A Judge Against the Drug War Reply

Watch the interview.

In 1992, Jim Gray, a conservative judge in conservative Orange County, California, held a press conference during which he recommended that we rethink our drug laws. Back then, it took a great deal of courage to suggest that the war on drugs was a failed policy.

Today, more and more Americans are coming to the realization that prohibition’s costs—whether measured in lives and liberties lost or dollars wasted—far exceed any possible or claimed benefits. Reason.tv’s Paul Feine interviewed Gray about drug policy and the prospects for reform.  The interview was shot by Alex Manning and edited by Hawk Jensen.

Judge Jim Gray is a spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is the author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs.

Campus Witch Hunts Reply

Paul Gottfried on the theocratic institutions of our time.

The student posted an anonymous note including a shockingly abusive fact. Matzeliger, it seems, was being honored on Thomas Edison’s birthday. The note implied it might be inappropriate to lavish attention on Matzeliger while ignoring a much more famous American inventor simply because they were a “white person.” The college at which this malignant enormity occurred has created a dragnet which will be in force until the hate criminal is apprehended. Apparently some female students are posting entries on Facebook indicating their shock about being forced to live in a toxically racist environment. Is this college really the best place for them to spend their parents’ money?

One tender young thing has gone into truly high gear and announced that “we will not ignore the bigotry that seems to keep the lines of equality broken.” These arbitrarily drawn “lines of equality” permit one to blow up or invent from whole cloth special accomplishments for minorities to increase their racial consciousness. Said lines only get broken when some student dares to report that we are ignoring Edison because he was a “white person.” Does anyone this side of the loony bin have a better explanation?

“Is this college really the best place for them to spend their parents’ money?”

Significantly, this “racist vandalism” was reported in the same issue of the school paper as another white Christian outrage. This time it was reported by a member of the Jewish social organization Hillel, and it provides a sad story about how Jews are “excluded” on campus. Despite the swelling number of Jews or partial Jews at this college, a number which may soon reach as high as ten, this group has still not been given a separate residence in which its members can live and associate with each other.

Wikileaks vs the Womynists Reply

Stephen Baskerville of The American Conservative describes Julian Assange’s ordeal in the Saudi Arabia of feminism: Sweden.

Accounts of Assange’s experience bear out the politics very clearly: His first accuser is a professional feminist. “While a research assistant at a local university she had not only been the protégée of a militant feminist -academic, but held the post of ‘campus sexual equity officer’,” according to the Daily Mail. “Fighting male discrimination in all forms…was her forte.”

Along with the other accuser, she enlisted a prominent “gender lawyer” and “leading supporter of a campaign to extend the legal -definition of rape to help bring more [alleged?] rapists to justice.” Her website offered “7 Steps to Legal Revenge,” advising women how easily they can use trumped-up accusations to punish men for personal hurts. After the “rape” the woman had sex with her “rapist” again and threw a party for him, while the other accuser cooked him breakfast.

In short, there is not a shred of evidence that Assange raped anyone and very clear indications that he did not. Assange himself sees into whose trap he fell: “Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism,” he tells the Sunday Times. “I fell into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism.”

Even some feminists are embarrassed. In a satirical piece in The Huffington Post, Naomi Wolf writes, “As a feminist, I am also pleased that the alleged victims are using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings. That’s what our brave suffragette foremothers intended!”

War Uber Alles Reply

Paul Craig Roberts explains how the state’s thirst for bloodshed is never satisfied.

The Pentagon needs some more wars so there can be some more “reconstruction.” Reconstruction is very lucrative, especially as Washington has privatized so many of the projects, thus turning over to well-placed friends many opportunities to loot.  Considering all the money that has been spent, one searches hard to find completed projects. The just released report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting can’t say exactly how much of the $200 billion in Afghan “reconstruction” disappeared in criminal behavior and blatant corruption, but $12 billion alone was lost to “overt fraud.”

War makes money for the politically connected.  While the flag-waving population remains proud of the service of their sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, cousins, wives, mothers and daughters, the smart boys who got the fireworks started are rolling in the mega-millions.

As General Smedley Butler told the jingoistic American population, to no avail, “war is a racket.” As long as the American population remains proud that their relatives serve as cannon fodder for the military/security complex, war will remain a racket.

