The Case for Bottom Up Anti-Imperialism 5

By Keith Preston

Image result for bottom up anti-imperialism

Recently, a reader of Attack the System offered the following questions and comments:

“Keith Preston,

Why do you and other radical, ostensibly libertarian anti-war types, leap to the defense of the authoritarian BRICS countries, anti-propertarian movements in Latin America, Duginist shills, and other slave-minded untermensch? Reading the work of Marxist-Leninists as primers on strategy is one thing. Their revolutions succeeded, and it is essential to learn from them. But for godsakes let the neocons eradicate our Marxist blood enemies, while we gather our strength.

You frequently repeat your desire to create a non-aligned movement, one which I believe we share, but if your model is the so-called “non-aligned movement” that amounted to little more than Soviet controlled opposition, I find it reasonable to say you are more interested in an anti-American movement than a powerful, effective non-aligned one. If that’s what you want, national anarchists risk falling into a similar trap that snuffed out the Strasserites and classical anarchists, though perhaps it won’t be as lethal.

I am not interested in defending the Atlanticist foreign policy establishment. They are very frequently wrong, and disastrously so. But perhaps a handful is sincere in their desire for an open society, and I desire to give credit where it’s due. I’ll give them credit for supporting “nazis” in Ukraine, and Kurdish separatists in Iraq. However disastrous the war in Afghanistan has been, it has kept Winnie the Pooh at bay, and restraining the Chinese is essential. If there is an immediate, voluntarist solution to that problem, let me know.

I also count the suppression of Latin American Marxism, among the establishment’s few good deeds. As someone interested in decentralization and subsidiarity, I hope to see Bolsonaro’s Brasil take over the leading role in fighting communism south of the Panama Canal, from the USA. However I’m realistic, and know the chances of the USA handing off a torch to anyone are almost zero.

I am critical of contemporary anti-Americanism on grounds, not unlike those that Rothbard criticized Cold War anti-communism. Rothbard recognized quite early on that despite all appearances to the contrary, the Soviet Union was on its way out. Buckley, like Rothbard, began as a Nockian, but lacked this insight. He ended up becoming consumed by the hatred of the evil empire of his day, to the point that he not only allowed liberals, Trotskyists, and anyone who had a minor policy disagreement with the USSR into his movement, but let them assume positions of authority. Now Conservatism Inc. is dominated by cultural Neo-Trotskyists. Ahem, Classicul Libruls.

America is in a similar position today. Anti-Americanism is effectively a form of soft-power, not unlike political correctness. I’d also like to point out, in other contexts, you recognize that BRICs vs. NATO is just Democrats vs. Republicans on a grander scale, and in the American context you don’t take either corrupt side, though you do have a baffling soft-spot for the Latin for Manhattan, and other economic sjws (I know she’s from the Bronx but that doesn’t rhyme.) Why then do you keep virtue-signaling to the global-equivalent of the Democrats?

My responses:

Why do you and other radical, ostensibly libertarian anti-war types, leap to the defense of the authoritarian BRICS countries, anti-propertarian movements in Latin America, Duginist shills, and other slave-minded untermensch? Reading the work of Marxist-Leninists as primers on strategy is one thing. Their revolutions succeeded, and it is essential to learn from them. But for godsakes let the neocons eradicate our Marxist blood enemies, while we gather our strength.

I am not “pro-BRIICs.” I mostly regard the Asian powers as provinces within the global super-capitalist empire, and as playing a subordinate role to the Atlantic axis. The real function of these nations is to provide cheap labor to Western corporations and cheap loans to Western governments. To the degree that there is “conflict” between the Asian powers and the dominant Western axis, it is an intramural conflict taking place within global capitalism. An analogy might be made to the occasional conflicts that take place between the US federal government and the state and local governments (e.g. the controversies over “sanctuary cities,” or the admission of Syrian refugees during the Obama administration). To the degree that such conflicts take place, they are a positive development in the sense of contributing to the fractiousness of the global system. The Eurasian movement envisioned by Dugin is not anti-imperialist, but simply wishes for the Asian powers to assume a greater role in the global capitalist system or to develop an imperialism of their own that would serve as a counter-imperialism to Western imperialism. In a very limited way, this might be desirable in the sense of producing a multipolar rather than unipolar world order. A genuine multipolar world has arguably not existed since World War One. But multipolarity in this sense (or “multilateralism”) would still be functioning within the framework of transnational capitalism.

A similar situation exists with the so-called “independence” movements that have emerged in various European nations. For example, the Catalan and Scottish “independence” movements may want autonomy from Spain or the United Kingdom, but only to become provinces of the European Union. A European Union comprised of (to pick a random number) 50 states rather than 28 states may or not be an “improvement” but so what? Dividing the United States into 100 rather than 50 states would accomplish very little if all of these remained subordinated to Washington. A similar critique could be made of Brexit. England’s exit from the European Union may or may not have weakened the EU. I am not convinced that it did but even if it did, toward what end? The British state itself is awful, arguably just as bad internally as the EU regime in Brussels (in fact, both Troy Southgate and Sean Gabb expressed skepticism of Brexit on these grounds, if I recall), and the UK remains a senior partner in global capitalism, a principal party in the United Nations, and a primary junior partner to the American Empire. Not exactly a renunciation of “the system.”

