By Keith Preston
Last month, I wrote about how many of the predictions that I have been making over the past decade or so have come true during the course of recent events. In particular, the current U.S. presidential election represents the fulfillment of some of these predictions. Hillary Clinton is an almost perfect manifestation of the totalitarian humanist convergence I predicted nearly a decade ago, i.e. the combination of militarism, plutocracy, and police statism with ostensibly liberal and progressive values as an ideological cover (with these enforced by means of an ever more intrusive nanny state). Bill Lind describes the implications of this ideological framework very thoroughly. Jack Ross explains the present day political alignments that have emerged because of the rise of totalitarian humanism. And Vanity Fair describes how a new left-wing of the ruling class has emerged that comes from outside the ranks of the traditional WASP elites and is rooted in newer high-tech industries. I’ve been saying all of these things for years.
Six years ago, I wrote about the ten core demographics that a radical or revolutionary movement in North America would likely need to organize in order to achieve the popular base needed for effective political action. Current events represent the stirring of many of these demographics and in a way that signifies that these cleavages are developing at a much more rapid pace than I thought they would when I wrote that original piece.
The Donald Trump phenomena represents a stirring of the populist right and the sinking middle. The antiwar, civil libertarian, and labor-oriented sections of the Left have become increasingly alienated from both the Democratic Party and the liberal establishment even to the point that some on the antiwar left now favor Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
The Black Lives Matter movement represents a movement of black Americans that often demonstrates as much hostility to the liberal and Left establishments as they do to anything on the Right. The Bernie Sanders movement represents the disdain of the progressive Left and the far Left for the centrist-liberalism of the Clintons, and young people in particular seem to be looking for a new political paradigm. A sharp backlash against political correctness has also emerged, and the cleavages among the various constituent groups of liberalism or the Left has likewise become increasingly evident.
Donald Trump’s campaign strategy is an interesting variation of the strategy that I outlined in “Liberty and Populism” ten years ago. This involves a strategy of appealing to the populist Right with anti-PC issues, appealing to the radical Center with economic and general anti-establishment issues, appealing to Left with issues that the left establishment ignores or sweeps under the rug, and likewise playing to socioeconomic and demographic cleavages on the Left. Trump is essentially doing this albeit for radically different purposes (getting himself elected President) than those of ARV/ATS (overthrowing the government).
However, it is ironic that during the time that all of this seeming political discontent has emerged, the various movements with an orientation towards anarchism, libertarianism, anti-statism, decentralism or anti-authoritarianism are nowhere to be found. In recent years, there has been some talk about the possibility of secession by various regions of the United States. The left-anarchist writer Kirkpatrick Sale hosted three successive pan-secessionist conventions during the tail end of the George W. Bush years, and yet nothing ever came of these efforts. There was likewise talk of secession by some on the Right following the re-election of President Obama in 2012, and polls over the last decade have repeatedly indicated that approximately 25% of Americans would be sympathetic to the idea of secession by their own region or locality. And yet no leader or movement has come along that has had the effect of awakening this sleeping giant. Even recent efforts towards the development of a secessionist tendency in Texas have proven to be fruitless. Now that the Brexit movement has achieved success, there are once again secessionist rumblings in Texas. But such efforts have not yet proved to be promising anywhere in the United States to date.
Even the libertarian movement that once seemed to be promising during the Ron Paul moment has largely fizzled. Ron Paul’s hybrid of Rothbardian libertarianism and right-wing populism had the effect of developing a wide popular interest in libertarianism, particularly among younger people. However, his heir Rand Paul completely blew it presenting himself as a bland Republican, and attempting to pander to conventional conservatives. If anything, it has been Donald Trump that has been the true heir to Ron Paul’s legacy of dissent from the Right. And it is Bernie Sanders that has been the beneficiary of the taste for dissent among younger people that originally emerged during the Ron Paul period.
However, it is also true that the present Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is polling as high as 10% according to some estimates, and the Libertarian ticket may be strengthened by its potential appeal to “Never Trump” voters. The moderate libertarian blogger Scott Alexander has speculated about the possible emergence of a libertarian-oriented “Grey Tribe” in opposition to both the Republicans’ “Red Tribe” and the Democrats’ “Blue Tribe.” Yet it is also true that libertarians have had a very difficult time establishing an independent identity for themselves. This is evidenced by the fact that the libertarian movement that experienced growth during the Ron Paul period has subsequently splintered into a variety of warring camps. Some former Ron Paul supporters have even left libertarianism altogether and joined the neo-reactionary movement.
An additional concern is that, whatever his polling numbers, Gary Johnson and his running mate William Weld are arguably the most milquetoast candidates the Libertarian Party has ever placed on their ticket, as the recent appearance of these gentlemen on CNN indicates.
Clearly, Johnson and Weld are liberal Republicans of the kind that used to be a dime a dozen before the Buckleyite-Neocon-Religious Right takeover of the GOP during the Reagan era. Johnson managed to fumble even on standard libertarian issues like drug legalization during this CNN appearance and Weld, a former federal prosecutor, even denies that he wishes to abolish the IRS. However well these guys end up doing in the polls, their impact will simply be to reestablish a place for old-fashioned liberal Republicanism, and not the development of a revolutionary anti-state movement.
