The real roots of early city states may rip up the textbooks Reply

By Ben Collyer

New Scientist

ruined city

The 11,000-year-old Göbekli Tepe was an amazingly complex find

Vincent J Musi/National Geographic Creative

THE emergence of state authority was a logical consequence of the move to settled agriculture, or so we thought. Until recently, we also assumed that ancient peoples welcomed the advantages of this way of life as well as the growth of state leadership, since it was key to the development of culture, crafts and civil order.


Over the past 50 years, though, more and more cracks have appeared in this picture. We now know settled agriculture existed for several thousand years before the emergence of the city states of the Near East and Asia. In the past few years, archaeologists have been stunned to find 11,000-year-old structures such as those at Göbekli Tepe, in what is now southern Turkey. These were built by peoples who foraged, and who also developed specialised skills, both artistic and artisanal.

This is a surprise, and leaves researchers busily trying to get the story straight – something that really matters for a number of reasons. Traditional definitions of the state and its authority hinged on the right to raise taxes, and on its legal monopoly on coercing its people, from punishing and imprisoning them to waging formal war.

But as James Scott points out, roughly between 8000 BC and 4000 BC we find settled agricultural communities with developing craft skills – yet no evidence of anything much by way of state authority.

This also poses a key question, one which resonates in the 21st century, about whether there is a necessary link between state power and community life.


Does Universal Basic Income Require a State? 4

By Lexi Linnell

Center for a Stateless Society

Recently, Vishal Wilde advocated for a universal basic income (UBI) on the grounds that it promotes economic freedom and social justice. Indeed, UBI has long been attractive to libertarians of various stripes. However, this idea suffers from the problem that, to date, UBI proposals have generally relied on the state for a taxation and distribution mechanism. From the libertarian point of view, a voluntary UBI would be highly preferable. As Wilde notes:

Although it’s worth noting that all contemporary, publicly-funded services have coercive origins, a voluntarily-funded UBI would obviously be ideal. Ensuring that a voluntary UBI utilized suitable mechanisms for delivering and enhancing trust is an unenviable but profoundly important challenge. Even if this can be accomplished, the difficult task of convincing people to adopt these mechanisms remains.


Panarchy: Political Theories of Non-Territorial States Reply

An interesting book review.

By Vlad Tarko

The Independent Review

One of the most important and difficult problems in political economy is how to overcome the social and political costs of heterogeneity and enjoy the cultural and economic benefits of diversity. People’s preferences differ on numerous margins, and, ideally, everyone should be able to enjoy as many of the goods and services that they prefer, and be allowed the right to refuse what they don’t like. This includes the choice of their preferred communities with rules and norms closest to their desires and sense of identity. The problem, of course, is that a choice of community involves a preference over other people’s behaviors, and conflicts are bound to happen. “Mind your own business,” says Amanda, but Bill feels Amanda’s actions affect him and wants a say. He feels entitled to have a say, while Amanda feels oppressed or even assaulted. What is the best institutional arrangement for curtailing such conflicts or preventing them in the first place? Before trying to answer this question, it is important to acknowledge that such differences of opinion often cannot be answered by objective means. They often involve genuine diverging preferences. And even when they could be solved in principle, when they come down to opinions about facts, in practice, we often lack sufficient knowledge of the entangled processes underlining modern complex societies for consensus to be achievable.


What is the Ruling Class? Reply

An excellent general introduction to class theory from an anti-statist perspective.

By Sean Gabb

In delivering this speech, I make no pretence to originality of thought. Everything I am saying today has been said already – usually better, and always in greater detail – by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, by Roderick Long, by Kevin Carson, by Christian Michel, and by many others. If I can contribute anything to the libertarian analysis of class, it is brevity alone. 

Libertarians often define a ruling class as that group of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, businessmen, therapists, educators and media people who derive income and position from the State. By definition, so far as such people operate as members of a ruling class, they are parasitic on the efforts of ordinary people. Their position comes from forcing others to act as they would not freely choose, or by excluding them from activities they might freely choose. Their income is based on forced transfers of wealth.

