Jason McQuinn’s piece on Stirner from Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed.
Some comments from a reader named “Jared”:
Totalitarian humanism is something that I agree is a serious threat and where I live in Canada, it has advanced into law where people can be incarcerated for expressing opinions that are deemed hateful.
[Keith: At present, the First Amendment and a journalistic class conscious of its own self-interest prevents the formal censorship that has emerged in the Western European countries and Canada. This could very well change in the future. Modern American liberals are still somewhat under the residual influence of classical liberal values regarding a number of issues, such as free speech and freedom of the press. But that could end as the PC ideologues gain ever greater power.]
When it comes to the far right and their criticisms of leftist authoritarianism, I think they are on the mark. In many respects I find the authoritarianism of managerial liberalism to be far more distasteful than the worst right wing small town authoritarianism. My reasons for this are that while the crude authoritarianism of the latter sort is laughable to most, the former is taken seriously by people in the cultural elite. Also, the right wing type is up front about it’s authoritarianism while the left often conceals it behind all sort’s of nice sound rhetoric such as, “we as a society,” we are the government” etc. That was one of the things that angered me so much about the way Ron Paul was treated when the whole newsletter scandal broke. The fact that people were so up in arms about Paul’s paper authoritarianism while the media darling, Rudy Giuliani, was never criticized in the mainstream media ( that I saw) about his real life authoritarianism while he was mayor.
[Keith: Yes! A socially conservative but libertarian Republican is far less acceptable to the liberal elite than a socially liberal but authoritarian Republican such as Giuliani.]
On decentralization, I think that the reasons for some of my concerns about what sort of societies might develop come more from what I have seen in both the contemporary anarchist and libertarian movements, from an the perspective of an outsider I might add. As you have said that strategy is a primary concern, I think you would agree that these issues are important to any strategic considerations to be made.
In your past articles, you have discussed your experience with left-anarchist movement years ago and criticized many of the ridiculous elements in that movement. From what I have observed as an outsider, the same movement today of my generation is as bad as the movement was when you were involved, which is the reason that I have no interest in being involved with any of those groups. One thing that really bothers me is not just the fact that those various groups are uncooperative and engage in pointless feuds, but also what accompanies the interpersonal nastiness is a victim mentality that such people have when it comes to the state. Whenever protests occur such as at the recent G-20 in Toronto, invariably what will come out are all sorts of writings, blog posts, and videos full of people complaining about minor mistreatment at the hands of the state, such people give ammunition to the critics who charge that people involved in these anarchist groups are just a bunch of pampered, sheltered, and spoiled brats who are live in complete ignorance of the world around them.
[Keith: Many such protesters do indeed convey an image of “How dare that cop arrest me for throwing a rock through a window?” hooliganism.]
I realize that what I have just stated will seem pointlessly repetitive to you as you haven expressed similar sentiments in your own writings in the past. The reason that I am bring this up now is in the light of the kinds of communities that would exist in a decentralized system. If the current system fails in a sudden way, there will be many groups vying for power and most of them will be a lot worse then the current group of people that control our centralized system. While you have argued that authoritarian groups may gain control in rural areas, but that cities would be a different story, I still have many concerns regarding them. The reason is that in cities there gangs and other organized crime groups who would clearly seek an opportunity to grab more power and control if they saw an opportunity to, which they would have if the current system fell apart. Now if my analysis of most contemporary anarchists and for that matter libertarians (especially of the left types) is correct, it is clear that such people would be absolutely powerless in the face of those groups that would seek the fill the power vacuum left in the absence of the state. I would add that as critical as I am of the police, the fact is that in the current system they are bound by certain rules of conduct whereas the groups that I have mentioned are not.
[Keith: The key to the problems of decentralization is still more decentralization. Let’s say a predatory gang comes to dominate an urban region in an “Escape From New York” scenario. Surrounding communities might build a fence around it and essentially imprison and quarantine the offenders, which I think is the most preferable solution to violent crime anyway.]
One example of what I am describing is among the libertarians who make up the Free State project, which I been following for the past few years. I would invite you to check out some of the activism done there freekeene.com, and you would see many of the same sorts of silliness such as pointless civil disobedience acts, silly protests, and other absurd antics. On top of the fact that such acts do nothing to build a realistic alternative to the current system, the activists have also earned an extremely negative reputation among the people in those communities where they do their activism.
[Keith: That doesn’t surprise me a bit. PR and marketing never were the strong suits of anarchists.]
I suppose that given what I have written here, it isn’t surprising that you would break with both left wing anarchists and libertarians the silly and cowardly nature of so many in those movements. It’s clear that such groups have not improved with the times, but have in fact degenerated. If there ever comes a time when there is a serious movement against the empire, I would rather have this guy on my side (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7420469.stm) than a thousand of the current crybabies that are rampant in anti-authoritarian movements today.
[Keith: I can only imagine what Antonio Baron would think of today’s anarchist movement. I have always said I would rather have five quality people in my camp than five hundred mediocrities or losers]
A close colleague recently put a question to me that I regard as important enough to be well worth discussing publicly. I was asked if whether or not my own assumption of controversial stances on a variety of issues might have the effect of weakening my wider advocacy of an “anarcho-pluralist” political framework and a “pan-secessionist” strategy for achieving it. For instance, by attacking political correctness, am I not alienating many people with PC views on many issues who might otherwise be sympathetic to my wider outlook? By challenging the “open borders” preferences of mainstream libertarians, am I not pushing away anti-statists and decentralists who might also hold pro-immigration views? Indeed, might not even illegal immigrants themselves be viable allies within a pan-secessionist or anarcho-pluralist meta-political framework given that, at least on some levels, they are in conflict with the existing state?
Clearly, a number of important distinctions need to be made regarding such questions. The most significant of these distinctions involves defining what “anarcho-pluralism” and “pan-secessionism” actually are. “Anarcho-pluralism,” as I conceive of it at least, is a brand of anti-state radicalism that has “anti-universalism” and what might be called “radical localism” as it core defining characteristics. It is “anti-universalist” because it rejects the view that there is one “correct” system of politics, economics, or culture that is applicable much less obligatory for all people at all times and in all places. As Russell Kirk observed: “There exists no single best form of government for the happiness of all mankind. The most suitable form of government necessarily depends upon the historic experience, the customs, the beliefs, the state of culture, the ancient laws, and the material circumstances of a people.” Anarcho-pluralism advocates “radical localism” as the best possible method of avoiding the tyrannies and abuses of overarching Leviathan states, and accommodating the irreconcilable differences concerning any number of matters that all societies inevitably contain.
“Pan-secessionism” is the strategy for achieving anarcho-pluralism. Given that most modern societies are under the rule of overarching states possessing expansive bureaucratic tentacles and police powers, the simple territorial withdrawal of regions and localities and renunciation of the central state by the secessionists would seem to be the most practical and comprehensible method of resistance. These few simple ideas are all that anarcho-pluralism and pan-secessionism really amount to. Theoretically, one could hold to just about any other set of beliefs or values and operate within the framework of anarcho-pluralism and pan-secessionism. In its essence, the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist program does nothing more than work to abolish the central state and give every political interest group its own territory to create whatever kind of society it wishes, with ultimate success or failure being the sole responsibility of the local organizers, residents, or participants.
With regards to political correctness, it is certainly possible for persons holding stereotypical PC views to operate within a wider anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist framework or to join an alliance for the organization of such. For instance, the late, great, feminist-extremist Andrea Dworkin was actually a proponent of “lesbian separatism” and apparently favored the creation of communities for those with views like hers complete with “land and guns” of their own. Some in the left-wing anarchist milieu favor an idea called “libertarian municipalism,” a perspective advanced by the late anarchist-ecologist Murray Bookchin which basically involves creating independent city-state-like municipalities organized on the New England town meeting model, presumably espousing the usual communitarian-green-feminist-rainbow values of the far Left. It is theoretically possible that if and when the day comes that a pan-secessionist movement that is actually large enough and well-organized enough to mount a credible challenge to the authority of the U.S. regime and ruling class emerges, a majority or even a super-majority of the individuals, organizations, and communities participating in such an effort could potentially reflect the kinds of “far Left” values and positions on issues of the kinds that most current left-anarchists espouse.
A similar theoretical formulation could be applied to the immigration question. It is entirely possible that many if not most participants in a pan-secessionist action could indeed be persons or groups favoring a completely “open borders” policy for their respective post-secession communities. Indeed, it is even possible that many participants in a pan-secessionist movement or action could be immigrants, even those who immigrated illegally according to present U.S. law, or the immediate descendants of such.
Yet a number of obvious and vital questions remain. The most immediate of these would be: what is the purpose of anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism in the first place, its core principles aside? Anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism is an outlook that myself and some colleagues developed in the late 1990s in response to certain problems that we perceived in the mainstream of the anarchist milieu. From my earliest involvement in the anarchist movement, I noticed that quite frequently anarchists seemed to be, among other things, much more interested in promoting the standard laundry list of liberal or left-wing causes, or simply engaging in countercultural lifestyle practices, rather than advancing the struggle against the state. Opposition to the state itself is the core essence of any anarchist ideology worthy of the name. Anarchism differs from classical liberalism, which views the state as a neutral agent whose purpose is to uphold and protect abstract “rights.” The anarchist view regards the state as a self-interested entity claiming monopoly privilege for its members. Anarchism also differs from leftism in that it regards the state as a parasite and usurper rather than as a reflection of some mythical “general will” (the democratist view) or as an agent of class rule (the Marxist view). The traditional anarchist critique of capitalism regards plutocracy as the result of state-imposed privilege for private interests allied with the state (see Proudhon), and the traditional anarchist opposition to war, militarism, and imperialism results from the anarchist view of these things as simple acts of aggression and plunder by states, no different in kind from ordinary criminality.
An additional factor that shaped my own view was the recognition that many thinkers and activists outside the anarchist milieu and, indeed, outside the subculture of the “far Left” where most anarchists tend to function, possess many cogent criticisms of the state, plutocracy, empire and imperialism that overlapped quite well with the traditional anarchist critique, including some from the “far Right.” While studying the works of leading commentators and theorists from these schools of thought more carefully, I came to the conclusion that a good number entirely valid and legitimate issues and questions were being raised by many in these camps. Initially, I began pushing for greater collaboration between anarchists and the libertarian-left and paleoconservatives, the militia-patriot-constitutionalist milieu, right-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, the populist-right, and so forth. I then discovered the neo-secessionist tendencies that were starting to organize at the time, and around ten years ago I encountered for the first time the national-anarchist tendency that had recently emerged. This in turn introduced me to the world of “third-position” ideologies, to the French New Right of Alain De Benoist, and so forth. I began to understand that quite often the only key differences between many of these “right-wing” perspectives and traditional anarchism are matters of culture, and in some instances mere aesthetics or individual tastes. I wrote a letter to a left-anarchist journal in 1999 where I outlined these views, and I later reworked the letter into an article expounding upon these ideas further.
Anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism was created as a tendency whose specific purpose was to re-orient the focus of modern anarchism away from liberal and leftist social causes and countercultural lifestyles, and towards a more concentrated attack on the state, the empire, and the plutocracy. A related purpose is to form tactical alliances towards this end with many others sharing overlapping critiques or concerns, including some from the “far Right” or other points on the political spectrum apart from the radical Left milieu. Additionally, strategic and organizational issues are to be placed at the forefront of our ongoing efforts and expressed concerns. In other words, anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism differs sharply from the mainstream anarchist movement by
1) shifting focus away from left-wing social causes and countercultural lifestyles towards attacking the state, empire, and plutocracy as the primary values or objectives;
2) working for the construction of an anti-state, anti-plutocratic, and anti-imperialist political alliance comprised of opposition forces from across the political spectrum;
3) developing or promoting regional and local secessionist movements as the strategic and organizational vehicle for the political advancement of such a tactical alliance;
4) rejecting the universalistic claim that all participants in the anarcho-pluralistic/pan-secessionist project must hold to “ultra-liberal,” “far Left,” or countercultural lifestyle views on such matters as abortion, gay rights, feminism, transgendered rights, environmentalism, animal rights, “anti-racism,” “anti-fascism,” immigrants’ rights, “open borders,” veganism/vegetarianism, economic preferences, nuclear power, capital punishment, religion, drugs, family organization, squatting, dumpster-diving, punk rock music, and many other things. This is not to say that participants in such a project cannot hold “ultra-liberal” or countercultural views on such matters, but that such an outlook, while acceptable, is not mandatory.
5) recognizing that a post-state, post-plutocratic, and post-empire nation or civilization where anarchists are politically dominant would contain a genuine diversity of forms of political, cultural, and economic organization, and not just the kinds favored by the “far Left.” Consequently, a post-revolutionary political order would likely include communities and institutions of a conservative, religious, ethnocentric, traditionalist, patriarchal, or just plain old middle-of-the-road, moderate nature as well as those of a leftist or countercultural nature.
The Necessity of Confronting Totalitarian Humanism
Once upon a time, I generally agreed with the standard leftist view that much of the conservative critique of “political correctness” amounts to little more than sour grapes on the part of right-wingers who are on the losing end of history and political struggles. However, upon further experience and reflection, I found it necessary to alter my view. When I first began promoting the ideas outlined above in the anarchist milieu, I knew it would be controversial and that many would object. However, I was somewhat surprised by the level of vociferous hostility and threats of violence I received from the critics. Now, on one hand, if some anarchists regard immigrants’ rights, gay rights, transexual rights, animal rights, or the most extreme forms of “anti-racism” to be the most important issues, then they are still perfectly within their rights to feel this way. If they prefer to tolerate or endure the present system rather than cede any ground, politically or geographically, to the Right, or to have any sort of association with cultural conservatives, then they likewise have the right to make this value judgment for themselves. However, the fact that they cannot accept that some of us would choose a different way, and that they cannot co-exist with our own tendency without making threats of violence and assuming a generally obscurantist attitude, indicates that their commitment to such core libertarian values as freedom of speech and thought is rather limited. This essentially cancels their supposed “progressive” credentials and essentially renders them to the status of either a pre-Enlightenment cult movement, or secular theocrats, or a variation of the modern totalitarian movements that have emerged since the French Revolution. As a biographer of the anarchist historian Paul Avrich observed: “Avrich does not shy away from controversy in his books, treating the anarchist acts of violence honestly and in the context of the time. He does not condone the violence of Berkman, but says he still admires his decision, considering how brutal Frick acted toward striking workers. But Avrich does not have the same patience for some contemporary anarchists, who choose to destroy property and who, he says, come mainly from educated and middle-class backgrounds. “I’m not so crazy about anarchists these days,” he says. Anarchism means that you leave other people alone and you don’t force people to do anything.” He says he is sad that the old-timers are not around to guide the resurgent movement. “They were nicer people –much nicer people.” Of course, the anarcho-leftoids, antifa, and other related groups are merely a symptom of the growing totalitarian movement of which Political Correctness is a manifestation. I have written about this third totalitarianism before, and will continue to do so in the future. For now, it is simply enough to say that Political Correctness must be confronted by serious anarchists in the same way that it was necessary for perceptive anarchists to confront Communism as Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin did in the days when it was the emerging totalitarian movement of the 19th century. This is simply a matter of self-defense, as the left-wing enemy has declared war on us. Given the rabid hatred expressed by PC Left (including its “anarchist” and “libertarian” contingents) towards anyone with political, social, or cultural values that conflict with hard-left orthodoxy, it is unlikely that these elements will ever be able to peacefully co-exist with those who are different from themselves. The PC Left contains within itself the Lenins, Stalins, Maos, Castros, and Pol Pots of the future.
This is not to say that one cannot theoretically be a cultural leftist and simultaneously oppose Totalitarian Humanism. One can be a worker, a political leftist, or even a socialist, and oppose Marxism. One can be black, Jewish, or Hispanic and oppose totalitarian multiculturalism. Many do. One can be a woman and oppose the feminazis. There are many of these. One can certainly be gay and oppose the “homo-totalitarians.” Plenty of examples of this exist. Many of my own views on various issues are well to the left of the Democratic Party, if not the Green Party. Yet Totalitarian Humanism needs to be recognized for what it is, the third triplet after Communism and Fascism.
The Necessity of Strategic and Organizational Thinking
A criticism that has been issued against my outlook in the past is that it is overly concerned with pragmatic or strategic considerations and not rooted strongly enough in matters of abstract principle. But ideas are worthless (Stirnerite “spooks”) if they cannot be translated into real world action. If we wanted we could simply form a monastery where we sit around and debate whether drunk driving interferes with anyone’s property rights or whether non-coercive ageism or transphobia conflicts with the natural rights of man, but for what purpose other than intellectual masturbation? If that is what some wish to do, so be it, but for those of us who want an anti-state movement that is a real world contender, matters of strategy and organization are indispensable. Therefore, considerations of what kinds of demographic groups, subtendencies, organizational methods, and tactical efforts are most conducive to the success of the objectives outlined above, and considerations of time frame, are essential to our wider theoretical framework.
The Necessity of High Intellectual Standards and Political Foresight
While considerations of strategy and action are important to the formulation of theory, this does not mean that we should not aspire to high intellectual standards. For one thing, the purpose of ARV/ATS is not to simply be popular and attract sympathizers, but to cultivate an elite leadership corps who will be the revolutionary elite of a future anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist populist movement. A competent leadership corps has to first possess not only high intellectual standards but a capacity for serious political foresight. These considerations are relevant to many different questions. For now, we can reflect a bit on the relevance of these to the immigration question, given that immigration is at present a prominent and controversial public issue.
With the exception of the paleo-libertarians, national-anarchists, and perhaps some Green-anarchists, most present-day anti-state radicals generally advocate “open borders,” meaning that the existing states should simply order their border and coast guards to stand down and allow entry into their respective countries by anyone who wishes to enter for whatever reason. If that’s how many if not most libertarians or anarchists feel at present, then that’s their prerogative. Yet the popularity of a position should not be a barrier to its challenge. After all, if the goal were to simply be popular in the anarchist milieu, our own tendencies would not even exist in the first place.
I criticize the “open borders” beliefs of many anarchists for a variety of reasons. First, I regard mass immigration as a phenomenon that is actually generated by the forces of State, Capital, and Empire, and serves the interests of present day political elites and ruling classes. Second, I am skeptical as to whether a civilization of anarchic communities would actually have “open borders” as many anarchists conceive of such. “Open borders” simply invites the existing state to impose a uniform immigration standard on all communities and institutions within the wider society. There is likely to be a considerably greater degree of variation with regards to matters of immigration and citizenship in the absence of an overarching statist system. Third, it is doubtful that the cultural and social ultra-liberalism promoted by many anarchists and libertarians is compatible with the importation of unlimited numbers of persons from profoundly illiberal cultural environments. Fourth, the history of efforts by genuinely multi-ethnic and multicultural societies to maintain civil peace is not a particularly happy one or a cause for optimism. Fifth, there are the practical costs of mass immigration. For instance, do we really want North America to become as populous as China or India? Lastly, I am skeptical as to whether anarchists who champion “open borders” the most fervently are motivated primarily by anti-statist or civil libertarian concerns.
For instance, many anarchists have not devoted nearly as much effort, or no effort at all, to opposing statist legislation that is far more onerous or draconian in content and effect than the recently enacted Arizona immigration law. So are these anarchists motivated by anti-statism and civil libertarianism, or are they motivated more by universalism, e.g. the view that immigration is a good unto itself regardless of the state’s role in fostering or prohibiting it? What sort of concerns do they express? What sort of criticisms do they raise? Do they say “Requiring travelers to display passports is a statist interference with freedom to travel!”? Perhaps they do at times, but there are plenty of laws on the books of a comparable nature that they rarely if ever discuss, for instance, those requiring motorists to obtain and carry a driver’s license. Are they not more likely to say, “Restricting immigration is racist and xenophobic!” It is fairly clear that for many of the “open borders” anarchists and libertarians, univeralism rather than anti-statism is the guiding value.
Now, to be fair, it should be pointed out that those anti-statists with anti-immigration views are often likewise motivated by values beyond those of mere concern with the role of the state in promoting or sponsoring immigration. The same could be said of libertarians holding opposing views on other controversial matters like abortion or capital punishment. Yet, anti-statists who are anti-immigration are typically much more likely to demonstrate anti-universalism. For instance, Hans Herman Hoppe is a leading paleolibertarian critic of “open borders” libertarians, yet he recognizes the degree of discrimination or non-discrimination, inclusion or exclusion, homogeneity or heterogeneity, will inevitably vary from community to community and institution to institution minus a system of uniformity imposed by the central state. Likewise, the national-anarchists typically recognize that the internal norms and standards of differing “tribes” or communities will vary greatly in the absence of the state, and typically understand that without the state homogeneous communities will co-exist with multicultural ones. Neither paleos nor national-anarchists typically engage in slander, vilification, threats, or violence towards those who do not share their views. Therefore, their claims of authenticity are at present the most valid and compelling.
The Necessity of a Flexibility of Theory and Tactics
The matter of immigration raises a few other issues that are relevant to the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist paradigm. For instance, I have had some no doubt sincere and well-intentioned people ask questions such as these?
1) How can it be argued that the state promotes immigration and that immigrants benefit from statism when illegal immigrants are subject to arrest by the ICE or other police agencies?
2) Is not criticizing immigration promoting division among enemies of the state, thereby weakening the anti-state cause?
3) Is not criticizing immigration actually strengthening pro-state elements on the Right, who are after all motivated not by anti-statism but by statist nationalism?
4) Would not it be strategically more feasible to ally with immigrants against overarching common enemies, such as the global plutocracy?
Here are some short answers to these questions:
1) The state not a monolithic conspiracy. Many anarchists and libertarians seem to regard “the state” the same way Marxists regard “the capitalists” or Nazis regard “the Jews.” The state is a collection of certainly overlapping and interconnected interests, but one that also contains within itself plenty of contradictions and conflicts. Yes, certain elements within the state (for instance, the ICE or Joe Arpaio) might well have self-interest in enforcing immigration law. But plenty of other interests within the state actually benefit from immigration. These have been widely documented by immigration critics. Further, simply being a lawbreaker does not necessarily make one an enemy of the state per se, much less an anarchist revolutionary. If mere law-breaking were to be our standard of anarchist authenticity, then we would have to say that dirty cops are among the most anarchistic of all. After all, dirty cops commit perjury, plant evidence, engage in police brutality, confiscate drugs and then use or sell them, steal from evidence lockers, accept bribes, participate in illegal searches and seizures, solicit sexual favors from suspects or prisoners, or even engage in outright common crimes such as robbery, rape, kidnapping, and murder. There are certainly plenty of laws prohibiting these things, but are we prepared to argue that such cops measure up to anarchist standards?
2) For reasons that are widely known, it is doubtful whether immigrants, or even illegal immigrants, can be classified as enemies of the state on any kind of consistent level. As Andrew Yeoman succinctly put it: “…the ideal is to decentralize political power and increase the power of local institutions outside state control. This does not mean supporting illegal immigrants, who aren’t outside the state — to the contrary. Illegals represent a minority that is trying to impose its will on the majority by fully integrating itself within the state. Illegals oppose state power just as much as they oppose capitalism, which is to say, not at all — they are here to make money and eager to take advantage of all the benefits of the welfare system. They are also seeking race replacement.”
