By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will-Antonio Gramsci
When the individual’s behavior and consciousness get hooked to a routine sequence of external actions, he is a dead robot, and it is time for him to die and be reborn. Time to “drop out”, “turn on”, and “tune in.”-Timothy Leary
America, the indispensable nation. That old jingoistic canard gets tossed around like confetti in this country, while the rest of the world rolls their collective eyes and crack their collective knuckles. According to patriotic lore, America is some beige, color-blind, miracle designed by the greatest white philosophers since Socrates to free the world from its backwards indigenous ways with the magic of global capitalism. Naturally, this is all bullshit. The kind of sad pep-talk a date-rapist gives himself in the mirror before showering his glamour muscles in Axe body spray. There is absolutely nothing miraculous about America but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t exceptional.
America is an exceptionally cruel experiment in the outer reaches of colonial social engineering. We are a nation defined by the two greatest holocausts in recorded history, spanning three continents and an entire hemisphere. America as we know it was founded by an ambitious collection of European super-colonialists who found themselves and their nations increasingly depleted of the wealth they accumulated from the Crusades. So they traveled the seas in search of greener pastures to irrigate with more dark-skinned blood. They found their sainted killing fields of Shangri-La in the New World and with the superiority of their steel, they decided to take the Americas by force and slaughter anyone who stood in their way. But with an entire hemisphere half empty of its indigenous inhabitants, these European overlords found themselves with too much work for their feeble bourgeois fingers to handle, so they filled their new colonies with shiploads of slaves pilfered from the jungles of Africa to build a nation on their scarred shoulders, murdering millions more in the process and permanently hobbling another entire continent.
By Keith Preston
Originally published in Tribes Magazine
Perhaps one of the most curious features of modernity is the way in which ideologies have replaced religions as a principal source of contentiousness. During the era of the nineteenth century, when the intellectual revolution of the Enlightenment was being institutionalized, a few perceptive thinkers recognized that the “death of God” did not mean the death of dogma. In 1844, Max Stirner noted that “our atheists are pious people,” an acknowledgment that humanism and liberalism had replaced Christianity as the religion of the intellectual elite. Similarly, Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Parable of the Madman” was rooted in the recognition of the consequences of the loss of faith, its metaphysical underpinnings, and its derivative traditions.
“What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” (Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882)
The era of the twentieth century revealed that the Age of Faith gave way not to an Age of Reason, as Voltaire or Thomas Paine would have hoped for, but to an Age of Ideology. What were the great conflicts of the twentieth century, whether the two world wars or the Cold War, but wars of ideology that paralleled or exceeded the great wars of religion that had taken place during previous centuries?
Many different ideologies abound in the same manner that many different religious sects can be identified. Ideologies are typically grouped into the categories of Left and Right. The Left is thought to favor equality, progress, and universality, and leftists include liberals, progressives, socialists, social democrats, communists, left-libertarians, and left-anarchists. The Right is thought to favor hierarchy, tradition, and the particular, and rightists include conservatives, reactionaries, traditionalists, monarchists, right-libertarians, fascists, and national socialists. There are also a range of ideologies that defy the left/right model such as nationalism, populism, environmentalism, regionalism, feminism, and third positionism.
By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
I like conservatives. Not all conservatives. Not the bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran kind or the endangered white male victim kind. But the Traditionalist kind. The Old Right, Paleolibertarian, fuck-you-mind-your-own-damn-business kind. I like people like Bill Kaufman, Wendell Berry, Ron Paul and H.L. Mencken. I admire the prose and courage of Yukio Mishima. I appreciate the insight of Martin Heidegger. I think Oswald Spengler’s ideas are at least as prophetic as those of Gramsci and Marx. I even think Alain de Benoist has a few good ideas (and about 67 bad ones). Justin Raimondo used to be one of my favorite writers before he mysteriously vanished up Donald Trump’s orange asshole. And I consider antifa-hate-thing Troy Southgate to be a personal friend of mine.