Equally interesting when compared with Johnson’s polling numbers is the unusually high polling numbers that the Green Party’s Jill Stein is currently receiving. The split that has emerged among Democrats as a result of the Sanders/Clinton contest may drive some Sanders supporters to the Greens. Some polls have placed Stein’s numbers as high as seven percent. Both Sanders and Stein represent American liberalism as it was before the rise of Clintonism in the 1990s. Sanders ran as a recycled New Deal Democrat during his campaign, and the Greens are essentially a representation of left-liberalism as it was in the 1970s and 1980s plus some Social Justice Warrior add-ons.
As I have previously written, the most significant aspect of this present presidential election is that the state of American politics is to a large degree returning to what it was in the 1970s, prior to the rise of the so-called “Reagan Revolution,” and the subsequent rise of Clintonism as a force which eclipsed both left-liberalism and traditional New Deal Democrats. All of the same factions that were present in American politics during the 1970s now appear to be reclaiming a place for themselves on the national political stage. The principal cause of this seems to be that widening class divisions and demographic change, combined with cultural and generational change, have rendered the Reagan coalition increasingly non-viable, and Clintonian neo-liberalism increasingly unpopular.
Meanwhile, as mentioned above, it seems that a problematic issue faced by anarchists, and others with similar philosophies, is the need to establish an independent identity for ourselves. At present, most people with some kind of anti-state philosophy continue to be largely affiliated with either the Red Tribe or the Blue Tribe, depending on their personal predilections. This need for an independent identity is readily apparent. We should not be merely an appendage to the radical Left (which most people identify with Communism) or the radical Right (which most people identify with fascists and Nazis). Instead, I’m increasingly leaning towards the view that anarchists should position ourselves as the “revolutionary Center” (the people vs the elite). Right now, radical center ideas seem to be growing in dissident circles.
A good way to frame the issue might be like this: Liberals are the center-left, socialists are the radical Left, and Marxist revolutionaries (like Maoists, radical Trotskyists, some anarcho-Marxists) are the revolutionary Left. Mainstream conservatives are the center-right, while the alt-right and paleoconservatives are the radical right, and fascists, neo-Nazis, radical survivalists, Tim McVeigh types, etc. are the revolutionary Right. The mainstream center would be so-called “moderates,” i.e. centrist politicians with milquetoast versions of some liberal and some conservative ideas. The radical center would be the reformist center with a more populist outlook, and anarchists would be the “revolutionary center.,” i.e. the centrist alternative for revolutionaries that reject both Fascism and Communism.
It is also interesting to speculate on how the upcoming presidential election might impact the future of radical movements.
I’m inclined to think a Hillary presidency will do more to facilitate the growth of authentic anti-system sentiment than a Trump presidency. If Trump loses, more and more people from the Right will think “Well, we tried doing it the system’s way, and we lost. Time for more radical efforts.” Meanwhile, a Hillary presidency would inflame the entire spectrum of the right-wing (except the neocons who would probably love her), while simultaneously alienating honest and serious liberals and leftists who would recognize what a vile bitch she actually is, and who would be appalled by the spectacle of PCers and SJWers ignoring her misdeeds as she panders to them. Consequently, many on the Left and Right would start looking for more radical solutions. A Trump presidency would probably motivate the right-wing to rally behind the state under the banner of “Give The Donald a Chance!” and ignore his more negative tendencies. Meanwhile, the Left would be reassured that it’s those god-awful “straight white males” who are the real enemy. So strategically, it’s probably in our best interests that Hillary win, though that might not be the case from the point of view of actual human interests given the thirst of Hillary and her likely neocon supporters for imperialist war.
Craig Fitzgerald offers an interesting counterpoint on this question:
I disagree, I see a Hillary presidency as infinitely worse. I actually feel Hillary hates humanity, while Trump does not. I also feel that as long as good populist nationalists, paleocons, constitutionalists & Libertarians don’t let their guards down & attempt to influence the Trump camp we may be able to keep him in line. Hillary on the other hand is totally a homicidal maniac.
Gabriel Brown expresses a similar viewpoint:
I may be missing something but it would appear to me that Trump being elected president may actually be the catalyst to accelerate the growth of anti-system politics opposed to Hillary Clinton becoming elected.
Trump is making tall promises that are most likely not promises he can keep 100%. If Trump does not achieve that which his voter base has been promised this could ultimately further crush faith in the system with those on the right who have become fairly moderate in terms of their anti-system position.
This may cause them to move in further direction of radical political positions which will be perfect for our efforts in encouraging them to move beyond the system and beyond the State with alternatives that generally speaking they may not have considered originally.
I say this because I examine Hillary Clinton and suspect that if Hillary Clinton is elected, because she has a manner of neutralizing the population by creating the appearance and perception that business as usual is the way of the system you will continue to see the left lock-step supporting the system and the right ultimately neutralized in actually doing anything radical the way the right is currently not as radical in terms of their efforts with the way the Obama administration has done things.
In other words i think that mainstream establishment candidates in power tend to have a neutralizing effect opposed to those who are viewed as non-establishment candidates.
I think people would hold Trump to a higher degree of expectations because he has made claims and promises that do challenge the system whereas with Clinton it is expected she will lie to the public and the public will be neutralized by knowing she will lie to the public.
I could be wrong but it seems to me that Trump may cause people to drive further away from the system showing the public that the system is flawed and even he isn’t able to do the job he has promised the people.