3) It is undoubtedly true that many on the anti-immigration Right are motivated less by an opposition to the imposition of a uniform and universalist immigration policy by the central state, and more by a desire for a xenophobic brand of statist nationalism? But to what degree are these elements reflective of ruling class values or elite consensus, or even the mainstream of public opinion? For instance, the New York Times (which Abbie Hoffman used to refer to as “the voice of the ruling class”) has consistently taken an “open borders” stance, as has the Wall Street Journal (which might be called “the voice of the global plutocracy”). The evidence is overwhelming that while elites and the radical Left share the common goal of total or near-total abolition of immigration standards, hard-core “xenophobes” are a fairly marginal, fringe movement. Research indicates that the average American of all races or colors generally has a tolerant view of legal immigrants, while regarding present immigration rates as too high and believing that illegal immigration should be barred. This is hardly an indication of imminent genocide as “immigrants’ rights” hysterics would have us believe.
4) All of these issues aside, are there indeed areas or situations where illegal immigrants might well be potential allies? Aside from my strenuously un-PC views on certain questions, one of the areas of my own thinking that often raises the most eyebrows is my position that outlaw organizations might well be valuable allies against the state in certain instances. For instance, motorcycle gangs, survivalist militias, common street gangs, exotic cults, and the like. There are a number of reasons why I hold to this view. One is the obvious. Many of these groups view themselves as a nation of their own that is at war with the government, therefore in a situation of direct conflict with the state, they may be viable military allies against a common enemy. Second, many of these groups have a history of being in direct conflict and combat with the repressive apparatus of the state, e.g. the BATF, FBI, DEA, or state and local SWAT teams or paramilitary police. Thirdly, by recruiting them as allies or mercenaries for “our side” we prevent our various enemies from doing so. There are other, less significant reasons why I take this position as well.
This brings us to the final question of on what issues might it be appropriate to take a pro-immigration stance or to ally ourselves with illegal immigrants. As mentioned, individuals participants in the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist project can have any other views they wish. By extension, they can advocate for their own tribe, community, or territory whatever political values they wish. For instance, if some left-anarchists, left-libertarians, Hispanic ethno-nationalists, or liberal multiculturalists decide to organize a Miami secessionist movement (the “Republic of Miami”) and decide they wish for an independent Miami to have completely open borders, so be it. If most people in a liberal metropolis like New York City or San Francisco prefer that these regions be “sanctuary cities,” then that’s how it will be. Likewise, while I would defend Arizona’s sovereignty against the feds regarding the controversial immigration law, if one of Arizona’s cities or counties, say, Tucson or Flagstaff, decided to secede from Arizona in protest of the immigration law, I would defend their right to do so as well. Nor does this mean that any policy of any seceded polity is necessarily “written in stone.” For instance, in an independent Arizona, pro-immigrationists could certainly agitate for less restrictive immigration policies, and I would defend their free speech rights to do so. In an independent “Republic of Miami” with open borders, immigration restrictionists could push for more limits on immigration, and I would likewise defend their free speech rights as well.
An analogy could be made to class issues. Any interest of mine is organizing secessionist efforts by large cites with an emphasis on class issues. While I am a Southerner, neo-confederate ideology or Dixieland revivalism doesn’t really interest me much. Instead, I would prefer to develop secession movements on the part of the large metro areas like Richmond, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chattanooga, Charleston, and so forth. The focus would be on achieving economic self-sufficiency and self-determination for the lower classes, and on repealing policies that generate much of the violent crime in these urban areas, particularly drug prohibition. Consequently, if we were to organize a general strike or mass walkout by workers in fast food chains, superstore chains, meatpacking plants, crony-capitalist real estate developments, or agribusiness plantations, I would very much advocate labor solidarity among all the workers, even though many of these places employ illegal immigrants.
At the same time, as part of the process of developing a pan-secessionist movement, I am certainly open to class collaboration on certain issues. While my personal focus would be on the urban lower classes, in many of the counties surrounding my own city there are affluent, upper-middle class communities with strong conservative leanings. If indeed a secessionist movement motivated by a desire to simply not pay taxes to Washington, D.C. or the state government were to emerge among such people, I would certainly back their efforts. Likewise, even though I am a pro-abortion atheist who thinks the cause of gay marriage is more silly than offensive, if a rural county or small town comprised of evangelical Christians or other religious conservatives were to secede rather than recognize Roe v. Wade or gay rights/gay marriage laws, I would support their efforts as well.
In a similar vein, given the reality that the future of the American Southwest likely belongs to Aztlan, it may well be likely that tactical collaboration with Hispanic ethno-nationalist secessionists in the Southwest, including many illegal immigrants or their immediate descendants, will be strategically feasible or even necessary at some point in the future.
Carol Moore is someone who deserves credit for helping to publicize the secessionist cause. See her website here. Unfortunately, she has delivered a classic example of an ad hominem argument against Yours Truly in response to my suggestions that the radical Left should seriously consider the possibility of adopting a secessionist outlook. You can see Ms. Moore’s response here. Here it is in full:
While Preston’s article seems rational, if you look at the list of articles he’s published he also promotes “National Anarchism” which is against “miscengenation” and promotes (as opposed to merely accepting) separation of the races. He also promotes revolutionary violence, including by Tim McVeigh. FYI.
The ad hominem part of this is obvious. What Carol is saying amounts to is: “Yes, Keith Preston makes reasonable arguments as to why the radical Left should consider secession, but he’s also a bad guy, so this refutes or at least dimishes his arguments.” A response to the charges is in order:
“…he also promotes “National Anarchism”…”
Guilty but proud. See my discussions of National-Anarchism and related views here, here, and here. National-Anarchism is a freshingly interesting and vibrant current when compared with the dull conformists and predictable lefto-losers associated with the mainstream anarchist movement.
“…which is against “miscengenation”…”
There’s no “n” in this term, but as something of a serial miscegenator myself I don’t really care what views National-Anarchists may or may not hold on “miscegenation.” See John Derbyshire on this one. I don’t really adhere to any of the Christian taboos about “adultery” or “fornication” either, but I’ve also promoted Christian secessionist or separatist groups in the past. I’ve even promoted Mormon polygamists. To demonstrate the absurdity of this kind argument against the National-Anarchists, imagine if a Muslim, an Orthodox Jew or a Seventh Day Adventist were to make an argument like this: “Yes, Preston makes reasonable arguments in favor of secession by Muslims, Jews, and Adventists, but he also promotes individuals and groups that eat pork, drink alcohol, and refrain from keeping the Sabbath…..”
Enough said on that point.
“…and promotes (as opposed to merely accepting) separation of the races…”
As an anarchist, what I actually advocate is a concept I call “separation of race and state” on the same model as the Jeffersonian idea of “separation of church and state.” If racial and ethnic integrationism of the kind favored by liberals and leftists can take place on its own without the coercive apparatus of the state to compel it, and without the economic pressures generated by state-capitalism and imperialism, then so be it. On the other hand, if the kind of racial separatism favored by “racial conservatives” (for lack of a better term) is indeed normal or natural, then that’s fine by me as well. My guess is that there would probably be some of both, with the degree of extremes on either end depending on other factors like local culture, institutional forms, ideological currents, economic factors, population size, geography, history, individual personalities and so forth. Imagine if Carol were to instead make an argument like: “Preston promotes (as to merely accepting) separation of the cultures and religions where hippies, Christian evangelicals, Catholics, goth-rockers and Jehovah’s Witnesses simply do their own thing-what a god-awful thing this is!”
What leftoids just can’t seem to accept is that some of us just flat out don’t give a damn if races are “separated” or not. Indeed, some the present-day “anti-racism” hysteria is starting to sound a lot like the anti-commie panic of the 1950s or the “Satanic panic” of the 80s. If Joe McCarthy were alive today, no doubt he would be talking about the evil cabals of racists who’ve infiltrated American institutions. If Dana Carvey were just inventing his “Church Lady” character today, he’d have to make her a PC liberal: “Satan?…Racism!!!!!”
Enough said on that one.
“He also promotes revolutionary violence,…”
It is quite unlikely that the existing regime, ruling class, and empire is going to let territories within the U.S.A simply walk away without a fight. So, on that great day of reckoning, it is indeed quite likely that secessionist movements will indeed need defense organizations of a “fourth generation” nature. See Hezbollah, Hamas, the FMLN, or the Peoples’ War Group. See 1776, 1861, or Spain 1936. Pacifism doesn’t interest me.
“including by Tim McVeigh”
McVeigh got an “A” for attitude but an “F” for tactics and good sense, in my book.
Enough said on that one.
1. I agree with the Augustinian view of the state as a robber band writ large.
2. I agree with the Stirnerite view of political obligation. Why should I obey this guy just because he’s the president, king, mayor, etc.?
3. I agree that democracy is a system where five wolves and sheep vote on what to have for lunch.
4. I agree that the death and destruction perpetrated by states make that of individual criminals look trivial by comparison.
5. I agree with George Bernard Shaw that democracy replaces the rule of the corrupt few with the rule of the incompetent many.
6. I agree that the state exists to monopolize territory and resources, protect an artificially privileged ruling class, expand its own power and subjugate and exploit subjects.
7. I agree with Hayek that the worst gets to the top.
8. I agree that the insights of social psychology show that most people are creatures of the herd.
9. I agree that the herd is the permanent enemy of the superior individual.
10. I agree that values are subjective, that life is ultimately a war of each against all, and that survival of the fittest and the will to power are the only true laws.
Kirkpatrick Sale of the Middlebury Institute recently observed that there is presently “more attention being paid to secession than any time since 1865” and predicts that “one of the American states will vote for its independence in the next 10 years.” Neo-secessionist sentiments are frequently stereotyped as a characteristic exhibited primarily by “right-wing extremists.” Yet there are serious reasons why genuine progressives should consider secession. Among the most compelling reasons why the Left should consider dissolving the U.S. into multiple nations, regions, or city-states are:
-Break-up of the U.S.A. means an end to the American empire that has killed millions of people throughout the world over the last sixty-five years, including perhaps two million Iraqis, three million Southeast Asians, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans, half a million Timorese, thousands of Afghanis, and many, many more.
-Without the support of the U.S., international capitalist organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. would be much less powerful and influential.
-The demise of the federal regime would mean an end to U.S. aid to Israel, and a fighting chance for the Palestinians.
-The collapse of the U.S. federal system would mean an end to federal corporate-welfare, bank-welfare, and, above all, the death of the military-industrial complex.
-No more federal regime means no more DHS, FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Indian Affairs, federal drug war, federal mandatory minimums, or the national police state built up around the war on terrorism. What could be more successful at overturning the “terror war” legislation of the last eight years than complete disintegration of the federal government itself?
-An end to federal corporate welfare means a severe weakening of Big Pharma, agribusiness, or local developers utilizing federal money in efforts at gentrification.
-The disintegration of the U.S. means not only the end of federal drug prohibition but an end to U.S. support for the international drug war and the America-centric structure of international drug prohibition, thereby allowing other nations to develop more progressive policies on this matter.
Some may object that progressives have at times appealed to federal power against local reactionaries (for instance, in cases of civil rights, abortion rights, and church/state separation issues) and that dissolution of the federal regime may also weaken gains in this area. However, it should be considered that the majority of the U.S. population resides in the 75 to 100 largest urban, metropolitian areas. If these areas-New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Miami-were all independent city-states or micronations along the lines of Monaco, Luxemborg, or Singapore, genuine progressives would be in a much superior political position than at present. The major U.S. urban areas tend to be the most diverse culturally, racially, ethnically, and religiously. It is also in these areas where the majority of racial minorities, LGBT people, persons with countercultural values, and those with left-leaning political views tend to be concentrated. The majority of the underclass persons fed into the prison-industrial complex also originate from the large cities. It is in the major cities where most abortion services are located and where most abortions take place.
If these larger urban areas were separated from the states in which they are presently located and from the federal system, urban progressives would no longer need to share space politically with rural, small-town, or suburban reactionaries, conservatives, or religious fundamentalists. Therefore, it would be immensely easier for independent city-states of this kind to enact, for instance, single-payer health care, same-sex marriage, stem cell research or a living wage. It would also be easier to protect abortion rights from the influence of current state legislatures or the federal government. Likewise, it would be much more possible to decriminalize drugs, prostitution, gambling and other “consensual crimes” along the lines of New Zealand, Portugal, or the Netherlands at present. Such changes would severely weaken and undermine the police state and prison-industrial complex. The likely weakening of corporate power following the demise of federal and state corporate welfare would also provide a more level playing field for activists to take on landlords, developers, bankers, and other plutocratic interests on a municipal and regional level, and perhaps initiate economic alternatives like cooperatives, collectives, communes, LETS, mutuals, land trusts, and so forth. Meanwhile, social conservatives and other non-progressives who dissented from this prevailing liberal-libertarian-left paradigm could likewise achieve sovereignty for themselves in their exclusionary suburban enclaves, homogenous rural counties and towns, or sparsely populated red zones. Surely, this would be a better state of political affairs than the present system. If indeed secessionist sentiments are likely to grow in the years and decades ahead, why should progressives be left out?
The following brainstorming session between Keith Preston and David Heleniak was pulled, with slight editing, from the discussion page of AttacktheSystem.com.
KP: Have you seen this latest from Gottfried?
How would you reply?
DH: I disagree with him that Peter Gay’s book on the modern pagans of the Enlightenment is incorrect. Rather, Gay is correct: the Enlightenment was fundamentally anti-Christian.
by David Graeber
Chances are you have already heard something about who anarchists are and what they are supposed to believe. Chances are almost everything you have heard is nonsense. Many people seem to think that anarchists are proponents of violence, chaos, and destruction, that they are against all forms of order and organization, or that they are crazed nihilists who just want to blow everything up. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to. It is really a very simple notion. But it’s one that the rich and powerful have always found extremely dangerous.
At their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions. The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how. The second is that power corrupts. Most of all, anarchism is just a matter of having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them through to their logical conclusions. Odd though this may seem, in most important ways you are probably already an anarchist — you just don’t realize it.
Let’s start by taking a few examples from everyday life.
* If there’s a line to get on a crowded bus, do you wait your turn and refrain from elbowing your way past others even in the absence of police?
If you answered “yes”, then you are used to acting like an anarchist! The most basic anarchist principle is self-organization: the assumption that human beings do not need to be threatened with prosecution in order to be able to come to reasonable understandings with each other, or to treat each other with dignity and respect.
Everyone believes they are capable of behaving reasonably themselves. If they think laws and police are necessary, it is only because they don’t believe that other people are. But if you think about it, don’t those people all feel exactly the same way about you? Anarchists argue that almost all the anti-social behavior which makes us think it’s necessary to have armies, police, prisons, and governments to control our lives, is actually caused by the systematic inequalities and injustice those armies, police, prisons and governments make possible. It’s all a vicious circle. If people are used to being treated like their opinions do not matter, they are likely to become angry and cynical, even violent — which of course makes it easy for those in power to say that their opinions do not matter. Once they understand that their opinions really do matter just as much as anyone else’s, they tend to become remarkably understanding. To cut a long story short:
anarchists believe that for the most part it is power itself, and the effects of power, that make people stupid and irresponsible.
* Are you a member of a club or sports team or any other voluntary organization where decisions are not imposed by one leader but made on the basis of general consent?
If you answered “yes”, then you belong to an organization which works on anarchist principles! Another basic anarchist principle is voluntary association. This is simply a matter of applying democratic principles to ordinary life. The only difference is that anarchists believe it should be possible to have a society in which everything could be organized along these lines, all groups based on the free consent of their members, and therefore, that all top-down, military styles of organization like armies or bureaucracies or large corporations, based on chains of command, would no longer be necessary. Perhaps you don’t believe that would be possible. Perhaps you do. But every time you reach an agreement by consensus, rather than threats, every time you make a voluntary arrangement with another person, come to an understanding, or reach a compromise by taking due consideration of the other person’s particular situation or needs, you are being an
anarchist — even if you don’t realize it.
Anarchism is just the way people act when they are free to do as they choose, and when they deal with others who are equally free — and therefore aware of the responsibility to others that entails. This leads to another crucial point: that while people can be reasonable and considerate when they are dealing with equals, human nature is such that they cannot be trusted to do so when given power over others. Give someone such power, they will almost invariably abuse it in some way or another.
* Do you believe that most politicians are selfish, egotistical swine who don’t really care about the public interest? Do you think we live in an economic system which is stupid and unfair?
If you answered “yes”, then you subscribe to the anarchist critique of today’s society — at least, in its broadest outlines. Anarchists believe that power corrupts and those who spend their entire lives seeking power are the very last people who should have it. Anarchists believe that our present economic system is more likely to reward people for selfish and unscrupulous behavior than for being decent, caring human beings. Most people feel that way. The only difference is that most people don’t think there’s anything that can be done about it, or anyway — and this is what the faithful servants of the powerful are always most likely to insist — anything that won’t end up making things even worse.
But what if that weren’t true?
And is there really any reason to believe this? When you can actually test them, most of the usual predictions about what would happen without states or capitalism turn out to be entirely untrue. For thousands of years people lived without governments. In many parts of the world people live outside of the control of governments today. They do not all kill each other. Mostly they just get on about their lives the same as anyone else would. Of course, in a complex, urban, technological society all this would be more complicated: but technology can also make all these problems a lot easier to solve. In fact, we have not even begun to think about what our lives could be like if technology were really marshaled to fit human needs. How many hours would we really need to work in order to maintain a functional society — that is, if we got rid of all the useless or destructive occupations like telemarketers, lawyers, prison guards, financial analysts, public
relations experts, bureaucrats and politicians, and turn our best scientific minds away from working on space weaponry or stock market systems to mechanizing away dangerous or annoying tasks like coal mining or cleaning the bathroom, and distribute the remaining work among everyone equally? Five hours a day? Four? Three? Two? Nobody knows because no one is even asking this kind of question. Anarchists think these are the very questions we should be asking.
* Do you really believe those things you tell your children (or that your parents told you)?
“It doesn’t matter who started it.” “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” “Clean up your own mess.” “Do unto others…” “Don’t be mean to people just because they’re different.” Perhaps we should decide whether we’re lying to our children when we tell them about right and wrong, or whether we’re willing to take our own injunctions seriously. Because if you take these moral principles to their logical conclusions, you arrive at anarchism.
Take the principle that two wrongs don’t make a right. If you really took it seriously, that alone would knock away almost the entire basis for war and the criminal justice system. The same goes for sharing: we’re always telling children that they have to learn to share, to be considerate of each other’s needs, to help each other; then we go off into the real world where we assume that everyone is naturally selfish and competitive. But an anarchist would point out: in fact, what we say to our children is right. Pretty much every great worthwhile achievement in human history, every discovery or accomplishment that’s improved our lives, has been based on cooperation and mutual aid; even now, most of us spend more of our money on our friends and families than on ourselves; while likely as not there will always be competitive people in the world, there’s no reason why society has to be based on encouraging such behavior, let alone making people compete over
the basic necessities of life. That only serves the interests of people in power, who want us to live in fear of one another. That’s why anarchists call for a society based not only on free association but mutual aid. The fact is that most children grow up believing in anarchist morality, and then gradually have to realize that the adult world doesn’t really work that way. That’s why so many become rebellious, or alienated, even suicidal as adolescents, and finally, resigned and bitter as adults; their only solace, often, being the ability to raise children of their own and pretend to them that the world is fair. But what if we really could start to build a world which really was at least founded on principles of justice? Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift to one’s children one could possibly give?
* Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally corrupt and evil, or that certain sorts of people (women, people of color, ordinary folk who are not rich or highly educated) are inferior specimens, destined to be ruled by their betters?
If you answered “yes”, then, well, it looks like you aren’t an anarchist after all. But if you answered “no”, then chances are you already subscribe to 90% of anarchist principles, and, likely as not, are living your life largely in accord with them. Every time you treat another human with consideration and respect, you are being an anarchist. Every time you work out your differences with others by coming to reasonable compromise, listening to what everyone has to say rather than letting one person decide for everyone else, you are being an anarchist. Every time you have the opportunity to force someone to do something, but decide to appeal to their sense of reason or justice instead, you are being an anarchist. The same goes for every time you share something with a friend, or decide who is going to do the dishes, or do anything at all with an eye to fairness.
Now, you might object that all this is well and good as a way for small groups of people to get on with each other, but managing a city, or a country, is an entirely different matter. And of course there is something to this. Even if you decentralize society and puts as much power as possible in the hands of small communities, there will still be plenty of things that need to be coordinated, from running railroads to deciding on directions for medical research. But just because something is complicated does not mean there is no way to do it democratically. It would just be complicated. In fact, anarchists have all sorts of different ideas and visions about how a complex society might manage itself. To explain them though would go far beyond the scope of a little introductory text like this. Suffice it to say, first of all, that a lot of people have spent a lot of time coming up with models for how a really democratic, healthy society might work; but
second, and just as importantly, no anarchist claims to have a perfect blueprint. The last thing we want is to impose prefab models on society anyway. The truth is we probably can’t even imagine half the problems that will come up when we try to create a democratic society; still, we’re confident that, human ingenuity being what it is, such problems can always be solved, so long as it is in the spirit of our basic principles — which are, in the final analysis, simply the principles of fundamental human decency.
For some years now, I have advocated for the anarchist movement in North America a change in direction from the course it has followed since the 1960s. Essentially, the general flavor of the anarchist milieu is one that expresses the same set of primary values as Marxists, social democrats and left-liberal Democratic Party activists, with the added qualification of “by the way, we’re also against the state as well.” A principal problem with such an approach is that it fails to distinguish political anarchism from run of the mill leftism. Furthermore, anarchism exists primarily as a kind of youth culture/subculture which focuses on a very narrow ultra-leftism and hyper-counterculturalism that inevitably has the effect of relegating political anarchism into a fringe ideological ghetto.
This is a situation that I have sought to change. I have done so by advocating a broader, more expansive approach for political anarchism than what the current mainstream of the movement will allow for. This effort has won me many highly sympathetic friends within the anarchist milieu, and many bitter enemies as well. In a recent and highly controversial essay, I argued for a “revolution within anarchism.” What I was calling for is the future advent of a “non-leftoidal” anarchist movement, meaning one that is more substantive, comprehensive and original in its approach, rather than simply championing the run-of-the-mill causes and issues favored by leftists and post-60s counterculturalists.