By Dr. Hawzhin Azeez
No longer the Kurdish Question, but the Kurdish Alternative – Hawzhin Azeez
It is either a fallacy, or a pure symbolic violence, to continue to assume the “Kurdish Question” as unresolved.
For scholars, policy experts and political bureaucrats the Kurdish Question, with its complex sub and supra-national political implications, remains as the most pertinent dilemma of our modern times. The epic resistance that occurred against Daesh by the YPG-YPJ propelled the Kurdish Question into the international spotlight like never before. Seminar and conferences are held, papers and books are written at a rapid pace and people across social media flock to the hundreds of pro-Kurdish pages and sites thirsty for information.
And perhaps the clinical label of Kurdish Question was employable, for the Kurds and their stubborn refusal to assimilate and Turkify, Arabize or Persianize resulted in increasing levels of violence by the states to address this ‘problem’. Consequently, for decades the Kurds faced ethnic cleansing, ethnic displacement, Arabization policies, genocides, and loss of even the most rudimentary human rights, resulting from the arbitrary and artificial states who themselves were produced by violent colonial pens. Artificial states and their repressive and ideological machinations promoted violent, exclusionary, oppressive unitary identity politics resulting in the construction of imagined national identities and mythical one history, one nation, one language and one flag constructs. This blood saturated identity was not unique to only post-colonial states, but structurally to all modern ‘nation-states’
A reader writes:
“Very thought-provoking posts today, Keith (and great talk with Antony from the other day, on the state as aberration).
I agree that it’s a shame how wide the gap is between lefty anarchists and an-caps (and each camp’s fellow travelers). My feeling is a lot of that can be chalked up to the larger red/blue culture war trap, as well as quite a few instances where (if one looks closely) both sides are basically agreeing but merely prioritizing different issues to such an extent that they end up misreading one another as mortal enemies, rather than potential allies. Both view the other’s potential success as empowering what they deem to be the worst elements in the society (corporations, racists, and social conservatives on the one side; radical SJWs, communists/socialists, and immigrants/cultural aliens [sometimes explicitly non-whites and Muslims] on the other). There is also, of course, the simple communication problem of various groups using seemingly mutually unintelligible political languages each laden with their own wonky terms and ideological histories.
I think it was during that talk with Antony that you mentioned how the red and blue tribes have difficulty conceiving of separation of culture and state (to perhaps the same degree that people in Europe centuries ago had difficulty conceiving of separation of church and state). I’d never thought of it quite in those terms before, but that seems very accurate. The ironic flipside of that reality is that various ostensibly anti-state camps fall into the same trap: they want anarchism with red values, or blue values, and can’t tolerate the thought of co-existence with anarchists who’d want to arrange their societies differently than they themselves would. They’re still, as you put it, universalists. With the predictable end result that too many in the various anti-state groups, despite what they may theorize or envision for some idealized future — in practice just end up throwing their lot in with either the Republicans or Democrats as the lesser of two evils (as they see it), and are thus neutralized and incorporated back into the statist fold.
As someone who came of age at the height of the so-called libertarian moment in the late 2000s/early 2010s, it’s been disappointing and disheartening watching the an-cap/libertarian sphere implode and dissipate, with many getting sucked into the alt-right (or at least, against the SJWs), some into the SJW left (or at least, against the alt-right), and probably not a few just disengaging entirely. That’s not to say the libertarian sphere has necessarily shrunk a huge amount (though admittedly I myself am not too involved in it anymore), but it’s clear that the energy and passion (and numbers of activist-type youth, frankly) are much greater among both the rising progressive movement and the alt-right/alt-right adjacent disgruntled mobs. Neither of which I have much faith in to move us toward anything resembling a freer society.
By and large, they each seem to just want to gain hold of the cudgel of the state to beat the other, out of fear of being beaten themselves should the other get it before they do (in other words, politics as usual). And that fear limits their vision for what could be possible.