Maybe I’m just a closet Leninist but I’m often inclined to make “worse is better” arguments. It is interesting that a lot of the neocons seem to be leaning towards Hillary, and a lot of people from the genuinely anti-imperialist Left are leaning towards Trump (like some of the writers at Counterpunch, Denis Rancourt, Jim Petras, John Pilger, Susan Sarandon, etc). Even Jill Stein seems to view Trump almost favorably when compared to Hillary.
It would seem that what is needed at this point is for a maverick political leader to emerge that is trying to do at the national level what Norman Mailer was trying to do in New York in 1969: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City:_the_51st_State
Indeed, Adam Kokesh is actually talking about doing something similar to that during the 2020 election: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvqQg-uLn-Y
And ideas of the kind that Attack the System has been talking about for years are increasingly starting to enter the mainstream if only at a snail’s pace at present.
While discontent is starting to emerge in various corners, there is at presence no revolutionary presence in North America of any immediately identifiable or significantly influential sort. This is one of the first things that needs to change. In particular, those of use who identity ourselves as anarchists of some particular type need to begin making our presence known and developing common points of unity along with a coherent strategy.
For example, one such ambition might be for genuine revolutionaries to take over these minor parties and turn them into a federation of revolutionary anarchists. The Greens could become the eco-anarchist organization. The Libertarian Party could be the voluntaryist/anarcho-capitalist organization. The Pirate Party could be the crypto-anarchist organization. The Constitution Party could be the right-wing Christian anarchist organization. And the Party of Socialism and Liberation could become the anarcho-communist organization.
The eventual ambition should be to create a national federation of revolutionary anarchist organizations. A principal obstacle to such an effort would be the possible lack of even enough agreement among anarchists about core ideas at this point to hold national conferences or to create a federation of this kind. One problem is that all of these different groups of anarchists (along with scattered individuals) want to abolish the state for entirely different reasons. Some claim the existing state is too capitalist, and others claim it is not capitalist enough. And for some who claim the anarchist label, it’s less about the state specifically and more about abolishing capitalism, abolishing violence, abolishing technology, abolishing large-scale production, abolishing patriarchy, abolishing racism, abolishing religion, abolishing transphobia, abolishing globalization or abolishing any number of other things. For all of the hyphenated forms of anarchism, the hyphens usually come before the anarchism. An-caps are capitalists first, an-coms are communists first, anarcho-syndicalists are syndicalists first, anarcha-feminists are feminists first, etc.
I think that the only way around this would be for anarchists and others with libertarian, decentralist, anti-statist, or anti-authoritarian values to develop a common meta-ethic of decentralized pluralism on the macro-level and infinite diversity on the micro-level. Historically, the ideas that comes closet to this are anarchism without adjectives (Voltairine de Cleyre), anarchism without hyphens (Karl Hess), synthesist anarchism (Voline, Sebastian Faure), and panarchism (John Zube). However, this is the main idea I have pushed in anarchist circles for many years and it’s primary effect has been to make me unpopular with everyone.
Ian Mayes suggests that I am perhaps too pessimistic:
You seem to have a very sectarian tribalistic view of anarchists, whereas I think that a lot of anarchists are actually not that way. I have met and known a lot of anarchists who are very easy-going as far as ideology is concerned, they claim to belong to no particular anarchist school of thought, or if they do it is a very tepid affiliation with a particular school of thought. A lot of these kinds of people do not even necessarily call themselves “anarchist”, they just show up at events that have that label and only call themselves “anarchist” if you really press them on the question. These kinds of people are usually pretty soft-spoken, so you might not know that they are even out there since they tend to keep their opinions to themselves.
Perhaps there is greater reason for optimism than what often appears on the surface. There is also the question of offering a positive vision of what we are for as anarchists as opposed to merely stating what we are against.
While I can only speak for myself, on a general level I am for developing anarchist movements that reclaim the position that anarchists held in the early 20th century as the world’s largest revolutionary force before it was eclipsed by Communism. However, I would also like for anarchism to do in the 21st century what Communism did in the 20th century (i.e. overthrow so many governments that they control about 1/3 of the world’s nations or more). In particular, I want to see the American empire and its allies taken down, and the next target after that would the other major nation-states like China, Russia, India, etc. I also wish to overturn the international institutions towards which power is being ceded such as the those that facilitate the international financial and trade systems, along with the UN and other similar things. The anti-capitalist struggle (or at least the struggle against corporate capitalism) has to be a core part of this because about 150 corporations control about 40-50% of the world’s wealth. All of the various international organizations that have been incorporated into this system need to be overturned (the EU, for example).
There is also the need for self-determination for all regional, national, cultural, ethnic, religious or other groups that are currently under the boot of some external power (Tibet and Palestine are among the most obvious examples). There is a need to attack state repression across the board in all countries and societies. The priorities in this area should obviously vary according to place. Women’s rights and religious persecution are the issues in Saudi Arabia, while the wars on drugs, crime, terrorism, etc, and the related police state and prison industry are the priorities in the US. Maybe the excesses of PC would be the priorities in many European nations. There is also the need to develop alternatives to state-capitalism in the economic realm. Ideas of that type have been around for centuries in some instances. I generally think some ideas of that kind would work better than others, though there should be lots of experimentation along regional, national, local, and institutional lines. A big issue in the US is figuring out how to dismantle the military industrial complex. Another thing is to revise law codes along more libertarian lines, along with working to abolish formalized legal systems to the greatest degree possible.