If one surveys most of the contemporary anarchist websites and publications, one typically sees persistent and predictable references to things like the evils of racism, sexism and homophobia, the villainy of pollution and cutting down trees, the need to be kinder to animals, the championing of unions and worker-related causes, the need for better health care and other things that any little old lady at a Democratic Party precinct meeting, liberal Methodist pastor or high school social studies teacher might be interested in. Added to this might be standard countercultural causes like publishing “zines,” alternative media projects, squatting, “Food Not Bombs,” vegetarianism or veganism, neo-pagan or New Age religions, transsexualism, hippie communes, or punk music. Many of these are no doubt good causes or perfectly harmless activities, but it is questionable as to how much they really do to subvert “the System.” After all, the radicals from the 60s have for the most part been victorious on most of the issues that emerged during that time. But what has been the result? The military-industrial complex is larger and more expansive than ever before, and the empire more far-reaching and more overtly aggressive. The state is more expansive and repressive, and the police state and prison-industrial complex have emerged as major growth industries. The plutocracy has become ever more exploitive, and the socio-economic classes ever more polarized. And the “culture wars” have degenerated into battles within the middle class over symbolic issues like same-sex marriage.
I submit that anarchists in North America should strive to break the grip that the “60s model” of radicalism has on their own milieu and begin looking for new directions. In my previous writings, I have called for the development of an anarchist-led pan-secessionist movement with a strong populist orientation, and oriented towards the lower socio-economic orders, e.g., the lumpenproletariat, neo-peasantry, declasse’ sectors, lower petite bourgeoisie, respectable poor, sinking middle and so forth. Such a movement would champion “third way” economic tendencies beyond socialism or capitalism, with an emphasis on decentralization and the voluntary sector. There would be an across-the-board defense of civil liberties (defending both drug decriminalization and the right to bear arms, for instance) and irreconcilable cultural differences would be handled according to the model of “peace through separatism,” meaning groups like the feminist/gay Left or the Religious Right would have their own separate institutions, associations, communities, and, if necessary, entirely separate regions, with explosive cultural matters like the definition of marriage, abortion, capital punishment, the rights of children against their parents, educational practices, and immigration being determined according to local community standards. The emergence of such a movement would involve a situation where the independent Left, populist Right, radical Middle, underclass, lumpenproletariat, declasse’ sectors, radical ecologists, and racial-nationalists among the minority groups would naturally bend towards one another against the neoconservative/left-liberal establishment.
My own ideological perspective is, for all practical purposes, virtually identical to what one might find at a website like Infoshop.Org , with several important differences. One of these is my rejection of abstract internationalism in favor old-fashioned foreign policy isolationism. A similar policy has worked quite well for the Swiss and Swedes for generations, and an emphasis on strict neutrality in international relations is even more important in an era where “humanitarianism” is used as a justification and cover for imperialism. Second, the phenomena of what is called “political correctness” needs to be effectively and comprehensively challenged, given that this is the ideological superstructure of an emerging form of totalitarianism. Lastly, I wish to end the “culture war/race war” mentality common to many Leftists and Rightists alike, and deal with differences of religion, culture, race, ethnicity, language and so forth according to the principles of individual liberty, voluntary association, pluralism, meritocracy and peaceful co-existence where possible, otherwise decentralism, localism, secessionism, separatism, self-determination and mutual self-segregation. For holding such positions, I have gained many enemies, but I have also brought in new friends, allies, and ideological tendencies whose tenants overlap to a great degree with those of traditional anarchism. Just as those of us who opposed the Cold War were often accused of fueling Communism, so are those of us who today oppose the Culture War accused of fueling Nazism, fascism, racism and theocracy but, as has been said, “this too shall pass.”
A question that emerges from this discussion involves the issue of what sort of time frame we are looking at. I prefer to use the “forty years in the wilderness” analogy, a reference to the biblical legend whereby the escaped Israelite slaves wandered in the wilderness for forty years before reaching the Promised Land. I will explain the relevance of this analogy shortly, but when considering such a matter it is important to recognize identifiable trends in U.S. politics. These include:
1) The two-party system has proven to be extraordinarily durable, and has survived for 200+ years since the founding of the Republic, with no significant alterations and in spite of many subsequent changes in American society of a monumental nature.
2) The state has persistently grown throughout U.S. history, with no significant rollback at any point, and will likely continue to do so in the forseeable future, particularly given the economic troubles that lie ahead. Depending on whose estimates one relies on, the U.S. state now consumes 35 to 40 percent of the GDP, and is capable of consuming still more, as the European social democracies demonstrate. Further, there is no real evidence that the public at large objects to this. Opinion research indicates that anti-statist ideologies like libertarianism and paleoconservatism are the least popular so far as ideologies somewhat connected to the political mainstream are concerned.
3) Demographic, cultural and generational trends indicate that the center-left and, consequently, the Democratic Party, will be the dominant force in American national politics in the decades ahead. It is also true that American domestic partisan cycles tend to run at 35 to 40 year intervals. The Democrats recently emerged victorious after Republican dominance since the late 1960s. The Nixon Republicans displaced the Democrats who had been dominant since the election of FDR in 1932, and FDR ended the Republican reign that had begun in the 1890s (with the exception of the disastrous Wilson presidency). If this trend has any meaning for the future, the current Democrat-dominated partisan cycle should begin to expire sometime in the 2040s, precisely the decade when Americans of non-European ancestry are expected to collectively become a demographic majority.
In other words, we should count on the center-left being dominant for the next 40 years or so, and we should plan on using that time to build up a revolutionary movement that will eventually displace the current center-left coalition that has emerged victorious with the election of President Obama. Of course, there are a lot of people who wish to unseat the present center-left ruling coalition from the Right, ranging from right-wing neocon Frumites to paleocon Buchananites to the “grassroots Republican” Palinites to the Religious Right, Libertarians, and so forth. However, it is unlikely that any of these elements will ever achieve anything more than marginal or temporary victories, as all of them represent forces that were once dominant in American society but are in a serious state of decline. Neoconservatism, for instance, is a degenerated form of Cold War liberalism and the Paleocon/Religious Right program of turning back the clock to the 1950s is something of a joke. That mainstream “conservatives” have found no one better than Sarah Palin to be their leader demonstrates what a joke their perspective is as well. The purpose of present day “conservatism” is not to gain political power but to attract listeners and viewers to talk-radio or FOX News (itself a product of the “dumbing down” of American culture) and to sell books by barely literate right-wing polemicists.
It is of the utmost importance that a genuine revolutionary movement identify the present and future center-left ruling coalition as the primary enemy. To focus on “right-wing conservatives” is foolish given that these represent the losing forces of history, e.g., the right-wing of the old-monied elite, proponents of archaic nation-state based nationalism, religious fundamentalists, opponents of the sexual revolution, the declining white middle class and so forth. Yes, Rush Limbaugh may be a fat-assed windbag who peddles jingoism in its crudest form, and Ann Coulter may be a sniveling cunt, but there is no evidence that the movement they represent will ever achieve comprehensive or enduring political power in the United States. Indeed, the Bush administration, with its grotesque ineptness, may well have been their last gasp. Even more foolish is the tendency of some in the anarchist movement to devote inordinate amounts of attention to “right-wing extremist” groups, e.g., the Ku Klux Klan, neo-nazis, skinheads, et.al. Nothing is more marginalized and irrelevant to the mainstream of American politics than these. Persistent battles between “racists” and “anti-racists” are as socially and politically productive as wars between one-percenter motorcycle clubs or crack-dealing, inner-city street gangs.
The correct historical model to draw on in the development of a 21st century revolutionary movement in North America is not the battle between the Left and classical Fascism in the 1920s and 1930s but the historic rivalry between the anarchists and the Communists, with the center-left and its ideology of political correctness now playing the role of the “new totalitarianism.” I submit that the anarchist movement in North America should adopt as its primary objective the development of a revolutionary movement to challenge the center-left from the left, with the goal of obtaining political pre-eminence once the center-left expires its historical utility. In other words, there should be an anarchist-led revolution in the United States sometime during the 2040s, and the interim decades should be a build-up period to that point.
American history informs us of how we might proceed. Given the historic durability of the two-party system, it is worth noting that the only disruptions of that system were the replacement of the Federalists with the Whigs, and the subsequent replacement of the Whigs with the Republicans prior to the U.S. Civil War. Given that the Democrats are likely to be the ruling party over the next few decades, the aim of the revolutionaries should be to eventually replace the Republican Party with a yet to be named or thoroughly defined revolutionary coalition/organization/federation of some kind.
It is also worth noting and rather ironic that the only “near miss” as far as rolling back the perpetual expansion of the Leviathan state in U.S. history was the attempted Southern secession of 1861, which the Republican Party was formed primarily to prevent. Given that the two largest revolutionary events in U.S. history were the secession by the 13 colonies from Britain and the attempted Southern secession from the Union, it makes sense that a continuation of the American secessionist tradition should be our primary strategic tool. There is also the question of how to best go about formulating propaganda whose purpose is to shift popular opinion in our direction. As anarchists, we can quote Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, Proudhon, Spooner, Tolstoy, Stirner, Nock, Rothbard, Bookchin or Chomksy within our own circles all we wish. The fact that remains is that most Americans don’t know and don’t care about such things. What they do know is the American populist revolutionary tradition that extends back to Jefferson and the Declaration Independence. In other words, we anarchists should follow the lead of Voltairine de Cleyre and work to fuse anarchism with American radical traditions in a way that makes sense to the ordinary person.
The need to abandon conventional “culture war/race war” psychology cannot be emphasized strongly enough. This does not mean that anarchists, the majority of whom identify with the left on social and cultural matters, should abandon their own ideals, interests or preferences. For instance, the majority of anarchists probably take a favorable view of the “immigrants’ rights” cause. Because immigration is a highly divisive social issue within the ranks of the poor and working class, I have advocated simply decentralizing immigration policy to the local level. This means that some localities might have the ultra-liberal immigration policies of contemporary “sanctuary cities” and others might take a position more like the contemporary Minutemen. In a community where the prevailing opinion on immigration was rather “conservative” in nature, left-wing anarchists could still agitate for an alternative point of view if they wished, vote against an anti-immigration referendum, etc. Nevertheless, it remains true that a wide assortment of demographic groups commonly identified with the “cultural right” will likely come under increasingly severe attacks from the state in the decades ahead. What we anarchists should say to the Right is this: “You rightists will get a better deal from us than with the totalitarian Left. We will defend you against attacks from the state. We will uphold the right to bear arms, free speech, educational freedom, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. We will shut down the police state. We will recognize your political sovereignty in those communities where your perspective is the prevailing sentiment. We will uphold the economic interests that you share in common with others.” It should not be difficult to connect and form alliances with a wide variety of rightist factions against the common enemy in the central government given that states’ rights and local sovereignty are venerable American traditions of the kind which conservatives are the ostensible champions.
The center-left will eventually collapse as it begins to fracture along various lines. As political correctness becomes more deeply entrenched in American society, it will have fewer and fewer inhibitions about showing its fangs. As the role of the Israel lobby in U.S. foreign policy becomes increasingly exposed, the center-left will fracture along pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist lines. As the immigrant and non-white population expands and becomes more powerful, racial and ethnic divisions on the Left will become more obvious. Other contributing factors to the eventual demise of the center-left ruling coalition will be growing class divisions, ideological differences among the left (multicultural vs universalism), the incompatibility of some of the left’s constituent groups (socially conservative blacks and homosexuals, for instance), the decline of the traditional Right as a common enemy and unifying force for the center-left, and the economic bankruptcy of the welfare state. Ultimately, the greatest fault line will be between upper middle class, white, liberals mostly concerned with social issues like gay rights, abortion rights, environmentalism and secularism, and lower class, mostly black and Hispanic, radicals concerned with class and economic issues, framed as racial and ethnic issues.
Over the next twenty years or so, anarchists should work to re-orient their movement away from a narrowly focused ultra-leftism and towards the broader pan-secessionist, decentralist populism I have outlined here. This will be achieved by those anarchists who already hold a similar position agitating for such ideas in the anarchist milieu and eventually gaining positions of leadership as the older ways become increasingly archaic. Once again, this does not mean that anarchists should necessarily abandon many of the projects with which they are currently involved. It means simply expanding the horizons of the anarchist milieu, appealing to a wider variety and larger number of people, and tackling a wider assortment of issues.
Once the project of re-orienting the anarchist movement towards becoming a more effective fighting force is achieved, the next step will be to work to gain political preeminence at the local and regional level for the ultimate purpose of overturning the present and future center-left ruling coalition, and doing so in a way that involves radical decentralization of power to the lowest possible level. This does not mean that decentralization is the only value. There are currently many worthwhile projects that anarchists are involved with ranging from assisting the homeless, to agitating for the living wage, to prisoners’ rights, to alternative schools, to solidarity with the Palestinians, Tibetans and oppressed people in other parts of the world. This does not mean that any particular set of anarchists needs to abandon their preferred set of cultural values. What I am simply proposing is that irreconcilable cultural differences be handled according to the model of “peace through separatism” as opposed to civil war, persecution, subjugation or oppression. Some rural counties may not allow abortion and some liberal enclaves may not allow handguns or smoking in bars. Some science academies may discriminate against creationists, and some churches may discriminate against feminists and homosexuals. Some schools may teach Afro-centrism and some may teach Euro-centrism. Some neighborhoods may exclude outspoken racists and others may exclude drug dealers or vice merchants. Such is an inevitability in a highly diverse civilization of hundreds of millions of people.
As to where those anarchists already committed to an outlook such as the one I’ve outlined here should begin, I would suggest that anarchists of this type begin infiltrating larger organizations for the purpose of gaining leadership positions. For instance, most of the current “third party” organizations are politically worthless, and there has never been a genuinely successful third party in U.S. history. However, these parties might well be captured by the anarchist movement and combined into a federation of more authentically revolutionary organizations, with their own infrastructure, social services, schools, media, militia and so forth, perhaps on the model of Fourth Generation entities like Hezbollah. It is these institutions and organizations that should replace the state once the present ruling class crumbles.
No matter how pissed off I get at liberals and leftists (a very frequent occurrence, I assure you), I have never been able to bring myself to start calling myself a “conservative.” Some of this is no doubt a reflexive reaction to being raised among right-wing Know-Nothings. But just when I am sometimes starting to think that philosophical conservatives are the ones who really have their act together, I come across something like this post from conservative Catholic philosopher Edward Feser.
Feser was once associated with libertarianism, at least on the periphery, and is now some kind of ultra-reactionary Catholic traditionalist. Predictably, he takes a position on abortion that equates abortion doctors with serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer. I’ve known a number of other people who took such positions (mostly Christian fundamentalists of one type or another), and I really don’t find such views to be interesting enough to bother discussing them. Suffice to say that in an anarchic social order different kinds of communities would likely have different rules and standards concerning enormously controversial issues like abortion. As for my own preference, I’m for legal abortion, at least in the early stages of pregnancy. I’m probably for the legality of late-term abortion also, though I am less sure of this position and would be more accepting of compromise on the question. I don’t know that I really approve of peripheral regulations on abortion either, like parental consent and waiting periods. So, obviously, I’m in the “liberal” camp on this question. But what I find interesting about Feser’s post are comments like this:
On November 28, 1994, notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered in prison by a fellow inmate. Unspeakably heinous though Dahmer’s crimes were, his murder can only be condemned. To be sure, by committing his crimes, Dahmer had forfeited his right to life. By no means can it be said that the injustice he suffered was as grave as what he inflicted upon his victims. But the state alone had the moral authority to execute him, and no private individual can usurp that authority. Vigilantism is itself a grave offense against the moral and social order, and Dahmer’s murderer merited severe punishment.The recent murder of another notorious serial killer – the late-term abortionist George Tiller – is in most morally relevant respects parallel to the Dahmer case. It is true that Tiller, unlike Dahmer, was not punished by our legal system for his crimes; indeed, most of those crimes, though clearly against the natural moral law, are not against the positive law of either the state or the country in which Tiller resided. That is testimony only to the extreme depravity of contemporary American society, and does not excuse Tiller one iota. Still, as in the Dahmer case, no private citizen has the right to take justice into his own hands, and Tiller’s murderer ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
So what’s Feser’s problem? If he really thinks abortion is the mass murder of innocent children that a corrupt state allows to legally take place, then why does he not praise the heroism of someone who places himself in grave danger in order to eliminate the killer and prevent him from killing more children in the future? Would Feser object to the killing of a wild animal that repeatedly attacked and killed human beings but could not be killed legally because of “animal rights” laws? Maybe, but I’d be surprised if he did.
Frequently, I have heard hard-core pro-lifers refer to abortionists as serial killers but then object to those who assassinate an abortion doctor. I suspect there are two reasons for this. One, whatever they think they believe outwardly, they really do not believe inwardly that abortion is the equivalent of mass murder. This is reflected in the fact that many pro-lifers do not believe there should be criminal penalties for women who obtain illegal abortions, only for the doctor. But whoever heard of the idea that being an accomplice to the murder of a child is not a crime? This perspective makes no sense at all. Many cult members and adherents of fanatical religions will betray their supposed beliefs in private moments and unguarded moments, often without the realization that they are doing so. In their heart of hearts, they really don’t believe in all the bullshit they claim to believe in.
But there’s another issue involved here as well, and that’s the state worship found among many conservatives. While many other conservatives are anti-statists with varying degrees of consistency or sincerity, “moralist” conservatives often express views not unlike Feser’s. Let’s look at Feser’s words once again. This is the key passage:
“But the state alone had the moral authority to execute him, and no private individual can usurp that authority. Vigilantism is itself a grave offense against the moral and social order, and Dahmer’s murderer merited severe punishment.”
“Still, as in the Dahmer case, no private citizen has the right to take justice into his own hands, and Tiller’s murderer ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
What the hell is this crap about “the moral authority” of the state? What’s so special about the state? Would this be the same institution that killed two hundred million subjects during the 20th century alone? And how exactly is “vigilantism” such a “grave offense against the moral and social order”? The arguments against vigilantism are these:
1) Protection of the innocent. The accused should not be subject to the arbitrary accusations and retaliation of others. Instead, there needs to be a process of determining innocence or guilt according to objectives rules of evidence judged by neutral third parties.
2) Proportionality. One should not be able to arbitrarily execute someone they feel has wronged them. Instead, the punishment should “fit the crime” and be imposed by a neutral third party.
3) Civil order. If everyone “took the law into his own hands,” would this not lead to a breakdown of civil society and the emergence of a free-for-all?
These arguments might make sense in a functional society with a functional legal system, even one that performs erratically much of the time. But that would not seem to apply in a society that has formally legalized mass murder, which is what Feser thinks America has done with legalized abortion. Would a sensible person condemn Cambodian persons who armed themselves circa 1976 and starting taking out Khmer Rouge operatives? A Russian circa 1935 who did the same to Stalinist agents? A German who engaged in such actions against Gestapo agents in 1943? Of course not.
Aside from the fact that Feser does not really believe in his Catholic fundamentalist anti-abortion ideology beyond the surface, conscious level, he also exhibits the emotional and intellectual cowardice that comes with an inability to reject the state. If Feser had been born in North Korea, he would have been one of the North Korean soldiers I saw in television footage after Kim Il-Sung’s death hugging a statue of the Great Leader and weeping: “He took care of me since I was a baby!”
I’ve undergone de-conversion from three cults in my own lifetime: Christianity, statism, and egalitarianism. So maybe there’s still hope for Edward Feser. This brings me to another issue. The owner of the “Debunking Christianity” blog, John W. Loftus, has called for Feser to be fired from his teaching post at a community college because of his statements comparing the assassinated abortion doctor to Jeffrey Dahmer. Says Loftus:
“We’ve heard about the murder of George Tiller, an abortionist doctor. But did you know that in this blog post Edward Feser compares Tiller to Jeffrey Dahmer who killed, dismembered and ate 17 men and boys. Feser claims that “Tiller was almost certainly a more evil man than Dahmer was.” No wonder I won’t bother reading his book length diatribe against the new atheists, “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism.””Feser teaches for Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California which is a community college. I call upon that college to fire him for this highly inflamed rhetoric which will probably bring on more murders of abortion doctors. And I ask others to do likewise. No professor should use such inflammatory rhetoric or be so ignorant about some crucial distinctions.“
Umm, excuse me, but didn’t Feser condemn the shooting of the abortion doctor and say the perpetrator should be “punished to the full extent of the law”? So it’s not like Feser is advocating the actual killing of abortion doctors. In fact, he’s criticizing such actions. What does Loftus expect? That no professor should ever express moral revulsion concerning abortion or those who practice it, even if they don’t engage in or advocate violence in retaliation against abortionists? That no one should ever insult abortion doctors? Sounds a little wacky to me.
This is the deal. Loftus is a former fundamentalist Christian apologist and pastor who converted to atheism. His writings on atheism and debunking Christianity are some of the best on these topics around. But Loftus seems to have fallen into the trap of many former religious people who replace one form of moralistic zealotry with another. Loftus say he used to lead boycotts against video stores that sold adult videos during his time as a Christian. Now he wants to lead crusades against un-PC college professors. I for one would like to see more un-PC college professors, given left-liberal dominance in much of academia.
I’ve been there. Over twenty years ago, I used to do presentations for high school and college students on the dangers of “racism and fascism” using materials from groups like the $PLC and the Berletoids (I know, I know, but forgive me for I knew not what I was doing). I used to belong to all of the official anti-Christian sects like People for the American Way until I realized that liberals are just as authoritarian and moralistic as any of their religious counterparts. I learned better as I went along. Eventually, I realized that values are simply the subjective emotions and opinions of individuals, and that life is simply a brute struggle of each against all for survival of the fittest. The only thing that matters is how one chooses to wage the war of life. What a liberating realization! May others come to such enlightenment as well.
For some time now, I have argued for an alliance of left-wing anarchism and right-wing populism against the common enemies of imperialism and Big Brother statism. I have argued that the strategic application of such an alliance would be a pan-secessionist movement rooted in the traditions of the American Revolution and the later Southern War of Independence. Secessionism is often associated with political conservatism, given the greater regard of conservatives for American traditions like states’ rights and the conservative nature of the Southern secession of 1861. Indeed, pro-secessionist rumblings have emerged in the mainstream Right recently. Such developments are a welcome thing, of course, and no doubt a future pan-secessionist movement would have a strong right-wing and radical center constituency behind it. As the middle class continues to sink into the ranks of the underclass, and as the vast array of cultural groups associated with right-wing populism continue to come under attack by the forces of political correctness, no doubt an increasing number of people, including many former jingoists, members of the religious right and one-time neocon sympathizers, will realize that the centralized liberal-managerial regime is their enemy, and decide that a political exodus is their best bet. Certainly, a mass army of secessionists in the rural areas, small towns and red states will be a welcome addition to our cause.
However, I do not think that it is on the Right that the crucial political battles will be fought. The Right represents an agglomeration of political, cultural and demographic factions that are losing power and shrinking in size. Instead, the crucial battles will be fought on the Left. The dominant center-left that is now consolidating its position is a liberal Left that espouses liberal internationalism, universalism, humanism and human rights imperialism, and expresses itself in the form of the therapeutic-managerial-welfare state. However, there is an emerging radical Left that is oriented towards pluralism, postmodernism, cultural relativism, pro-Third Worldism and anti-Zionism. Eventually, there will be a sharp split between these two lefts, as the former is capable of cooptation by state-capitalism, but the latter is not. Take a look at these photos:
Can a radical Left that is fervently anti-Israel and pro-Third World nationalism ever be reconciled with the American ruling class? It is highly unlikely. Furthermore, the spectacle of conservative Muslims, feminists, gays, transgendereds, Marxists, anarchists, leftists, nationalists, national-anarchists, Jews, anti-Semites, racialists, anti-racists, peaceniks and Hamas sympathizers marching against Zionism and U.S. imperialism is not only a potential ruling class nightmare, but a manifestation of the kind of pluralistic, culturally relativist, cross-ideological alliances against the System that I have been arguing for in the past.
