This Is What Revolution Looks Like Reply

Article by Chris Hedges.

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Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak. They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books, tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks in New York City. They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future.

Our decaying corporate regime has strutted in Portland, Oakland and New York with their baton-wielding cops into a fool’s paradise. They think they can clean up “the mess”—always employing the language of personal hygiene and public security—by making us disappear. They think we will all go home and accept their corporate nation, a nation where crime and government policy have become indistinguishable, where nothing in America, including the ordinary citizen, is deemed by those in power worth protecting or preserving, where corporate oligarchs awash in hundreds of millions of dollars are permitted to loot and pillage the last shreds of collective wealth, human capital and natural resources, a nation where the poor do not eat and workers do not work, a nation where the sick die and children go hungry, a nation where the consent of the governed and the voice of the people is a cruel joke.

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Don’t Worry, The Federal Reserve Just Wants To Be Your “Online Friend” Reply

From The American Dream.

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According to CNBC, the Federal Reserve “is planning on monitoring what you say about it on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook”.  Apparently we are not supposed to be alarmed though, because as the CNBC headline states, the Federal Reserve just “wants to be your Facebook friend“.  In fact, the CNBC article says that anyone that feels threatened by the fact that the Federal Reserve will be monitoring what we say on Facebook and Twitter is just “paranoid“.  Well, if it came out that Barack Obama was setting up a system that would identify “key bloggers” and monitor “billions of conversations” on the Internet to see what was being said about him, wouldn’t there be thousands of articles expressing outrage?  Sure there would be.  The Federal Reserve is supposed to be an independent central bank that is above politics.  So why in the world would they need to perform “sentiment analysis” on what is being said about them on “Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube“?  The Federal Reserve obviously intends to identify the negative things that are being said about it and the specific people that are saying those things.  So is it really being “paranoid” to point out that all of this is more than a little bit creepy?

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The Day I Left the Left 9

Article by Jim Goad.

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Late one Saturday morning in 1990 under the skeleton-bleaching California sun, I motored through a crumbled, hilly, ashen section of East LA looking to see if any of the Hicks Boys Stoners were around to sell me some weed. Named after East LA’s Hicks Avenue, they were a loosely amalgamated gang of longhaired Mexican metalheads who shunned traditional cholo gang culture’s aesthetic trappings in favor of Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez-styled muerte obsessions, Satan worship, and generally aimless nihilism.

A few weeks earlier, I had written a cover story about the Hicks Boys for the Los Angeles Reader, a now-defunct free alt-weekly largely distributed in West LA. The magazine’s publisher was a short, pie-faced man with a voice so high-pitched one would suspect he was mainlining estrogen. He was slick-bald on top with a horseshoe rim of quarter-inch grey stubble around the sides and a Pixy Stix-thin footlong ponytail hanging limply in the back. Merely describing his ponytail tells you all you need to know about his politics.

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Blacks and Politics Reply

Article by Walter Williams.

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At one of last month’s Congressional Black Caucus-sponsored “job fairs,” Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., told the audience: “This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this tea party movement would love to see you and me – I’m sorry, Tamron – hanging on a tree.” Carson’s reference to Tamron was acknowledgment of the presence of MSNBC’s black reporter Tamron Hall, who didn’t deem it fit to report the congressman’s statement. Another black attacker of the tea party movement is Rep. Maxine Waters, who told her constituents: “This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned, the tea party can go straight to hell.” “Let us all remember who the real enemy is. And the real enemy is the tea party,” reminded Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said the tea party should be called the “Fort Sumter tea party that sought to maintain states’ rights and slavery.” Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., in telling a job fair audience to register to vote, said, “Turn the tea party upside down!”

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Interview with Arundhati Roy Reply

From the New Internationalist.

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Arundhati Roy is probably the most ‘do something’ public intellectual of our time. In her interview with New Internationalist she offers her take on market-friendly democracy, people power and the wealth that is fed by people’s lives.

Your writings have grappled with ruthless state violence which is often at the behest of corporate interests. Much of the corporate-owned media in India shies away from covering the civil war-like conditions in many parts of the country. The establishment tends to brand anyone who attempts to present the other side’s points of view as having seditious intent. Where is the democratic space?

