ATS Roundtable on Creating Alternative Infrastructure 22

ATS Round Table
Creating Alternative Infrastructure

February 15, 2014

Jeremy Weiland, Vince Rinehart, Todd Lewis, and Keith Preston discuss the process of building the new society within the shell of the old.

Topics include:

  • The need to preserve the legal space of alternative infrastructure through active legal defense organizations.
  • Prospects posed by the possibility of technological innovation and technological decline.
  • The implications of procreation rates, demographic shift, and cultural assimilation.
  • Parallels between the modern American and ancient Roman empires.
  • The foundation for alternative infrastructure provided by presently existing organizations.
  • The cultivation of cohesive value systems in order to maintain the durability of alternative infrastructure.

File type: MP3
Length: 1:54:55
Bitrate: 32kb/s CBR

Download (right click, ‘save as’)

Email Keith:


  1. Great podcast as always. I really like it, because I’m very interested in the topics discussed, but there aren’t really a lot of places where you can get these kinds of views expressed, and a lot of anarchists can quickly put me off by their fighting over definitions and thinking that everyone must be the same culturally.

    Todd mentioned Orania again, and since I own a house there and I’m a big supporter of the Orania movement (and pan secession) I thought that I would elaborate a bit on experience with Orania.

    I don’t live there yet, I’m working overseas, but I try to support Orania as much as possible with what you could probably could call counter economics. For example buying a house there, you have to pay back the loan through the Orania bank and you have to pay a service fee which they use to maintain and expand the infrastructure in town. For example there is another organization, Vry Afrikaner, that has a development fund that make it possible for people from all over South Africa (and the world) to support them. They are building a shopping complex with that fund for example. As a future resident it’s really nice to see the continual development in the town, and the excellent way everyone there manages funds, not a cent is wasted.

    They also work with other communities like Mnyameni, a Xhosa community that’s also trying to get more autonomy from the state, and I support them 100%. Firstly, because I believe in self determination for everybody. Secondly, the way I see it, is that everyone who succeeds in seceding from the state, will weaken it (by less people paying taxes and less people voting) and hopefully serve as an example that secession is possible and desirable.

  2. Just finished listening to the round table. This was really great we all seemed to be on the top of our game. This might be one of the best ATS podcasts thus far.

  3. One problem in the latter part of Weiland’s analysis or rather I should say Graber’s analysis of the decline of the Roman Empire in the West pertains to coinage. Graber said that Roman coinage was still circulated in the West long after Rome’s fall. Well yes of course it was, because the Eastern Empire still minted Solidi, and it is known that the East Roman Solidi was one of the most stable currencies in world history. So while Weiland’s claim of institutions surviving an empire’s collapse is a point well taken (Diocletian and Feudalism); coinage is not the best example.

    • Todd, I’m absolutely willing to grant the limits of my point about institutional inertia. I thought your pushback, pointing out the demographic dynamics as well as the fragility of technology in facilitating institutional dominance, was terrific. That said, I would hate for you or others to attribute to Graeber what I was imprecise in articulating.

      In “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” he was talking about the permanence of the _accounting unit_, not the coins themselves. I suspect both of us find it unremarkable that coins with some degree of precious metals would continue to circulate. But Graeber’s point was that, even after the material coins were out of circulation effectively, the abstract unit of accounting was employed in credit/debt ledgers far into the Middle Ages. And he connects this phenomenon with other instances of ledger-based, non-clearing transactions throughout history, arguing that a debt-driven economy of abstract accounting is older and more pervasive than currency-driven or barter-driven ones.

      I was simply piggy-backing on this anthropological insight to raise concerns about the absolute malleability of institutions, which is my overarching point in this discussion. When we say we want to build “alternative institutions”, how alternative do we want them to be? How alternative _can_ they be? What is the actual scope of counter-establishment agency here? Where are the opportunities for building grassroots systems of thought and value that can bleed legitimacy from the prevailing system?

      It’s a deep and murky question, but I think it’s at the core of what we’re grappling with if we’re to have revolutionary relevance.

      • Oh in that case, Graber’s point is more nuanced than I believed and one I am not familiar with.

        “How alternative _can_ they be? What is the actual scope of counter-establishment agency here?”

        Sure in any societal change no completely new form of existence can occur since societies are not created ex nihilo, but from the materials from which they came. Alternative is a somewhat relative term and as you argue not an absolute one either.