The legitimizing ideological superstructure of the present regime and ruling class, i.e., liberalism, is antithetical to both paleoconservatism from the Right and cultural relativism from the Left, but there is sufficient enough overlap between these latter two as to make strategic alliances possible. We see the beginnings of this in the current alliance between bioregionalist and Green decentralist left-wing secessionists and conservative Christian right-wing secessionists. As left-liberalism continues to become an increasingly status quo and upper middle class ideology, the radical Left will find itself increasingly alienated from liberalism. The more deeply entrenched political correctness becomes, the more it will alienate even many of its former sympathizers.
The real political war of the future will be between not only the liberal-left and the postmodern left, but between the totalitarian and anarchistic left, and the New Class and the underclass. Just as the U.S. Civil War sometimes found members of the same family on different sides of the fence, so will the future political war find members of constituent groups from the contemporary Right and contemporary Left on both sides. If the battle is between liberal universalism and relativist pluralism at the intellectual level, then the natural political expression of the latter would be some kind of decentralized anarcho-pluralism, with its popular form resembling something like left-conservatism or pan-secessionism.
Although most of the actual secessionist movements at present are rooted in the red states or the more maverick blue states like Vermont and New Hampshire, a serious pan-secessionist movement will need to be first and foremost oriented towards the large metropolitan areas. This is where the majority of the U.S. population resides. It is where the plutocratic elites, state bureaucracies and New Class managerialists are located, and it is also where the lumpenproletarian masses are located. The large cities are where the paramilitary police forces are located and they are where most of the residents of the prison-industrial complex originate from.
The goal of a serious pan-secessionist movement whose aim is to overthrow the empire for real should be to obtain political preeminence in large cities as a first order of business. Cities tend to be dominated by the aforementioned plutocratic elites, and by landlords, developers, and well-heeled civic and business interests. These elements are for the most part bought into the System, and can therefore never be converted to our side. So strategically speaking, an urban secessionist strategy will generally have the flavor of plutocratic/bureaucratic elites vs Everyone Else. Recognition of this fact implies the necessity of a class-based radical movement rooted in the lumpenproletariat, petite bourgeoisie, lower respectable poor, lower middle class, bohemians and de classe elements. The goal is to obtain a political majority capable of seizing power at the municipal level in large metro areas. Once political preeminence was obtained in a fair number of cities, a formal alliance of municipal secessionist movements could be formed, and these could form a wider alliance with secessionists among the Red Staters, Greens, indigenous people and so forth. In “Liberty and Populism” I wrote:
We need to abandon the bourgeoise identity politics that have grown out of the new left. The legacy of this has been to create a constituency for the left-wing of capital among elite members of traditional minority groups including educated professionals among blacks, feminists and homosexuals, middle-class ecology enthusiasts and animal-lovers and so on. The best approach here would be to attempt to pull the rank-and-file elements of the traditional minorities out from under their bourgeoise leadership. This means that anarchist revolutionaries such as ourselves would need to seek out common ground with nationalist and separatist elements among the non-white ethnic groups against the black bourgeoise of the NAACP, poor and working class women against the upper-middle class feminist groups like NOW and the gay counter-culture (complete with its transsexual, hermaphrodite and “transgendered” elements) against the more establishment-friendly gay middle-class.
Indeed, we have not even begun to touch on the possibilities for building a radical movement rooted in part in marginalized social groups ignored, despised or persecuted by the establishment. These elements include the handicapped, the mentally ill, students, youth, prostitutes and other sex workers, prisoners, prisoner’s rights activists, advocates for the rights of the criminally accused, the homeless and homeless activists, anti-police activists, advocates of alternative medicine, drug users, the families of drug war prisoners, immigrants, lumpen economic elements (jitney cab drivers, peddlers, street vendors), gang members and many others too numerous to name. On these and other similar issues, our positions should be to the left of the ACLU. Adopting this approach will bring with it the opportunity to politically penetrate the rather large lumpenproletarian class that exists in the US with little or no political representation. At the same time, the last thing we should wish to do is emulate the mistakes of the new left by adopting an ideology of victimology and positioning ourselves as antagonists of the broader working masses. Nothing could be more self-defeating. The defense of marginal populations way beyond any efforts in this area offered by the left establishment should be part of our program, but only part. Our main focus should be on the working class itself, the kinds of folks who work in the vast array of service industries that comprise the bulk of the US economy.
There are several reasons for these positions. The first is rooted in recognition that as the Left has abandoned class-based politics in favor of the cultural politics of the left-wing of the upper middle class, it is only natural that we should step in to fill the void. The second is rooted in recognition of a wide assortment of outgroups that have never made it into the Left’s pantheon of the oppressed/victimological coalition, and the possibility of recruiting from these groups in order to increase our own numbers. The third is to undermine liberalism’s claimed monopoly on do-gooderism. A pan-secessionist movement that is seen as the simultaneous champion of the ordinary working poor and the marginalized and persecuted such as the homeless, punk rock squatter kids, mental patients, drug addicts, prisoners, et.al. will have a much easier time of deflecting the “fascism and racism” labels that will ultimately be thrown in our direction. The fourth is to undermine liberalism by splintering its constituent groups.
Note that I am not implying anything politically correct here. For instance, while we might uphold the legitimate rights of gay organizations, businesses or individuals that come under attack by the state, and practice non-discrimination within the context of our own alternative infrastructure radical organizations, this does not mean that we will allow “gay rights” organizations allied with the liberal enemy to dictate who can or cannot be a part of our own movement. Being a primarily lower class movement, it is only natural that many people with conservative views on sex, morality, religion and the like will also be included within our ranks. Likewise, we may support organizational efforts set up to provide genuine assistance to transgendered people (even the Iranians do this), drug addicts, the handicapped, people with AIDS or other special populations, but we do not insist on the universalization of liberalism. For instance, we might also be just as supportive of skinhead squatters as leftist punk rock squatters, national-anarchists as leftist-anarchists, separatist tendencies among redneck white communities along with black separatists. More broadly, the radical movement would vehemently defend all victims of political correctness wherever they can be found just as strongly as we might defend victims of police brutality. We would defend students harassed by school authorities for carrying Bibles or other religious artifacts just as quickly as we would defend students harassed in a similar fashion for wearing “Goth” clothing. While in urban areas at least, we would take an liberal-left-libertarian, ACLU-like approach to cultural and social matters, with some exceptions like our own defense of the right to bear arms, unlike left-liberals we would recognize that controversial social questions like abortion and gay marriage are best handled at the local level according to community standards. While our own worker, tenants, squatter, and prisoner defense organizations would out of necessity be inclusive of both natives and immigrants, even illegal immigrants in some instances, this does not mean we would necessarily accept carte blanche immigration as a matter of principle.
The question of race is a particularly interesting and challenging one. African-American anarchist Mark Gillespie offered this assessment:
Whether you are a homo-leftist-anarcho-syndicalist-voluntary-eco-feminist or a racist-ultra right-wing-neo-conservative-constitutionalist-patriot, both agree that the State, in its current form, is detrimental to their views and lifestyles. In this “society”, these groups are kept from uniting by the activity of the state and its media. However, we know that in anarchy, diversity of views is a strength, not a weakness. We have allowed the State to divide us based upon the most trivial things.
The fact is that, under anarchy, all of these different groups may “have it their way”. If the an-caps want a completely free market economy for themselves and the an-socs want to combine in communes, they can do this better under anarchy than they can now. If the Homo-an-syn-fem (hell of a moniker, yes?) wants to separate from the Neo-con-con-pat or vice versa, they can and do it more peaceably than they can under statism. This is the best weapon of an anarchist vanguard. We can and should embrace the different elements that make up this country. Think about this. If we can embrace just two major groups under the anarchist banner, we could send the statists home, without a shot. The major ethnic groups in this country are the New Worlders (Aboriginal Americans, Blacks and Spanish/Aboriginals) and the Old Worlders (people of mostly European descent). These groups are kept at each other’s throats and socially separated by negative media reports and by institutionalized racism. Reports of rampant crime, lack of morals and mob violence send shivers down the spines of the average, patriotic, “law-abiding”, traditionalist citizens, amongst the Old Worlders. Historic wrongs, appeals to end needed restorative services in the community and a envy for those who seem to do better than them, keeps New Worlders in the grip of a fear that the statists work hard to instill. Neither one of these groups are necessarily wrong, but, their fears and hatred, spread and protected by the weapons of the state, virtually ensures that these two major groups will meet together, only when they are pointing guns at each other.
The New Worlders make up a combined 25.7 percent of the nation’s population (approximately 72 million people). Let’s assume that the mostly Old Worlder patriot movement makes up about 3 percent of the white population (approximately 6.5 million). With these numbers, and a properly educated and motivated anarchist vanguard, there are at least 32 different states that are immediately vulnerable to a takeover and disbanding of the state government (based upon a population of less than 5 million/state) and any state in the union is vulnerable to a gradual takeover.
Something like 32 states and maybe 50 major cities sounds about right. I’m also inclined towards the view that an anti-state, pan-secessionist revolutionary movement would actually have a disproportionately high number of racial and ethnic minorities. Of course, even this would not stop our enemies from throwing the “racist and fascist” label in our direction. Of course, the proper response to such accusations would not be persistent denial and attempts at clarification but a simple middle finger. But while we should not treat the politically correct classes with anything but contempt, it does seem natural that a pan-secessionist alliance would indeed include many ethnic sub-tendencies, for instance, blacks in inner-cities, indigenous people in Hawaii, Alaska, the western plains or on reservations, Puerto Ricans independencias, Muslim or Arab enclaves in Michigan, Hasidic, Asian neighborhoods in large cities, or Indian Quebecois separatists, majority Aztlan local communities in the Southwest, and perhaps even revolutionary organizations within Mexico itself. Indeed, the pan-secessionist revolutionary organizations might even form tactical alliances with insurgent forces in Central and South American countries or in the Middle East such as Hezbollah or the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. After all, it is the empire that is our common enemy. None of this is inconsistent with our insistence on the sovereignty of nations against imperialism, communities against statism, and individuals within the context of freedom of association.
An urban, lumpenproletarian revolutionary movement would be unlike anything that has come before. It would be socially conscious out of the recognition of the economic circumstances of the lower classes and the social conditions of a wide array of marginal population groups. Yet it would shun the political correctness of the liberal upper-middle class and cultural and intellectual elites, and no doubt have a conservative and libertarian as well as progressive dimension to its character.
A recent exchange at Taki’s Magazine between two of my favorite writers, Justin Raimondo and Paul Gottfried, prompted me to consider ways in which the thought of anarcho-libertarians and traditional conservatives might be reconciled or at least overlap. For many years, I was involved in the left-wing anarchist milieu, and I still consider Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Chomsky, Goodman, Bookchin, et.al. to be among my primary influences. Yet over time, I developed a strong appreciation for writers and thinkers of the traditional and not-so-traditional Right as well, including Rothbard, Mencken, Nisbet, Kirk, Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Pareto, Junger, De Benoist and others. I’ve also come to strongly admire the American populist tradition beginning with Jefferson and extending through contemporary paleocons and alternative Rightists. Consequently, my ideological leanings have come to be an eccentric “left-anarcho-libertarian, populist-nationalist, decentralist-pluralism.” Odd? Perhaps, though I suspect the fact that Kropotkin’s daughter Alexandra was a Goldwater Republican indicates more continuity than radical departure within the context of her family’s ideological heritage.
Because the source of the disagreement between Gottfried and Raimondo was an earlier piece by Jared Taylor, and because the majority of the persons within the left-anarchist milieu from whence I came are known for their hysterical “anti-racism,” I should probably note that while I agreed in part with Raimondo’s criticisms of Taylor, I also recognize Taylor as someone who dares to ask provocative questions that ought to be given a fair hearing, but are forbidden by the self-appointed censors of political correctness. Surely, libertarians can do better than that. Furthermore, Taylor has publicly advocated only two policies: complete freedom of association in racial, ethnic, religious and cultural matters; and a moratorium on Third World immigration. Contrary to what many of my anarchist compatriots, themselves in the grip of political correctness, would have us believe, neither of Taylor’s proposals are in violation of traditional anarchist articles of faith. In fact, the Webster’s dictionary defines anarchism in part as “advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.” Historically, anarchists have opposed the monopolization of power, wealth, land and resources by states or by state-connected plutocratic elites, and have argued for self-managed communities and a wider dispersion of ownership. But ownership implies the right of exclusion. Whether one is a leftist-syndicalist-communitarian anarchist or a rightist-proprietarian anarchist, it certainly does not follow that either collectively owned communes or associations of private property owners are obligated to admit all comers, regardless of beliefs, behavior, or individual contributions. Consequently, immigrants do not have any “right” to immigrate into the communities or proprietary associations of others, and while public areas (streets, lands, amenities) might consitute a kind of commons where individual citizens (such as street vendors or skateboarders) should not be arbitrarily excluded for the gratification of others, it does not follow that those from elsewhere have a “right” to enter or squat on such properties.
But what is even more interesting is Gottfried’s dissection of Raimondo’s Rothbardian “anarcho-capitalist” ideology. Says Gottfried:
The real source of Justin’s outrage lies in the contradiction between his ideology and Jared’s emphasis on cultural and biological specificity. The world as conceived by Justin is a collection of self-determining individuals, who should be free to work out their social and economic affairs, providing they do no physical harm to anyone else. In this ideal society, all humans, at least adults, however one defines them chronologically, will be free to develop themselves on the basis of their feelings and self-interests. Personally I couldn’t imagine how such a chimerical society could come into existence, let alone sustain itself, except in the minds of libertarian intellectuals or on a very provisional basis among likeminded ideologues. Such ideas are the modern counterparts of nineteenth-century utopian communities, all of which were attempts to restore a natural human condition that as far as I can tell never existed.
Historically, there have been more anarchist communities than many recognize, and while it is true some of these have lasted only for a few decades, or even a few years, others, such as the Icelandic Commonwealth and Gaelic Ireland, have lasted longer than the United States has been in existence.
Without authority structures, whether created by traditional hierarchies or by the modern managerial state, human beings have never lived together for any length of time. This generalization would apply to, among other societies, early America, which was a stratified and family-focused place.
I would dissent from the claim that political libertarianism necessarily implies either a radically egalitarian society or some kind of alteration of human nature from what it is at present. Certainly that is not the case for someone like myself, whose views on political science and social science are heavily influenced by the likes of Lawrence Dennis and James Burnham. Indeed, some of the most essential insights of elite theory like Michels‘ “iron law of oligarchy” and Pareto‘s “80/20” principle tell us that human organizations of any size will be dominated by the few rather than the many, and with a natural ranking of persons in even the most liberal circumstances. These principles are no less true for, say, an anarcho-syndicalist labor federation or an anarcho-capitalist private defense agency than for a conventional business firm or university. Nor does libertarianism, even in its more anarchistic forms, imply doing away with non-state social institutions such as family, religion, community, education, commerce, charity, or professional, cultural, and fraternal associations. Indeed, the elimination or massive reduction of dependency on the state should actually serve to strengthen such institutions.
Our sharp difference of views is reflected in the divergent ways in which Justin and I define the American Old Right. From his perspective, that American Right, about which he wrote an entire book, featured radical individualists resisting societal pressures and state authority. On my reading the interwar Right stood for a small-town and predominantly Protestant America faced by bureaucratic centralization and the rise of the modern culture industry.
Is it really a case of either/or? Surely, it would not be wholly counterfactual to suggest that Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, H.L. Mencken, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Jay Nock, or Lawrence Dennis were indeed “radical individualists resisting societal pressures and state authority,” particularly Dennis, who was placed on trial for sedition by the sinister Roosevelt regime. However, there is certainly no denying that the American Right, whether in its “old” or “new” forms, has traditionally “stood for a small-town and predominantly Protestant America faced by bureaucratic centralization and the rise of the modern culture industry,” at least at the rank and file level.
Are libertarian-individualist anti-statism and rural, small-town, Protestant conservatism really all that incompatible? Not that I can tell. As one who wants to see government stripped down to the level of city-states, counties, communities, and neighborhoods, it would seem to me that some kind of libertarian-anarchism would potentially be the political salvation of the entire spectrum of the authentic political and cultural Right, whether cultural conservatives, moral traditionalists, religious fundamentalists, ethnic preservationists, immigration restrictionists, family advocates, racial separatists, property owners, firearms owners, homeschoolers, tax resisters or hard money advocates. It is these forces that are the most under attack by the centralized, managerial-therapeutic-multicultural-welfare state. Surely, the death of the state is at least the partial victory of social and cultural forces such as these. Surely, those most under attack by the heavy hand of totalitarian liberalism will have more to gain through the obtainment of sovereignty for their own communities and institutions than through the perpetual expansion of the state.
Now, to be honest, I would make the same argument to the Left as well. I have long believed that the ultimate settlement to the culture wars will have to be some kind of Peace of Augsburg rooted in pan-separatism. Surely, the blue counties could have all the single-payer health care, affirmative action, gun control, same-sex marriages, smoking bans, publicly subsidized transgender surgeries, institutionalized animal rights and wacky environmental laws they wished if only they did not have to share a political roof with those nasty, fascist conservatives, Nazi Republicans and Christian Talibanists! Traditionally, conservatives have argued for such principles as states’ rights, local sovereignty and community standards with regard to social and cultural matters. I agree with them. So it would seem that the demise of the state would essentially solve many of these conflicts, as the various sides would simply go their own way. To some degree, everyone would win, especially those who are most likely to suffer escalating attacks as political correctness becomes ever more deeply entrenched in state and state-connected institutions.
“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”
“With respect to libertarian eccentricity, the dream of an absolute private freedom is one of those visions that issue from between the gates of ivory; and the disorder that they would thrust upon society already is displayed in the moral disorder of their private affairs. Some present here will recall the article on libertarianism in National Review, a few years ago, by that mordant psychologist and sociologist Dr. Ernest van den Haag, who remarked that an unusually high proportion of professed libertarians are homosexuals. In politics as in private life, they demand what nature cannot afford.”
“Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you, but human history is not entirely summarized by the bold struggle for the “right” to poke your veiny ding-dong through disco-bathroom glory holes. Not every act is political. Some are just silly and ugly and stinky.”
For all of my adult life, I have been fascinated by the ideas of classical anarchism, classical liberalism and modern libertarianism, including the works of Jefferson, Paine, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rothbard, Hess, Szasz, Chomsky, Bookchin, and other such thinkers. For roughly the same amount of time, I have never failed to be completely underwhelmed by most of what I have found in organized anarchist, liberal or libertarian circles.
I became a radical roughly twenty-three years ago, after having been awakened to the nature of U.S. war crimes and state-sponsored genocide in places like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, East Timor, Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere. Early on, I noticed most of the other people in the anti-imperialist movement were Communists, left-wing Christians, and pro-state liberals. Maybe it was because I grew up among Birchers, Falwellites, Wallaceites, and Reaganites, but I never cared much for the Big Brother statism of the Left on domestic issues, however much I might have agreed on foreign policy. So, to make a long story short, I became an anarchist.
From the time that I first encountered the organized anarchist movement, I was a bit puzzled by the overwhelming obsession with “racism” to be found in those circles. It might have made sense if anarchists were predominantly blacks or Hispanics or Asians, but, then as now, probably ninety-eight percent of anarchists were white, at least in North America. I personally helped found two separate anarchist student groups at one point. How many “people of color” did we ever attract? I recall two. One was a young black woman with an upper middle class background whose father was a colonel in the U.S. military. Another was an immigrant from Sri Lanka from the northern Virginia suburbs. For several years, I was the local representative of the anarcho-syndicalist labor union Industrial Workers of the World. I attended several national events of the IWW. How many non-whites did I ever meet? I recall one, a black middle class schoolteacher from Brooklyn. I was on the national committee of the U.S. section of the International Workers Association (which also includes the CNT of Spanish Civil War fame). How many non-whites did I ever meet? Two, both of them Cuban exiles. I was at the founding conference of the old “Love and Rage” anarcho-communist faction. How many people of color? Two blacks, an Caribbean immigrant and a gay ex-Trotskyist who had recently converted to anarchism. I attended two separate continental anarchist gatherings in the late 1980s, both of them attended by several thousand people, mostly countercultural youth, but very few non-whites. This pattern has continued ever since.
While organized left-anarchism (and its “free market” variation of “left-libertarianism”) might have a grossly disproportionately low number of racial minorities, one thing that also becomes immediately apparent in such circles in the grossly disproportionately high number of “sexual minorities,” e.g., gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendereds, transvestites, transsexuals, and butch-women, along with the occasional hetero female feminist. And this is the likely explanation for the rather pronounced hostility to myself found in many left-anarchist and left-libertarian circles.
The ironic thing is that those who attack me the most fervently are those whom I agree with most of the time. I’ve taken Theodore Adorno’s “F Scale” test and come up with the rating of “liberal airhead.” I’ve taken this “political compass” test and come up as a “left libertarian.” So if my critics are to be believed, I’m a liberal airhead-left libertarian-neo fascist. Oh, well, so be it.
I admit that I am often baffled though amused by the rantings of my political enemies. I have tried to figure out where the “fascist” label assigned to me originates from. Am I an advocate of totalitarian government? No, I am a loud critic of the state. Am I an advocate of a Mussolini-like corporatist economy? No, I’m the author of a prize-winning essay attacking such things. Am I an apologist for imperialist war? No, I am an outspoken opponent of the U.S. empire. Do I favor a police state? No, my published writings are filled with denunciations of the state, the law, the cops, the prison system, the war on drugs, and victimless crime laws, even to the point of advocating virtual insurrection against such things. Do I support jingoistic nationalism? No, I’m right alongside Noam Chomsky in my “anti-American” sentiments.