You’ve partially answered your own question – newspapers and television channels do not make their money from subscriptions or viewership; in fact, corporate advertisements actually subsidize TV viewership and newspaper and magazine readership, so in effect, the mass media is run with corporate money. Some media houses are directly owned by corporations, some indirectly by majority share-holdings. Some media houses in, say, Central India, have a direct interest in mining and infrastructure projects, so they have a vested interest in the push to displace people in the huge, ongoing land-grab in which land and resources are forcibly taken from the poor and given to the rich – a process which goes by the name of ‘development’. It would be foolish to expect objective reporting: not because the journalists are bad people, but because of the economic structure of the organizations they work for. In fact, what is surprising is that despite all of this, occasionally there is some very good reporting. But overall we either have silence, or a completely distorted picture, in which those resisting their impoverishment are being labelled ‘terrorists’ – and these are not just the Maoist rebels who have taken to arms, but others who are involved in unarmed, but militant, struggles against the government. A climate has been created which criminalizes dissent of all kinds.

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The Clockwork Orange Dilemma! Riots, Reflections and Ramifications… Reply

Article by MRDA. The best analysis yet of the London riots.

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When folk get angry, why do they always piss on their own doorstep? Westminster is only a bus ride away.
– Tunnocks, Guardian Reader.

But this I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful…And when they  call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

image

It took only two bullets to rupture the relative calm of a whole country…

…and,more than three weeks later, the wound remains sore and exposed.

However I won’t delve too deeply into the circumstances surrounding Mark Duggan’s fatal shooting by the Boys in Blue; nor those of the ensuing protest, two days later. Much remains to be clarified over those two occurrences: did Duggan unwittingly commit “suicide-by-cop”, or receive a summary execution ala Jean Charles de Menezes?  Did the police go on to batter a peaceful protestor, or a pugilist?  The little that has come to light hardly sheds any in return.

Still, I will spout off a few paragraphs concerning the now-infamous riots that springboarded off of those events…

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Curfews, Lies, Racism and America’s War on Black Kids Reply

From Infoshop.Org.

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I am going to start this off by saying I am a white guy and I am opposed to me getting beat up just because of it (even if I can come up with reasons why).  That said, here we go.

The article you will find posted below pertains largely to Philadelphia, but what I am writing about pertains largely to Kansas City, Missouri, which is where I live.

Just yesterday the city, my city, adopted a 9PM curfew on youth similar to the one in Philadelphia.  The curfew came in response to “large crowds of  (black) youth and acts of violence” on the Country Club Plaza.  The Country Club Plaza is the city’s premier outdoor  shopping and entertainment district.  It was designed and built long ago and resembles a Spanish town.  It is also a prime tourist destination (for the few tourists who come to our city).  It is privately owned and features numerous upscale stores, restaurants, bars and is surrounded by hotels and high-rise condos.  A waterway runs along one side.

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Libertarian Homesteading Can Restore the Inner Cities Reply

Article by Anthony Gregory.

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In Oakland, California, where I live, urban homesteading – growing food on private land for small-scale trade and consumption – has become so common the city government has backed off a bit. In a rare triumph for sanity and freedom, anachronistic zoning ordinances from 1965 are being liberalized to accommodate the city farmers. Molly Samuel writes at KQED:

“The city has already made some changes; it’s now legal to grow and sell vegetables on an empty lot with a conditional use permit. . . . Oakland North reports one of the hotly debated topics [at a city meeting] was animal husbandry: Should Oaklanders be permitted to raise, slaughter, and sell animals? Or not?”

Despite the remaining government bureaucracy, we have to cheer on the homesteaders. They are so impossible to ignore, hundreds of them flooding a city meeting, that the tyranny of zoning is being ratcheted back for once.

And although it has a leftish quality, libertarians ought to take notice of this countercultural movement, whose localizing agenda poses profound implications for the future of liberty. With the economic forecasts dire and the corporatist system of mega-farms firmly gripping the Obama administration and all federal politics for the foreseeable future, our rights and perhaps very lives may depend on the freedom to farm at home.