The Battle of Wisconsin: A Third Position Anarchist Class Analysis 2

A number of readers have asked for my opinion on the current union battle in Wisconsin. Here it is.

Some libertarians and conservatives have portrayed the conflict as one pitting parasitical government workers against beleaguered taxpayers being threatened by ever expanding public budget deficits. Predictably, Pat Buchanan makes this case as articulately as anyone. Says Pat:

Between now and 2013, the states are facing a total budget shortfall of $175 billion. To solve it, they are taking separate paths.

Illinois voted to raise taxes by two-thirds and borrow $12 billion more, $8.5 billion of it to pay overdue bills. The Republican minority fought this approach, but was outvoted and accepted defeat.

Wisconsin, however, where Republicans captured both houses and the governor’s office in November, and which is facing a deficit of $3.6 billion over the next two years, has chosen to cut spending.

Walker and the legislature want to require state employees, except police, firemen and troopers, to contribute half of their future pension benefits and up to 12.6 percent of health care premiums.

Wisconsin state workers and teachers enjoy the most generous benefits of state employees anywhere in America. According to the MacIver Institute, the average teacher in the Milwaukee public schools earns $100,000 a year—$56,000 in pay, $44,000 in benefits—and enjoys job security.

More controversially, Walker would end collective bargaining for benefits while retaining it for salaries and wage hikes up to annual inflation. This would ease the burden on local governments and school districts faced with the same budget crisis but less able to stand up to large and powerful government unions.

Pat attacks the public workers unions by taking an ironic position for a supposed reactionary conservative admirer of the Old Order such as himself. He appeals to democracy.

Can the states, with new governments elected by the people, roll back government to prevent a default? Or will the states be forced by street protests, work stoppages by legislators, and strikes by state employees and teachers to betray the people who elected them? Will they be forced to raise taxes ad infinitum to feed the government’s insatiable appetite for tax dollars?

In short, does democracy work anymore in America?

What Obama has done will come back to haunt him. He has encouraged if not incited an angry and alienated left that lost the country in a free election to overturn the results of that election by street protests and invasions of state capitols.

As the huge antiwar demonstrations in the 1960s broke the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and sought to break the presidency of Richard Nixon, Obama and his cohorts are out to break Wisconsin.

One hopes the people of Wisconsin will stand up to this extortion being carried on with the blessing of their own president.

The response of the Left to this battle is predictable enough and we all know what it is. Therefore, it really need not be discussed. But what about the libertarian or anarchistic left? Over the past few days, ATS has run a couple of columns by David D’Amato offering an interesting perspective on the battle of Wisconsin. Says David:

In the political phraseology of the United States, bogged down in the vacuous false choice of Republican versus Democrat, proponents of the “free market” are allegedly not supposed to concern themselves with scoundrels like government workers’ unions. They are rather to be regarded as the enemy, as conducting an incessant attack on taxpayers in order that they might get something for nothing.

But the anti-union turgidity of the Republican variant of the “free market” obscures the actual — as against the imagined­ — effects of the state’s pervasive interventions in the economy. When the state creates monopoly or oligopoly conditions, limiting competition to favor political and corporate elites, it also creates monopsony or oligopsony conditions for its own purchase of labor. In the same way that the state’s restrictions on the services that it and its cartels sell drive up the cost of those services, its strangulation of the number of buyers of labor allows those buyers to hire workers for pennies on the dollar.

The first question is to what degree government workers can rightfully be seen as social and economic parasites. Are we to take seriously the argument that someone who is paid to work as a janitor cleaning up state-owned building is a member of the exploiter class leeching off the taxpayers? We also have to consider the degree to which employment by the state is expanded through the elimination of non-state forms of employment by state actions creating monopolies or oligopolies in industries and occupations or by state efforts that overrun, crowd out, or outright prohibit alternative forms of employment and service provision. What about states where the public sector dominates the economy as a whole, such as states of a Marxist-Leninist nature or even some social democratic variations? From an anarchist perspective, it would seem that there are two essential questions that must be asked when examining labor uprisings, whether in the public or private sectors.