The size and activities of a ruling class will be determined by the physical resources it can extract from the people, by the amount of force it can use against them, and by the nature and acceptance of the ideology that legitimises its existence. None of these determinants by itself will be decisive, but each is a necessary factor. Change any one, and the working of the other two will be limited or wholly checked.

Of these determinants, the ideological are the most open to control and change. In the short term, resources are fixed in quantity. At any time, the amount of force available will be limited. What will always interest ruling classes, therefore, is the nature and acceptance of its legitimising ideology. This will vary according to circumstances that are not fully within the control of any ruling class. It may involve averting the Divine Wrath, or promoting acceptance of the True Faith, or protecting the nation from external or external enemies, or raising the condition of the poor, or making us healthier, or saving the planet from us. The claims of the ideology may, in other times and places, seem unfounded or insane. What they generally have in common is the need for an active state directed by the right sort of people.

Since the function of these ideologies is to justify theft or murder or both, they need to be promoted by endless repetition – which is a valid form of argument if truth is less important than winning – and by at least the discouragement of dissent. Efficient promotion will produce a discourse – this being the acceptance of a language and of habits of thought in which dissent cannot be expressed without also conceding its immorality. Efficient promotion will also produce a state of almost universal false consciousness – in which ordinary people are brought to accept ideological claims as true that are opposed to their own interests as these might be reasonably considered.


The Accidental Anarchist: Carne Ross Reply

Wouldn’t it be awesome to see this guy participating in the presidential debates?

A former British diplomat in the lead up to the Iraq war, Carne experienced first-hand the lies and self-serving discourse of political power. After a profound crisis, he began a quest for a more just way of living together. In this moving and deeply personal talk, Carne explains what he discovered when he studied philosophies and visited communities from varied corners of the planet, and why he thinks anarchism is the best way forward. Carne Ross is a radical writer and thinker about world affairs who leads Independent Diplomat (ID), an innovative non-profit service that helps democratic governments and political groups use diplomacy to achieve justice. Their clients include the democratic Syrian opposition and the Marshall Islands which, with ID’s help, led a large coalition of countries to achieve a stronger UN climate agreement in Paris. Carne is a former senior British diplomat who resigned over the 2003 Iraq war. Having worked on Iraq/WMD for the UK for many years at the UN, the publication of his hitherto-secret testimony about the government’s lies helped create pressure for a full public inquiry into the war. Today, he writes and speaks about diplomacy and new forms of political action and democracy, in particular anarchism. He is the subject of a new feature documentary film Accidental Anarchist about his conversion from believer in government to anarchist, which will shortly be released globally.

Who Gets Counted as a “True” Anarchist? 1

Incessant debate rages among self-proclaimed anarchists concerning who should be counted as a “true” anarchist, with proponents of each of the many kinds of anarchism claiming the right to special recognition of their particular sect. But this would seem to miss the point. The purpose of anarchism is to reject the state, and institutional authority generally, and to expand the realm of the cooperative and the voluntary.

Hence, it could be claimed that everyone who is engaged in rebellion against a particular system of heavy handed authority is practicing anarchism even if they have never heard of the philosophy itself. It could be said, for example, that a 12 year old that is giving the middle finger to his asshole middle school teacher is practicing anarchism. A 15 year old that is sneaking a beer illegally is practicing anarchism. A 19 year old that beats up a cop that tries to arrest him or her for smoking weed is practicing anarchism. It could be said that anyone that is acting in defiance of the state, whether through tax evasion or participating in illegal enterprises, or engaging in money laundering is practicing anarchism. This does not mean that everything the state prohibits is justifiable or a good idea, or that every kind of act of defiance is wise or sensible. But it does mean that anarchism begins first and foremost with the sentiments of Diogenes of Sinope who said, “Stand a little out of my sunshine.”