There are some silver linings. I’ve noticed that a few people in the progressive camp seem to be genuinely anti-war/anti-empire (supporters of Tulsi, Mike Gravel, and the more radical left supporters of Bernie). They do exist. But will it be enough in comparison to the mountain of progressives who are either apathetic about empire or enthusiastic supporters of it (under the guise of humanitarianism and “anti-fascism”)? Probably not. And of course, as you’ve pointed out, Bernie’s foreign policy views and priorities are problematic at best. He has spoken out strongly against US support for Saudi Arabia and the Likud government, so that’s a plus. But Obama as a candidate was also against the Iraq War and Gitmo.
Things could get interesting if both Tulsi and Gravel end up on the debate stage. But both could also be easily discredited in the eyes of most Western leftists (and in the case of Gravel, much of the public at large). Oh, Tulsi hated gays and likes Assad? Gravel is a 9/11 truther? Conversation over. It’s unfortunate, and it says a lot that that’s where we’re at.
Ron Paul sounds almost like a left-anarchist is this and Noam Chomsky sounds almost like an an-cap. It’s a shame the gap between an-coms and an-caps is so vast when we agree 90% of the time.
By Ria Montana, forest & wetland rewilder https://veganprimitivist.wordpress.com/
Within anarcho-primitivism plays an ongoing dialectic pinpointing origins of the problem of civilization. Impugning only capitalism or the industrial age is much too timid. From the left, radical environmental activist leader and author Derrick Jensen impugns the point people exceed their capacity for self-sufficiency, the dawn of cities. In the trilogy Ishmael, The Story of B and My Ishmael fiction writer and civilization critic Daniel Quinn renders agriculture as humans’ dichotomizing choice to be Givers or Takers. Couple city settling with plant cultivating & animal herding and you’ve hit the collective anprim sweet spot.
Looking farther back than agriculture as the start of humans’ split with nature slashes approval. Anarcho-primitivist author and Anarchy Radio host John Zerzan’s look back to origins of art and language has appealed to some but with less enthusiasm. In his 3/13/19 radio show Zerzan reals in analysis on the catalyst of controlled fire, instead positioning civilization’s birth at the point humans domesticated animals and plants. Some say focusing at this fixed ~10 millennia point paints too simple a picture, ignores all civilizations’ embers heating up, culminating to ignite the world ablaze.
The debate on civilization’s origins parallels the debate on what qualifies as a technology. Values connoted by technologies are biased to support the interpreter’s view on origins. For example, those who blame agriculture see the plow as an obvious tool of civilization. Those who include controlled fire in the blame see hearths uncovered in archeologic digs as technological shifts in humans’ relationship with living communities that set the stage for domestication of plants and animals. Agriculture-blaming purists deny that using fire is technology toward civilization, perhaps to justify keeping fire in their rewilding repertoire, or perhaps in an effort to ward off criticism of hunting and cooking animals. In the premise set forth here placing civilization’s origins with the beginnings of human primate’s colonizing lifeways, inventions such as mortar and pestle are not catalysts toward civilization if they are not used as colonizing instruments, but spears are catalysts toward civilization if they are used as colonizing instruments, no matter the complexity of design. (Yes other species use hunting implements, but not in a way that degrades and massacres large scale living communities in a mega-regional and eventually worldwide colonizing schema as humans have.)
Todd Lewis hosts a debate on anarchist strategy between Keith Preston and Brenton Lengel on Anarchist strategy. Brenton will defend a classic anarchist strategy and Keith his own homebrew Pan-Anarchism.
Sean Matthew King hosts a discussion between Brent Lengel, an anarcho-communist, and Keith Knight, an anarcho-capitalist.
This article is an important illustration of why a pan-anarchist movement, committed to global revolutionary struggle, needs to transcend the left/right paradigm. These romantic medievalist anarchists are people that we need as part of cultivating a mass audience for the project of state/ruling class/empire abolitionism.