The first of these is whether or not the workers in question are engaged in an occupation that would be considered legitimate even in a non-state society. Clearly, there are many public sector professions of this types: librarians, firefighters, health care workers in state-run medical facilities, those responsible for road construction and maintenance, rescue workers, garbage collectors, those who maintain public parks and recreational facilities, and many others. It is also clear that there are many public sectors professions that would not be legitimate in a non-state society. We all know what most of these are so there’s not much need to elaborate.

At the same time, there are plenty of private sector professions that are not necessarily legitimate either. For instance, if hit men for the mafia were to go on strike claiming that the various crime families are underpaying them or owe them back pay, many of us would no doubt regard this as a dubious claim given the nature of the profession involved. If those involved in the production of nuclear weapons on behalf of ostensibly private “defense contractors” were to walk out on strike, we might be inclined to be less than sympathetic to their plight as well.

So logic would dictate that public sector employees cannot simply be dismissed as “parasites” by definition and private sector employees cannot be unconditionally regarded as virtuous and productive citizens irrespective of what they personally do.

The second question is whether the revolting workers in a labor battle have legitimate or reasonable grievances. Clearly, this is not always the case. For instance, there is at present some talk of the NFL players going on strike when their present contract runs out. The spectacle of millionaire athletes going on strike against billionaire football team owners is ridiculous and nothing that a serious person needs to be concerned about. Just as employers or corporations can be motivated by greed, pettiness, or narrow self-interest without regard for the common good, so can workers and unions have similar motivations. One of the big sources of outrage over the present battle in Wisconsin involves the role of the teachers’ unions. As Buchanan’s comments indicate, many regard public school teachers and administrators as pampered and over-indulged petty bureaucrats who are provided with levels of income and benefits far greater than that justified by their actual level of skills, training, competence, or productivity, and far greater than that of people who work harder in more productive professions.

No doubt many of the people reading this share my own low opinion of the public school systems, regarding them as prisons-lite whose primary purpose is the dissemination of the state’s legitimating ideology of either political correctness or old-fashioned jingoism, or some combination of the two, depending on the particular school district. This doesn’t mean that all public school teachers or employees are rotten people who are up to no good. I am personally acquainted with many who believe in what they do and try to do right when possible. But either way, it’s a mistake to allow hostility to the public school system to unduly influence our evaluation of uprisings by public employees generally.

What are the grievances of the public workers in Wisconsin? Essentially, the state wants public workers to increase their “contributions” to their pension programs and health premiums while reducing though not entirely eliminating the right of collective bargaining for public sector employees. As Jim Goad says:

So what exactly had (Governor Scott) Walker proposed that had people stomping hysterically around downtown Madison as if the Ludlow Massacre had just occurred? In order to put a dent in a proposed $3.6-billion budget deficit—which smirking TV she-male Rachel Maddow had falsely reported as a looming budget surplus—the mercilessly brutal despot proposed that government workers contribute 5.8% toward their pension plans and 12.6% toward their healthcare. He also proposed confining their collective-bargaining rights to wages rather than benefits.

That’s it?

Yes. That’s it. That’s all it took to have them wailing like infants.

On their face, these may not seem like unreasonable demands. As Goad continues:

Accusations that this is all about “class war” are severely misguided, because the class war is over and the ruling class won without firing a shot. They shipped all the jobs overseas and allowed at least a dozen million illegal workers to invade the country in order to Babelize and Balkanize the lower orders, ensuring that private-sector workers are never able to act collectively. As it stands, union membership is under seven percent in the private sector, while it’s close to 40 percent among government employees…

…It’s hard to empathize with the “suffering” of people who have it better than you do, which is why I make it a point never to fly to Zimbabwe and bitch about the pinched nerve in my back. For these workers to groan about their condition is roughly as rude as walking into a roomful of cancer patients and whining that you stubbed your toe.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a government worker working hard. So when I see these teachers complain, I’m reminded they work about 200 days a year while I work 300. I’m reminded that they’re bitching about having to pay twelve percent toward their health insurance while I pay 100 percent. They may think they’re suffering “labor pains,” but to me they’re just a pain in the ass.

What’s going on here is an odd sort of intra-class war among the working class.