Libertarians often straddle radically different, sometimes seemingly opposed, stereotypes. We are simultaneously atomist rugged individualists and slaves to the anonymous division of labor found in modern cosmopolitanism. This seeming paradox is reconciled in our simultaneous love of political localism and integrated economics, self-sufficiency and the contemporary blessings of a thriving voluntary community. And as admirers of both the frontier and the integrated city life, we can see much to relate to in the urban homesteaders and their hybrid lifestyle of city-slicking, strenuous agrarianism.

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5 Reasons Why American Riots Will Be The Worst In The World Reply

From Don’t Tread On Me.

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I wrote an article called 5 Places NOT To Be When The Dollar Collapses. In it I wrote that societies that benefited the most from the dollar would be the worst places to be when it fell apart. While the dollar has not even collapsed yet, the strain in these areas is becoming more apparent. England is number 3 on the list has had 4 days of violent riots as people start to lose it. Israel is number 1 on that list has had massive protests. There is revolution in the air all over the worldexcept in the US.

America is still in deep denial which is still the first stage of the Awakening. This denial will be wiped away when the dollar collapses. For now the economy is still functioning with food and fuel available. Americans still have the illusion of wealth and normalcy. They still are stuck in the false left right paradigm and think some other sock puppet will turn things around.

When the dollar collapses, all American illusions will collapse with it. Deep denial will turn into deep anger. The violence I expect in the other 3 areas on the list and all urban areas in the US, will make all other global riots pale in comparison. America is deeply infused with arrogance, denial, narcissism, drugs and violence. There is no other society that I know of that has the degree of intensity and combination of these factors.

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Bitcoin: Comes out swinging off the ropes 1

Vince
vince@thedailyattack.com
The Daily Attack

In spite of attention grabbing headlines, Bitcoin has proven its resiliency the past few days by maintaining a stable price in the $16-17 per BTC range. Many wrote off Bitcoin as doomed after it’s largest exchanger, MtGox was taken off line following a wave of abuse, hacks and fraudulent manipulation that resulted in prices on the exchange market to drop as low as $0.01 per Bitcoin. What most have failed to realize, however, is that the attacks were not on the infrastructure of Bitcoin itself, but on MtGox. Bitcoin itself remains intact and as secure as ever. The only thing that has changed is that scammers have taken note of what was an immature, innocent community that had sprung up around the crypto currency. That same community has pulled through, and is unlikely to fall for the same tricks again.

Why has Bitcoin retained value through it all? The reason is that its fundamentals are intact.

What are its fundamentals?

  • Its low transaction cost – you can send payments across the world for less than a penny. Try that with a credit card.
  • Its decentralized nature – no issuing authority can manipulate it, nor can an outside entity. Compare that to E-gold or the Liberty Dollar. Granted, Bitcoin is yet to be tested by a crackdown from the Federal Government. Still, what exactly could they seize? They’d have to shut down the internet or at least ban individual users to fully stop it.
  • Its relative anonymity – taking a few precautions, you can expect a pretty reasonable level of anonymity in spending bitcoins.
  • Its cash like nature – what’s spent is spent. There are no automatic charge-backs. Though some may count this as a fault of Bitcoin, I know there are merchants out their who would see it as an asset, compared to the nightmares that a service like paypal and credit cards can cause.
  • Its finite nature – we know the maximum number of Bitcoins that will ever exist, 21 million. The usefulness of this feature is debatable. But one thing is for sure, this feature differentiates Bitcoin in the market from fiat currencies, which tend to be inflationary.

Bitcoins other strength is its development focused economy.

Author and urbanist thinker Jane Jacobs argued that the economic engines of the world weren’t Nation States as a whole, nor were they to be found in high efficient, high capacity corporations and factories. She argued that at the forefront of technological innovation and economic growth was small firms and individuals, working on innovative projects with high rates of failure within the messy, seemingly disorganized networks only to be found in great cities. The development of the automobile in Detroit can be attributed to this process. The consolidation of the auto industry and its subsequent demise shows the innovative dead end of abandoning small entrepreneurship, and the process of development work through decentralized networks. The dot-com boom has followed a similar pattern thus far, with a number of innovative leaps having been made in web development and programming over the past two decades; all driven, at least at first, by small firms and individuals pushing boundaries, mostly failing, but also succeeding brilliantly. The community of developers that has sprung up around Bitcoin is an offshoot of this development process.