Am I an apologist for Hitlerism or Nazism? No, I’ve attacked Nazism repeatedly. Do I promote theocratic fundamentalist Christianity? No, I am an atheist. Am I a social conservative? No, I support legalized abortion, euthanasia, drug decriminalization, abolition of laws prohibiting consensual adult sex, and repealing vice laws. Do I lack concern for the oppressed, disadvantaged or downtrodden? No, I’ve written, spoken and even appeared on television upholding the rights of the homeless, the disabled, the sick and diseased, runaway teenagers, students, prisoners, psychiatric inmates, prostitutes, drug addicts, and others whom many people don’t give two shits about. I have written repeatedly in favor of forming non-state defense organizations for these kinds of marginal populations. I favor abolition of compulsory school attendance laws. I am opposed to the drinking age. I am opposed to state-licensed or state-regulated marriage. Am I some sort of reactionary “family values” conservative, moral traditionalist? No, for years I worked for a Greek family that owned a collection of strips joints and all-night bars and many of my female friends are strippers, hookers, lesbians and biker chicks. For all of my life since about age sixteen, I’ve been associated with marginal subcultures: one percenter motorcycle clubs, hippies, anarchists, rock ‘n’ rollers, gutter punks, ex-cons. I am for the abolition of the prison system. I am opposed to capital punishment. I would put more restrictions on the power of the police than ACLU would. I am opposed to statutory rape laws. I am for upholding the right of unconventional religions to practice unmolested by the state, for instance, Mormon sects that practice polygamy or sequestered cults whose members can be subjected to abduction and forcible “deprogramming” by others. I am for the right to practice alternative medicine. I’m even skeptical of laws requiring driver’s licenses. Unlike the left-wing “civil libertarians” who think the proper response to the police state is to file lawsuits, I am for forming civilian militias for the purpose of chasing the PIGS away. Hell, I’ve even defended street gangs on the basis of freedom of association and more broadly as a form of class-based insurgency. Indeed, my views on most social issues are well to the left of the Democratic Party, often to the left of the Green Party.
Am I an anti-Semite? I’m very critical of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and I generally agree with the analysis of this question advanced by Mearsheimer and Walt and by James Petras. I generally think that American Jews who favor Israel’s interests over keeping the U.S. out of foreign wars should simply put their money where their mouth is and go live in Israel, take their right-wing Christian Zionist cohorts with them and leave the rest of us alone. I suppose some would say this makes me an anti-Semite. Certainly Norman Podhoretz would think so. However, probably fifty percent of my primary intellectual influences have been Jews. These include Thomas Szasz, Noam Chomsky, Murray Rothbard, Murray Bookchin, Milton Friedman, David Friedman, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Sam Dolgoff, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Friedrich von Hayek, Paul Goodman, Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, Paul Gottfried, and Norman Mailer. So there would seem to be some problems with the “anti-Semite” label. With regards to Israel, do I care that Israel exists? Of course not, just as I do not mind that China or Japan exist, though I am quite strongly in favor of Palestinian independence, just as I am in favor of independence for the Tibetans. What I do oppose is the hijacking of American foreign policy by the Israel Lobby. I think the arguments of those who claim that severance of the U.S.-Israel relationship would result in genocide of the Israelis at the hands of the Arabs are absurd. If anyone in the Middle East is likely to be genocide victims, it is the Palestinians. But assuming such an argument has merit, I’d say, okay, fine, then we can simply establish a West Israel in one of the New York City boroughs, or in West Palm Beach, or in Hollywood and be done with it.
Am opposed to black people? Like most white Americans, I’m mostly indifferent to blacks. I live in a majority black city, with a black dominated municipal government, and I’ve done so for twenty-two years. I guess if I thought blacks were that awful, I would have relocated to whiter pastures by now. I’ve had plenty of blacks among my co-workers, fellow students, business associates, and neighbors. I even had a couple of black roommates when I was in my twenties. I can’t say that on average I’ve regarded them any higher or any lower than my white associates in the same situations. Hell, of all the women I’ve had, I’d say about a third of them were something other than white (Indian, Asian, black, Hispanic, American Indian, Arabic-the whole fucking Crayola box). Fuck, one of my grandmothers is Cherokee, for god’s sake. So there would seem to be some problems with the “racist” label being applied to myself as well. Politically, I have advocated reparations to blacks for the purpose of economic development of politically sovereign black homelands in North America, the creation of independent black municipalities in sections of large cities and metro areas where blacks are dominant, and legal amnesty for most black prisoners (and most other prisoners, for that matter). These are essentially the same positions as the Nation of Islam, Republic of New Afrika, and the People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement. What I do oppose are efforts to abridge freedom of association, micromanage race relations by the state, or create a new racial caste system based victimological ideology in the name of compulsory integrationism.
A favorite cause of many contemporary left-anarchists and left-libertarians is pro-immigration. Virtually every website, zine, or blog of this type is littered with pro-immigration propaganda. I happen to think this is an issue reasonable and honest anti-statists can disagree on, as it involves population transfers among states, and it is states that create the conditions under which population migration occurs. The reasonable pro-immigration position might be something like that articulated by Craig Biddle:
“Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration. Nor does it mean that anyone who immigrates to America should be eligible for U.S. citizenship—the proper requirements of which are a separate matter. Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America—providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases. Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.”
Indeed, Rasmussen research has shown some interesting results concerning immigration:
Sixty-six percent (66%) of likely voters nationwide say it is Very Important for the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 32% of America’s Political Class agrees.
An even more dramatic gap appears on the question of legalizing the status of those immigrants now in the country illegally. Voters nationwide are evenly divided on the question of whether it is even somewhat important: 48% say it’s important, and 45% say it’s not.
However, among the Political Class, 74% say legalizing the status of these residents is important, and only 17% disagree.
So it seems that we have the interesting spectacle of anarchists aligning themselves with the political class against “the people” when it comes to immigration. It is not that “the people” are overcome with xenophobia and racist “hate.” As the Rasmussen study points out:
One major misunderstanding has clouded the debate over immigration. Most pundits assume that those angry about the issue are angry at the immigrants. In fact, data shows that the anger is directed primarily at the federal government. Rather than being angry at immigrants, 56% continue to favor a welcoming immigration policy that would let anybody move to the United States except national security threats, criminals and those looking to live off the U.S. welfare system.
So it would appear that the majority of Americans take a rather magnanimous, tolerant view of immigrants. I would argue that the mass immigration problem that we currently have in the Western nations is the fault of perverse incentives created by our own ruling classes, who are addicted to easily exploitable Third World immigrant labor, and who use liberal-multiculturalist ideology as a smokescreen, and whose class of court intellectuals, liberal academicians and media hacks generate propaganda for such on their behalf.
I would probably take a position not dissimilar to Biddle’s, with the qualifications that “antidiscrimination” (prohibition of freedom of association) legislation be repealed, that immigrants be ineligible for state entitlement programs and tax-payer funded services, that employers be prohibited from using immigrants as scab labor, that employer use of illegal immigrant labor be barred, that immigrants convicted of serious crimes (like rape, robbery and murder, not drug possession or vending without a license) be deported, and that naturalization policy be decentralized according to local community standards. These measures, combined with large-scale efforts to create alternative economic institutions operating independently of the capitalist class which demands immigrant labor and, if necessary, the formation of volunteer citizen militia to better safeguard border areas would likely reduce immigration to manageable levels. I am actually quite wary of the proposals by some to create a “war on drugs” or “war on terrorism” police state crusade against illegal immigration. Nor do I “hate” or personally resent the masses of Latin American immigrants into the United States or Islamic immigrants into Europe. In a purely legal sense, I don’t think illegal immigrants should be dealt with any more harshly than ordinary trespassers, shoplifters, traffic offenders, or vagrants camped out on someone else’s property. My priority political issue is to oppose U.S. imperialist aggression against other societies where many of the Left’s much beloved “people of color” actually live. But just because I do not wish to see people in other lands slaughtered does not mean I wish for Western civilization to commit economic, political and cultural suicide, just as my opposition to the statist persecution of homeless drug addicts does not mean I’m going to invite them all to move in with me, either. As Murray Rothbard said: “It’s the only civilization we’ve got.”
Yet the propaganda of pro-immigration leftists-anarchists-libertarians would have us all believe that opening the borders to any terrorist, criminal or welfare colonist who wants to jump a fence somewhere would be just fine. Why bother screening for communicable diseases immigrants from countries where public health standards are just about zero? What’s the big deal about tuberculosis, anyway? Why not allow a few hundred million Asian, African, Latin American or Eastern European immigrants to come on over and sign up for public assistance? Why not allow foreign states to empty their prisons of violent criminals and send them to America as Fidel Castro did during the boatlift of 1980? If al-Qaeda wants to open a branch office on Main Street, USA, then who are the rest of us to say otherwise?
What is odd is that the anarchist and libertarian groups who push such ideas are almost all white. Check out a group photograph of any anarchist sect and you will rarely find a “person of color.” So what is the source of the extreme “anti-racism” hysteria and equally over-the-top “immigrants’ rights” perspectives held by many of these people? Perhaps they are simply regurgitating what they have picked up from the media, the entertainment industry, their public school teachers and university professors, or their ex-hippie parents. Perhaps they come from right-wing subcultures, and such views are a means of giving the finger to their Christian fundamentalist, redneck racist or bourgeoisie Republican parents? Clearly, there is no issue of self-interest involved. Or is there?
So what of the homosexuals? When I was about fourteen, I was in a fundamentalist church, and I heard a hysterical Jim Jones-like preacher advocating the death penalty for “sodomites,” saying something to the effect that “if Jack and Fred want to make out on a street corner, then we should fry Jack and Fred.” I recall being baffled by the intensity of this fellow’s rhetoric and emotions. Then as now, I really couldn’t give a good goddamn if two queers want to poke each other in the anus or not, just as I don’t care if some hetero dude wants his girlfriend to shove a strap-on up his fucking rectum. For that matter, I don’t particularly care if others wish to engage in S&M or coprophilia or just about any other sort of sexual freakiness they prefer. In fact, as one who grew up among the so-called “religious right,” including some of its more extreme branches, like the Christian Reconstructionists and the Bob Jones people, I could never really understand what the point behind all the hooey about “the homo-sex-shuals” really was. When I was in my mid-teens, there were two gay guys who bought the house next door to my parents. I don’t recall that it was any kind of issue. My first real exposure to homosexuals was in a state correctional facility when I was in my late teens. While I didn’t exactly go out of my way to befriend them, I thought they were basically harmless. When I was in my early twenties, one of the guys who lived on my floor during college was a stereotypical “flaming gay” and I had no problem with him. Since then, I’ve had plenty of gay co-workers, neighbors, a gay professor, and other such associates, and I’ve never had any problem with them. As mentioned, the many leftist, liberal, libertarian and anarchist political groups I’ve been associated with over the years have included many homosexuals, and I’ve never had any problem with that. A few years ago, there was an openly gay anarchist who lived at a nearby commune who was an occasional guest at my residence.
So what is the source of the problem? I used to think it was ridiculous when members of the religious right and other social conservatives accused the gay rights movement of demanding “special rights.” Having taken a harder look at the “gay rights” phenomenon, I’ve more or less changed my opinion. Among those who have attacked me the most fervently as a “fascist,” those who can be personally identified are, with few exceptions, gay militants of one type or another. This has been true in my local community, on the internet, and in hate mail that I have received.
What is it that I do or say that is so offensive to gay militants? Have I called for the reinstatement of sodomy laws, or for vigilante violence against homosexuals, or for the closing of gay-oriented clubs or businesses? Have I called for severe social or economic discrimination against gays? Have I even criticized homosexuality as a lifestyle or practice? I’ve done nothing of the sort. Have I belittled the cultural or intellectual achievements of homosexuals? No, I haven’t. For instance, I’ve gone out of my way to promote the work of Justin Raimondo, not because Raimondo is gay (who cares?), but because Raimondo is one of the very best critics of U.S. imperialism to be found. One of the very best critics of the police state is Glenn Greenwald, a gay man. One of my favorite political writers is Gore Vidal, who is a homosexual. Have I called for the legal prohibition of transgender surgery as some reactionary conservatives have done? No, I haven’t. Would I care if gays could legally marry? No, though I don’t think the state should be involved in marriage in any capacity. I am not even carte blanche opposed to the adoption of children by same-sex couples, though I think the preference should be for hetero couples, all other variables being equal.
The source of the hostility seems to come down to two things: My advocacy of political decentralization ordered on the principal of individual liberty, freedom of association, private property and community sovereignty, and my advocacy of political alliances against statism, state-capitalism, and imperialism that transcend cultural boundaries and divisive social issues and, yes, alliances that might sometimes include people who disagree with homosexuality for religious, cultural, moral or philosophical reasons.
As a big tent, pluralistic anarchist, I would favor the proliferation of a wide assortment of lifestyles and communities in a libertarian system. For instance, on the economic issues that divide libertarians, I would advocate a plurality of economic arrangements. I would say there can be competing systems of property rights, perhaps determined on a geographical basis, of the kind Kevin Carson has suggested, reflecting Lockean, Georgist, or Proudhonian systems of property. There can be anarcho-capitalist private defense agencies, anarcho-communist kibbutzes, anarcho-syndicalist workers’ councils, mutual banks, geoist land trusts, and all the other kinds of economic institutions different kinds of libertarians favor. When it comes to issues that libertarians differ on, there are many. These include capital punishment, abortion, immigration, environmentalism, animal rights, childrens’ rights, property theory, theories of criminal punishment and many others. I’d say let these be determined according to community standards at the local level. There can be agrarian or primitivist colonies where modern technology or even industrial civilization of any kind is banned. There can be separatist enclaves for feminists, homosexuals or “people of color,” where men, heteros or whiteys are forbidden. There can be anarcho-puritan communes that bar guns, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, porn, S&M, prostitution, religion or meat-eating. On the other hand, there can be hedonist associations, modeled on places like the Red Light Districts of Amsterdam and Frankfurt (where I’ve visited numerous times) where virtually anything goes.
Of course, I’ve applied the same principles to the cultural right as well as the cultural left, and this is where the real source of the conflict between myself and others in the anarchist milieu begins. Hans Hermann Hoppe has gained much criticism for statements like this:
“…the anarchistic upshot of the libertarian doctrine appealed to the countercultural left. For did not the illegitimacy of the state…imply that everyone was at liberty to choose his very own nonaggressive lifestyle? Did this not imply that vulgarity, obscenity, profanity, drug use, promiscuity, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, polygamy, pedophilia or any other conceivable perversity or abnormality, insofar as they were victimless crimes, were no offenses at all but perfectly normal and legitimate activities and lifestyles?”
“the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism-will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”
“Say what you will in support of this statement – it is stark, it is well written, it is radical, it gives a well deserved intellectual kick to the teeth to some groups who richly deserve it — it is still exceedingly difficult to reconcile it with libertarianism. For, in the free society, there will always be the likelihood that different groups will tend to amalgamate in certain geographical areas, and even have restrictive covenants that enforce just requirements, and limitations on free speech. In places like parts of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, for example, there is little doubt that such sentiments will be the order of the day. But there will likely be other areas of the country, for example, the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Mass, Greenwich Village in New York City, heck, the entire Big Apple for that matter, where pretty much the opposite outlook will legally prevail. That is, in these latter places, positive mention of free enterprise, capitalism, profits, etc., will be severely punished by law. Why libertarianism should be equated with the former views and not the latter is a mystery. Surely, the libertarian philosophy would support the rights of both groups to act in such manners. As for homosexuality, it is entirely possible that some areas of the country, parts of Gotham and San Francisco for example, will require this practice, and ban, entirely, heterosexuality. If this is done through contract, private property rights, restrictive covenants, it will be entirely compatible with the libertarian legal code.”
I would go still further than Block, and advocate entirely separate homelands for those with irreconcilable political differences, for instance, neo-nazis and their equally thuggish “antifa” opponents. As I’ve written before:
Leftists whose main issues are “racism, sexism and homophobia” could create their own homelands complete with a constitution that required that a majority of the seats in the highest body of the provincial government be given to people of color, feminists and homosexuals. There could be “anarchist” city-states organized on the basis of “consensus-based direct democracy” complete with marathon debates over “process” along with “communist” city-states ruled hierarchically by the “vanguard party”. Recall the dichotomy between demo/hedo/homo/art-fag Athens and commie/fascist Sparta. In the white separatist states, there could be sub-communities established for “Aryan” white nationalists and Jewish white nationalists (yes, there is such a thing). Their could be collections of towns and villages for the followers of “moderates” like Jared Taylor and Michael Levin on one hand and “extremists” like the Aryan Nations or the World Church of the Creator on the other. In the black separatist states, there could be sub-communities for Garveyites, adherents of Black Israel, Black Muslims, black separatist Christians and Marxists like the Republic of New Afrika.
Of course, I don’t think it’s generally necessary to take things to these kinds of extremes. For the most part, I think cultural differences can be handled the same way religious differences are presently handled. Different groups could simply have their own institutions. For instance, with regards to education, there might be Afro-centric schools, “traditional American” schools, Catholic schools, fundamentalist-evangelical schools, Hasidic schools, liberal-leftist-politically correct schools, libertarian-anarchistic Summerhill-type schools, “white supremacist” schools, Islamic schools, and, yes, even “homo-centric” schools.
I take it as a given that there will always be groups as well as individuals with irreconcilable political, ideological, cultural, religious, racial, ethnic, economic and other kinds of differences. One of the virtues of libertarian ideas like decentralization, freedom of association, a wide dispersement of economic resources and so forth it that these things allow such differences to be accommodated without bloodshed or oppression. For instance, just as some leftists might prefer a way of life that priorities homosexuality, feminism, “green-consciousness,” racial and ethnic integrationism, hedonism, communalism, therapeutism or vegetarianism, so might some other people prefer a way of life that prioritizes religious devotion, ethnic preservationism, social conservatism, cultural traditionalism, asceticism, racial separatism, racial, religious or cultural homogeneity, “morality,” “family values,” private property, hunting, meat-eating or tobacco farming. There is no reason why there needs to be a civil war between such factions, or that such factions even be under the same political roof. There can be separate schools, churches, cultural organizations, intermediary institutions, media outlets, non-state social services, economic enterprises, common law legal systems, defense organizations, neighborhoods or, if necessary, entirely separate towns, counties, cantons or provinces for such competing factions.
Seems fair enough to me. After all, freedom of choice and freedom of association are two-way streets. Just as some people may wish to live a homosexual or hedonistic lifestyles, others might wish to live a “racist” or religious lifestyle. But what I have come to call “homo-totalitarians” typically respond in one of two ways. Some are outright political totalitarians who wish for an all-powerful central government to eradicate the associational, religious, economic, privacy and property rights of others with antidiscrimination laws, direct subsidies to homosexual organizations, the use of gay marriage laws to require taxpayers to finance state-funded benefits for same-sex couples, granting homosexual pairs preferential consideration so far as the adoption of children is concerned, criminalizing speech that is critical of homosexuality, the use of tax-funded public schools for the dissemination of pro-gay propaganda under the guise of “sex education” and “teaching tolerance”, enacting hate crimes (thought crimes) laws granting homosexuals legal protection above and beyond that of ordinary crime victims and many other such privileges.
Still others argue less for political totalitarianism of this kind and instead prefer a censorious intellectual culture where dissent from PC orthodoxy on homosexuality is forbidden. We have seen previews of what this would look like in the phenomenon of “political correctness” that has infested certain sectors of society, particularly the academic world and the media. What this amounts too, at minimum, is reacting to those with un-PC views on “gay rights” with hysteria, shrillness, rudeness, slander, vilification, and threats.
Within the context of libertarianism, some have argued that those with un-PC views pertaining to homosexuality, “racism” and a few other things should be written out of the libertarian milieu so as to uphold some standard of cultural leftist purity. Isn’t this interesting? To demonstrate the lunacy of such a proposal, one only need to ask what might happen if other supposed “minority” groups engaged in such special pleading? Should Mormon libertarians demand that libertarians refrain from criticizing Mormon theological beliefs or practices of the Mormon church? Should drug-using libertarians demand that drug use be off-limits so far as disapproval or disagreement from other libertarians is concerned? Should vegetarian libertarians demand that other libertarians refrain from criticizing or ever expressing disapproval of vegetarianism? What if people with tattoos and body piercings asked for similar favoritism? But this is precisely what “homo-totalitarian” libertarians expect. Anyone who comes near the libertarian milieu who has perfectly fine libertarian credentials but who disagrees with homosexuality for whatever private reasons should not only be shunned but personally attacked, according to the logic of these folks. Now, homo-libertarians have every right to criticize the views of anti-homo-libertarians. Hell, I’ve even criticized them on occasion. For instance, if homo-libertarians want to go picket a lecture by an anti-homo-libertarian like Hans Hermann Hoppe, then of course they are well within their rights, just as conservative Christian libertarians are well within their rights to organize boycotts of Disneyland for holding “Gay Day” or whatever the fuck it is. Yet, this kind of thing would seem to me at least to go against the “live and let live” spirit of libertarianism, and it is utterly baffling to me at least that others would regard such matters as equally pressing or even more pressing with concerns like, oh, well, overthrowing an empire that has killed eight million people worldwide.
This hypersensitivity to criticisms of homosexuality found in many anarchist and libertarian circles helps, I think, to explain the otherwise inexplicable “anti-racism” hysteria and enthusiasm for the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism, not to mention the most ridiculous renditions of feminism, found among these people, virtually all of whom are white, overwhelmingly male, and mostly from middle class backgrounds. Anti-racism, anti-xenophobia and feminazism are simply surrogates for homosexualism. The wider “gay rights” movement has gone out of its way to attach itself to the legacy of the black civil rights movement. They do this because they know that most Americans recognize the treatment given to black Americans prior to civil rights was unfair, and thereby proclaim themselves to be a comparable victim group. Therefore, they promote the most extreme and lunatical forms of “anti-racism” and immigrationism, and loudly proclaim any kind differentiation of persons or groups along racial, ethnic, national or gender lines to be the ultimate in human evil, no matter what its purpose, and then subsequently proclaim themselves to the equivalent of an oppressed ethnic group deserving similar favoritism. Apparently, their rallying cry is to paraphrase Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the defense of sodomy is no vice.”
I’ve wondered why there is so much acrimony between myself and many of these left-anarchist people, given that I agree with them the vast majority of the time. Some of it is no doubt attributable to what Thomas Sowell has called a “conflict of visions.” This has to do with broader philosophical differences beyond preferred political systems, economic policies, particular laws, positions on single issues and so forth. It is a conflict that emerged during the Enlightenment and has endured ever since. Says Sowell:
The great evils of the world-war, poverty, and crime, for example-are seen in completely different terms by those with the constrained and unconstrained visions. If human options are not inherently constrained, then the presence of such repugnant and disastrous phenomena virtually cries out for explanation-and for solutions. But if the limitations and passions of man himself are at the heart of these painful phenomena, then what requires explanation are the ways in which they have been avoided or minimized. While believers in the unconstrained vision seek the special causes of war, poverty and crime, believers in the constrained vision seek the special causes of peace, wealth, or a law-abiding society. In the unconstrained vision, there are no intractable reasons for social evils and therefore no reason why they cannot be solved, with sufficient moral commitment. But in the constrained, whatever artifices or strategies restrain or ameliorate inherent human evils will themselves have costs, some in the form of other social ills created by these civilizing institutions, so all that is possible is a prudent trade-off.
Recognition of these facts can sometimes require that hard choices be made. For instance, the need to balance being kind and generous to immigrants with cultural, civilizational, political and economic survival. The need to establish political priorities that aim to minimize the greatest harms (like imperialist war, mass imprisonment of harmless people, and severe economic failure that will severely damage tens of millions) as a primary consideration, as opposed to focusing primarily on upholding to the letter the interests and preferences of marginal fringe groups, like “sexual minorities,” regardless of other considerations.