The final sentence in the above quotation from Goad cuts to the chase regarding this question: Can the battle of Wisconsin be rightfully regarded as one pitting the everyday taxpayer against privileged government employees? Or is this an overly simplistic outlook that illustrates the inadequacy of the usual left/right, public sector/private sector, socialism/capitalism dichotomies?

I believe it is the latter. Neither the conventional libertarian class theory that says “private good/public bad” or the leftist class theory that says “workers good/bosses bad” provides a sufficient theoretical framework for understanding what is really going on in this conflict.

Modern state-capitalism operates as an alliance between state and capital, or between the so-called “private” and “public” sectors. The state is under the control of the political class, and members of the political class have their own class, institutional, or individual self-interests. The corporatist economy is the creation of the state and depends on the state for its continued existence, at least in its present form. Individual corporate entities can of course engage in conflict with the state, just as different corporations or different entities within the state can engage in conflict with one another. The “democratic” political class assumes the rule of old European monarchies and related institutions in terms of exercising direct control over the state itself. The privileged bureaucratic and corporate entities that comprise the infrastructure of state-capitalism assume the role of the state-privileged aristocratic and plutocratic classes of 19th century societies. The educational system and media assume the role formerly occupied by institutions such as the Church as the agents for dissemination and inculcation of the state’s legitimating ideology. As I have previously written elsewhere:

Out of this process of transformation from personal government to corporate government, the evolution of a system of state-capitalist privilege that has supplanted feudal privilege, the ever greater interaction and co-dependency between the plutocratic elite and the minions of the state, and the wider integration of organized labor, political interests groups generated by mass democracy and unprecedented expansion of the public sector has emerged a politico-economic order that might be referred to as the new manorialism. These new manors are the multitude of bureaucratic entities that maintain an institutional identity of their own, though their individual personnel may change with time, and who exist first and foremost for the sake of their own self- preservation, irrespective of the original purposes for which they were ostensibly established. The new manors may include institutional entities that function as de jour arms of the state, such as regulatory bureaus, police and other law enforcement agencies, state-run social service departments or educational facilities, or they may include de facto arms of the state, such as the banking and corporate entities whose position of privilege, indeed, whose very existence, is dependent upon state intervention. Out of this domestic state-capitalist order there has emerged an overarching international order rooted in the pre-eminence of the American state-capitalist class and its junior partners from a number of the other developed nations.

In other words, persons employed in our modern societies in either the “public” or “private” sectors (e.g. corporations, government bureaucracies, educational institutions) are the equivalent of persons employed by the plutocratic capitalists, feudal landlords, or the Church in previous societies. To be sure, some persons employed by these institutional entities are more privileged than others, just as some workers in past systems (members of guilded professions, for instance) enjoyed comparable systems of privilege. To be sure, some persons employed by these institutions are engaged in pernicious activities that would not be considered legitimate in a non-state society. To be sure, workers in our modern societies are more privileged than their counterparts in the 19th century.

But that get’s us to the main point. The economic agenda of the overlords of the “global economy” produced by regimes of “free trade,” and legitimized by the ideology of “neoliberalism,” have as their goal the re-proletarianization of the American working class. As Jim Goad states above, the class war is over and the ruling class won. The private sector working class had been reduced from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, a process brought about by a wide assortment of state and corporate policies, ranging from outsourcing to union-busting to “free trade” arrangements at the international level like NAFTA to mass importation of replacement workers via mass immigration to many other things. As Goad observes, only seven percent of private sector workers enjoy union protections while forty percent of public sector workers enjoy similar protections. The present efforts by the state of Wisconsin, under the domination of the neoliberal/plutocratic-controlled Republican Party, are to reduce public sector workers to the level of present day private sector workers with a comparable absence of benefits, substantive wages, collective bargaining rights, job security, pensions, health care, etc. A decline of the socio-economic position of public sector workers to level of their private sector counterparts would significantly escalate the process of re-proletarization of the U.S. working class specifically and the process of Brazillianization of the U.S. economy generally. Such a decline would further contribute to the McDonaldization and Wal-Martization of the American economy. Surely, this process should be resisted even at the cost of agreeing with Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi for one fleeting moment.