These are just few ideas related to the bigger issues. Many different ideas about alternative social systems are presently in circulation. For example, Wayne Price talks about what a post-capitalist society might look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqiT-OSIvQE
Nexus H. Humectress discusses the need for competing social system:
Personally, I’d kind of like to see New Hampshire secede and become Ancapistan, bordered by its friendly neighbor, the People’s Republic of Vermont, and then we would have a controlled experiment to see which system works better, a libertarian freed market, or democratic state socialism. My guess is that each of those countries would have its own virtues and drawbacks, perhaps with no clear winner.
Patri Friedman discusses these ideas as well:
Since the EU is basically the opposite of competitive governance (imposing a large, bureaucratic, non-local-adaptive, non-multiple experiments governance structure on a diverse region), I am delighted about Brexit, and hopeful that it demonstrates a first-world trend towards local autonomy and governance diversity. The answers to difficult questions like immigration, security, and foreign policy should not come from a central organization that imposes a uniform solution on all; they should be both locally adaptive and answered in diverse ways so we can all learn from the multiple parallel experiments.
The diversity we need is of the things that matter: rules, ideas, institutions and culture. There should be a country with Germany’s immigration policy; and a country with Hungary’s immigration policy. There need to be different interest and exchange rates for Greece and Germany. One size fits none. Glad that democracy can occasionally get something right; and psyched for Scottish (scexit? ukexit?) as well as the continuing failure of the Eurozone/ECB to handle widely varied regional economic situations.
There are many single issues that are in need of being addressed. For example, in the past I have expressed what might be considered very far left-wing views on many issues.
On many social questions, I would share ground with..many of the conventionally “left-wing” or left-libertarian positions… I am pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, anti-death penalty.., pro-drug legalization, pro-gay rights and pro- sex worker rights…, and pro-prison abolition. I’m also pro-homeless, pro-disabled people, and pro-mentally ill, in the sense of favoring abolition of state policies…(such as) loitering and vagrancy laws, zoning and other laws restricting the supply of low-income housing, involuntary civil commitment, regulations restricting the activities of shelters and relief organizations and others too numerous to mention). I am also anti-drinking age, anti-compulsory schooling, anti-censorship and I would put more strident limits on the powers of the police than the ACLU would. I am also interested in anarcho-syndicalist, mutualist, distributist or “libertarian socialist” economics. These positions are well to the left of the Democratic Party, far more left than most liberals and even many hard leftists.
I have also discussed the need for the development of alternative infrastructure and social service organizations.
In terms of offering positive alternatives to the welfare state, I am very much for the development of non-state charities, relief agencies, orphanages, youth hostels, squats, shelters for battered women, the homeless or the mentally ill, self-improvement programs for drug addicts and alcoholics, assistance services for the disabled or the elderly, wildlife and environmental preserves, means of food and drug testing independent of the state bureaucracy, home schools, neighborhood schools, private schools, tenants organizations, mutual banks, credit unions, consumers unions, anarcho-syndicalist labor unions and other worker organizations, cooperatives, communes, collectives, kibbutzim and other alternative models of organizing production. I am in favor of free clinics, alternative medicine, self-diagnostic services, midwifery, the abolition of medical licensure, the repeal of prescription laws and anything else that could potentially reduce the cost of health care for the average person and diminish dependency on the medical-industrial complex and the white coat priesthood. Indeed, I would argue that the eventual success of libertarianism depends to a large degree on the ability of libertarians to develop workable alternatives to both the corporation-dominated economy and the state-dominated welfare and social service system.
However, I am also known for taking a much more accommodating stance towards the right-wing than many anarchists. I’ve found that, whatever their other views, many from the right-wing are open to decentralization or secession or “situational anarchism” as a practical consideration. I generally lean towards what I call the “Orania solution” for the reactionary right-wing in all its different forms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orania,_Northern_Cape
I imagine that with pan-anarchism, pan-secession, or pan-decentralization there might be Oranias for white separatists, Christian fundamentalists, Islamists, Catholic traditionalists, Mormons, Zionists, nationalists, social conservatives, black supremacists, La Raza (“The Race”), drug prohibitionists, pro-lifers, homophobes, and all of the other types who reject the central features of liberal modernity. Just like there might be “Feminazi Towns” with no hookers and porn allowed, or “Trans Towns” and “TERF Towns” or “Vegan Towns” where animals have the right to vote or whatever and “Carnivore Towns.” It’s just a model for a practical way of accommodating yet containing reactionaries of different kinds as opposed to the totalitarian humanist model of compulsory progressivism or the Stalinist-Maoist-Pol Potist model of massacres.
I also think that it’s necessary to have some means of accommodating people who simply reject many of society’s prevalent taboos. At present, racism is regarded by many people as the ultimate evil. It may be a backlash against the obvious excesses and atrocities in the past. However, “the racists ye shall always have among you.” That may change in the future and something else may come to be regarded as the greatest of all sins. I have seen some evidence that there may be movements to legalize and/or normalize polygamy or incestuous couplings at some point in the future. If so, that will be yet another fight like the gay/trans issues have been, and it will probably cross conventional ideological lines. Of course, let’s not forget about the sex offenders, who in many ways are the modern lepers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_Village_(community)
The development of something like Federation of Egalitarian Communities or Mondragon or Marinaleda into mass movements is still something else I would like to see happen. I would like to see the international Pirate Parties actually becoming competitive like they are now in Iceland, and I also like micro-national movements like Liberland. “Two, three many Liberlands.” We also need more armed insurgent groups like the PKK/YPG or EZLN. It’s hard for me to list everything that I’m for because the list is almost endless.