        As far as management institution existing beyond the fall of the Roman Empire itself we can see this in the Roman Catholic church since many roman laws survived as church law. The dioceses was initially a managerial territory under Diocletian, but later was used by the Roman Catholic church.

  4. The story of the birth of Hezbollah is a little bit more complicated than “there were all these Muslims laying around”.

    The Shiite Muslims in Lebanon had to be roused from the slumber of centuries of quietism and apathy. This task required the struggle of generations of Islamic militants. Hezbollah itself faced a long and brutal conflict with other militant groups within Lebanon for the allegiance of the Shiite community.

    • Recently there was a discussion here about the what a rising insurgency group needs to do to gain traction and threaten the system. One of the first steps was defeating rival insurgency groups they are competing with. Pan-secessionists/anarchists of the ATS variety are currently at that stage, competing with left-wing anarchists and radical right-wing statists for recruits and resources. The second stage would be creating a space in which to operate and grow without interference from the police. Clearly we are in that first stage.

      So I think that Hezbollah is still an excellent of example of what it takes to build a genuine resistance movement, complete with alternative infrastructure. Thank you for your input on their growth. I am extremely interested in learning more about their history and any more information you have would be appreciated.

  5. Hezbollah is one of the most fascinating revolutionary movements in world history. Hezbollah is thoroughly modern but it belongs to the modernity of Islam and not our own. It cannot be understood outside of the history of Islam, the Shiites, the Twelver branch of the Shiites, and the history of Lebanon. If you mock leftards for going around with a viscous Stalinist like Che on their shirt, you might take care to study Hezbollah before using it as any kind of a model.

    Islam has been torn by internal divisions and schisms since its birth, and this history is long and formidably complex. These bitter historical divisions are on full display in the murderous sectarianism of the Syrian civil war. Contrary to its image in the west as a totalitarian religion, Islam is a vast and wild diversity with a perennial crop of schisms and dangerous heretics

    Hezbollah was founded by Khomeinist Islamic revolutionaries. It is centered around a fundamentalist Shiite “doctrine of the jurist” that recognizes the leader of the Iranian state as the supreme leader of Islam. This doctrine came to fruit in the “victory of blood over the sword” of the Iranian revolution and the creation of the Islamic Republic.

    Hezbollah is not anti-state except in that it rejects the dominant western model of secular democracy. For anarchists who forsake the state, the “party of god” is fascinating to study, but remember that it is as deeply and organically linked to the Iranian police state as the Communist party was to the Stalinist one.

    In the twentieth century revolutionaries wielded two great weapons: the revolutionary party and the revolutionary state. The Islamic Revolutionary movement founded by Khomeini has grasped both with exceptional ability. The radical synthesis of a religious revolution, a cutting edge revolutionary party and a devastatingly effective guerrilla warfare model is one of the most extraordinary in revolutionary history. Hezbollah is a worldwide project, and an international brigade drawn from the entire Twelver Shiite diaspora is now fighting in Syria.

    Hezbollah is now fighting openly to preserve one of the worst police state dictatorships in the world. What neither side will admit is that the Assad regime’s strategy is essentially the Israeli maneuver of provoking a viscous civil war in order to carve a new ethnically cleansed state out of the old order. With the full armory of the Syrian state, the Bathist intelligence and military cadre, Hezbollah, the rest of the “Islamic Resistance”, and the assistance of Russia and Iran, they may pull it off. It will only get uglier. Hezbollah is up to its neck in all the hideous war crimes such a civil war involves.

    Those who believe in decentralized coalitions without command structures or a coherent strategy might want to pay some attention to the Syrian civil war. The disorganization and massive friction within the dysfunctional rebel coalition are root causes of the defeats of the Sunni rebellion and its collapse into fratricide. One of the reasons the Assad regime has held out against the odds (and against every western prediction) is that it has unity of command, a systematic strategy, and a real military organization, while its enemies do not.

    The Syrian civil war also marks the final and total collapse of Khomeini’s “Pan-Islamist” strategy of creating a united front of Sunni and Shiite Islamist movements against Israel and the US. Despite massive amounts of military and financial support, and all the good will generated by the victories against Israel, the Sunni Islamists completely abandoned their Shiite allies once the Syrian civil war broke out. This demonstrates the dangerous folly of relying on shallow alliances among groups that have deep and irreconcilable differences. Such alliances will crack under the first hard blow.