To portray this struggle as one pitting taxpayers versus workers is to invoke yet another false dichotomy. Most rank and file public sector workers also pay taxes, while many private taxpayers likewise benefit substantially from a variety of state interventions and state-provided services.  Janitors in public buildings still have to pay taxes while Wal-Mart workers often owe their jobs to state interventions that brought the local Wal-Mart to their town. As Richard Spencer observes:

Whatever the details of their demands, the fundamental cause of the recent protests in Wisconsin is the growing recognition among the American Middle that the lifestyle to which they are accustomed—think a house in the ‘burbs, a reliable pension or 401k, and the ability to live it up on easy credit—is vanishing before their eyes. (The fact that the state of Illinois, for instance, is financing its pensions with new debt issuances reveals the total unsustainability of “set for life” employment.)

In this way, the public-sector employees who have taken to the streets over the past 10 days have quite a bit in common with the Tea Party, despite the two being cast as sworn enemies by the media—the lazy free loaders vs. the Astroturf of corporate capitalism. Both the Tea Party and the Wisconsin phenomena represent genuine, grassroots protest movements of Whites caught somewhere between the stages of denial, anger, and bargaining in mourning the death of their “American Dream.”

(One could say that those who lose their jobs or take a serious hit now should probably consider themselves lucky; they’ll be able to adjust to the new reality before a further downturn. Those who remain in the boobgeois bubble longest will face the rudest awakening.)

Pat Buchanan recently opined that in siding with the unions and criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Barack Obama, ever the Alinsky-ite radical, has sought to “rub raw the resentments of the people; fan the latent hostilities to the point of overt expression.” In fact, something quite different is occurring.

Both the ostensibly “right-wing” Tea Partiers and the ostensibly “left-wing” public sector union members are a manifestation of the same sinking middle class that is facing re-proletarianization. In the past I’ve addressed how a libertarian-populist-anarchist, neo-tribalist, radical decentralist, third-positionist movement of the kind that ARV/ATS aspires to be might address these questions and appeal to these dispossessed classes:

As for the broader question of the relationship between the state and the economy, we need a populist economic program that favors elimination of state intervention into the economy on behalf of privileged interests and the reduction of taxes starting from the bottom up. This is an issue that dissidents from across the spectrum ought to be able agree on, from socialists to libertarians to paleoconservatives to Greens. Kevin Carson’s “Political Program for Anarchists” provides a good overview of how to approach this. As anti-state radicals, we should take a position of rejecting the welfare state as a means to poverty relief, while at the same time rejecting the scapegoating of the poor common to the talk-radio right-wing. We should instead be quite outspoken about the damage to done to poor communities (particularly rural farmers and inner-city minorities) by state interventions such as agricultural policy and urban renewal. As an intermediate stage to full abolition of the welfare state, we might consider the “negative income tax” suggested by Milton Friedman back during the Nixon era, whereby the costs of welfare management could be cut back drastically by distributing cash payments or vouchers directly to the poor and eliminating the bureaucratic middle-men that absord most of the welfare budget. With this approach, it might even be possible to increase subsistence payments to the poor while simultaneously cutting back significantly on both bureaucracy and taxes. The writings of Murray Rothbard, Karl Hess, Hans Hoppe, Kevin Carson and Larry Gambone also contain some interesting ideas on how to go about “de-statizing” those industries and services presently operated by the state.

It is of the utmost importance that the working masses view us as the champions of their economic interests. Nothing less will be sufficient. Our populist coalition must include rank and file blue collar workers, working class taxpayers, union members, small businessmen, farmers, the self-employed, the urban poor, single moms and the homeless. We do this not by promising entitlement rights to all, but by eliminating state-imposed obstacles to economic self-determination and self-sufficiency, placing state or state-corporate industries and services directly into the hands of the workers and consumers, developing alternative economic arrangements independently of the state, eliminating taxes from the bottom up and gradually phasing out archaic state-assistance programs, with poverty relief and social security programs being the last to go once the corporate state has been fully dismantled. This is precisely the opposite of the “cut taxes and regulations at the top, eliminate subsidies to the bottom” approach favored by the right-wing corporatists. Our approach should be “cut taxes and regulations at the bottom, eliminate subsidies to the top”.  On these matters, authentic fiscal conservatives and authentic class war militants should be able to agree. We should describe our economic program as neither “conservative” nor “socialist” but as simple “economic justice”.