Take a look at the Project Development sub-forum at the Bitcoin.org forums. Everyday you’ll find new projects proposed, and a network of web developers, programmers and designers ready to jump on board for little or no pay up front. This is the making of explosive growth. It was from the garages of tinkerers that we got the automobile, flight, computers, electricity, and virtually every good or service you use today. They can all be traced back to hot beds of innovation; networks of inventors, and high concentrations of talent working together on an ad hoc basis. This is exactly what you’ll find in the Bitcoin community of entrepreneurs.

Bitcoin is creating its own economy, much like the internet did in the late 90’s and 00’s.

The environment that this innovation and development is taking place is itself a technological leap forward: Bitcoin. Think of Bitcoins features as the infrastructure and economic policy of a city, Bitcoin City. This city has infrastructure to move goods and services around, between producers and to consumers. The anonymous, decentralized nature of the currency creates a virtual free market when coupled with Tor that is highly difficult to regulate or tax. It has the ability to import goods and services, add value, and export them. To begin with, much of the imports will be goods and services targeted at Miners.

Miners are the folks who are creating new Bitcoins, each new Bitcoin being harder to mint and consuming more energy than the last. Entrepreneurs who recognize the fundamental advantages of Bitcoin can offer goods and services to miners, everything from inputs of production like graphics cards, to consumer goods like BitMunchies and the Silkroad are offering. Of course, the economy of Bitcoin City can’t experience explosive growth serving only miners. But, important development work to serve customers within Bitcoin City is generating exports for the economy. The Silkroad has set up an important marketplace for illegal drugs (like it or not.) Think of it this way: Bitcoin City has legalized drugs, and anyone across the world can order otherwise illegal drugs from Bitcoin City. And the only currency this market accepts is Bitcoin. Bitcoin City has just expanded its economy through this export work. This isn’t the end point of this development work, either. I imagine next up will be money transmittal services, much like Hawala, which can settle cross border transactions for a fraction of the price of other services, and with a few keystrokes. Bitcoin City is the easiest and cheapest place through which to clear payments. Bitcoin City will further expanded its economy with this offering.

And this is just the beginning. There’s discussion of starting a physical onion routing courier system, lotteries, banks, escrow services; and all manner of goods and services. Some of these will succeed, many will fail. But what is important is the Bitcoin has provided all the necessary ingredients to encourage explosive growth. If not Bitcoin, then the next crypto currency will. Watch out, we’re not finished yet!

6.30.11 UPDATEMt Gox apologizes for data breaches.

A Reply to Matthew Lyons, Part Two: The Subjectivity of Authoritarianism and Special Pleading as Ideology 28

This is the second in a series of essays in response to Matthew Lyons’ critique “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism.” And here is the transcript of a recent lecture by Lyons where yours truly gets a couple of mentions. Part One may be viewed here.

by Keith Preston

“If the individual cannot get along with the community, and the community cannot tolerate the individual, what real good will state intervention produce—wouldn’t separation be, in any world, the rational, noncoercive, nonviolent solution? Yes, it might be possible to contrive a state process that would force a Jewish Community to accept the Nazi Individual, or a White Community the despised Black, or a Fundamentalist Community the threatening Atheist. But it needs only for the principle of free travel to be observed—to the advantage of both the leavers and the stayers—and the Nazi, the Black, the Atheist can all find congenial communities of their own. The virtue of a multi-communitied world would be precisely that there would be within its multitude of varieties a home for everyone.”

Kirkpatrick Sale

“Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town meeting would be an asshole.”

–Karl Hess

“When a previously disadvantaged group rises to power, it exploits its new position just as did the group or groups it has displaced.”

-Mark A. Schneider, American sociologist

“The ultimate aim of multiculturalism is the creation of a totalitarian state ordered as a type of caste system where individual privilege is assigned on the basis of group identity and group privilege is assigned on the basis of the position of the group in the pantheon of the oppressed.”