By Alexander William Salter
The American Conservative
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.” These words are Patrick Henry’s, uttered in the course of his famous oration known for its powerful closing words “give me liberty or give me death.” Although Henry probably did not intend it as a sociopolitical axiom, the Anglo-American conservative tradition has adopted it as such. Conservatives rightly look to the past to influence their views of the future. Change in the basic structure of society’s institutions is inherently perilous, and must be guided by the “lamp of experience” lest reform lose its way.
But experience accumulates as time marches on. Proposed changes to public life that seem radical and dangerous in one era can embody wisdom and stewardship in another. Applied conservatism is nothing less than continual constitutional craftsmanship. And in that context, “constitution” refers not to whatever is formally drawn up in a document, but the actual procedures and practices that comprise a society’s public sphere.
In this spirit, I propose a position that seems extraordinary, but I am convinced is vindicated by historical experience: the state is a fundamentally anti-conservative force, and in order to preserve the good, true, and beautiful things in society, it’s got to go. In short, I argue that conservatives should seriously consider anarchism.
I realize such a position seems absurd, at least on its surface. Conservatism has long held that the existing political order deserves respect precisely because it is the result of custom, habit, and experience. Massive changes in basic social institutions almost always create chaos. How then can one be both conservative and anarchist?
This seems to be a serious, thoughtful critique of the “Green New Deal” idea from a fairly conventional left-anarchist perspective (although Carson is an individualist/mutualist/AWA, not an an-com).
The ATS theoretical model and strategic paradigm is oriented toward global revolutionary struggle against the new Rome (i.e. the global capitalist empire), with an emphasis on indigenous people everywhere, and bottom-up anti-imperialist struggle. I’d say my own geopolitical outlook approximates that of the Shining Path (minus the Maoist fundamentalism).
What Carson describes here is more or less what I would envision the reformist wing of the left-wing of pan-anarchism in First World countries doing, but it’s only that. Notice that the examples Carson provides are all First World places (“the new municipalist movements in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, and Jackson”) I see the ATS vision of global revolutionary struggle as transcending the left/right reformist/radical First World/Third World (core/periphery) dichotomies. A similar analysis could be made of Carson’s ideas on “privilege theory,” which would likewise be appropriate for the social/cultural wing of the left-wing of pan-anarchism in First World countries (in a way that potentially networks with similar tendencies in the Third World).
By Kevin Carson
Center for a Stateless Society
In critiquing and analyzing a state policy proposal like the Green New Deal from an anarchist perspective, I should throw in the usual disclaimers about my working assumptions. I’m not an insurrectionist and I don’t believe the post-capitalist/post-state transition will be primarily what Erik Olin Wright called a “ruptural” process. Although the final transition may involve some ruptural events, it will mostly be the ratification after the fact of a cumulative transformation that’s taken place interstitially.
Most of that transformation will come from the efforts of ordinary people at creating the building blocks of the successor society on the ground, and from those building blocks replicating laterally and coalescing into an ecosystem of counter-institutions that expands until it supplants the previous order.
Some of it will come from political engagement to run interference for the new society developing within the shell of the old, and pressuring the state from outside to behave in more benign ways. Some of it will come from using some parts of the state against other parts, and using the state’s own internal procedural rules to sabotage it.
Some of it will come from attempts to engage friendly forces within the belly of the beast. Individuals here and there on the inside of corporate or state institutions who are friendly to our efforts and willing to engage informally with us can pass along information and take advantage of their inside positions to nudge things in a favorable direction. As was the case with the transition from feudalism and capitalism, some organizational entities — now nominally within state bodies or corporations — will persist in a post-state and post-capitalist society, but with their character fundamentally changed along with their relationship to the surrounding system. If you want to see some interesting examples of attempts at “belly of the beast” grantsmanship and institutional politics, take a look at the appendices to some of Paul Goodman’s books.