What If Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction? Reply

Laurence Vance on the biggest fraud of the 21st century.

But what if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? What if every other rationale for the war against Iraq was a lie, but Iraq really did have weapons of mass destruction.What should the United States have done? Should the U.S. government have allowed Saddam Hussein to possess such weapons? Should it have allowed him to threaten neighboring Muslim countries? Should it have stood back and allowed him to brutalize the Iraqi people? Should it have allowed him to be a potential danger to U.S. ally Israel? Because of the gravity of the matter, should the United States have risked invading Iraq just in case weapons of mass destruction might have been there?

The answers are so what, nothing, yes, yes, yes, yes, and no.

The Fascist, Imperialist USA and Its Hypocrisy Reply

John Pilger on the Evil Empire.

As the Washington historian William Blum has documented, since 1945, the US has destroyed or subverted more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and used mass murderers like Suharto, Mobutu and Pinochet to dominate by proxy. In the Middle East, every dictatorship and pseudo-monarchy has been sustained by America. In “Operation Cyclone,” the CIA and MI6 secretly fostered and bankrolled Islamic extremism. The object was to smash or deter nationalism and democracy. The victims of this western state terrorism have been mostly Muslims. The courageous people gunned down last week in Bahrain and Libya, the latter a “priority UK market,” according to Britain’s official arms “procurers,” join those children blown to bits in Gaza by the latest American F-16 aircraft.

The revolt in the Arab world is not merely against a resident dictator but a worldwide economic tyranny designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development, the IMF and World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries like Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with half the population earning less than $2 a day. The people’s triumph in Cairo was the first blow against what Benito Mussolini called corporatism, a word that appears in his definition of fascism.

How did such extremism take hold in the liberal West? “It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity, and concern for the poor and oppressed,” observed Noam Chomsky a generation ago, “[and] to replace these dangerous feelings with self-centered egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that [an order of] inequities and oppression is the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great international propaganda campaign is under way to convince people – particularly young people – that this not only is what they should feel but that it’s what they do feel.”

Like the European revolutions of 1848 and the uprising against Stalinism in 1989, the Arab revolt has rejected fear. An insurrection of suppressed ideas, hope and solidarity has begun. In the United States, where 45 per cent of young African-Americans have no jobs and the top hedge fund managers are paid, on average, a billion dollars a year, mass protests against cuts in services and jobs have spread to heartland states like Wisconsin. In Britain, the fastest-growing modern protest movement, UK Uncut, is about to take direct action against tax-avoiders and rapacious banks. Something has changed that cannot be unchanged. The enemy has a name now.

The Imperial Presidency Reply

by Ian Huyett


People are often surprised to hear that I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Obama and McCain, however, had nearly identical policies on the environment, the drug war, gay marriage, Israel, immigration and Iran. I decided on Obama after I heard the candidates’ differing stances on the War in Iraq.

McCain infamously remarked that he’d be willing to “maintain a presence” in Iraq for 100 years. In contrast, then-Senator Obama said on Oct. 27, 2007, “I will promise you this. If we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war.” He gave us a withdrawal date of about 16 months and insisted “we will not have permanent bases there.”

The website obamabodycount.org reports that, since Obama’s election, our bloody and futile occupation of Iraq has claimed the lives of roughly 10,000 Iraqi civilians and hundreds of American soldiers. In fact, President Obama’s stated plan is the opposite of candidate Obama’s promise: 50,000 troops consigned to remain indefinitely on permanent bases. He might as well have said “gotcha” at his inauguration. At least McCain’s “100 years” promise was honest.

Interestingly, Obama’s base doesn’t seem to care that he said one thing and did another. A study by Heaney and Rojas found that attendance at anti-war protests has declined by more than 90 percent since Obama took office. Quinnipiac Polls show that in 2010, 78 percent of Democrats said they approved of U.S. policy in Iraq, compared with only 22 percent in 2003. That means that more than 50 percent of Democrats either never had a principled stance against the war or, more disturbingly, reversed their position because of one man.

Have Republicans similarly changed their position? Dick Cheney certainly hasn’t. In a Jan. 17 interview with NBC, the former vice president praised Obama’s decisions to maintain Guantanamo, launch covert air wars in Pakistan and expand the Patriot Act. The only Republicans I hear opposing the war are those who did so before Hillary Clinton temporarily pretended to.