-Keith Preston

The core aspects of Lyons’ objections to my own outlook are fairly well summarized in the following passages from his critique, and these comments from Lyons are also fairly representative of the most common arguments against my views offered by Leftists:

Preston only acknowledges oppression along lines of race, gender, sexuality, or other factors to the extent that these are directly promoted by the state, particularly through formal, legal discrimination against specific groups of people. Arguing that “the state is a unique force for destruction,” Preston ignores or trivializes the dense network of oppressive institutions and relationships that exist outside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the state. It is these societally based systems of oppression, not state intervention, that perpetuate dramatic wealth disparities between whites and people of color, widespread domestic violence that overwhelmingly target women, and suicide rates much higher among LGBT teens than heterosexual teens, among many other examples.

Preston portrays secession as a voluntary process, in which many varied groups of people decide to go their own separate ways and coexist peaceably side by side. But what does “voluntary” mean in a context where wives are expected to submit to the authority of their husbands, workers to obey their bosses, or homosexuality is regarded as a perversion and a crime? And how long would peaceable coexistence last in the face of absolutist ideologies that are inherently expansionist? The leaders of a Christian Right statelet would believe that homosexuality and feminism are wrong not only within the statelet’s borders, but everywhere, and they would feel a religious duty to enforce this belief as widely as possible.

The bottom line is that the primary objection to anarcho-pluralism, pan-secessionism, national-anarchism, anarcho-libertarianism and overlapping perspectives raised by leftists such as Lyons is their fear that some individuals, institutions, organizations, or communities is such a meta-political framework will practice values disapproved of by leftists or engage in discrimination against groups favored by leftists. The selective and arbitrary nature of such criticism is easy enough to identify. Imagine if a right-wing critic of anarcho-pluralism were to make comments such as the following:

Preston only acknowledges oppression resulting from liberalism and the Left to the extent that these are directly promoted by the state, particularly through formal, legal discrimination against specific groups of people. Arguing that “the state is a unique force for destruction,” Preston ignores or trivializes the dense network of oppressive institutions and relationships that exist outside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the state. It is these societally based systems of oppression, not state intervention, that perpetuate dramatic disparities in  the rate of violent crimes perpetrated against whites by blacks and Hispanics, widespread dissemination of pornography that contributes to sex crimes and social decay, and the promotion of drug use, sexual promiscuity and homosexuality leading to teen pregnancy, illegitimacy, drug abuse, broken families, child neglect, venereal diseases, crime, welfare dependency and other social pathologies .

Preston portrays secession as a voluntary process, in which many varied groups of people decide to go their own separate ways and coexist peaceably side by side. But what does “voluntary” mean in a context where leftist localities have the option of banning private firearms and private property, where urban white families have to live among and send their children to schools with violent black youth, or where Christianity is regarded as a backward superstition and a dangerous threat to freedom and progress? And how long would peaceable coexistence last in the face of absolutist ideologies that are inherently expansionist? The leaders of a Marxist statelet would believe that Christianity and private property are wrong not only within the statelet’s borders, but everywhere, and they would feel an ideological duty to enforce this belief as widely as possible.

Such criticisms would correctly be dismissed as special pleading on behalf of right-wing ideological values, political interest groups and favorite causes. One of the principal ideas behind anarcho-pluralism is the recognition that irreconcilable differences between different political factions and population groups will always exist, and the need to establish societal institutions that are capable of accommodating such differences in a way that avoids both bloodshed and the subjugation of some groups by others. With regards to the “authoritarianism” question, it is necessary to point out that abstract notions like “freedom,” “liberty,” and so forth are understood in radically different ways by different kinds of people. Lyons gives no evidence that his own ideological preferences are somehow decreed by the cosmos, by some divine creator, or by natural law. The bottom line is that the political and social preferences of leftists like Lyons reflect the subjective value judgments of individuals and groups in the same manner as any other kind of assertion of ideological principles. Leftism is ultimately just another tribe like Christianity, Islam, fascism, libertarianism, Satanism, or veganism.

The selectivity of Lyons’ criticisms is further illustrated by his choice of which groups to attack from the list of potential constituents for anarcho-pluralism that I have identified. He focuses on three of these: the League of the South, Christian Exodus, and believers in Christian Identity. He chooses not offer any criticism of “Marxist-Leninists,” “Islamic rightists,” “people of color nationalist movements,” “militant environmentalists,” and so forth. It is only those tendencies that claim to speak for the interests of white Christians that he seems particularly concerned about. This raises the question of whether it is really “authoritarianism” that Lyons is worried about or whether it is merely white Christians as a general population group whom he regards as the problem with political “authoritarianism” not really being all that important if it is controlled by leftists and their allies or constituents.