Some years ago I sat in on a conversation of university professors discussing the mystery of the “origins of racism.” But the origins of racism are no mystery. Conflict of this type has existed as long as there have been human beings. The mystery is those rare instances where peace between races has been achieved. On another occasion, a liberal associate was highly offended by my defense of a man who had been arrested for shooting and killing a criminal who had been burglarizing his home, and my associate was giving me the usual drivel about “the sanctity of human life” and “criminals are victims of socio-economic oppression,” as though the interests of the crime victim counted for nothing. I responded with a quote from Adam Smith: “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.” I once had a political science professor, a Princeton graduate, who said in all seriousness that the real issue in the gun control debate is whether “having a gun makes you feel safe” versus “knowing that someone else might have a gun makes you feel unsafe,” as though mere subjective emotions and states of mind are the real basis for public policy debates, irrespective of actual facts and tangible reality. Many years ago when I was in the Central America solidarity movement, I once criticized what I felt was the overuse of civil disobedience by antiwar protestors. To me, it seemed counterproductive to ritualistically sit down in the street and blockade traffic in a way that had zero effect on actual U.S. foreign policy, but resulted in hundreds of people being carted off to jail, and resources squandered on fines, bail, lawyer fees and court costs. I was told by a very intelligent man with a decades long history of involvement in such activities that the purpose of civil disobedience was to “make a personal statement” that one is taking a stand on this, that or the other thing. In other words, it was all about the individual protestor, not the actual cause itself.
If we see anarchism as a movement to oppose statism, capitalism, imperialism, aggressive war, and authoritarianism, and to uphold individual liberty, decentralism, voluntarism, federalism, mutual aid, cooperativism, syndicalism, communitarianism, pluralism, human scale, institutions, intellectual freedom, free inquiry, free speech, and freedom of association, then the attacks of my critics don’t really make sense. But if we see so-called “anarchism” as a movement of homosexuals seeking political, institutional and cultural privilege, while hiding behind the rhetoric of egalitarian-universalist-humanism, then such attacks begin to make a great deal of sense. To my enemies, I would respond by citing the immortal words of Jim Goad:
I don’t care about your precious personal lifestyle choices. I really don’t. And your entire dingbat philosophy, the whole tectonic plate upon which San Francisco rests, is based on the false presumption that people such as me are somehow upset about the manner in which you flap your genitals around. Egads.
It isn’t what you do, it’s the way you do it. Not the meat, but rather the motion. It’s not what you’re saying, it’s your lousy voice. It isn’t your private cock-slurping, it’s your public megaphone-mouth. It ain’t how you move beneath the sheets, it’s the way you wave the picket signs around. The problem isn’t your self-consciously “decadent” personal lifestyle, it’s your warped social instincts.
It has nothing to do with the widespread sidewalk displays of ass-rimming…or the women who look like Lou Costello…or even the concept of white people who hate the concept of white people… It’s the attitude.
As for the rest of us in the anarchist milieu, I say it’s time for a purge, if not an outright pogrom. Does the spectacle of a bunch of white college students crying about “racism, racism, racism” and pretending that they’re Black Panthers do anything to actually increase the number of Actually Existing People of Color in our ranks? It hasn’t yet after decades of trying. The typical convert to anarchism is an angry, young, white, male from an upper strata working class to upper middle class socio-economic background, one who possesses above average levels of intelligence and education, and an interest in history, philosophy, political science and related fields. Do we really attract more people into our ranks by having so many self-hating whites, bearded ladies, cock-ringed queers, or persons of one or another surgically altered “gender identity” in our midst? Is this really something the average rebellious young person wants to be associated with? Could we not actually attract more young rebels into our ranks if all of this stuff was absent? I believe we could. For instance, I’ve been amazed at how fast the “national-anarchist” movement has grown in the short amount of time it has been around. And it is largely due to the efforts of Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard to purge libertarianism of precisely this kind during the late 1980s and early 1990s of thing that eventually made possible the Ron Paul movement and the post-paleo movement that has followed it. Does the average young rebel really want to join an “anarchist” movement that is only going to tell him what a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic sinner he is? No, he can go to church or take university humanities courses for that.
As for the feminism thing, I suspect the absence of such “feminist” elements will actually increase the number of actual female participants in our ranks. In my experience, right-wing political groups and even fundamentalist churches tend to have at least as many women participants as left-wing groups, if not more. I mean, let’s be real. What confident, intelligent, secure, emotionally stable woman with a keen sense of individuality wants to join a movement of pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair? I really doubt that many of our stereotypical angry young male anarchists really, in their heart of hearts, want to belong to such a movement. I recall a conversation with a female friend of mine, a 23-year-old bisexual anthropology student. I was criticizing the “gay rights” movement as having no real message other than: “We suck cock, and we deserve merit badges for it.” Her response: “Yes, exactly. That’s a perfect description.” As for homosexuals, let them be evaluated according to what they actually contribute to our movement rather than simply for their status as homosexuals. We need the likes of Justin Raimondo or the late Alisdair Clarke. I’m not so sure we need some of these others.
So where do we go from here? I suggest that those of us who want to have a non-leftoidal anarchist movement simply go about building one, and ignore the personal attacks that will continue to be thrown our way. As Andrew Yeoman of Bay Area National Anarchists suggests:
My goals are (in no particular order) are consistent with a pragmatic libertarian anti-capitalist holistic ethnocentric worldview. This is why I advocate for 1) less government authority and the repealing of many laws, 2) greater autonomy for the self-determination of all peoples, and 3) believe it or not, greater cooperation between powerless political factions. With caveats I will work with people who I disagree with on most issues because the philosophy I live by is to organize with different but like minded tribes. This tenet is continuously emphasized by National Anarchists like Troy Southgate. Disagreeing with me on issues is fine, but you will never tell me or my tribe how we shall live our lives.
National Anarchism is a political tendency that allows different communities to form a political structure according to their own values. That’s it. That’s the solution to the irreconcilable differences between me and other anarchists, different lifestyles, religions, and even races that have historically had problems living together (above and beyond mere class conflict).
Before we can have an anarchist revolution, we need to have a revolution within anarchism itself. We need to convey the message to other radical tendencies and to the public at-large that anarchism as a political ideology is not simply some freak show that exists to provide group psychotherapy to a bunch of psychologically damaged personalities. In recent years, an “alternative Right” has developed in the U.S. consisting of paleoconservatives, paleolibertarians, post-paleos, anarcho-capitalists, “left-conservatives,” and Ron Paulistas. New tendencies within anarchism have also emerged like national-anarchism, tribal anarchism, and anarcho-pluralism. Out of all of these strands, perhaps we can build a new “revolutionary Right” that in essence becomes the “true left,” a new radicalism that eventually replaces PC leftoidism as the dominant outlook of radical youth, and then begins the process of becoming an actual popular movement to displace the dominance of liberalism in American society.
Imagine, for one horribly unpleasant moment, that the anarchist movement (movements?) in North America, in their present form, were to carry out an actual revolution. What kind of social or political system would be the result? The Wikipedia entry on anarchism in the United States lists a number of individuals who represent North American anarchism in different ways. These include Michael Albert (Chomskyite proponent of participatory economics-“parecon”), Ashanti Alston (black power anarchist), Hakim Bey (lifestyle anarchist), Bob Black (nihilist and reputed psychopath), Kevin Carson (Proudhonian mutualist), Noam Chomsky (Marxo-syndicalist-anarcho-social democrat), Peter Coyote (love generation), Howard Ehrlich (social anarchist), David Friedman (anarcho-capitalist), David Graeber (anarcho-anthropologist), Hans-Hermann Hoppe (anarcho-monarchist), Derrick Jensen (primitivist), Jeff Luers (eco-anarchist prisoner), Judith Malina (anarcho-pacifist actress), the late James J. Martin (individualist anarchist and Holocaust revisionist), Wendy McElroy (Rothbardian anarcho-feminist individualist), Jason McQuinn (post-left anarchist), Cindy Milstein (Bookchinite), Chuck Munson (anarchist without adjectives), Joe Peacott (individualist-anarchist), Sharon Presley (left-libertarian feminist), Keith Preston (agent of the forces of darkness), Lew Rockwell (Rothbardian paleolibertarian), Jeremy Sapienza (market anarchist), Crispin Sartwell (individualist-anarchist), Rebecca Solnit (environmentalist), Starhawk (neo-pagan eco-feminist), Warcry (eco-anarchist), Dana Ward (anarcho-archivist), David Watson (primitivist), Mike Webb (murder victim), Fred Woodworth (atheist anarchist), John Zerzan (primitivist) and Howard Zinn (New Left anarcho-Marxist).
This list does not even begin to mention all of the ideological tendencies to be found among anarchists, e.g., indigenist anarchism, anarcho-communism, national-anarchism, insurrectionary anarchism, Christian anarchism and many others. Even so, anarchists collectively probably do not comprise even one percent of the population at large. Imagine if the anarchist milieu were to grow to include tens of millions of people. Most likely all of these specific tendencies would grow exponentially, and some new ones no one has heard of yet would probably appear. How would anarchists go about organizing society if indeed anarchism were to become a mass movement and the state in its present form were to disappear. More specifically, how would we reconcile the differences between all of these different tendencies, and how would anarchists co-exist with persons of other belief systems? Unless we want to start sending people to re-education camps, or placing them in gulags, or engaging in summary or mass executions we had better start thinking some of this out.
There are really only three ways. One would be anarcho-totalitarianism, where whatever anarchist faction or group of factions that happens to have the most power simply represses their rivals, anarchists and non-anarchists alike. Another would be anarcho-mass democracy, where we have an anarchist parliament consisting of the Syndicalist Party, Primitivist Party, Libertarian Party, Ecology Party, Feminist Party, et.al., perhaps presided over by, say, Prime Minister Chuck Munson. While this might be an interesting situation, it ultimately wouldn’t be much different than the kinds of states we have today.
The only other alternative is the dispersion of power to local units. These could be localities where everything is completely privatized (Hoppe) or everything is completely collectivized (anarcho-communism), or some point in between. The specific anarchist tendencies these communities represented would be determined according to prevailing ideological currents at the local level. One contemporary anarchist observes:
The superficial story is that the primmies control the NW, the SW desert and the Appalachians, while the Reds control the entire NE block and have a mild advantage everywhere else.
So “after the revolution” the “primmies” would be dominant in their regions and the “Reds” in theirs, and presumably the Free Staters in theirs, and the queer anarchists in theirs, and so forth. It’s also interesting to observe how radically different the value systems and definitions of “freedom” employed by different kinds of anarchists are. One anarchist has noted that some anarchists wish to bar alcohol, drugs, tobacco, meat, porn, S&M and prostitution from their communities. This should go along way with those libertarian-libertine anarchists for whom anarchy is synonomous with all sorts of legalized vice. Then there’s the conflict between the ethno-preservationist national-anarchists and the anti-racist left-anarchists, and between the proprietarian anarchists and the communal anarchists. I’ve even come across an anarchist proponent of the draft. Of course, the different kinds of anarchists will insist that others are not true anarchists, but that’s beside the point. Each of the different anarchist factions consider themselves to be the true anarchists, and that’s not going to change.
The adherents of many of these philosophies act as though the fate of the world depends on their every move, when in reality each of these tendencies will often have no more than a few thousand, maybe a few hundred, maybe even just a few dozen sympathizers (or even fewer than that). Rarely is any attention given to the question of how anarchists will ever achieve any of their stated goals, to the degree that anarchists have any common goals, or any goals at all.
If anarchists want to have any impact on the wider society whatsoever, I believe there is only one way. First, anarchists, whatever their other differences, need to band together in large enough numbers to become single-issue political pressure group. This would be a pressure group just like those in the mainstream: pro-choice, pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage, anti-gay marriage, marijuana decriminalization, etc. The purpose of this pressure group would be to reduce political authority down to lowest unit possible, which, I believe is the local community, i.e., cities, towns, villages, districts, neighborhoods,etc. I recognize some anarchists wish to reduce politics down to the individual level. I’m a little more skeptical of that. For instance, I’m not so sure competing criminal codes could exist in the same territorial jurisdiction, but I’m willing to agree to disagree on that. I say let’s work to reduce things down to the city-state, county or village level, and then debate how much further to go from there. Such a pressure group could include not only anarchists of every kind, but also left-green decentralists, conservative local sovereignty groups, regionalist or secessionist tendencies or even good old fashioned Jeffersonian states’ rightsers. This idea does not mean that every locality would need to be an independent nation unto itself. They could be sovereign entities within broader territorial confederations, so long as they retained their right of withdrawal or to veto policies favored by the larger bodies. This way, even communities with radically different cultural values or economic arrangements could collaborate on projects of mutual interest such as maintenance of transportation systems, firefighting, or common defense.
Meanwhile, outside the context of this single-issue movement for radical decentralization, the different anarchist factions could continue their other interests in different contexts. Libertarians could continue to push for private money or competing currencies. Syndicalists could continue to push for anarcho-syndicalist unions. Primitivists could set up tech-free communes or villages. Anti-racists could protest Klan marches, and national-anarchists could set up ethnic separatist intentional communities. Pro-lifers could agitate against abortion and feminists could agitate against pro-lifers. Gun nuts could simultaneously belong to the NRA and pacifists could belong to the Catholic Workers. Anarcho-communists could organize Israeli-style kibbutzes and anarcho-capitalists could set up their preferred private defense agencies.
Additionally, different factions with different beliefs could target certain geographical areas for colonization as the Free Staters are doing in New Hampshire, the Christian Exodus is doing in South Carolina, the Native Americans are doing in the Lakota Republic, or the Ron Paulites are doing in the Liberty Districts. Indeed, Bill Bishop’s interesting book “The Big Sort” describes how Americans are in the process of self-separation along the lines of culture, religion, ideology, political affilitation, sexuality, age, income, occupation and every conceivable other issue. Colonization can then become a movement for full-blown local secession. The values and ideals of those whom you disagree with are not as personally threatening if you do not have to live under the same political roof , and the worse someone’s ideas are, the better that they be separate from everyone else.
This does not mean that sovereign communities cannot have institutionalized protects for individual liberties, minority rights, or popular rule. Some state constitutions or municipal charters already have protections of this type in some instances, and sometimes on a more expansive level than what is found in the U.S. Constitution. Individual sovereign communities could make such protections as extensive as they wanted. Nor does this mean that libertarian anti-statism is the “only” value. There are some values in life that transcend politics, and one can also be committed to other issues while also being committed to political decentralization and local sovereignty. For instance, I am also interested in prisoners’ rights, legal, judicial, penal and police reform, ending the war on drugs, repealing consensual crime laws, abolishing compulsory school attendance laws, opposing zoning ordinances, eminent domain, the overregulation of land and housing markets, sex worker rights, the right to bear arms, self-defense rights, the rights of students, the homeless, the handicapped, medical patients and psychiatric inmates, freedom of speech and the press, labor organizing, worker cooperatives, mutual aid associations, home schools and alternative education, credit unions and mutual banks, LETS, land reform, indigenous peoples’ rights, alternative media, non-state social services, and many other topics. My primary area of interest is foreign policy. In fact, foreign policy was the reason I became an anarchist and have remained one, in spite of being continually underwhelmed by the organized anarchist movement. I think the American empire and its effects on peoples throughout the world is an abomination, and I want to see it ended. Yet, I think at the same time an agglomeration of anarchist communities in North America would need some kind of “national defense” system, given that Europe and Asia may not “go anarchist” at the same moment, which is why I am interested in the paleoconservatives with their traditional American isolationist views.
At the same time, there are some topics that many anarchists are committed to that don’t particularly interest me. Environmentalism is one of these. Like all reasonable people, I think we need clean air and water, and it’s not cool to build a toxic waste dump in a residential area. Yet, the eco-doomsday ideologies associated with ideas like global warming and peak oil are not things I’m sold on as of yet. I also really just don’t see what the big deal about endangered species is. The overwhelming majority of species that have existed thus far have already gone extinct, so what’s a few more? Still, if this is an issue others care passionately about, then by all means enaged in direct action on behalf of sea turtles or spotted owls or against urban sprawl. Don’t let me get in your way. Gay marriage is another topic I really just don’t give a fuck about, not because I’m anti-gay but because I view marriage as an archaic religious and statist institution that anarchists or libertarians or radicals of any stripe should not be promoting. But that’s just me. As an atheist, I also don’t care much for the militant politicized atheism found in some circles. I agree that compulsory religious instruction and practice should not exist in state-run schools, but I think extending this idea to things like prayers at city council meetings or football games, or extracurricular religious clubs in state institutions, is taking things a bit far. It is this sort of thing that alienates the usually religious poor and working class from radicalism.
Lastly, we need to consider how to appeal to all those ordinary folks out there whose assistance we might need in order to achieve these kinds of goals. An anarchist-led, libertarian-populist, radical decentralist, pan-secessionist movement that appealed to the tradition and ideals of the American Revolution is the only possible avenue. What I have outlined here is essentially the same set of views promoted by Voltairine de Cleyre in her essays “Anarchism without Adjectives” and “Anarchism and American Traditions“. If you don’t like my views, then come up with a plan of your and let the rest of us hear about it.
Over the last few days, there’s been an interesting discussion going on over at the blog of left-libertarian philosopher Charles Johnson (also known as “Rad Geek“). I’ve avoided posting there, due to the presence of an individual who has declared themself my mortal enemy (a role I’m happy to assume), but the subject matter of the discussion provides a very good illustration of why any sort of libertarian philosophy that demands a rigid universalism cannot work in practice. A poster called “Soviet Onion” remarks:
It seems that both social anarchism and market libertarianism have respectively come to adopt forms of collectivism typical of either the statist left or right. That’s a result of the perceived cultural affinity they have with those larger groups, and partly also a function of the fact that they appeal to people of different backgrounds, priorities and sentiments (and these two factors tend to reinforce each other in a cyclical way, with new recruits further entrenching the internal movement culture and how it will be perceived by the following generation of recruits).
On the “left” you have generic localists who feel that altruism entails loyalty to the people in immediate proximity (they’ll unusually use the term “organic community” to make it seem more natural and thus unquestionably legitimate). Most of them are former Marxists and social democrats, this is simply a way to recast communitarian obligations and tacitly authoritarian sentiments under the aegis of “community” rather than “state”. This comes as an obvious result of classical anarchism being eclipsed as THE radical socialist alternative by Leninism for most of the twentieth century. Now that it’s once again on the rise, it’s attracting people who would have otherwise been state-socialists, and who carry that baggage with them when they cross over.
On the “right”, it’s a little more straightforward. Libertarians have adopted the conservative “State’s Rights” kind of localism as a holdover from their alliance with conservatives against Communism, to the point that it doesn’t even matter if the quality of freedom under that state is worse than the national average, just so long as it’s not the Federal Government. And with this, any claim to moral universality, or the utilitarian case for decentralism go right out the window. Like true parochialism, it hates the foreign and big just because it is foreign and big.
That’s also one of the reasons why I think there’s a division between “social” and “market” anarchists; they each sense that they come from different political meta-groups and proceed from a different set of priorities; the established gap between right and left feels bigger than the gap between they and statists of their own variety. And the dogmatisms that say “we have to support the welfare state, workplace regulations and environmental laws until capitalism is abolished” or “we should vote Republican to keep taxes down and preserve school choice” are as much after-the-fact rationalizations of this feeling as they are honest attempts at practical assessment.
The problem with left-libertarianism (or with the 21st century rebirth and recasting of 19th century individualism, if you want to imperfectly characterize it that way), is that instead of trying to transcend harmful notions of localism, it simply switches federalism for communitarianism. It does this partially as a attempt to ingratiate itself to social anarchists, and partly because, like social anarchists, it recognize that this idea is superficially more compatible with an anti-state position. But it also neglects the social anarchists’ cultural sensibilities; hence the more lax attitude toward things like National Anarchism.
These are some very insightful comments. And what do they illustrate? That human beings, even professed “anarchists,” are in fact tribal creatures, and by extension follow the norms of either their tribe of origin or their adopted tribe, and generally express more sympathy and feel a stronger sense of identification with others who share their tribal values (racism, anti-racism, feminism, family, homosexuality, homophobia, religion, atheism, middle class values, underclass values, commerce, socialism) than they do with those with whom they share mere abstractions (“anarchy,” “liberty,” “freedom”).
Last year, a survey of world opinion indicated that it is the Chinese who hold their particular society in the highest regard, with 86 percent of Chinese expressing satisfaction with their country. Russians expressed a 54 percent satisfaction rate, and Americans only 23 percent. Observing these numbers, Pat Buchanan remarked:
“Yet, China has a regime that punishes dissent, severely restricts freedom, persecutes Christians and all faiths that call for worship of a God higher than the state, brutally represses Tibetans and Uighurs, swamps their native lands with Han Chinese to bury their cultures and threatens Taiwan.”
“Of the largest nations on earth, the two that today most satisfy the desires of their peoples are the most authoritarian.”
What are we to make of this? That human beings value security, order, sustenance, prosperity, collective identity, tribal values and national power much more frequently and on a deeper level than they value liberty. Of course, some libertarians will likely drag out hoary Marxist concepts like “false consciousness” or psycho-babble like “Stockholm syndrome” to explain this, but it would be more helpful to simply face the truth: That liberty is something most people simply don’t give a damn about.
The evidence is overwhelming that most people by nature are inclined to be submissive to authority. The exceptions are when the hunger pains start catching up with them and their physical survival is threatened, or when they perceive their immediate reference groups (family, religion, culture, tribe) as being under attack by authority. We see this in the political expressions of America’s contemporary “culture wars.” During the Clinton era, many social or cultural conservatives and religious traditionalists regarded the U.S. regime as a tyranny that merited armed revolt. During the Bush era such rhetoric disappeared from the Right, even though Bush expanded rather than rolled back the police state. Meanwhile, liberals who would denounce Bush as a fascist express polar opposite sentiments towards the Obama regime, even though policies established by Bush administration have largely continued. So how do we respond to this? Soviet Onion offers some suggestions:
The proper position for us, and what could really set us apart from everyone and make us a more unique and consistent voice for individualism in the global Agora, is to recognize all cultures as nothing more than memetic prisons and always champion the unique and nonconforming against the arbitrary limitations that surround them, recognizing their destruction as barriers in the sense of being normative. And to that end there’s the instrumental insight that the free trade, competition, open movement and open communication are forces that pry open closed societies, not by force, but by giving those who chafe under them so many options to run to that they make control obsolete, and thus weaken control’s tenability as a foundation on which societies can reasonably base themselves. Think of it as “cultural Friedmanism”: the tenet that open economies dissolve social authority the same way they render political authority untenable.
THAT’s what left-libertarianism needs to be about, not some half-baked federation of autarkic Southern towns filled with organic farms and worker co-operatives. It can still favor these things, but with a deeper grounding. It doesn’t ignore patriarchy, racism, heterosexism, but opposes them with a different and more consistent understanding of what liberation means.