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However, anarchism certainly does not need to be identified solely with illegalism. Any time that people are doing what they want to do voluntarily, without engaging in coercion against others, and without interference by the state or external institutions, the practice of anarchism its taking place. For example, someone who goes to church every Sunday and lives a conventional nuclear family oriented life is practicing anarchism just as much as someone that is engaged in illegal activity if that is what they wish to do. An anarchist can voluntarily choose to join a monastery or a hippie commune or a survivalist compound.


Dissecting the American Police State 1

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In recent years, there has been growing concern in some camps about matters involving police brutality, police militarization, mass incarceration, overcriminalization, electronic surveillance and related matters.

The bulk of the concerns of these kinds have come from the left end of spectrum, and raised by those who are concerned with racial disparities that can be observed within the framework of the police state. Yet there have also been some on the right end who have become concerned about the fiscal costs of mass incarceration, the social costs to families and communities, and the fact that the police state is now attacking population groups outside of traditional outgroups. When the police state primarily targeted blacks, Puerto Ricans, hookers, and the drug culture, the right-wing was all for it. However, it is now not uncommon to find middle class persons, older people, churchgoers, business people, and others outside of the traditional underclass or marginal sectors who have had run ins with the cops or the carceral state.


Independence for Catalonia: Yes, but… Reply

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Many of these regionalist movements in Europe seem similar to tendencies we have in the US, i.e. either more affluent regions that don’t want to pay taxes to the central government which they view as “too leftist” but have no interest in critiquing state-capitalism per se, or PC liberals and leftists who think the central government is “too conservative” but who totally support the UN and other international governmental institutions.


What Would the Ideal Anti-State Leader Be? 6

Adam Kokesh’s plan to seek the Libertarian Party nomination in 2020 on a program of abolishing the federal government would seem to be a move in the correct direction. However, this idea may be incomplete in various ways. This leads to the need for a consideration of what the ideal anti-state leader would be, and what their actual role might be in the development of an anti-state movement.

I would argue that abolition of the US federal government is the most important task that anarchists, libertarians, and anti-statists can currently devote themselves to. The US regime is not just another government. It is the most powerful state in history, the de facto government of the world, and, not coincidentally, the world’s most deadly and lethal regime at present in terms of the sheer numbers of casualties generated by its actions. Domestically, the USA is also the world’s leader in mass incarceration, and maintains one of the world’s largest police states. This does not by itself mean that the USA is the worst possible state to live in as a citizen. To the contrary, the US maintains a much higher per capita income level and a much higher level of technological and industrial development than many states, which affords the average person a very high level of comfort by world-historical standards. However, it should be no surprise that one of the world’s most technologically advanced and wealthiest states would also be the most aggressive and imperialistic.

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Donald Trump: The Best Friend Anarchists Have Had in a While Reply

My take on Trump is unique because I find myself saying to my liberal friends, “No, he’s not a Nazi. Get over your paranoia.” And I find myself saying to my right-wing friends, “No, he’s not the savior of America/white people/whatever, just a two-bit carnival huckster. Get your head out of your ass.”

But I like having Trump as prez, because it’s best to have a head of state that is easy to dislike. Having a seemingly articulate, educated, and personally functional mild-mannered senior executive type like Obama is bad news because it confers legitimacy on the state in a way that oafish creeps like Trump and GWB, or pervs like Bill Clinton, cannot. I seriously want Kanye West to run for Prez with Kim as his running mate, and I want to see Ted Nugent and Kid Rock stand for the Republican side. I want to see characters like Paris Hilton and Snoop Dog and Eminem in Congress, as Governors and as mayors of major cities. For people who feel that they must vote, I always encourage them to vote for the most ridiculous and exterme people possible.

Why Liechtenstein Works: Self-Determination and Market Governance Reply

Liechtenstein comes pretty close to being an anarcho-monarchist system.

By Andreas Kohl Martinez


A version of this speech was given at the Corax Conference, July 28-30, in Silema, Malta.

Before we jump in, let’s have a show of hands. How many of you have ever been told that your conception of liberty sounds good in theory, on paper, but could never work in practice? How many of you have ever been called utopians? Good, I see this is most of you.