I also suspect these kinds of unconventional political parties like the Pirate Parties or the Five Star Movement in Italy might be the beginning of another trend as the traditional left and right have largely become a spent force and yet certain problems are mounting with no real solutions in sight. Of course, there is a lot that anarchists can learn from various guerrilla movements from the past: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_of_Ayacucho_prison
The ideas are already out there. It’s just a matter of putting them into practice on a large scale.
Categories: Activism, Anarchism/Anti-State, Strategy
Organizing: maybe it’s the nature of anarchism that makes us so bad at it. I’ve watched current totalitarian ideologies operate in the US and, though I disagree with their goals, objectives and specific methods I’m impressed with their organizational capacity. Still, those are examples of top down, hierarchical systems (communist groups, genuine fascist movements of yesteryear, etc.) which 4th generation warfare theory has proven is a defunct system.
The questions I have are:
Bringing it back a few years we can find some good stuff from Global Guerrillas:
I don’t know what our “plausible promise” is. It’s got to be something simple and universal that speaks to our core demographics. “Power to the neighborhoods”? “End the Fed” may be an example of one that was employed by Libertarians, but most people don’t understand what the Fed is and what it does for it to gain widespread adoption.
When it comes to local activism or organizing, “power to the neighborhoods” could potentially be common refrain among different sets of local activists that served as a common thread.
It’s surprising how well the “End the Fed” campaign actually did. Bernie Sanders had a similar angle with his “Break Up the Banks” focus.Most popular movements that have emerged in recent times have had some kind of opposition to financial elites as their orientation: Occupy, Ron Paul, Sanders, the Tea Party’s focus on taxes and debt, and Trump’s economic nationalism. Most opinion polls about what issues the public is most concerned about usually place economic issues at the top. http://www.gallup.com/poll/1675/most-important-problem.aspx
I’m inclined towards “End Corporate Welfare” as the most plausible angle. Nobody likes corporate welfare, not liberals, not conservatives,and not libertarians. Attacking corporations for mooching off the taxpayer while exploiting workers seems to be an almost perfect means of blending left anti-corporate populism with right anti-government populism.
I could eventually see anarchists waging a nationwide campaign of “End Corporate Welfare-Power to the Neighborhoods!”
The first thing I thought when I saw the Brexit result that morning was, “I wonder what Keith Preston thinks of this?” Thanks for this comprehensive synthesis of the many currents under the surface here. I will be eager to share.
I think this is a very useful analysis, although it is a little exciting and scary to have made such a big leap “forward” so seemingly at once. It makes our discussion on what comes after capitalism so much more urgent. I hope we can expand the scope of that conversation to a broader radical segment. I’d point out that the real goal is not so much to predict _when_ or _what_ things happen so much as to be _ready_ for them, and to have an analysis that identifies opportunities. That has always been the appeal of the ATS temperament to me.
Both candidates are complete deal breakers for a good portion of the population, but Trump is a wildcard in a toupe. He could be the next guy organizing brownshirts; he could give us universal health care and govern to Hillary’s left. Total wildcard. I think you could unite a strong left / libertarian right coalition to oppose Trump not because of specific policies per se so much as because he is easy to oppose,should he become president. A genuine coalition of sensible people across the spectrum could open up new possibilities for a way forward, cutting across the dumb culture war chasms and showing what we all have in common. Trump will not fail to arouse the ire of the kinds of people we want mobilized.
This is preferable, in my opinion, to the likely reaction to Clinton. As tied in as Hillary is to the traditional military/intelligence/corporate world, her flaws would be magnified even if they were nominal– and of course they are far more pronounced. Her hubris is more predictably damaging. I think she’d do a better job of keeping the veneer of normalcy in place, or normalizing the savagery of the empire. The left is not going to be able to lead any cross-ideological resistance, because we don’t yet have the movement for that. Personally I find the idea of a right-led anti-Hillary coalition less appealing and definitely less balanced. An anti-Trump coalition would, I believe, look a lot more like America, whereas an anti-Hillary coalition would tend to be more like the same stunts the activist Right specialize in. Just my suspicions here.
I tend to agree with Gabriel Brown that given these two ridiculous choices, Trump is the anti-system candidate to favor. Honestly I think I’m picking the gentler tyrant, granting how privileged that sentiment is; I think many of my non-white friends are justifiably scared of him. But most importantly, I like the radical response to Trump more than the radical response to Hillary. But things are in such flux that it’s better to keep one’s eyes fixed on the present than to look forward to the future too much.
In terms of what our next move should be, I think it largely is about organizing not the anarchists, the radicals, etc. but organizing at a small scale around our friends, family, and neighbors. They are the people most affected by the system’s loss of legitimacy, whereas radicals are already radicalized and either with us or not. Besides, I’ve never been much for ATS as a recruitment organization, truth be told. We need the kind of diverse people constituting complex cultures capable of evolving political revolutions forward into social paradigms. Revolutions that work plant seeds others can use in their contexts.