Increasing the debt more than every president in history combined, Obama has laid out a record-breaking war budget. The candidate for change hasn’t let the recession stop him from maintaining expensive military occupations around the world and financially supporting the same repressive regimes that Bush did. He even marked the acceptance of his peace prize with an unashamed defense of war a week after consigning an additional 30,000 soldiers to shed their blood in Afghanistan, where our ongoing military presence has become a recruiting tool for terrorists.

Saying that the President has little real power is a weak excuse. Last year, a Forbes study named Obama the second most powerful man on earth after Hu Jintao. The President can override Congress and issue executive orders, a power that Cornell University Law School describes as “almost limitless.” As commander in chief, Obama could wake up tomorrow morning and order a bombing run in Malaysia while having his coffee. The president has the final say in what the military does, and he can end wars with phone calls as surely as he can start them.

Saying that we should trust any secret information Obama may have obtained since his election isn’t much better. Many of the people I’ve heard employ this argument didn’t trust Bush’s invasion of Iraq any more than I did. Even if you view Obama as infallible, we can’t claim to have a representative system of government if the people get the opposite of what they voted for.

Since the administration of Woodrow Wilson, our government has policed the world at the expense of American tax dollars and lives. The founding fathers gave us a military to protect America, not serve as babysitters in 135 countries from Albania to Zimbabwe. Those more concerned with Obama himself than his policies should not discount the many Americans who still want the change they voted for.

Line in the Sand Reply

A new book from Dan Miller of the Texas Nationalist Movement.

In “Line in the Sand,” Daniel Miller tackles the concepts of what ‘political will’ and ‘nationalism’ is and what they mean to Texans. He eloquently removes all reason for doubt concerning Texas independence and explains that maintaining the status quo for Texas is not wise or is it the way of a Texan or a statesmen. He shows why any other method, other than the ballot box, to seek independence will be ill fated and in today’s modern age cannot succeed. It is the magnum opus of the movement, laying out its mission, goals and plans to gain independence peacefully.

Politicial Nihilism Reply

Thomas Naylor on the absurdities of the overlords of the empire.

Life is absurd said French existentialist writers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre back in the 1950s.  But surely there is no more appropriate description of life in the American Empire sixty years later.  Our lives are meaningless.  As psychiatrist M. Scott Peck presciently observed, we are ruled by “people of the lie.”  We are completely subsumed by the politics of nihilism.

Artistry in Revolution Reply

Thomas Naylor on why the Left and Right both get it wrong on secession.

Unfortunately, the premise underlying the tea party, tenth amendment, and nullification movements is that the U.S. government is indeed fixable.  All one need do is return to the Constitution and everything will be just fine.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The U.S. government is owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, the Pentagon, and the bellicose Israeli government, who like things just the way they are, and are prepared to make sure they stay that way.

Secession, on the other hand, is viewed by most Americans, particularly those on the political left, as a complete anathema to be avoided like the plague.  The mere mention of the word conjures up images of slavery, the Civil War, violence, and racism.  So ignorant are most Americans of the moral, philosophical, and legal principles underlying secession that anyone displaying secessionist tendencies is labeled a “racist.”  Those opposed to secession often embark on well organized smear campaigns employing the racist tag to discredit secessionists.

Monopoly: A Nice Trick If You Can Do It Reply

Kevin Carson on the failures of the “progressive” regulatory state.

But even after the economy became dominated by giant corporations,  argued Gabriel Kolko in The Triumph of Conservatism, attempts to establish cartels by purely private means were largely failures. The big trusts immediately began losing market share to smaller and lower-cost competitors.

It was this inabiliity to maintain cartels by private means alone that sparked the Progressive Era’s regulatory state, as corporations turned to the state to suppress competition.

The tendency of cartels to break down into ruinous price wars was the reason for the “unfair competition” provisions of the Clayton and FTC Acts.  Charging prices under cost was classed as unfair competition.  According to Kolko, it was this provision that first made possible stable oligopoly markets in which firms competed in terms of brand-name image and fluff rather than price.  That’s right:  The “Progressive” regulatory state was really working for the folks it regulated.