Well I am here to dispel this notion and to show all of you that you are nothing if not realists. After all the word utopia comes from the Greek words Ou and Topos. Ou means Not and Topos means Place. Utopia therefore literally means, “not a place.” In other words, those who call us utopians believe that our ideas have not been and cannot be implemented in any physical space in the real world.

I am about to tell you about a place where fundamental libertarian pillars of self-ownership and private property are never violated, a place of almost absolute, maximum individual liberty. A place where state coercion is nonexistent, or actually, as I will later argue, a place where there might be no state at all.


Bitcoin Icon Roger Ver Is Starting His Own Country With No Government Reply

We need many, many more projects like this with each reflecting the ideals of their founders and participants.

By Evan Faggart


Roger Ver, a highly visible figure in the Bitcoin community, is teaming up with entrepreneur and cryptocurrency enthusiast Olivier Janssens to create a brand new country. Here’s the catch: this country will have no government, opting instead to adhere to the principles of the Anarcho-Capitalism philosophy.

Also read: Canada May Soon Get Its Very Own Bitcoin ETF

Roger Ver and the Free Society: A New Anarchist Paradise?

Called the “Free Society,” the country’s website is currently barebones. At press time, the only things displayed on the website are a two-sentence ‘About Us,’ a newsletter subscription box, and a ‘FAQ’ section.

Roger Ver Free Society
Free Society logo

According to the FAQ section, Roger and the rest of the Free Society team are negotiating with different, undisclosed national governments. The Free Society’s goal is to reach an agreement with a national government that will grant them sovereignty over a piece of the existing government’s land, or a nearby territory.


“I found myself turning into an idiot!”: David Graeber explains the life-sapping reality of bureaucratic life Reply

By Elias Isquith


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David Graeber, a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, is a man who wears many hats. He’s an academic, of course — and a respected one at that. But he’s also an author, an activist and political anarchist. But his most unique attribute may be this: He’s an honest-to-God public intellectual in an era when such figures are few and far between.


Municipalist syndicalism: organizing the new working class Reply

By Alexander Kolokotronis


A municipalist revolution is impossible without the support and cooperation of labor unions. In some cases, labor unions might themselves take the lead in promulgating a municipalist shift. To effectively pursue this path, the left must grapple with the diverse composition and structure of the working class — joining calls for union democracy with nascent municipalist movements. Experiments in participatory democracy can then be tried and tested at the intra-union level, nourishing possibilities for subsequent municipal-wide implementation.

Developments in the United States and Spain are showing that municipalist participatory platforms can win. Examples include the mayoral election of Chokwe Lumumba Jr. in Jackson, Mississippi on a three-pronged platform of building peoples’ assemblies, a solidarity economy and a network of progressive political candidates. A number of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) candidates are running on platforms of expanding participatory democracy and the workers’ cooperative sector. Municipalist movements are proliferating as a means of resisting Donald Trump and a rising far-right.


Return of the city-state Reply

Political battles of the future will be between the forces of global capital and city-states where non-state actors manage to gain hegemony.

By Jamie Bartlett


If you’d been born 1,500 years ago in southern Europe, you’d have been convinced that the Roman empire would last forever. It had, after all, been around for 1,000 years. And yet, following a period of economic and military decline, it fell apart. By 476 CE it was gone. To the people living under the mighty empire, these events must have been unthinkable. Just as they must have been for those living through the collapse of the Pharaoh’s rule or Christendom or the Ancien Régime.

We are just as deluded that our model of living in ‘countries’ is inevitable and eternal. Yes, there are dictatorships and democracies, but the whole world is made up of nation-states. This means a blend of ‘nation’ (people with common attributes and characteristics) and ‘state’ (an organised political system with sovereignty over a defined space, with borders agreed by other nation-states). Try to imagine a world without countries – you can’t. Our sense of who we are, our loyalties, our rights and obligations, are bound up in them.