A great deal, I predict, will come from efforts — particularly at the local level — to transform the state in a less statelike direction: a general principle first framed by Saint-Simon as “replacing legislation over people with the administration of things,” and since recycled under a long series of labels ranging from “dissolution of the state within the social body” to “the Wikified State” to “the Partner State.” The primary examples I have in mind today are the new municipalist movements in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, and Jackson and the dozens and hundreds of cities replicating that model around the world, as well as particular institutional forms like community land trusts and other commons-based local economic models.
The word “socialism” is constantly being thrown about by supposed supporters and detractors alike, most of whom are people who have no clue as to what socialism actually is.
I am opposed to conventional socialism, which I actually consider to be a conservative philosophy (see Murray Rothbard’s essay “Left and Right” on this). Historically, socialist societies have been very conservative. There is no developed, “First World” country that practices socialism, and there never has been. The supposed “socialist” countries in Northern Europe practice a kind of “welfare capitalism” that is often more “free market” than the United States (where the market is subordinated to a kind of corporatist-financier-plutocratic-military-command economy, like an industrial-technological version of the economy of the Roman Empire).
Historically, socialism has appealed primarily to middle-class intellectuals and professionals in colonial societies and feudal countries whose national, political or class ambitions were being frustrated by either external colonialist/imperialist powers, or their own entrenched/inert ruling classes. Socialism was regarded as means of seizing the wealth of external colonial overlords, their colonial puppet rulers, and feudal elites, and utilizing this wealth for internal development (which is why Western colonial powers have been so opposed to socialism). Most of these countries eventually convert to capitalism (or simply stagnate or fall apart).
This Wikipedia entry listing socialist countries that have actually existed is pretty thorough. Notice that not a one of them is or has even been a Westernized industrial democracy. The “socialism” of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, etc is standard welfare capitalism of the kind that developed in the late 19th and early 20th century through philosophies like progressivism, Fabianism, social democracy and reform liberalism.
Modern industrial economies are hybrids of market relations, and bureaucratic-managerial-administrative systems, with interlocking public, private, and independent sectors. Check out James Burnham’s work on the “managerial revolution” from the 1940s. He was an early observer of how classical bourgeois capitalism was being replaced with the modern, corporate, administrative kind. In a historical context socialism means either a nationalized economy that is directed by the state, or a worker run cooperative/syndicalist system, or some kind of New Harmony like utopian commune. However, the latter two examples are a fringe tendency within socialism (or have been during the past century), were denounced by Lenin as an “infantile disorder,” and are not what most people think of when they think of socialism.
The problem I have with figures like Bernie and Alexandria is that they’re not radicals. They’re simply representatives of the left-wing of the First World middle/upper middle class, pushing issues that are important that socioeconomic demographic. Unlike the traditional American middle class (now the right-wing of the middle class) they don’t necessarily see the state as impeding their upward mobility by means of taxes, business regulations, etc. Instead, the left-wing of the middle class represents upwardly mobile members of traditional outgroups like ethnic minorities, feminist women, gays, etc (hence, the fanatical emphasis on idpol), their aesthetic interests (hence, their interest in environmentalism), their desire to be protected from the “dangerous classes” (hence, their fanatical emphasis on gun control, and their fear of guns in the hands of icky rural rednecks and inner-city brothas). They see the state as a means of upward mobility by means of public sector employment, social security, free schools and healthcare, anti-discrimination laws, etc.
I have no time for any of this. I am (generally speaking) anti-imperialist, Third Worldist, and pro-indigenous in international relations, and pro-lumpenproletarian in First World class relations. Historically, the Right was the party of the traditional elite, the Center was the party of the middle class, the Left was the party of the respectable working class, and the Anarchists were the party of the lumpenproletariat. I stand with the latter.
A great discussion of where libertarianism and the traditional Right differ and where they agree. The discussion of the work of Hans Hermann Hoppe is also quite good.
