Attack the System After 20 Years

It was in late 1998/early 1999 that “American Revolutionary Vanguard” was founded by a small coalition of left-wing and right-wing anarchists, plus assorted others, for the purpose of moving past the standard left/right paradigm and toward a more radical position. In the Spring of 1999 we started a local public access TV show that ran for about three years and subsequently started Attack the System in early 2001. The following three articles date back to the early years of ATS and summarize the ATS “philosophy” as thoroughly as anything I have ever written.

Anarchism or Anarcho-Social Democracy?

Liberty and Populism: Building an Effective Resistance Movement for North America

Philosophical Anarchism and the Death of Empire

The first article was written circa 2000/2001 during the peak of the anti-globalization movement. The other two were written circa 2003/2004 following the beginning of the Iraq War. While some of the content may be slightly dated, these core ideas remain the foundation of our outlook.

It is interesting to reconsider these old essays in light of things that have happened in subsequent years.

I predicted that conventional “conservatism” would continue to lose ground and that American politics of the future would increasingly be a battle between neoliberals and social democrats/politically correct leftists, which is the division we now see in the Democratic Party. I also predicted that as the right-wing continued to lose ground it would become more militant and oppositional in nature, which has happened with the rise of Trumpism in the mainstream and with the Alt-Right/Lite on the margins. Yet I also predicted that the general leftward drift over time would have the effect of “liberalizing conservatism,” which has also happened with the rise of Trumpism, and that even the “far right” would likely become oriented toward anyone who promised to protect them from the state (again, Trumpism is a manifestation of this).

I predicted that American power would start to recede internationally due to continual defeats in fourth generation warfare, and the rise of the Asian powers as a counterforce to American imperialism. This is slowly happening as well.

I predicted the increased rise of the populist-right in Europe due to the cultural and economic impact of neoliberalism, and the growth of the European right has continued to happen. I pointed out that the real source of the cultural divide in US politics was urban vs rural, as now evidenced by the fact that about 50% of people in the United States now live in “sanctuary cities.” I also predicted that as the PC Left continued to rise in power and influence it would become even more extreme and less inhibited about showing its fangs. This has also happened.

Above all, I have attacked the Left from the left, criticizing the Left for focusing primarily on identity politics, environmentalism and expanding the welfare state (i.e. issues of the left-wing of the First World middle class) when the real issues are imperialist aggression against the developing world, the growing class divisions in the First World, and the use of the various “wars on…” (drugs, guns, gangs, crime, terrorism, sex trafficking, “hate,” etc) as a cover for expanding the police state, along with the emergence of the techno-surveillance state.

It is interesting how in a peripheral, tepid, half-ass or insincere way, some of these issues are starting to enter mainstream discourse. For example, of the Democratic candidates announced thus far, we have Sanders and Warren giving lip service to class conflict issues, Gabbard criticizing the most extreme excesses of US foreign policy, Booker calling for “legalizing marijuana and criminal justice reform” a centerpiece of his campaign, Andrew Yang calling for a UBI, and even police state functionary Kamala Harris now calling for legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing sex work.

The rise of anti-imperialist sentiment, a wave of anti-police state riots, the shock of Trumpism, growing class divisions, along with general cultural, generation, demographic, technological, and economic change, and the general leftward drift of the wider society has produced these results.

Meanwhile, political polarization and fractiousness has grown considerably as well, and calls for political decentralization continue to repeatedly appear in various media outlets, although so far only on a marginal basis.

In other words, the viability of the ATS analysis, philosophy, and strategy have been demonstrated over and over again during the past two decades.

Ironically, it has been what should be the natural constituencies for the ATS position, the general anarchist and libertarian milieus, that have been the greatest failures during the unfolding of these events. Left-wing anarchists had a moment in the sun during the era of anti-globalization, the Iraq war, and Occupy, but hav since shrunk in size, been overrun by Communists and Antifa, and failed to sustain their own ranks as their older members have drifted away. And free-market libertarians and anarchists have largely been absorbed by various culture war factions after having a moment in the sun during the Ron Paul period. Anarchists and libertarians had a chance to go for the gold, and sold it for a mess of pottage, but didn’t even get the pottage.

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