“A Conference of the ‘National Anarchists'”: A Reply to Wayne Price 7

Veteran anarcho-communist writer Wayne Price has offered a critique of my summary of the 2017 conference of the National-Anarchist Movement in Madrid on the Anarkismo site. Read my original article here, and Price’s reply here. My response to price is below.

By Keith Preston

This is the response to Wayne Price’s critique of the N-AM conference that I posted on Anarkismo.

Given that I am both the author of the original article that Wayne Price critiques, and one of the presenters at the conference in Madrid, I should offer a response to Price’s criticisms.

The individual presenters at the conference are capable of speaking for themselves, which Sean has already done, so I won’t take it upon myself to offer a defense of anyone’s specific views. Instead, I will point out that there were a range of perspectives presented at the conference by people of divergent backgrounds, and the same was true of conference attendees as well. For example, there were people present who expressed both positive and negative views of anarcho-primitivism, and I met at least one self-identified anarcho-capitalist among the attendees and another with pro-Israel sympathies.

Wayne says, “The article is written by one Keith Preston, who has claimed to be trying to pull together left and right libertarianism, anarchist-communism and national-anarchism.” This is correct. Those who are interested in the contents of my own presentation can watch a video of the whole thing here:

Wayne says, “The Nazis denounced capitalism and big business (especially their “left wing” which stupidly believed this rhetoric, until Hitler got into power and had “left Nazis” killed).” This would seem to be a selective criticism. Could not the same thing be said of the the followers of Lenin, Caballero, Mao, Kim, Castro, Ho, Pol Pot, and, indeed, virtually every leading Marxist revolutionary of the past century?

Wayne says, “So these pseudo-anarchists denounce the state, the international capitalist ruling class, imperialism, and the dangerous misuse of technology by capitalism. Preston summarizes, “much of what was said was highly relevant to the ideas of the libertarian-left and the libertarian-right alike, as well as those affiliated with anti-globalization, environmental, anti-imperialist, indigenous, anti-state, and anti-corporate movements generally.”How does this make anyone a “pseudo-anarchist”?

Wayne says, “The NA propose replacing the centralized state and mass society by more-or-less autonomous communities. The communities will form themselves on whatever basis they want, but (surprise!) the NA suggest forming them on the basis of “ethnicity.” The idea is that N-A communities can be based on any foundations their members wish, from animal liberation and veganism to Star Trek fandom, with the recognition that ethnicity (along with culture, geography, language, religion, family, socioeconomic status, and occupation) is among the predominant factors in human social organization, as any freshman-level social science student should be able to recognize.


Why Left and Right Are Not Enough 5

This is a map of the present state of U.S. politics designed by a well-known antifa intellectual apologist.

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With the exception of the dubious claim that the Alt-Right and neo-Nazis are a genuine part of the Republican Party, I generally agree with this map. In reality, the leadership of the Alt-Right has for years gone out of its way to denounce the Republican Party and “movement conservatism” (whom they constantly refer to as “cucks’) even if it has opportunistically tried to attach itself to Trumpism at times, with the favor hardly being returned. Sorry, my Alt-Right friends, but a billionaire Zionist plutocrat and New York liberal who became a Republican only for opportunistic reasons doesn’t give a damn about your white ethnostate.

However, another interesting feature of this map is that there is no distinction made between “anarchists” and “revolutionary Marxists.” Once again, anarchists are falling into the same trap that has plagued anarchists since the time of the First International, and that is this chronic inability to avoid aligning itself with the hard Left. While some Antifa types might fancy themselves as “anarchists” or “libertarian communists” their movement is already heavily infiltrated by Maoists and other “red fascists.”