The present radicals either are willing to work with us or not based on their ideological commitments; we’re unlikely to make quick work there. But starting to invest energy in community inspires new people who are not interested in theory, debate, or imagination; they care about what can work, and in that way crisis can bring out the best thinking and judgment in them. More and more it’s looking like those best adapted to decentralism are those who can survive the fourth generation battlefield. I say it’s the anarchists’ bid to lose.
Bull, Trump’s followers median income according to studies is 72,000. The average white Blue collar dude only makes 61,000. Clinton and Sanders were poorer more minorities and college grads that didn’t get high paying jobs As for the liberal elites its exaggerate, for instance google put high speed internet in Irvine which is purplish between the political parties. I predict in 4 years, Republicans will go back to the 80,000 a year Plano Texas income since Donnie will lose because of his big mouth. A Rubio like Republican runs in 2020 and the Dems will court more lower income minorites and students in 4 years.
Very nice blog. There are too many things I wish to discuss but not enough time, so I will get to the most important point:
I just want to say that although Trump has put on quite a show (in a repugnant way), Killary is far more dangerous. Trump is known for his boisterous demeanor, erratic policy proposals, the occassional flirtation with isolationism, economic nationalism, and incendiary rhetoric. Some of it is amusing while most of it is repugnant.
That being said, the military-corporate-financial oligarchy has thrown its entire weight behind Killary because they know she will continue the police state, corporate-capitalist policies of the Obama and Bush regimes.
Some of the commentators I read such as Paul Craig Roberts and John Pilger strongly believe that a Killary presidency will result in nuclear war with Russia and China. The Obama regime has escalated tensions by installing nuclear systems in the Baltic states and encircling China with adversaries. In light of these ominous developments, I ask of your opinion on this issue.
“Some of the commentators I read such as Paul Craig Roberts and John Pilger strongly believe that a Killary presidency will result in nuclear war with Russia and China. The Obama regime has escalated tensions by installing nuclear systems in the Baltic states and encircling China with adversaries. In light of these ominous developments, I ask of your opinion on this issue.”
Pilger and Roberts both have a tendency to overstate their case. But the fact that Trump seems to be genuinely less antagonistic towards Russia and Iran than either Hillary or the neocons who have shifted their loyalty to her is the most important thing in Trump’s favor.
In that case, I will probably hold my nose and vote for Trump. We have had 20+ years of neocon thuggery and I fear another 8 years will at worst doom us all, and at best take another million Middle Eastern lives.
Assuming, of course, votes even matter. I suspect the ruling class has already anointed Killary as the next empress and the dog-and-pony show is just a distraction for the masses, albeit an expensive one.
“Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.” – Joseph Stalin
I look forward to your future articles.
It’s basically irrelevant whether you vote or not. Even if you want to support Trump, voting is a total waste of time. There is seriously no reason to do it except social signalling and faux activism. It makes no practical difference whatsoever. Seriously, don’t vote, is retarded and nothing but am empty ritual.
I’m definitely partisan (capitalism or propertarianism strictly constructed) but I don’t think there’s anything you suggest that I would object to, after all if people want to be suicidally stupid that’s really not my problem – as long as I’m not locked into liability by these massive bureaucracies that spread the losses and concentrate gains. Far from encouraging tolerance these massive state systems make other people’s stupid ideas an existential threat to me.
I am concerned with the AltRight’s drift into complacent statism, when most of the things they complain about would have been practically impossible without massive state interference. They seem to be drifting into the traditional fail mode of radicals, being more interested having power than in having justice. Their caricatures of libertarianism coupled with a clear ignorance of the detailed points of legal theory is vulgar and literally stupid, and I say this as a person with a near contempt for basic bitch “muhNAP” Paulinists. The AltRight is a mixed bag, but most of it is no more likely to make the needed structural changes than Hillary Clinton.
Oh my poor lost little anarchists…
While we are clearly living in revolutionary times, there is scant evidence that any of the major insurgent trends are in any meaningful way Anarchist or anti-state, and there is no evidence of any Anarchists (outside of Kurdistan) that are in any way positioned to benefit from the unfolding conflagration, or for that matter even marginally capable of any kind of effective political work.
Trump is running on a strong state platform: borders, immigration laws, massive jobs programs, rebuilding infrastructure, tariffs, nationalist trade policies, etcetera. All of that requires a state. His foreign policy is a deviation from neocon imperialism, but his isolationist realism is predicated on a state system. The fact that so many ex-libertards are supporting him is just more evidence that long Libertarian lobotomy of the right is finally over.
The Bernie insurgency has nothing actually Anarchist about it either, as his entire program is a socialist/old labor platform that is utterly and completely statist. The fact that so many left Anarchists support Bernie is just more evidence that American Left Anarchism is a meaningless fashion trend that has been devoid of any real political content for generations.
The Brexit insurgency was as much an affirmation of British sovereignty as it was a rejection of the EU. The anti-immigrant sentiment that fueled it is all about strong state borders, and the labor voters who pushed it through have historically been the most “big state” faction in British politics. (Furthermore, Nigel Farage is such so useless that he doesn’t have the slightest idea what to do with the victory, and Ukip will almost certainly squander it.)
While the BLM movement is against the parts of the state that are hunting, murdering and enslaving black people, it is not anti-state as such, and there has never been any significant Anarchist faction in black politics. The Black Nationalists who constitute the radical wing of the movement are the children of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, who were no kind of Anarchists at all.
