred in the Night of the Long Knives, and the anarchists were wiped out in Krondstadt and Barcelona.