As I have been saying for decades now, anarchists need to position themselves as a revolutionary center that is totally opposed to the liberal-capitalist status quo while at the same time zealously safeguarding against authoritarian extremes from both the Left and Right. If neo-Nazis or neo-Communists (whose ranks include many anarcho-leftoids) posed a genuine threat to the wider society, then anarchist militias similar to Antifa or the right-wing militiamen (or the YPG/YPJ units in Rojava) might indeed be a legitimate response. However, at this point many if not most anarchists, libertarians, anti-statists, decentralists, and anti-authoritarians are regrettably oriented towards arguing and fighting with other fringe groups, or taking sides in the wider red/blue dispute that is presently going on within the ranks of the state, ruling class and power elite.

Instead, anarchists need to be developing a revolutionary center that rejects all of the aforementioned nonsense and instead seeks to cultivate all enemies of the system as allies and constituents to the degree that these enemies of the system reject statism, authoritarianism, and centralism (while recognizing that most groups are lukewarm or hit and miss on these questions). If anything, anarchists should strive to play the role of peacemakers, mediators, and negotiators between rival political, cultural, and economic factions rather than acting as partisan fanatics that engage in provocative actions that invite state repression.

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Looking at The Early History of Anarchy Reply

Anarchism as we know it today sprang from the Age Of Enlightenment, the period of history where Europe first began to embrace the ideals that underpin its current liberal democracies. It gained traction during the French Revolution and remained a presence in Europe until the end of the First World War. However, anarchism has its roots in philosophical ideas much older than this, with influences stretching back to Ancient Greece and China.


It is now agreed amongst anthropologists that prior to recorded history, humans lived in societies which were more egalitarian in nature in that they eschewed notions of hierarchical structures and political institutions. These early human societies were self-governing and rather than abiding by a formal set of laws, there was a consensus among the members of those societies through which order was maintained.


Defending Jeff Deist From The Politically Correct Libertarians Reply

Here’s the money quote from this article:

“There is something not normal about a person who can read a defense of the stateless society and decentralization, secession, and self-determination as means of achieving it and immediately think Nazi because of a reference to the obvious reality of blood and soil.”

By Dan Phillips

The Liberty Conservative

Certain quarters of the libertarian universe are in an absolute tizzy because Mises Institute President Jeff Deist invoked “blood and soil” in a recent speech. In the minds of some PC brain-addled libertarians, this is clearly an indication that the speaker was dog whistling to Nazis. This is both profoundly clueless and shameless PC grandstanding.


The Land of No Men: Inside Kenya’s Women-Only Village Reply

Pan-Anarchism is for everyone, even abused African women.


Where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the desert, the people of Samburu have maintained a strict patriarchy for over 500 years in northern Kenya. That is, until 25 years ago, when Rebecca Lolosoli founded Umoja village as a safe haven for the region’s women. Umoja, which means “unity” in Swahili, is quite literally a no man’s land, and the matriarchal refuge is now home to the Samburu women who no longer want to suffer abuses, like genital mutilation and forced marriages, at the hands of men. Throughout the years, it has also empowered other women in the districts surrounding Samburu to start their own men-excluding villages. Broadly visited Umoja and the villages it inspired to meet with the women who were fed up with living in a violent patriarchy.


Marijuana company buys entire US town to create ‘cannabis-friendly municipality’ Reply

Pan-Anarchism for weed heads.


Cannabis jars

A company which makes cannabis products has bought an entire town in California and plans to turn it into a “destination” for marijuana.

American Green has agreed a deal to buy the town of Nipton for $5m (£3.8m).

The company will own 120 acres of land, which includes a school building, a hotel, mineral baths and a general store.

They also want to power the town with renewable energy.


On Defining Anarchism and Egoism Reply

Whenever I’m asked to define what an anarchist is I usually just say that if you get a 100 self-proclaimed anarchists in a room, and ask them a question, you might get 200 answers. It’s the same way people who are self-proclaimed Christians have argued over Christology for 2000 years. What I tend to like about anarchist theory is that it has so many parallel definitions in terms of what it’s essence is supposed to be, and some these may be only marginally related to each other. There’s also the way that different kinds of seemingly polar opposite forms of anarchism (an-coms and an-caps, an-prims and an-transhumanists) also complement each other in a kind of Hegelian manner.