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A Reply to Matthew Lyons, Part One: Anarchism Contra Marxism Revisited 5

This is the first in a series of essays in response to Matthew Lyons’ critique “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism.” And here is the transcript of a recent lecture by Lyons where yours truly gets a couple of mentions.

by Keith Preston

Part One

Anarchism Contra Marxism Revisited: The Role of the State in Political Economy

Engels pretty aptly summed up the difference between anarchists and state socialists over a century ago: “They say abolish the state and capital will go to the devil. We propose the reverse.

-Kevin Carson

Let me say to M. Blanc: you desire neither Catholicism nor monarchy nor nobility, but you must have a God, a religion, a dictatorship, a censorship, a hierarchy, distinctions, and ranks. For my part, I deny your God, your authority, your sovereignty, your judicial State, and all your representative mystifications.

-Pierre Joseph Proudhon

Matthew Lyons summarizes his objections to my views on political economy as follows:

Preston portrays the state as the only significant source of oppression, and sees “corporate plutocracy” purely as a result of state interference in the market economy. It’s quite true as he argues that the state has actively promoted the concentration of wealth and economic power, but his assumption that “natural” markets can be separated from “unnatural” state involvement is a libertarian myth. Both state and market are institutions created by human beings, and the two are closely intertwined. Market relations have expanded enormously under capitalism — not in spite of, but largely through, state intervention (forcing subsistence farmers across the globe to become wage laborers, for example). “Freeing” markets from the centralized state would certainly reshape capitalist power, but would not abolish it. Rather, it would benefit certain forms of capital and certain business factions over others.

This is a restatement of relatively standard Marxist views of political economy. According to such views, capitalism is the outgrowth of the market economy itself with the state existing as a manifestation of the collective power of the capitalist class. It is this view of the state that has been among the principal sources of contention between Marxists and Anarchists in past times. Lyons also grossly oversimplifies my own views regarding the relationship between the state and ruling class power generally:

Although Preston is an elitist who expresses contempt for most people, he is also a populist. More specifically, his anarcho-pluralism represents a form of right-wing populism — that is, it seeks to rally “the people” against established elites based on a distorted analysis of power that both masks and reinforces oppressive social relations. Right-wing populism offers a plausible target for anti-elite rage that channels it away from a thoroughgoing attack on the oppressive order. Some right-wing populists target a specific ethnic group (such as Jews) or even a specific sub-group within the elite (such as bankers or multinational corporations). Preston targets the state. More precisely, he falsely equates oppression in general with the large, centralized state, in a way that both obscures and promotes other forms of social oppression and political authoritarianism.

The state by itself does not comprise the full body of the elite or the ruling class as a whole. Rather, the state is the core institution through which layered networks of systems of institutional power interact. The political class is merely the highest body of the ruling class, its top layer. The state contains within itself multiple layers and contending factions. It is the state through which the other core institutions of ruling class power such as banking and finance, international commerce, industrial corporations, systems of mass propaganda (i.e. education and the media), the legal caste, other professional castes such as medicine (“the white coat priesthood”), and military and police power are coordinated. These latter two institutions-the military and the police-are particularly important to the development of an understanding as to how the state interacts with the broader array of systems of power in a modern society.

Virtually all modern states claim a monopoly on military and police power. For instance, the organization of private armies outside the prerogative of the state is either formally or de facto prohibited in most U.S. jurisdictions. Anti-militia and anti-gang laws are examples of this. Now, there are also formally private but state-connected military organizations which operate on behalf of the state or to which to the state has “farmed out” aspects of its claimed military monopoly. The Blackwater mercenary corporation is an illustration of this. Ostensibly private entities such as Wackenhut or the Corrections Corporation of America that have existed for the purpose of constructing and maintaining aspects of the U.S. prison-industrial complex are another. But these institutions have as their function the implementation of policies specifically decreed and pursued by the state, such as mass imprisonment of subjects or military occupation of other nations. Genuinely private military organizations, such as the Black Panthers of the 1960s, the Order of the 1980s, or the militia movement of the 1990s, that act outside of or in opposition to the specific objectives pursued by the state always come under severe repression.