The story of one of the most infamous books ever written, “The Anarchist Cookbook,” and the role it’s played in the life of its author, now 65, who wrote it at 19 in the midst of the counterculture upheaval of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
This is an interesting article from 2016, published immediately after the Trump election, which references some of the criticisms of the Left that were raised by the postmodernist philosopher Richard Rorty in the 1990s. Rorty’s prediction was that by abandoning class politics in favor of cultural politics, the Left would push the working classes to the Right, as the working classes would come to recognize the Left as cultural enemies, and as unwilling to defend their economic interests.
I started noticing the same thing during the 1990s as well. But my “solution” was the polar opposite of Rorty’s. Rorty wanted to turn back the clock to old-fashioned liberalism of the New Deal era. Whereas I, then and now, wanted to move to a much further left position, i.e. a revolutionary left that recognizes neoliberals as the primary enemy, that understands that the “right-wing” represents a dying traditional elite and traditional culture, that rejects the statism of the Marxist Left, and that recognizes PC as a “left-wing of the middle class” ideology that is a fundamentally anti-working class and anti-revolutionary position.
An authentic revolutionary libertarian-left would not be about demanding more favors from the state or creating or more state activities (such as “single-payer healthcare” or “Green New Deal”). Instead, it would be about eliminating all state actions (from the county level to the international level) that undermine the self-determination of the poor and working classes (from zoning laws to the IMF and World Bank). Further, an authentic revolutionary libertarian-left would be unreservedly anti-imperialist (including opposition to so-called “humanitarian intervention” or “human rights imperialism”). The appropriate position on “social issues” for a revolutionary libertarian-left is the traditional anarchist one, i.e. individual sovereignty, free associations, voluntary communities, decentralized pluralism, bottom-up federalism and mutual aid (and not “political correctness,” “cultural Marxism,” “totalitarian humanism,” “progressive stacking,” or other crap.)
Aragorn Bang’s podcast. Also, check out Little Black Cart.
A great program discussing many pertinent issues.
Anarchists have largely agreed on the big two. Central to our politics is opposition to the State, or as we discussed last week the monopoly on violence (or corrected by some as the monopoly on the legitament use of violece) and opposition to Capitalism. This week let’s discuss what that means. Unlike the State, that we can largely ignore outside of paying taxes, being corraled at protests, and a brief hesitation prior to committing murder and the like, capitalism is largely something we “do” or at least experience every single day. So we both despise and participate in this system of organizing exchange relationships.
What does this mean for anarchists? Largely it means that we sound crazy when we discuss alternatives to the existing order. Being in this world and of another means that we discuss moral, ethical, and philosophical topics rather than practical or “reasonable” ones. We have very little to say, and less to offer, poor people. We argue the destiny that we are sure of like lunatics and mostly argue these points with some of the only other people who identify as anarchists who we insist are not.
And our natural allies are among the largest mass murderers of the twentieth century in Russia, China, and Vietnam. For some reason that has something to do with marketing and the way that the Internet makes people either lose their mind or forget the past Old Fashion Red Communism has come back into some sort of vogue. And closer to home one of the largest leaks in this little rowboat we call Anarchism is the even more obscure communisms of Pannekok, Luxemburg, and Theory Communiste from Holland, Germany, and France respectively. Europe is back baby as if it every went away.
This week our challenge is to stake our position on Capitalism. Great oppositional system against human self-expression and self-worth or greatest system? Call in and let us discuss capitalism, it’s strength’s, which are many, and its weaknesses.
At last, some anarchists who get it.
Anarchism in the UK is a joke. Once symbolising hard-fought struggles for freedom, the word has been stripped bare to make way for narrow-minded, separatist and hateful identity politics by middle class activists keen to protect their own privileges. We write this leaflet to reclaim anarchism from these identity politicians.
We write as self-identified anarchists who see our roots in the political struggles of the past. We are anti-fascists, anti-racists, feminists. We want to see an end to all oppressions and we take an active part in those fights. Our starting point though is not the dense language of lefty liberal academics, but anarchism and its principles: freedom, cooperation, mutual aid, solidarity and equality for all regardless. Hierarchies of power, however they manifest, are our enemies.