So there is actually nothing remotely “ironic” about the fact that despite all the discontent, Anarchism and Libertarianism are nowhere to be found. None of this has anything to do with either. Both movements have utterly failed to develop a viable social base, a coherent political program, or an effective political practice. Both movements are already in the dumpster of history, their adherents are just too drunk on their own kool aid to notice.
The whole problem with your Liberty and Populism strategy is that the so-called “populists” in the United States are not libertarians, and in fact it is exactly their rejection of libertarian economic policies that define them as “populists”. The sinking middle class is not looking for anarchy, but rather state provided safety nets and economic development programs. The old racist white idiots who are so bitter about Obama are all federal welfare bums on social security and Medicaid. The angry working class voters want enforcement of the immigration laws, strong unions, and a nationalist economic policy.
I don’t disagree with anything you said.
I’d argue that present day US politics is analogous to Iraq, where you have a state that’s unpopular with everyone, and then two major sects that dominate the society at large and want nothing to do with each other. These two major sects are divided into sub-sects, tribes, and clans of their own, and there are still other tribes outside the main two that no one likes.
US politics today is about the Red Sunni vs the Blue Shiites. Trump and Sanders represent class based insurgencies within the Red Tribe and Blue Tribe respectively.
Your analysis of all of the various US political factions is absolutely on the mark, I agree. However, I still find it curious that for nearly 10 years opinion polls have shown that 20% to 25% of the US population holds pro-secession views, even if none of this has ever developed into an actual movement. Also, I find Scott Alexander’s analysis of an emerging Grey Tribe to be interesting. I’ve also noticed that both the Libertarians and the Greens are getting more attention than usual this election cycle for obvious reasons, and there are Rothbardian and Bookchinite tendencies within those parties, respectively.
At this point, I am oriented towards the view that if anarchism/libertarianism has any future in North America, three things will have to happen.
1. Secessionist sentiment will have to evolve into actual movements rather than mere theoretical positions.
2. The Grey Tribe will have to emerge as a polymorphous independent political identity.
3. Anarchist and libertarian tendencies, whether left, right, or center, will have to grow and proliferate within their own tribal milieus, probably independent of one another, and often opposed to each other.
I think that ideological and radical movements in general turn normies off, and America is one of the most conformist countries in the world in this respect. Barring massive eugenics or something equally catastrophic I would be seriously surprised to see name brand anarchism become a dominant intellectual paradigm. In this respect I’ve always been doubtful of the libertarian program of education: most people don’t want personal responsibility, or to read long books by European polymaths.
However, if you look at work by Van Creveld and others there is a kind of slide away from Westphalia and the liberal consensus, partly for reasons libertarians would predict (inefficient, adverse selection of elites, etc.) Presuming this failure continues we may see a breakdown of agreement and political authority that has the potential for secessionist and nullifying action. There are many possible political orders that are not explicitly anarchic which nonetheless could make room for implicit and explicit anarchism and libertarianism.
Many libertarians take note of various medieval political orders and groups like Hezbollah and see an affinity for their own ideas. While I doubt we’ll ever convince everyone of laissez faire it is possible that broad circumstances could make room for more of this, some of which my be explicitly anarchic but much of which would simply more traditional or communitarian in a way that is an improvement for reasons anarchist theory would suggest, even if the people living in these situations don’t ever think about it that way.
Anarchism has been the Cassandra of political theory, every state and empire has had entirely predictable systemic flaws yet the very reason many of these flaws are so pervasive is because of the irrational jungle mentality of normies.
“Many libertarians take note of various medieval political orders and groups like Hezbollah and see an affinity for their own ideas.”
Yes, but at that point your ideas are no longer Libertarian. Hezbollah is not laissez faire, and neither were the Middle Ages.
Trying to explain your own political failures with the “irrational jungle mentality” of “Normies” is just a way to salve your own self-esteem and signal that you are part of the in-group. That kind of behavior dressed up as politics is one of the things that doomed libertarianism to be a fringe phenomena.
If you say so, I’m just a misanthrope. In fact I kind of don’t know what you mean by “failure” add though there were some test of success for political ideologies. There isn’t. There’s only Jeremy’s about actual political orders, which are all rates for highly predictable reasons. I’m not an evangelical libertarian, I’m a nihilist that knows economics.
Swype issues, but I don’t think I care to fix it.
“So there is actually nothing remotely “ironic” about the fact that despite all the discontent, Anarchism and Libertarianism are nowhere to be found. None of this has anything to do with either. Both movements have utterly failed to develop a viable social base, a coherent political program, or an effective political practice. Both movements are already in the dumpster of history, their adherents are just too drunk on their own kool aid to notice.”
Could not have said it better.
I have a new book coming out from Black House fairly soon called “The Failure of Anarchism.” That should make you guys happy. 🙂
I do think there is a sour grapes counter ping to be made: it’s true libertarianism had not influenced many political movements, and that is why they have been almost uniform disasters or changes with no clear benefits except to a well positioned minority. People can keep being wrong, but they’re still wrong. This would be my reply to the AltRight specifically, since they are simply not correct that the kind of influence they seek actually could produce the long term improvement they seek.
Most radical groups that I am familiar with think it’s a phenomenal occurrence if they can draw 200 people to an event. This includes anarchists, libertarians, Marxists, and the alt-right. Meanwhile, comic book conventions draw thousands, sometimes tends of thousands.