But how far should our always championing of the “unique and nonconforming” go? If, for instance, a group of renegades happen to show up at the workers’ cooperative one day and commandeer the place, should we simply say, “Hell, yeah, way to go, noncomformists!” As for the question of the “Big Three” among left-wing sins (“racism, sexism and homophobia”), are we to demand that every last person on earth adopt the orthodox liberal position on these issues as defined by the intellectual classes in post-1968 American and Western Europe? Why stop at “patriarchy, racism and heterosexism”? Soviet Onion points out that many “left-wing” anarchists do not stop at that point:
I used to be an anarcho-communist. Actually, I started out as someone who was vaguely sympathetic to mainstream libertarianism but could never fully embrace it due to the perceived economic implications. I eventually drifted to social anarchism thanks to someone who’s name I won’t mention, because it’s too embarrassing.
After hanging around them for a while I realized that, for all their pretenses, most of them were really just state-socialists who wanted to abolish the State by making it smaller and calling it something else. After about a year of hanging around Libcom and the livejournal anarchist community, I encountered people who, under the aegis of “community self-management”, supported
- smoking and alcohol bans
- bans on currently illicit drugs
- bans on caffeinated substances (all drugs are really just preventing you from dealing with problems, you see)
- censorship of pornography (on feminist grounds)
- sexual practices like BDSM (same grounds, no matter the gender of the participants or who was in what role)
- bans on prostitution (same grounds)
- bans on religion or public religious expression (this included atheist religions like Buddhism, which were the same thing because they were “irrational”)
- bans on advertisement (which in this context meant any free speech with a commercial twist)
- bans on eating meat
- gun control (except for members of the official community-approved militia, which is in no way the same thing as a local police department)
- mandatory work assignments (ie slavery)
- the blatant statement, in these exact words, that “Anarchism is not individualist” on no less than twelve separate occasions over the course of seven months. Not everybody in those communities actively agreed with them, but nobody got up and seriously disputed it.
- that if you don’t like any of these rules, you’re not free to just quit the community, draw a line around your house and choose not to obey while forfeiting any benefits. No, as long as you’re in what they say are the the boundaries (borders?) of “the community”, you’re bound to follow the rules, otherwise you have to move someplace else (“love it or leave it”, as the conservative mantra goes). You’d think for a moment that this conflicts with An-comm property conceptions because they’re effectively exercising power over land that they do not occupy, implying that they own it and making “the community” into One Big Landlord a la Hoppean feudalism 🙂
So I decided that we really didn’t want the same things, and that what they wanted was really some kind of Maoist concentration commune where we all sit in a circle and publicly harass the people who aren’t conforming hard enough. No thanks, comrade.
These left-wing anarchists sound an awful lot like right-wing Christian fundamentalists or Islamic theocrats. Nick Manley adds:
I have encountered an “anarchist” proponent of the draft on a directly democratic communal level.
Of course, we also have to consider all of the many other issues that anarchists and libertarians disagree about: abortion, immigration, property theory, economic arrangements, childrens’ rights, animal rights, environmentalism, just war theory, and much, much else. We also have to consider that anarchists and libertarians collectively are a very small percentage of humanity. Nick Manley says:
I spend more time around libertarians then left-anarchists — although, I briefly entered “their” world and sort of know some of them around here. I was a left-anarchist at one time, but I no longer feel comfortable with the hardcore communalism associated with the ideology. I don’t really want to go to endless neighborhood meetings where majorities impose their will on minorities. I also would agree with Adam Reed that it’s naive to imagine such communes being free places in today’s world — perhaps, this is less true of New Zealand.
The list of things supported by anarcho-communists posted by Soviet Onion confirms my fears about village fascism posturing as “anti-statism”. I frankly do just want to be left alone in my metaphorical “castle” — I say metaphorical, because I am not an atomist and don’t live as such. I will engage in social activities, but I will not allow someone to garner my support through the use of force or do so to others. Like Charles, I have a strong emotional and intellectually principled revulsion to aiding the cause of statism in any way whatsoever. I’d be much happier being at some risk of death from handguns then in enforcing laws that harm entirely well intentioned peaceful people. This is not a mere political issue for me. I know more than a few people with guns who deserve no prison time whatsoever — one of them has guns affected by the assault weapons ban.
I honestly see a lot of principled parallels between conservative lifestyle tribalism and left-liberal lifestyle tribalism. Oh yes: there are contextual inductive distinctions to be made. A gun is not the same as homosexuality. The collectivist dynamic is still the same. Gun owners become no longer human in sense of rational beings. All of contemporary politics seems to be one thinly veiled civil war between fearful tribalists.
It would appear that tribalism is all that we have. I have been through a long journey on this question. I was a child of the Christian Right, drifted to the radical Left as a young man, then towards mainstream libertarianism, then the militia movement and the populist right, along the way developing the view that the only workable kind of libertarianism would be some kind of pluralistic but anti-universalist, decentralized particularism. Rival tribes who are simply incompatible with one another should simply have their own separatist enclaves. This concept is explained very well in a video series beginning here. Unlike the other kinds of libertarianism, there is actually some precedent for what I’m describing to be found in past cultures. See here and here. As Thomas Naylor remarks:
Conservatives don’t want anyone messing with the distribution of income and wealth. They like things the way they are. Liberals want the government to decide what is fair. Liberals believe in multiculturalism, affirmative action, and minority rights. Conservatives favor states’ rights over minority rights.
What liberals and conservatives have in common is that they are both into having—owning, possessing, controlling, and manipulating money, power, people, material wealth, and things. Having is one of the ways Americans deal with the human condition—separation, meaninglessness, powerlessness, and death. To illustrate how irrelevant the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have become, consider the case of Sweden and Switzerland, two of the most prosperous countries in the world.
Sweden is the stereotypical democratic socialist state with a strong central government, relatively high taxes, a broad social welfare net financed by the State, and a strong social conscience. Switzerland is the most free market country in the world, with the weakest central government, and the most decentralized social welfare system. Both are affluent, clean, green, healthy, well-educated, democratic, nonviolent, politically neutral, and among the most sustainable nations in all of history. By U.S. standards, they are both tiny.
Switzerland and Sweden work, not because of political ideology, but rather because the politics of human scale always trumps the politics of the left and the politics of the right. Under the politics of human scale, a politics that trumps our now-outdated and useless “liberal-versus-conservative” dualistic mindset, there would be but one fundamental question:
“Is it too big?”
It would seem that contemporary America is precisely the place to build a movement for this kind of decentalized particularism, a huge continent wide nation with many different cultures, religions, subcultures, ethnic groups and growing more diverse all the time, and where political and economic polarization is the highest it has been in over a century, and where dissatisfaction with the status quo is almost universal.
My challenge to anarchists, libertarians, communitarians, conservatives, radicals and progressives alike would be to ask yourself what kind of community you would actually want to live in, and where and how you would go about obtaining it. For instance, the geography of the culture war typically breaks down on the basis of counties, towns, precincts, municipalities and congressional districts rather than states or large regions. So why not envision forming a community for yourself and others in some particular locality that is consistent with your own cultural, economic or ideological orientation? The Free State Project, Christian Exodus, Second Vermont Republic, Green Panthers and Twin Oaks Commune are already doing this.
Political victory in the United States is achieved through the assembling of coalitions of narrow interest groups who often have little in common with one another (gun toting rednecks and country club Republicans, homosexuals and traditional working class union Democrats). Imagine if a third force emerged in U.S. politics whose only unifying principle was a common desire to remove one’s self and one’s community from the system. The only thing anyone has to give up is the desire to tell other communities what to do.
This is in response to something posted about me on The Art of the Possible web site:
Says “Anonymous” (geez, that’s creative):
“This web site is dedicated to hosting a dialogue between libertarians and the left, with the goal of encouraging theoretical synthesis and practical cooperation between the best elements of both perspectives.
If this is the case, why is no one protesting the presence of Kieth Preston, a â€˜national anarchistâ€™ who valorises violence and openly collaborates with racists and fascists? Anyone who has any doubt as to the truth of this claim need merely spend a few hours browsing his attackthesystem.com website.
Surely anyone who takes *either* the ideals of social justice *or* the ideals of individualism seriously should be horrified by this!?”
Ugh, another one of those. Here we go:
“This web site is dedicated to hosting a dialogue between libertarians and the left, with the goal of encouraging theoretical synthesis and practical cooperation between the best elements of both perspectives.”
You mean like this:
“If this is the case, why is no one protesting the presence of Kieth Preston, a ˜national anarchist”™ who valorises violence and openly collaborates with racists and fascists? Anyone who has any doubt as to the truth of this claim need merely spend a few hours browsing his attackthesystem.com website.”
First, if you want to attack me, you could at least bother to spell my name right, which shouldn’t be so hard to do given that you’re such a self-proclaimed expert on my work. I’ll let my previous statements on all of these topics stand.
On my actual political views:
“Surely anyone who takes *either* the ideals of social justice *or* the ideals of individualism seriously should be horrified by this!?”
On “social justice”:
“Anonymous”, have you ever heard of something called open debate and free exchange of ideas? I suggest you cancel your subscription to the SPLC’s “Intelligence Report”, stop wasting time at ARA hoodlum shows, stop throwing rocks through McDonald’s windows, tell your Commie professors to fuck off, and read some actual libertarian and radical left works of quality, like Proudhon, Bakunin, Rothbard, H.L. Mencken, or maybe even that dead white male slave owning scumbag, Thomas Jefferson. And while you’re at it, you might want to actually check out some elite theory, some Austrian economics and maybe even some critics of cultural Marxism like Alain De Benoist, Paul Gottfried or William S. Lind.
What does it mean that the Vice-Presidential candidate for the ostensibly “conservative” party is a female from a working class background who has the flag of a foreign state associated with a domestic ethnic minority hanging in her governor’s office? What does it mean that the Presidential candidate of the opposition party is a black man with an Islamic name? Essentially, such phenomena demonstrate that the political Left has become entirely status quo and that the core values of the historic Left-cosmopolitanism, internationalism, universalism, liberalism, proletarianism, feminism, anti-racism, anti-anti-Semitism, religious ecumenicalism and anti-xenophobia are more or less mainstream and “normal”. Indeed, such values are very much those of the elite. As Joe Bageant recently observed:
“Elite consensus on the issues of race, sex and role of faith in public life are to the left of public opinion, the only area in which this is the case. Elite opinion is overwhelmingly secular, pro-choice, supportive of gay rights and hostile to overt displays of racism.
Tolerance and liberalism on this front is a very useful tool, since it buys political space to be more conservative on the more important money issues. It also enjoys the advantage of making the right enemies, after all who wants to be on Pat Robertson’s side during weekend dinner parties at the Hamptons.
When social conservative complain about the “Liberal Media” they are not wrong, but only in regard to their issues. The contempt of the American elite for the religious right is quite real. What social conservatives misunderstand is that the hostility against them is not because the threat their ideas represent but only a display of the traditional contempt that the merciless strong have for people they consider to be the feeble minded weak.
The significance of the religious right in our politics is only in the wonderful diversions their issues create. Issues that feed a war between urban educated middle classes against the more numerous, the ever more frustrated lower income fundamentalists on issues that are unsolvable in nature.”
This fact provides a great deal of insight as to why the radical Left is now utterly impotent in resisting the forces of U.S. imperialism, state-capitalism and the expanding police state. Beginning in the 1960s, the Left abandoned its historic position as the party of class struggle, first of the middle classes against the Ancien’ Regime, and then of the proletariat against the old bourgeoisie order. Instead, the Left reinvented itself as the party of cultural politics, shifting its focus to such matters as race, gender, homosexualism, environmentalism, abortion, secularism and so forth. Consequently, we now have a situation where the ostensible “radical Left” maintains essentially the same basic set of cultural values as the “liberal elite”. The more socially conservative poor and working class have subsequently been abandoned to be colonized by the Right.
But what is the Right? If we are to judge by the actions of the Republican Party leadership, we might realize that the so-called “conservatives” really care about only three things. The first of these is the perpetual expansion of the American empire internationally. There must not be a square mile of territory on Earth that the U.S. does not control, or so the policy makers and the jingoist propagandists who dominate the more rightward leaning sectors of the media would have us believe. The second of these is the perpetual advancement of the expansionist interests of Israel. The third is the advancement of the economic interests of those narrow economic sectors that dominate the Republican Party, primarily banking, “Big Oil”, armaments and so forth.
Of course, the Republican leadership has to pretend to be social conservatives so that all of the yahoos, jingos, flag-wavers, Bible-thumpers, “homophobes”, money-grubbers and amateur cops who fill the ranks of their most enthusiastic supporters will still come out and vote for them. Â But do they take their social conservatism seriously? Of course not. American society is now more liberal than ever before. Do they care one iota about the right-to-life cause, countering the influence of the gay movement, or restoring prayers in schools? No, they have made zero progress on these matters, while making much progress on the things that really mean something to them, like enriching the corporate fatcats, building a police state and conquering the world. Do they take their rhetoric of fiscal conservatism seriously? Not if the federal deficit and the national debt are any indication.
As contemptible a lot as the Republicans are, the Democrats are equally if not more pathetic. The Demos are struggling with a very thin and narrowing lead in this year’s election in spite of the dismal performance and unpopularity of the incumbent party and President. Ultimately, the Democrats represent the same set of interests as the Republicans. The Demos are beholden to the same kinds of banking, petroleum, armaments, pharmaceutical and communications interests as their rival party. The Demos are likewise firmly in the grip of the Israel Lobby. They are just as committed to the expansion of the empire, though they may prefer slightly more covert methods. Consequently, they have no real alternative to offer. Additionally, the Demos are much more reflective of the social and cultural values of the elite classes than the Republicans, hence their intransigence on these matters and their impotence on virtually everything else. Their best hope is to rally the array of left of center constituents group who share their cultural outlook and anyone else who wants to vote for “Anybody but a Republican”. Meanwhile, the Left will continue crying “racism, sexism, homophobia” (as if these were the most pressing matters in politically correct twenty-first century North America) while the ruling class drives things further down the tubes on matters of political economy, law and foreign policy.
The creation of a new radicalism capable of resisting the forces of State, Capital and Empire requires the development of a genuine “third way” beyond Left’s habit of appealing to traditional outgroups or the Right’s habit of appealing to “traditional values”. Instead, the new dichotomy pits those who are against the system versus those who are for the system. Enemies of the system may come from the extreme Right or the extreme Left, with a common denominator being a desire to attack the system! Pan-secessionism is our methodology, and perhaps some sort of lumpenproletarian-oriented anarcho-pluralist populism is our ideology. Our natural constituents are neither cultural conservatives or cultural leftists per se but enemies of the states wherever and whoever they may be.
If we were Soviet or East European citizens in the 1950s, 60s or 70s, and we were attempting to build a revolutionary underground, classical criticisms of the state would certainly be helpful. For instance, the Augustinian view of the state as a “robber band writ large”. However, we would be selling ourselves short by simply criticizing “the state” as an entity unto itself without focusing the nature of the particular kind of state we wished to resist. For this, we would need to look further than simple critiques of statism qua statism and delve deeper into criticisms of Marxist states as particular manifestations of the state. Further, we would need to critique the ideological underpinnings of Marxist states: the ideologies of Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Hoxhaism, etc.
So it is with those of us who would resist the present day regimes of the West. Most manifestations of the state except one are considered illegitimate in modern societies. Very few people take seriously the supposed philosophical justifications for monarchy, theocracy, aristocracy, fascism, communism, or military dictatorship. Only “democracy” is considered legitimate, and not just any kind of democracy. Iran is arguably just as democratic in the political sphere as any of the Western countries, yet it is considered a pariah nation. Instead, “democracy” must be fused with “the free-market” (state-capitalism), “the public sector” (the welfare state), “multiculturalism” (state-enforcement of compulsory racial/ethnic/cultural integrationism), state-regulation of “public health” (the therapeutic state) and a number of other things.
Additionally, the Western nations have, over the past 30-50 years, undergone a de jour cultural and social revolution and a de facto revolution in politics, law, education and a number of other institutions. Fifty years ago, racism was nearly universal and frequently mandatory. Today, it is regarded as the ultimate horror. A friend of mine’s sixtyish mother was told as a young girl that her aspirations to become a physician were inappropriate, “as boys become doctors, girls become nurses”. Such sentiments would be considered laughable today, even by most social conservatives. A generation ago, homosexuality was a serious felony. Five years ago, the US Supreme Court declared it to be a constitutional right. Abortion and pornography were once criminally prohibited vices, akin to drug use at the present time, yet these have likewise been declared constitutional rights.
No doubt many people, including myself, would consider most of these changes to be positive in nature. No one wants to return to Jim Crow, or endorse crass sexism, or hail the persecution of homosexuals by the state. And the rights of free speech, freedom of the press and privacy are essential to keeping the state at bay. But that brings us to another interesting matter. As all of this supposed liberation and breakdown of oppressive social structures has occurred, the state has become increasingly ruthless and pernicious in its expression. For instance, the US Constitution allows for the prosecution of only three federal crimes-treason, piracy and counterfeiting. Today, there are over 3,000 federal crimes and forty percent of these have been created since 1970. Prior to the mid-1980s, drugs were illegal, with drug crimes being treated in a manner comparable to serious property offenses like burglary or grand larceny. Today, even the most minor players in drug offenses are frequently sentenced to greater periods of incarceration than even some who commit violent crimes.Â Asset forfeiture laws were originally used to go after the holdings of members of drug trafficking cartels. Today, such laws apply to 140 other types of “crimes”. The US prison population has increased a dozen times over since the 1960s. Paramilitary policing was a new phenomenon in the 1970s, and originally intended as a means of dealing with either civil unrest or particularly difficult matters of law enforcement like hostage situations. Today, paramilitary policing is normal, even for routine police work, like execution of a search warrant. Even at the height of the Nixon era, the idea that a president would claim the right to unilaterally suspend habeus corpus and imprison suspects indefinitely in secret prisons without trial would have been considered absurd.
As the state has grown more pernicious, so has the economic position of the working class declined as US elites have adopted the Third World economic model. The American state, for the first time, is openly proclaiming a policy of reserving the right to wage “preemptive war” against virtually any other state it wishes, for any reason, at any time. Further, the cultural revolution of the past generation is being used as the foundation of a whole new kind of authoritarianism. Babies are now accused of “racism” for disliking exotic ethnic foods. A university janitor is reprimanded for reading a book about the Ku Klux Klan during his break time, even though the book in question was anti-Klan. A mother is arrested for spanking a child even when no evidence of genuine abuse exists.
One thing that is rather interesting about this new totalitarian humanism that seeks to establish a Big Brother state to make sure no one is ever being abused or discriminated against is its arbitrariness. Spanking a child is “child abuse” yet the US federal government can roll over dozens of children with tanks at Waco and no one from the System raises an eyebrow. “Racism” is regarded as the ultimate horrorshow, yet the single policy that inflicts the greatest amount of harm upon black communities, the War on Drugs, continues unabated.
It is this totalitarian humanism that is the foundation of modern state tyrannies. Just as we need the traditional critiques of statism found in the works of various historic thinkers, just as we need a coherent critique of the relationship between “big government” and “big business” of the kind that Kevin Carson has developed, so do we need a similar critique of totalitarian humanism and its tentacles like cultural Marxism and the therapeutic state.
The overwhelming majority of North American and probably European “radicals” still proceed as if it were perpetually 1968, if not 1928. Just as the simultaneous rise of the global economy and the decreased viability of the welfare state has mandated a search for new economic alternatives, so does the rise of totalitarian humanism necessitate a critique of this phenomenon beyond what most “radicals” could ever offer. A primary barrier to the formulation and dissemination of such a critique is the fact that most “radicals” essentially share the same value system as the proponents of totalitarian humanism. Yes, many liberals and leftists, for instance, oppose some of the excesses of Bush and cronies concerning civil liberties, but most of them also hold to the view that state-enforced multiculturalism, state-regulated “public health”, state interference in private institutions and local communities to prevent or deter illiberal social practices are legitimate and share the view of the current ruling class that racism, sexism, gay discrimination, fundamentalism, xenophobia, carrying a handgun, failing to attend public schools until age eighteen, etc. are the ultimate sins. Perhaps this explains why the antiwar movement has been utterly impotent and ineffective in opposing the neocons’ wars,i.e., because they share they same fundamental values of spreading “enlightenment”, “democracy”, “equality”, yet may have some reservations about the neocons’ methodology (like American unilateralism and defiance of international law). And, of course, some, like Christopher Hitchens, do not possess even those qualms.
One reason I find tendencies like the national-anarchists or the left-conservatives or the national-Maoists or the neo-secessionists to be rather refreshing is that they represent an outlook that genuinely rejects establishment values. After all, what would be more frightening to the American ruling class and political establishment: A bunch of college students, middle class leftists and hippies marching in the streets in a manner that looks more like a rock concert protesting global warming, racism, and Third World honor killings or a disciplined, orderly march of hard-core revolutionaries drawn from the ranks of inner-city gangbanger/ghetto types,Â Appalachian rednecks, or ex-convicts and other genuinely lumpen elements carrying banners with menacing slogans like “Death to the System!”, wearing all-black and red outfits and demanding overthrow of the government, smashing the ruling class and dissolution of the system into separatist/secessionist communities?
I know which team I’d pick.
Thanks to Josh Rhodes for digging this up:
Meeting Spain’s last anarchist
Hours after flying on a rickety 19-seater propeller plane and landing on a dirt strip, you get to the village of San Buenaventura in the heart of the Bolivian Amazon.
Here, in a simple one-storey brick house next to a row of wooden shacks, is the home of Antonio Garcia Baron.
He is the only survivor still alive of the anarchist Durruti column which held Francoist forces at bay in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the founder of an anarchist community in the heart of the jungle.
Mr Baron, 87, was wearing a hat and heavy dark glasses. He later explained that they were to protect his eyes, which were damaged when he drank a cup of coffee containing poison nine years ago.
It was, he said, the last of more than 100 attempts on his life, which began in Paris, where he moved in 1945 after five years in the Mauthausen Nazi concentration camp, and continued in Bolivia, his home since the early 1950s.
He was keen to share his views on 20th Century Spanish history with a wider audience.
“The Spanish press has covered up that the (Catholic) Church masterminded the death of two million Republicans during the civil war, not one million as they maintain,” Mr Baron said before launching into one of his many anecdotes.
“I told Himmler (the head of the Nazi SS) when he visited the Mauthausen quarry on 27 April, 1941, what a great couple the (Nazis) made with the Church.
“He replied that it was true, but that after the war I would see all the cardinals with the Pope marching there, pointing at the chimney of the crematorium.”
On the walls of Mr Baron’s house is a picture of him taken in the camp. Next to it is a blue triangle with the number 3422 and letter S inside, marking the prisoners considered stateless.
“Spain took away my nationality when I entered Mauthausen, they wanted the Nazis to exterminate us in silence. The Spanish government has offered to return my nationality but why should I request something that was stolen from me and 150,000 others?” he said angrily.