As for “anti-proprietarian movements in Latin America,” what exactly are these movements? I don’t see them. Insurgents from past decades have either been almost completely defeated (such as the FARC or the Shining Path) or incorporated into their domestic national states and the wider neoliberal system (such as the FMLN or FSLN). I don’t really consider “anti-anti-proprietarianism” to be the primary value when it comes to international relations and geopolitics (as opposed to anti-imperialism), but the only regimes in Latin America that could be considered “anti-proprietarian” today would be Cuba (which is likely to move toward a Chinese model of state-capitalism in the future) and (in a limited way) the Bolivarian regime of Venezuela.

As for the idea of “But for godsakes let the neocons eradicate our Marxist blood enemies, while we gather our strength,” this makes no strategic sense at all. The Marxists are only a peripheral force in most of the world today. The neocons and their allies and fellow travelers (e.g. neoliberals, liberal internationalists, traditional imperialists, “human rights” imperialists, etc.) control the world’s most powerful nations, i.e. the dominant Western axis and its Middle Eastern allies.

You frequently repeat your desire to create a non-aligned movement, one which I believe we share, but if your model is the so-called “non-aligned movement” that amounted to little more than Soviet controlled opposition, I find it reasonable to say you are more interested in an anti-American movement than a powerful, effective non-aligned one. If that’s what you want, national anarchists risk falling into a similar trap that snuffed out the Strasserites and classical anarchists, though perhaps it won’t be as lethal.

The Non-Aligned Movement that emerged during the Cold War was an agglomeration of states that ostensibly wished to assert their independence from the USA or the USSR. For some of these nations, such as India and Yugoslavia, a somewhat sincere effort was being made. But others, such as Cuba and Saudi Arabia, were just client states of one of the superpowers. In the 21st century, a “powerful, effective non-aligned” movement is, by definition, an “anti-American” movement because America is the unipolar hegemonic power within the wider global capitalist system. As for the issue of “national anarchists risk falling into a similar trap that snuffed out the Strasserites and classical anarchists, though perhaps it won’t be as lethal,” I am not in favor of an alliance between anarchists and Eurasianists. Instead, we need a bottom up anti-imperialist movement that is oriented toward the building of solidarity between anti-imperialist tendencies everywhere. A key test of a tendency’s actual anti-imperialist credentials would be their position on indigenous peoples’ rights. Some supposed “anti-imperialist” tendencies are in fact anti-indigenous. Preferably, there would be an alliance of pro-indigenous forces that would exist parallel to a general anti-imperialist alliance, and perhaps embed itself into such an alliance as the militant leadership corps (the same way I would envision anarchists becoming the militant leadership of large popular organizations). Other key tests would involve questions of where a supposed “anti-imperialist” tendency stood on questions of involvement in transnational corporations, trade organizations, or financial organizations, and the degree to which they wished to develop local or regional economies independently of such organization.

I am not interested in defending the Atlanticist foreign policy establishment. They are very frequently wrong, and disastrously so. But perhaps a handful is sincere in their desire for an open society, and I desire to give credit where it’s due. I’ll give them credit for supporting “nazis” in Ukraine, and Kurdish separatists in Iraq. However disastrous the war in Afghanistan has been, it has kept Winnie the Pooh at bay, and restraining the Chinese is essential. If there is an immediate, voluntarist solution to that problem, let me know.

I am far less charitable in my assessment of the “Atlanticist foreign policy establishment.” Their objective is to simply make the Ukraine into a NATO colony for the purpose of furthering a provocative encirclement of Russia. They have no interest in preserving the Kurdish revolution in Rojava. Instead, they would install a Sunni fundamentalist regime like Saudi Arabia in the Kurdish territory, or a secular dictator like Reza Pahlavi or Hosni Mubarak, or neoliberal puppet (which is standard US practice in Latin America). Nor do I understand the “Sinophobia.” If one wants to see the Chinese regime undermined, one of the best things that could happen would be for the Chinese to get bogged down in the Afghan quagmire, as the Russians and Americans have already done.

I also count the suppression of Latin American Marxism, among the establishment’s few good deeds. As someone interested in decentralization and subsidiarity, I hope to see Bolsonaro’s Brasil take over the leading role in fighting communism south of the Panama Canal, from the USA. However I’m realistic, and know the chances of the USA handing off a torch to anyone are almost zero.

As I said above, Latin American Marxism is only a peripheral force that this point. Even the “Pink Tide” of the 2000s is receding. Latin America is now firmly under neoliberal control for the most part. Bolsonaro is a neocon puppet and ardently “pro-Israel” (Zionist), and has already begun escalating attacks on indigenous people. Given that “the chances of the USA handing off a torch to anyone are almost zero,” this is precisely why “anti-Americanism” should be the focus of anti-imperialists.