As for as the cause of advancing “Anarchy in America” goes, there are three main things I would like to see happen. First, I would like to see a proliferation of national, regional, and local leaders advocating something similar to what Norman Mailer was trying to in New York in the 1960s. These could be leaders from either the fringe or the center, the left or the right, the normal political world or something else like sports, entertainment, etc. But the idea would be to put secessionist or decentralist ideas on the map. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City:_the_51st_State
Second, I would like to see this Black Lives Matter thing blossom into a full blown rebellion against the police state, prison industry, legal system, overcriminalization, war on drugs, etc (the kinds of stuff that Radley Balko, John Whitehead, and William Grigg write). The race angle might be a good place to start with that because appeals to solidarity against racial oppression fit well with wider popular narratives, although it also has the potential to become divisive and relegate anti-police issues to the status of a “black issue” when it’s actually an issue that now impacts people of all races, religions, classes, and political affiliations, even if it impacts some more than others. This needs to meta morph into something comparable to the anti-Vietnam War movement or civil rights movement from the 60s.
Third, I would like to see the proliferation of anarchist, libertarian, decentralist, anti-state, anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, and anti-imperialist movements of all kinds. I think a lot of the different tendencies in these tend to balance out the excesses of specific groups. For every an-com, we need an an-cap. For every antifa, we need a national-anarchist. For every transhumanist, we need a primitivist. For every insurrectionist, we need a pacifist.
Of things that I have seen happening in more recent times, the stuff that I have been most impressed with have successes of the Kurds that Akira points out, the emergence of micro-national projects like Liberland, and the proliferation of the Pirate Party as a quasi-anarchist political party.
Two, three, many Kurdistans.
Two, three many Liberlands.
Two, three many Pirate Parties.
Interesting interview with the PKK here:
I just trolled the fuck out of Glenn Beck:
So as Glenn is graciously broadcasting the final phases of his terminal psychosis, and a bizarre melange of archaic content is surfacing in the form of Alexander Dugin Conspiracy Theory. Anyone interested in deep Conspirology, the American Psychosis, Psychiatric Warfare, or the geopolitical weaponization of Conspiracy Theory does not want to miss this.
And for anyone who enjoys the simple pleasures of watching an enemy who is really and truly a retarded asshole completely implode, Glenn’s final spiral is a long awaited spectacle. Stock up on Cheetos, this is going to be so good…
Postcapitalism by Paul Mason
Its not the factory jobs but the high cost of housing. Trump followers make on average higher income than Clinton’s around 72,000 versus 61,000. Time magazine shows that many factory workers are not white,but Latino or Black and factory work pays a lot less than it use to since factories hire a lot through temp agencies and the assembly work usually now pays between 10 to 15 an hour not as middle class with the high cost of housing. Low interest rates in the last 20 years has caused tract housing to be a lot more expensive from about 100,000 higher in Texas to 250,000 higher than it would normally This has happen because George Bush had a lax mortgage system that caused a lot of fraud and to bail out middle class Joe, Obama had to keep the interest rates low to bail people out. This has two bad effects higher housing costs since realtors jack up pricing for low interest mortgage rates housing and higher rent. Donald Trump is so popular that Paul Johnson is taking away about 5 percent of the Republican vote. Actually, Mitt Romney did a lot better than Trump did. Trump was the product of aging Pat Buchanan types that have whine about factory jobs and immigration. In fact factory worked well be the province of liberal leftists like tech in the next 10 years since 3-d printing factory work can be done in a the garage in 10 years. Trump is the Pat Buchanan past of the Republicans while Libertarian candidate Paul Johnson is the future, your predicted is dated and was way off. Trump outside of his followers is disliked more than RInos McCain and Romney were.
Here’s some more thoughts on this.
The purpose of my having devised my left/right libertarian/populist pan-secessionist program was for the sake of building a left/right crossover movement that would be capable of attacking the state.
There are two primary problems with this. First, for most people anti-statism, anarchism, libertarianism, etc is not a primary value, and certainly not to the degree that it will override other preferences.
I have always been aware of this, and tried to get around it by pointing out how anti-statism of different kinds might benefit particular socioeconomic, demographic, and single-issue groups, thereby encouraging an attack on the state by an indirect rather than direct means.
However, that I have encountered is that whenever you give any sympathy or encouragement to either the Left or Right, you automatically set yourself up to be attacked by the other.
That brings us to the real problem. I underestimated how deeply entrenched Red/Blue tribal hatred actually is. It’s like if I were a 19th century anarchist advocating a Blue/Gray alliance against the state in North America just as Fort Sumter is looming.
The situation is also parallel in other ways.
For example, I have found that (generally) leftists are more hostile to my perspective than rightists. I suspect that if I were a 19th century anarchist advocating a Blue/Gray alliance against US imperialism as it was back then, I would gotten a lot of sympathy from Grays, as well as members of nations in American Indian territory, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific that were under attack by US imperialism. But the Blues would have been vociferously opposed to my views because of their zeal to eradicate the reactionary Southern plantation system.
The same is true today. I get at least some degree of sympathy from people who view themselves as being under attack by this state, but the Blue Tribe is vociferously opposed to my views due to their missionary like desire to eradicate the last citadels of cultural conservatism.