    The Syrian civil war is also an object lesson in just how difficult it is to destroy a state in its own homeland when it has a solid coalition behind it, a crack officer core, and a ruthlessly effective intelligence service.

    Within its own ranks, Hezbollah is not tolerant or pluralistic. Neither were the NVA in Vietnam, nor the Maoists in China. There is a strong correlation between a unity of belief that borders on fanaticism and a tight discipline (of a certain type), which is clear in the above examples, and massive asymmetric combat effectiveness in unconventional or 4th generation warfare, as well as the demonstrated ability to make revolutions.

    In each case absolute loyalty and total obedience are required of the core cadre of the party, and a very high level of collective belief and identity unifies the entire movement. In each case hierarchies of leadership and command are central to the system. In each case the party is ruthless within its own ranks and the internal struggles are often brutally Darwinian. In each case the party is the core of the structure.

    To talk of a revolutionary vanguard without a revolutionary party is to talk nonsense.

    To talk of Maoist guerrilla warfare is to talk nonsense.

    To talk of the Hezbollah model is to talk nonsense.

    If you reject the revolutionary party, you reject these models.
    Given the nightmares of the twentieth century, this rejection may well be necessary, but a revolutionary movement that forsakes the revolutionary party without developing an alternative form of organization is left without a weapon on the political battlefield. Indeed, it is left without even a path to the political battlefield. It is left to watch on the sidelines as other actors decide history.

  6. I cite Hezbollah as a model because of its success at creating a non-state political infrastructure that has actually superseded a state (the Lebanese regime) and militarily repelled a first world army (the IDF). I don’t seriously believe Hezbollah is something that can be replicated in North America.

    When I talk about building an anti-establishment political coalition that cuts across many conventional barriers, the best models to draw on are actually the Democratic and Republican parties. The GOP’s coalition of country clubbers, Israel-firsters, evangelicals, and rednecks works (or it did until their demographic sizes became too small) because all of these groups see the Left as a threat to their (pick one) economic interests, racial or ethnic interests, religious or cultural values, etc.

    The Democrat’s coalition has only one unifying thread: opposition to the hegemony of traditional WASP culture. That’s the only thing that Democrats agree on. Other than that, they represent a vast array of economic, business, labor, class, private sector, public sector, religious, secular, racial, ethnic, native, immigrant, sexual, gender, professional, single-issue, age, and whatever other kinds of interests.

    The ARV-ATS approach is to create a political realignment drawing all “anti-system” elements (i.e. everyone outside the state corporate ruling class, and its allies) into an oppositional political coalition. Imagine if the Democrats were an anti-state, anti-corporate, anti-empire party rather than an anti-WASP party and you get the idea of what I’m talking about. Of course, we’re not about trying to get “one of us” elected president. Instead, we’re about “pan-secessionism”, i.e. building secession movements at the local and regional level that eventually pull out of the system. This makes the diversity of such a coalition easier to handle. Everyone just concentrates on their local community and region without having to agree on controversial national issues that there is no resolution to. The “new America” would be collection of smaller, independent political units or a federation of autonomous regions like the Articles of Confederation.

    I agree the military industrial complex and the police state are the primary obstacles to this program. With the former, I think the way to go is to ultimately win over the majority of the rank and file military to our side. For instance, after the revolution the divisions of the military may be reconstituted as the defense forces for the particular regions where they are located (just an idea). I’m not so much worried about the cops. Most of them are cowards when faced with real danger (hence, the obsession with “officer safety”). Notice how quickly the pigs headed for the hills during the L.A. riots or Hurricane Katrina. Remember how they hid behind ambulances during the Columbine massacre.

    In terms of civilian armed combat, I could certainly see militias cropping up among various population groups during a time of systemic breakdown: the Army of Jesus from the Midwest, the Aztlan militia in the southwest, street gangs in the inner cities, the Save the Earth Eco-Militia, whatever. It’s also not too far-fetched to think groups of this type would form casual alliances with each other when there was a common enemy to be combated.

    Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.