Ever hear the expression “Baptists and Bootleggers”?  The biggest advocates for keeping a county dry, and the biggest source of campaign funds for temperance politicians, are the people who make money selling bootleg whiskey.

Getting the Raw End in Wisconsin, Part 2 Reply

The second installment of David D’Amato’s article.

The meaningful division is between those who use coercive manipulation of the bounds within which economic activities take place, and those who rely on voluntary, cooperative courses of action. Any number of organizational structures, including unions, would occupy a free market, negotiating for their members, systematizing production and administering business affairs. If public workers’ unions draw special ire due to the fact that their members “feed from the taxpayers,” then we would do well to remember that their members are the taxpayers.

Members of these unions work for the formal state, as against technically (very technically indeed) private firms, but many among the latter category benefit no less from the industry of the taxpayer than do state tentacles like government schools. Libertarians in good standing are apparently meant to take a “plumb-line” approach to the unions at hand, regarding the public workers themselves as culpable insofar as they’re participants through “working for the state.” But by a standard that demonizes all of those who labor to benefit the state and those who circle around it, we are all blameworthy.

The Growing Antiwar Insurgency on the American Right Reply

Kelley Vlahos and Gene Healy on the growing challenge to neocon hegemony.

John Walsh discusses the prospect of a Left/Right antiwar alliance.

What do the Right and Left bring to the antiwar movement? At this time, the Left brings greater numbers because the Cold War has led the Right away from its traditional “isolationist,” i.e., anti-interventionist, stance, to which it is only beginning to return. But the Right brings something equally powerful to the antiwar movement, and that is its vocabulary. The paleocons and libertarians put their opposition to war in words that are widely understood and accepted in conventional mainstream discourse. When the paleos declare America should be first, that cry resonates far and wide to a populace facing economic hardships. And when libertarians declare that government is a threat to liberty, with military being a large part of the government, that is something Americans have been taught to understand and respect since their grade-school years. The antiwar movement benefits enormously from this conventional and traditional American vocabulary. It is not readily assailed.

America’s wars are a scourge unto millions of humans. From a moral point of view, we in the metropolis of empire have a duty to stop the bloodshed and suffering perpetrated by our elite. In this quest, dare any of us turn away allies? Can we be so sure of our own views that we will consort only with the like-minded even at the price of other humans? How can we square that with our deepest instincts to preserve life? Those who would refuse such alliances must look deep into themselves to discover what justifies that.

Getting the Raw End in Wisconsin Reply

David D’Amato on the class conflict being played out in Wisconsin.

In the political phraseology of the United States, bogged down in the vacuous false choice of Republican versus Democrat, proponents of the “free market” are allegedly not supposed to concern themselves with scoundrels like government workers’ unions. They are rather to be regarded as the enemy, as conducting an incessant attack on taxpayers in order that they might get something for nothing.

But the anti-union turgidity of the Republican variant of the “free market” obscures the actual — as against the imagined­ — effects of the state’s pervasive interventions in the economy. When the state creates monopoly or oligopoly conditions, limiting competition to favor political and corporate elites, it also creates monopsony or oligopsony conditions for its own purchase of labor. In the same way that the state’s restrictions on the services that it and its cartels sell drive up the cost of those services, its strangulation of the number of buyers of labor allows those buyers to hire workers for pennies on the dollar.

In Libya and Elsewhere, the State Depends on Submission Reply

David D’Amato provides a very good summary of the events of the Middle East.

These countries’ productive majorities are no longer content to prop up and underwrite the dissolute culture of their “leaders,” to work their fingers to the bone while palace parties rage in their capital cities. The truth that statism tries so desperately to muffle is that we are all Yemenis, Bahrainis, Libyans and Algerians. Lines drawn along largely artificial cultural and national lines estrange us if we accept that the state’s arbitrary violence is necessary for us to be able to deal with and relate to one another.

Free market anarchism turns on Spencer’s “law of equal freedom,” the simple idea that everyone ought be left alone to do whatever they would like provided they observe everyone else’s identical right. The people of the Middle East and Northern Africa understand the power of civil disobedience and peaceful interaction, a power that — when carried to its end — means a world without the injustices of states.