I am critical of contemporary anti-Americanism on grounds, not unlike those that Rothbard criticized Cold War anti-communism. Rothbard recognized quite early on that despite all appearances to the contrary, the Soviet Union was on its way out. Buckley, like Rothbard, began as a Nockian, but lacked this insight. He ended up becoming consumed by the hatred of the evil empire of his day, to the point that he not only allowed liberals, Trotskyists, and anyone who had a minor policy disagreement with the USSR into his movement, but let them assume positions of authority. Now Conservatism Inc. is dominated by cultural Neo-Trotskyists. Ahem, Classicul Libruls.

This is an important point. I’ve written about that history myself. I would actually make a similar argument, but from a polar opposite angle. The key difference between my perspective and those of Buckley is that the Buckleyites were more interested in attacking a foreign state that was the official enemy of their own national state, thereby allowing their movement to become nothing more than shills for the military-industrial complex and, eventually, to be co-opted Bolshevik-style by the neocons. My view is that anarchists should focus their energies on attacking their own national states. What possible purpose would there be for me to attack the Russian or Chinese states when most of the American media does so on a daily basis? If I did that, I would just be a variation of the Alexander Reid Ross “anarcho-MSNBC” school of politics. At the same time, I wouldn’t want anarchists in Russia, China, or other nations outside the Western axis to waste time attacking the American state when their own national media does so consistently.

America is in a similar position today. Anti-Americanism is effectively a form of soft-power, not unlike political correctness. I’d also like to point out, in other contexts, you recognize that BRICs vs. NATO is just Democrats vs. Republicans on a grander scale, and in the American context you don’t take either corrupt side, though you do have a baffling soft-spot for the Latin for Manhattan, and other economic sjws (I know she’s from the Bronx but that doesn’t rhyme.) Why then do you keep virtue-signaling to the global-equivalent of the Democrats?

See my previous paragraph. As for the “Latin for Manhattan, and other economic sjws” I assume that’s a reference to Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and other “democratic socialists” in the Democratic Party. The only value I see in political figures like that is their potential contribution to the fragmentation of their party. Just as the only thing I really think is of value about the Trumpians is their having pushed the neocons like Kristol and Republican royalty like the Bushes at least partially to the side, the so-called “democratic socialists” and “progressives” will hopefully have a similar effect on the neoliberals among the Democrats.

In an ideal world, the federal, state, and local governments would be dominated not by two parties but by 200 parties representing every kind of freakazoid quack ideology, and every scumbag special interest group imaginable, and with offices being held by everyone from rappers speaking in beats and rhymes to true believers in the lizard people conspiracy to self-proclaimed UFO abductees to exorcists to MS-13 members to “otherkin” types who think they are really a dog or a vampire. Diversity is our strength, and all that. Actually, fractiousness and incompetence on the part of the state is our strength.

 

 

 

5 comments

  1. “In an ideal world, the federal, state, and local governments would be dominated not by two parties but by 200 parties representing every kind of freakazoid quack ideology, and every scumbag special interest group imaginable, and with offices being held by everyone from rappers speaking in beats and rhymes to true believers in the lizard people…”

    Check out Duverger’s Law, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law
    the observation that the “first past the post” election system tended to enforce a two-party system on society.
    I’ve thought of an alternative: Suppose each candidate running for a given (congress-type) office “won”, but would be given a vote-weight proportional to the election results, and could express that weight from offices elsewhere.
    For instance, suppose the two candidates had election results of 60% and 40%. In today’s world, the 60% candidate would win all the power, the 40% candidate would win nothing.
    I propose, instead, that the 40%-winning candidate be given an office and staff, and would be in electronic communication with Congress. If Congress voted on something he could express his 40% weight vote on that issue. He might vote with the 60% candidate, or opposed to him. If the latter, the 60% candidate would have much of his vote’s weight neutralized by the 40% candidate vote.

    • Sounds good, IF voting wasn’t political theater. But they’re really just playin’ us all. Losing candidates still have a say, although they hide their ugly behind the veil of democracy, while the more charismatic (or at least more entertaining) candidate has center stage. If government officials have their own staff, the government is probably too big. Maybe a lone damn secretary at most.

      • Yes, I’m actually a lifetime libertarian, and since 1995 I’ve been an anarchist libertarian.
        As such, I generally don’t believe in any government. But, I sometimes respond to comments in ways that would improve things, but not be ideally anarchist.
        Libertarianism would have been able to expand far faster, since 1972, if the kind of voting system I described had been implemented.

    • The only interest that I have in electoral politics is limiting the state’s ability to maneuver, which means hoping for as much gridlock as possible. But the state is not going to implement “reforms” that weaken its own maneuverability. Instead, I prefer to promote political and cultural fractiousness. I’m loving all this Red/Blue Star Trek vs. Star Wars tribal warfare that goes on nowadays, along with the battle between Trumpians and neocons, progressives and neoliberals, SJWs and conservatives, Antifa and Alt-Right, TERFS and transgenders, tankies and anarcho-leftoids, etc. etc. etc.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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