  7. Organizationally speaking, I think the primary order of business is to build an alternative political infrastructure whose demographic base is the anti-system coalition I mentioned and have written about extensively elsewhere. The alternative infrastructure will then be the basis for taking power politically on a locality by locality, region by region basis (see what I have referred to as the “Mailer model”). The obtainment of political dominance locally will provide the cover for creating an alternative civilian defense infrastructure by means of gun clubs, rifle clubs, self-defense training organizations, firearms safety training, sports leagues, hunting clubs, neighborhood watches, extracurricular school activities, crime watches, citizen posses, civilian militias, “Oathkeeper” type organizations, etc. Meanwhile, law enforcement leaders and organizations loyal to the system will be dismissed or dismantled and replaced with these new revolutionary defense forces. Meanwhile, a parallel infrastructure would be developed among dissidents in the armed forces and the civilian and internal military resistance forces would of course form a mutual alliance.

    This is the kind of oppositional alliance I’m talking about:

    This is what I mean by the “Mailer model”

    Here’s the “anarcho-populist” model for a political realignment I discussed above:

  8. The key right now is to keep growing our numbers.

    We need to get these numbers of so that about seven percent are hard-core pan-anarchists, with hard-core libertarians and hard-core right-decentralists and left-decentralists being another fifteen percent collectively, and the majority being libertarian, decentralist, libertarian socialist and/or secession friendly generally. Then things will start to happen (it’s no different than the way the decades long struggle for marijuana legalization and gay rights are now finally seeing results).

  9. “In terms of civilian armed combat, I could certainly see militias cropping up among various population groups during a time of systemic breakdown: the Army of Jesus from the Midwest, the Aztlan militia in the southwest, street gangs in the inner cities, the Save the Earth Eco-Militia, whatever. It’s also not too far-fetched to think groups of this type would form casual alliances with each other when there was a common enemy to be combated.”

    I think anarchists forget that Russia won in Chechnya(2000-2009); the US won in Iraq (2003-2011) and Israel won the Second Intifada (2000-2005) and in Gaza (2008-2009). And even with loads of US backing the Islamist rebels cannot overthrow Assad, overthrowing an entrenched regime is very hard. Most unrest throughout the world from 1945 onward was funded by both the US and USSR, the natives were to poor and to underdeveloped to be fielding RPGs and M-60s, on their own with no support native guerrilla’s are quite weak. Given the laughable performance of Latino military forces, FARC and Colombia have been at war for 40 odd years, why hasn’t anybody won yet, I seriously doubt that an Aztlan alliance could do any better against the US.

    The other problem is that accept for the actual militias in Montana and Michigan, there are no alternative non-state militaries in the US, if you don’t count gangs and drug cartels. Most ecos are pacifistic and not likely to fight, don’t imagine some denizen of Seattle would be willing to sweat bullets. The kind of parallel institutions Keith speaks of really only exist in the conservative red-state regions. The left is also allergic to guns and violence, don’t think guilty white liberals in NYC will start joining a gun club any time soon.

    Drug cartels and gangsters might be ‘tough’, but they lack organization. They have no discipline and against a hardened enemy would crumble. We say this in Sierra Leone when Executive Outcomes with a hand-full of men routed the revolutionary RUF. Executive Outcomes also spanked UNITA pretty badly in Angola. So if you have the cash heir the guys with guns to crush the rebels.

    Lastly lest face it Americans are weak and without their overwhelming technological advantage would not last long on the battle field. Just watch Restrepo, guys like that would never have gotten of Omaha beach. Any rebel force, in the US, would be at a massive technological disadvantage, sure FPS gamers can talk tough, but talk is cheap, especially when the enemy can bring MOABs, Lasers, B-52s, and Abrams tanks to the playing field.

    “Notice how quickly the pigs headed for the hills during the L.A. riots or Hurricane Katrina.”

    The pigs may be cowards, but can we say the same for the National Guard and the Military? Also the negro rioters in the LA riots were just as chicken-hearted as the cops, once the Korean’s, with their army service, showed up the Negroes scattered. If negro thugs couldn’t even face the Korean ‘militia’, fat chance they’ll topple the US empire. These gangsta types are all bluff and bluster no substance. A Korean with an M-14 is quite a different matter.

  10. “The kind of parallel institutions Keith speaks of really only exist in the conservative red-state regions.”

    Obviously, that’s where most of the civilian militia would come from, plus strands of other populations.