Mr Baron arrived in Bolivia on the advice of his friend, the French anarchist writer Gaston Leval.
“I asked him for a sparsely populated place, without services like water and electricity, where people lived like 100 years ago – because where you have civilisation you’ll find priests.”
Some 400 people, mostly Guarani Indians, lived there at the time, but in fact also a German priest.
“He was a tough nut to crack. He learnt of my arrival and told everyone that I was a criminal. They fled and made the sign of the cross whenever they saw me, but two months later I started speaking and they realised I was a good person, so it backfired on him.”
Convinced that the priest still spied on him, a few years later he decided to leave and create a mini-anarchist state in the middle of the jungle, 60km (37 miles) and three hours by boat from San Buenaventura along the Quiquibey River.
With him was his Bolivian wife Irma, now 71.
They raised chicken, ducks and pigs and grew corn and rice which they took twice a year to the village in exchange for other products, always rejecting money.
Life was tough and a few years ago Mr Baron lost his right hand while hunting a jaguar.
For the first five years, until they began having children, they were alone. Later a group of some 30 nomadic Indians arrived and decided to stay, hunting and fishing for a living, also never using money.
“We enjoyed freedom in all of its senses, no-one asked us for anything or told us not to do this or that,” he recounted as his wife smiled, sitting in a chair at the back of the room.
Recently they moved back to the village for health reasons and to be closer to their children. They live with a daughter, 47, while their other three children, Violeta, 52, Iris, 31, and 27-year-old Marco Antonio work in Spain.
They also share the few simple rooms arranged around an internal patio with three Cuban doctors who are part of a contingent sent to help provide medical care in Bolivia.
The hours passed and it was time to take the small plane back to La Paz before the torrential rain isolated the area again.
Only then, as time was running out, did Mr Baron begin speaking in detail about Mauthausen and the war – as if wishing to fulfil a promise to fallen comrades.
How the Nazis threw prisoners from a cliff, how some of them clung to the mesh wire to avoid their inevitable death, how the Jews were targeted for harsh treatment and did not survive long.
His memory also took him to Dunkirk where he had arrived in 1940, before he was caught and imprisoned in Mauthausen.
“I arrived in the morning but the British fleet was some 6km from the coast. I asked a young English soldier if it would return.
“I saw that he was eating with a spoon in one hand and firing an anti-aircraft gun with the other,” he laughed.
“‘Eat if you wish’, I told him. ‘Do you know how to use it?’ he asked since I didn’t have military uniform and was very young.
“‘Don’t worry,’ I said. I grabbed the gun and shot down two planes. He was dumbstruck.
“I’ll never forget the determination of the British fighting stranded on the beach.”
The primary ideological war of the future will not be between the left and right, or between socialism and capitalism, or even between nationalism and imperialism. The struggle will be between anti-universalism and decentralism on one end and totalitarian humanism on the other.
I first became aware of this sometime during the mid-1990s when I was something of an oddity; a leftwing anarchist participating in the right-wing patriot/militia/survivalist movement. After observing the police state atrocities at Waco and Ruby Ridge, and the similarities of these to prior Cointelpro repression against the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, and noticing the insufficient response of the Left on these matters, I started to understand the need to move past the conventional left/right political model. I was pleased to find many on the far right with many of the same ideas and interests as myself, particularly opposition to the US empire, the corporate ruling class, the federal Leviathan, the internal police/surveillance state and much else. For the first time, I came across contemporary groups advocating secession from the United States. The first of these was the Republic of Texas.
It occurred to me that I had finally found the means of overthrowing the US ruling class,i.e., a tactical alliance of decentralists from the far right (like my militia comrades) and from the far left (like revolutionary anarchists). Observing such tendencies on the far right as the sovereigns, common law courts, militias, neo-secessionists, the land rights movement and county autonomy, and noticing the similarities of these with libertarian municipalism, anarcho-syndicalism, individualist-anarchism, and green decentralism, it seemed like a perfect solution: an alliance of left and right against the ruling class middle. Sure, there were some serious cultural differences, but decentralism seemed to be the solution to all that. Liberal communities like big cities, metro areas, suburbs and culturally mixed neighborhoods would govern themselves according to liberal values while conservative communities like rural counties, small towns, sparsely populated regions and culturally homogenous enclaves would govern themselves according to conservative values. And we would all be free of the superstate that is oppressing us all.
In the ten years I have advocated such an approach, interest in this idea has grown considerably. Dozens of secession groups of varying sizes have emerged in North America and some of these have been featured in major national media outlets. The relative popularity of a maverick presidential candidate like Ron Paul would have been unthinkable ten years ago. At various points, hundreds of US localities and a few states have issued resolutions condemning such excesses as the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. A fairly large movement against the institutions of international capitalism such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank emerged for a time.
Along the way, I have noticed another trend that is less admirable and one that I have written extensively about. I call this trend “totalitarian humanism”. I first started noticing this when I would propose the aforementioned left/right decentralist alliance in some leftist circles. “But they’re anti-abortion, they’re homophobes, they’re racists, they’re nationalists, they go to church, they eat meat and chew tobacco and fuck in the missionary position….” would be theÂ increasingly familiar response. Me: “Yeah, so what, you don’t have to associate with them, you don’t have to live among them and in a decentralist system you don’t even have to share a political roof with them….”
What I found absolutely astounding was the inability of some leftoids to even understand my position. It’s not that they could follow my arguments but simply disagreed. Instead, what I was talking about-a system of decentralized anti-universalism where incompatible cultural groups simply separate themselves from one another-was utterly incomprehensible to them, as though I was trying to explain advanced theoretical physics or infinitesimal calculus to them. A real turning point came with the emergence of an anarchist tendency called “national-anarchism” which basically advocates the formation of ethnically homogenous village communities for the sake of preserving indigenous European racial, ethnic and cultural identity in the face of the increasingly global uniformity that has accompanied the global economy and Americanization of the world. It seemed harmless enough to me, and very similar to what many non-European indigenous peoples’ and traditional religious groups (like the Amish) have advocated in the past.
But the reaction to the “national-anarchists” among many leftists and left-anarchists was similar to what one might expect from a little girl when confronted with a spider or snake. Absolute, sheer hysteria. Â I had previously become aware of the therapeutic state through my studies of the ideological underpinnings of the War on Drugs, whereby the imprisoning of millions of people and the creation of a police state in the name of “public health” is considered a legitimate and appropriate governmental activity. The writings of Dr. Thomas Szasz were quite beneficial to me in this regard.
I started noticing a similar phenomenon concerning such matters as race, gender, religion, sexuality and other things. I recall a conversation with a devout liberal who expressed his “outrage” at having attended a Muslim mosque and noticing the gender-segregated seating arrangement. Me: “It’s their mosque, for God’s sake, if you don’t like it, don’t go in there…” The same argument I have made for years to social conservatives who are offended by adult entertainment facilities.
What I eventually came to realize is that many liberals and leftoids simply cannot stand the idea that someone, somewhere, sometime may be practicing “un-liberalism”. For instance, a small private school teaching creationism, a private religious community or house of worship practicing “sexism” or “homophobia”, an isolated village practicing racial/ethnic exclusivity, a single individual hidden away in a broom closet silent thinking politically incorrect thoughts to himself.
What is called “liberalism” in modern times is really totalitarian humanism (some have also called it cultural Marxism). It is a totalitarian movement every bit as much as the totalitarian movements of the 20th century: communism, fascism and national socialism.Â It aims to regulate every aspect of life down to the most minute detail including day to day personal habits like diet, language, smoking, family relations, recreational activities and much else. It is 1984, Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange all rolled into one.
Totalitarian humanism is the ideology of the ruling classes of the Western nations.Â This ideology has formed the basis of a new Inquisition. Even those with status and positions of high esteem are vulnerable. Notice the fates of Dr. James Watson or Harvard’s Lawrence Summers. Even infant children are not immune:
Politically disapproved speech can now land you in jail in many “democratic” countries, in spite of their much-flaunted phony “tolerance”, just as it could in many previously existing communist, fascist or theocratic regimes. Totalitarian Humanism is Robespierre, Mussolini and Mao all over again.
Resistance to this villainy is the defense of liberty andÂ civilization. No compromises or concessions should be made to these cretinous elements.Â The governments that these elements now control must ultimately be eradicated. The development of secession movements by regions, communities, towns, cities or by non-territorial groups wishing to defend themselves against increasing attacks by the state should be given every possible means of support and encouragement. All who would resist the forces of totalitarian humanism should be welcomed into our resistance forces, whether they be adherents of some eccentric religious doctrine, some seemingly perverse sexuality, racial separatists, environmental radicalsÂ or simply persons with more conventional political views who see danger ahead.
Recently, Thomas Naylor of the Second Vermont Republic issued something of a challenge to the League of the South:
When the Second Vermont Republic, through its sister organization the Middlebury Institute, first began reaching out to other independence movements in November 2006, four such groups were at the top of our priority list. They included the Alaskan Independence Party, the Hawaiian independence movement, the New Hampshire Free State Project, and the League of the South.
Within three months after the First North American Secessionist Convention met in Burlington, Vermont, the well-financed race-baiting Southern Poverty Law Center opened fire on SVR and the Middlebury Institute accusing us of racism for having attended a meeting which included four LOS members as well as representatives from fifteen other secessionist organizations representing eighteen states.
First thought: The SPLC is a scam organization that should not be taken seriously. They are not merely do-gooder anti-racism activists. They are, as one of Morris Dees’ former law partners says, “the Tammy Faye Bakker of civil rights.” Further, groups like the SPLC epitomize the modern ruling class ideology of totalitarian humanism. They will oppose secession or decentralization of any kind, no matter what, as this is incompatible with their goal of a global totalitarian order organized as a caste system with group privilege assigned according to victimological status:
In other words, the SPLC and others of their ilk are our mortal enemies, and should be given no recognition whatsoever. To recognize them, to attempt to rebut or accommodate them, is to grant them legitimacy. We should treat them as we would treat an enemy army during wartime.
Naylor discusses the difficulties an alliance with the League of the South poses for his own movement:
The knee-jerk response of most Americans to secession is typically, “We’ve been there, done that, and it didn’t work out very well.” Secession always brings to mind images of the Civil War, slavery, racism, violence, and preservation of the Southern way of life. Secession is often equated with Southern, redneck, Christian fundamentalist racism. Anyone who is a secessionist is considered a likely racist, but a Southern secessionist is a racist a priori. Since the LOS is a Southern secessionist group, it’s hardly surprising that there is a widespread perception that it is racist.
To achieve its twofold objectives of Vermont independence and the peaceful dissolution of the American Empire, SVR needs all the help it can get from other independence movements. But so long as the albatross of racism hangs around its neck, the LOS can never be a truly effective partner for SVR. SVR, on the other hand, risks being tainted by the scourge of racism simply by associating with the LOS.
And offers this assessment of the state of race relations in America vis-a-vis the Empire:
Starting with the election of President Richard Nixon in 1968 and continuing through the 2000 election of George W. Bush, racism, particularly in the South, did pay for the Republican Party. Its so called Southern strategy was thoroughly grounded in racism. But things began to change when President Bush named Colin Powell and then Condoleezza Rice Secretary of State. This sent a very clear signal to white racists everywhere that racism was no longer part of the national agenda. When Bill Clinton tried to play the racial card against Barack Obama in South Carolina and elsewhere, he soon learned the hard way, that racism doesn’t pay anymore. White South Carolina Democrats got the message and voted for Obama.
When Bush II was elected in 2000, the favorite scapegoats of many white, conservative Southerners were blacks, gays, lesbians, abortionists, and so-called secular humanists. Tolerance was not the name of the game. But eight years of Bush II have convinced many Southerners that the real enemy of the South is the corrupt, unsustainable, ungovernable, unfixable American Empire. The white, conservative social agenda has been trumped by the Empire.
To bring down the Empire peacefully will require the support of all Southerners, not just like-thinking, white Southerners. The vision of a free and independent South can never become a reality unless all Southerners participate. Even the hint of racism has the potential to derail the entire independence movement.
Starting with the election of President Richard Nixon in 1968 and continuing through the 2000 election of George W. Bush, racism, particularly in the South, did pay for the Republican Party. Its so called Southern strategy was thoroughly grounded in racism. But things began to change when President Bush named Colin Powell and then Condoleezza Rice Secretary of State. This sent a very clear signal to white racists everywhere that racism was no longer part of the national agenda. When Bill Clinton tried to play the racial card against Barack Obama in South Carolina and elsewhere, he soon learned the hard way, that racism doesnâ€™t pay anymore. White South Carolina Democrats got the message and voted for Obama.
When Bush II was elected in 2000, the favorite scapegoats of many white, conservative Southerners were blacks, gays, lesbians, abortionists, and so-called secular humanists. Tolerance was not the name of the game. But eight years of Bush II have convinced many Southerners that the real enemy of the South is the corrupt, unsustainable, ungovernable, unfixable American Empire. The white, conservative social agenda has been trumped by the Empire.
To bring down the Empire peacefully will require the support of all Southerners, not just like-thinking, white Southerners. The vision of a free and independent South can never become a reality unless all Southerners participate. Even the hint of racism has the potential to derail the entire independence movement.
The American South is as culturally and ethnically diverse as other regions. It has a large black population, a rapidly growing Hispanic population, and its metropolitan areas exhibit the same cosmopolitanism common to big cities in general. The South also has plenty of transplanted Northerners with “liberal” social or political views. This situation likely make a unified Southern secession under neo-confederate ideology or symbolism unlikely. A more viable approach would be to dissolve the southern states into regional federations of communities organized along cultural, ideological, political, economic, racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic or sexual lines. Naylor continues with some suggestions of his own:
1. Renounce Racism
The leaders of the League should draft a statement which takes the form of the unconditional denunciation of all forms of racism. This statement should be presented to LOS members at their next convention for ratification.
A problem here is defining “racism” in the first place. As anti-racism has become more and more powerful, “racism” continues to be defined in ever more extravagant and implausible ways. Is merely opposing affirmative action “racist”? Is opposing a completely open borders immigration policy “racist”? Is refusing to take the Al Sharpton line on controversial court cases like that of the Jena 6 “racist”? Once again, the enemies of secession or decentralism will be never placated no matter how “anti-racist” a particular secession movement may be.
Perhaps a more direct approach would be for the League to issue a statement indicating precisely what kind of racial policies they would prefer an independent South to have. Do they wish to keep present day antidiscrimination laws or even affirmative action? Do they favor slavery reparations? Or do they wish to reinstate slavery or Jim Crow? Do they favor a regime of meritocratic libertarian individualism? Do they favor a regime that is race neutral in the political and legal sense but recognizes the right of private self-segregation?
2. Recruit Black Members
LOS leaders should embark on a strategy to recruit African American members into the LOS. This will be a tough sell, because Southern blacks will be understandably suspicious of the motives of a formerly lily-white secession organization. It will most likely be necessary to offer scholarships or discounted memberships to attract blacks. The importance of this step cannot possibly be overemphasized.
Bad idea. Most blacks who are politically motivated prefer to have their own organizations for themselves. If even the most fanatically anti-racist leftist groups are constantly lamenting the lack of interest in their movement by racial minorities, then it’s unlikely a Southern secessionist movement will do any better. Blacks will regard such efforts as patronizing acts of pandering. Blacks who actually accepted such offers would feel like tokens. Others, black, white, left and right, would see such efforts as groveling on the part of the League, creating a sense of smug satisfaction on the part of the likes of the SPLC.
A better idea would be for the League to simply state its preferred racial policies, in detail, and then if this is shown to be incompatible with the interests of others in the South (blacks, Hispanics, liberals, secularists, gays, et al.) starting seeking out dialogue with organizations that actually represent these culturally incompatible groups for the purpose of achieving mutual and equitable separation. The League has a variety of positions it could take. They could position themselves as “white nationalists” along the lines of Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance and explicitly advocate decentralization or voluntary self-segregation along racial lines. They could be “southern nationalists” advocating independence for the entire South with a decentralized governmental system along the lines of the Swiss cantons as a means of accommodating the cultural and racial differences of the people of the South. They could be Christian conservatives along the lines of the Christian Exodus Project favoring non-racial but socially and politically conservative government for the Southern states after achieving independence. Again, I think this latter approach will work only if some means of accommodating non-Christians or non-conservatives is established (for instance, making the large metro areas into independent “liberal” city-states a la Monaco or Singapore).
3. Black Speakers
One way to attract black members is to invite black speakers to participate in local LOS meetings as well as the annual convention. A wide variety of black speakers should be considered. For example, Professor Walter Williams of George Mason University is a black, conservative economist who favors secession. One might also invite left-wing, black political leaders who oppose secession.
Why not invite black nationalists who also support decentralization, secession or separatism? For instance, why not invite representatives of the Nation of Islam, New Black Panthers, Pan-African International Movement, All-African Peoples’ Revolutionary Party, Peoples’ Democratic Uhuru Movement,Â or the Republic of New Afrika? How about inviting similar tendencies from the American Indian Movement, Aztlan Nation or decentralists from the Left?
4. Civil War
Having attended two of the LOS annual conventions, I am not sure that all LOS members realize that the Civil War ended in 1865. Much of the literature on sale at LOS conventions highlights Confederate symbolism, the flag in particular. Whether justifiably or not, most Southern blacks view the Confederate flag as an overt racist symbol aimed at rubbing salt in their 400-year wounds. If the LOS wants to be an effective secession organization, then the Confederate flag has got to go! And in a similar vein, nothing enrages Southern blacks more than the singing of “Dixie.”
Bad idea. Every group has the right to recognize and appreciate its history and heritage and I suspect this is a non-negotiable issue for a group like the League. Also, Civil War revisionism is important to the advancement of the secessionist cause in the intellectual arena, e.g., Tom DiLorenzo’s debunking of many of the Lincoln myths.
5. Southern Unity
Ironically, to achieve our common objective of disuniting the states of America, I am calling for Southern unity. And I am proposing that there is no organization better qualified to lead the way than the League of the South.
In the divisive 1860s the Confederate states tried unsuccessfully to lead our nation into disunion. After military defeat, occupation, and Reconstruction, they were dragged kicking and screaming back into the Union. I believe that it is high time the South and the rest of the nation reconsidered dissolution. The League of the South is in a unique position to help lead the South out of the Union and the nation into disunion.
May God bless the untied states of America.
This brings us to an issue that will eventually have to be addressed if any movement to dissolve the U.S. empire is to be viable. The dissolution of the empire will necessarily have to include some kind of settlement to America’s historic racial divide. Many minorities have gotten used to looking to the federal government as the protector of civil rights, and they’re not going to give that up without compensation. Yet, minority support is essential to dissolving the empire, giving their prominence among the ranks of the lower socio-economic levels that would out of necessity be a primary class basis of an anti-empire movement. This is why I’m inclined towards the proposals outlined by the Americans for Self-Determination:
The gist of the ASD Plan is that reparations would be used for the cultivation and economic development of politically autonomous black states in exchange for the abolition of compensatory preferences like affirmative action and restoration of the right of private discrimination along ethnic or racial lines. I would add to this legal amnesty for the huge numbers of blacks currently being held in American penal institutions. The sum total of these ideas amounts to a position on race relations far more “liberal” than what most mainstream liberals and even many radical leftists advocate. Blacks gain political and cultural sovereignty, economic reparations and a chance for economic self-determination and self-sufficiency, and, I would add, legal amnesty. Meanwhile, the reverse discrimination of compensatory preferences would be eliminated and those whites who prefer a racially or ethnically homogenous environment for themselves would be able to obtain it.
Rest assured, conventional “liberals” and professional “anti-racists” will oppose such a plan. Their ambition is a totalitarian humanist multicultural state, not self-determination for peoples’. They are our enemies in a battle to the death.
Saith the Lefto-Totalitarian aspiring Stasi at Libcom.org:
I’m particularly bothered by these so-called “anarcho”-nationalists that are trying to take advantage of the increase in interest in anarchism. The leaders of this fake “anarchism” are Keith Preston (USA), Troy Southgate (UK), Richard Hunt (UK), Peter Topfer (Germany), Hans Cany (France), and Flavio Goncalves (Portugal). What is worrying is that Keith Preston at least is trying to give his ideas legitimacy by hooking up to the tendency to bridge the gap between the libertarian “right” and “left” (as Kevin Carson is trying to do). It’s all very fishy. Websites trying to link Bakunin and Julius Evola, Proudhon and Alain de Benoist, Kropotkin and Otto Strasser. Strange shit.
Any thoughts? It seems to have grown out of hippy-dippy “anarchism”, at least in the UK – Richard Hunt, Southgate’s comrade-in-arms, was part of that “Green Anarchist” scene. But elsewhere…? Where the hell does this crap come from?
So I am the leader of “anarcho-fascism in the USA”? Hmm. I’m actually more “liberal” on most social/cultural questions than most liberals. For instance, I’m pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, anti-death penalty (though not for the usual reasons), pro-drug legalization, pro-gay rights, pro-sex worker rights, pro-prison abolition, pro-homeless, pro-disabled peoples’ rights, pro-indigenous peoples’ rights, pro-rights of the mentally ill, anti-drinking age, anti-compulsory schooling, anti-censorship and I’d put more strident limits on the powers of the police than the ACLU would. I’m also interested in anarcho-syndicalist or “libertarian socialist” economics. This is far more left than most liberals and even many hard leftists. I’m not a carte blanche liberal. For instance, I agree with the far right on the right to bear arms. I’m more moderate on immigration and I despise political correctness. Like many conservatives, libertarians and other right-wingers who profess opposition to statism, I oppose the Federal Reserve, the United Nations, income taxes, the public school system, welfare, affirmative action, antidiscrimination laws, the Environmental Protection Agency, “hate crimes” (really thought crimes) legislation, public housing, campus speech codes, zoning ordinances, social security, and many other forms of statism and authoritarianism typically championed by “the Left.”
Of course, what really seems to set these Totalitarian Humanist types off the most is my upholding the rights of free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association (or not to associate). This is why, unlike anarchists of the leftoid persuasion, I welcome national-anarchists, third-positionists, members of the European New Right, conservative Christians, black separatists, white separatists, Jewish separatists, survivalists, paleoconservatives, “right-wing” libertarians, and other decentralists or anti-statists with non-leftist cultural views into the ranks of the anti-System movement.
If this doesn’t jibe with these self-styled “anti-fascist” or “anti-racist” cretins, then too damn bad. As Aidan Rankin has observed, so-called “anti-fascism” is merely a new kind of fascism with a leftist outward appearance. It will be interesting to observe how these leftoid-totalitarian humanist-antifascist creatures evolve in the future. As Cultural Marxism becomes ever more deeply entrenched and absorbed by the establishment, these gutter creeps are likely to abandon their pretended anti-establishment and anti-American stances, and simply become jingoists, upholding the police state and imperialist war in the name of waging the holy jihad against racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, speciesism, weightism, lookism, yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah, fart, fart, fart…
They certainly have a prototype in the Commies/Trots-turned-Know Nothings in the Neocons.