  11. I don’t think that the kinds of civilian militia or guerrilla armies I’m describing would necessarily have to be capable of defeating, say, the US Army or Marines in full-on combat. Rather, they would have to simply “not lose” rather than “win.” I don’t know how well gangs like the Crips and Bloods or MS-13 would perform in serious combat with a trained state army, but they still manage to dominate large sections of US cities. FARC may not be that effective as a fighting force, but it still survives and makes things difficult for Colombia’s ruling class in spite of all the US aid to that regime. Hezbollah is a similar thorn in the side to Israel. The left-anarchists, eco-warriors, etc may be weenies on a personal level, but even they can create havoc during protest demonstrations, i.e. Seattle ’99, Occupy, Greece, etc.

    There would be two key issues in a real world armed struggle in a country like the USA. First, large numbers of regular military, national guard, etc. would have to come over to the side of the resistance or remain neutral. There’s no prospect of militarily defeating a massive state army that is determined to win (yes, there’s the Vietcong but that’s the exception rather than the rule). Second, the civilian militias, whatever their demographic base, would have to be able to hold territory, i.e. keep the municipal police from reclaiming territory, or make an invasion of regions and communities from the outside into the equivalent of sticking your head in a hornet’s nest.

    Case in point: There are sections of my city where even the cops won’t go because the locals there will shoot at them. So the cops don’t go there. Gangbangers in projects are not exactly sophisticated military scientists or comparable to a crack special forces unit. But they still get the job done apparently. Resistance to state authority on that level writ large would be what it would take to hold large swathes of territory during the event of an actual guerrilla war/revolutionary situation.

    Btw, I don’t think violence on this level is desirable. I want to see peaceful change as much as possible. But…

  12. Of course, another thing that will affect all this is demographic change, birth rates, etc. The red militias may end up looking a little blacker or browner even if their blue is still limited.

  13. “I don’t know how well gangs like the Crips and Bloods or MS-13 would perform in serious combat with a trained state army, but they still manage to dominate large sections of US cities.”

    The question arises, are these gangs ‘allowed’ to operate? We all know the drug war is a racket, but if the feds lean to hard on the drug pushers then the racket dries up. I’m not convinced that cops are necessarily ‘afraid’ or ‘cowards’ they might just be on the take, with permission from a higher power (Washington).

    “The left-anarchists, eco-warriors, etc may be weenies on a personal level, but even they can create havoc during protest demonstrations, i.e. Seattle ’99, Occupy, Greece, etc.”

    Again I wonder if they were allowed to wreck the place. Many of these movements are astro-turfed. Such funding is seen in Kunen’s “The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary” page 112.

    “Also at the convention, men from Business International Roundtables — the meetings sponsored by Business International for their client groups and heads of government — tried to buy up a few radicals. These men are the world’s leading industrialists and they convene to decide how our lives are going to go. These are the guys who wrote the Alliance for Progress. They’re the left wing of the ruling class.

    They agreed with us on black control and student control . . . .

    They want McCarthy in. They see fascism as the threat, see it coming from Wallace. The only way McCarthy could win is if the crazies and young radicals act up and make Gene look more reasonable. They offered to finance our demonstrations in Chicago.

    We were also offered Esso (Rockefeller) money. They want us to make a lot of radical commotion so they can look more in the center as they move to the left.”

    See also:

    Kerry Bolton does good work as well on this connection “The Psychotic Left” and “Revolution from Above.” The enter ‘radical left’ edifice is astro-turfed. They are ‘allowed’ to get away with vandalism.

    “Btw, I don’t think violence on this level is desirable. I want to see peaceful change as much as possible.”

    This is usually best, the CNT did not do so well in open combat. MLK did much better.

  14. “The red militias may end up looking a little blacker or browner even if their blue is still limited.”

    In the long run the red staters are best set up demographically.

    Black TFR (Total Fertility Rate), in America, is below 2.11. See:

    Hispanics are not in much better shape according to Phillip Longman in “The Empty Cradle” we see:

    “Another constraint on immigration to the United States involves supply. Birthrates, having already fallen well below replacement levels in Europe and Asia, are now plummeting throughout Latin America as well, creating the prospect that America’s last major source of imported manpower will offer a declining pool of applicants.”

    According to Longman the TFR of Mexican women is below 2.5 and plummeting.

    Eric Kaufmann in “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth” basically says yes.

    Most blacks and Hispanics are not terribly religious and have plummeting birthrates the red-state fundamentalists are having the highest average TFR’s per women and are the best positioned for some sort of success long term.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s