Modern economies are not strictly “capitalist” or “socialist” according to the classical definitions of these terms. The capitalist/socialist dichotomy emerged in the nineteenth century as a descriptive concept developed for the purpose of understanding and analyzing particular systems of political economy and manifestations of socioeconomic conflict as they existed then. But the capitalist/socialist dichotomy became somewhat obsolete following the major changes in the nature of the political economies and systems of class relations that emerged in the industrialized nations in the twentieth century. Rather, the systems of political economy found in the advanced nations might be regarded as kinds of capitalist/socialist hybrids. The development of this hybrid was indicated by the emergence of the so-called “managerial revolution” in the industrialized nations in the middle part of the twentieth century and the related evolution of the “New Class” of technocratic and bureaucratic elites. This hybrid developed in the various industrialized nations irrespective of the official ideology of each individual nation. Thinkers such as Lawrence Dennis and James Burnham observed and wrote about this phenomenon as far back as the 1930s.

It is indeed interesting to attempt to identify a system of class hierarchies within the context of a contemporary system of corporate-social democratic political economy and mass democracy. As mentioned, the traditional anarchist view is that the state is the highest class, over and above socio-economic elites. The financial oligarchy and the largest, most politically influential corporate entities might be the second layer with national corporations of lesser influence or large regional corporations being the third layer. The fourth layer might be the increasingly expansive professional and bureaucratic class along with more localized or nationally or regionally organized but less wealthy and influential business interests. The traditional white collar class and the self-employed or small business class (the “petite bourgeoisie” in Marxist terminology) might be the next level. Following this conventional middle class would be the upper strata of the working class, such as high wage union workers. The lower socioeconomic levels consist of  the lower wage/lower proletarian sector, the lumpen proletariat of the unemployed and marginal or criminalized populations, and the neo-peasantry of rural agricultural workers and small, almost subsistence level farmers. This general outline is an oversimplification, of course. Within each of these classes, there is an array of sectors with sometimes contending or conflicting interests and there are a number of economic sectors whose specific class identity is a bit difficult to classify. Within the context of modern mass democracy generally, it has to be considered to what degree class identities and manifestations of class power actually share political power with organized interests of a not specifically economic or material nature, i.e. so-called “interest group politics” of the type that emerged in the mid to late twentieth century. Examples include ethnic lobbies, environmentalists, feminists, gay rights, pro-gun control, anti-gun control, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, et. al. Leftists recognize this latter concept in their own way with, for instance, their criticisms of racial, ethnic, gender, or cultural interests which they consider to be forces for oppression.

I am a bit baffled as to where Lyons gets the idea that I am an apologist for vulgar capitalism as many of his comments regarding my economic outlook would seem to imply. Lyons discusses the role of rivalries between contending capitalist factions in the shaping of U.S. politics at both the regional and national levels. I acknowledged as much in my interpretation of the rise of the postwar conservative movement as representing an insurgency by the Sun Belt factions of U.S. “capitalism” , with these being heavily intertwined with the military-industrial complex which emerged during precisely the same era, and acting against the traditional northeastern plutocratic and financial elites. I also largely share his apparent interpretation of the U.S. Civil War as a class conflict between northern industrial capitalism and southern agrarian remnant feudalism. Having been involved in municipal politics for years, I am well aware of the role of local financial, commercial, and real estate oligarchies in manipulating the reins of local and state governments. I also see the current manifestation of the Democratic/Republican divide as in part representing a political rivalry between newer, more high-tech industries such as those related to mass communications and the cyber-economy on one hand and the older, more established industries, such as oil, banking, armaments, and agriculture. Indeed, I regard present day American party politics as representing a class conflict between the older bourgeoisie WASP elites and the rising cosmopolitan, multicultural upper-middle class.

Nor I have ever suggested that business power should reign unchecked in a stateless economy or that there should not be institutional arrangements or mechanisms established for the purpose of preventing an excessive concentration of control over resources and property. In fact, I have repeatedly argued for just the opposite in an extensive and detailed manner. Unlike the Marxists, I regard “private property” as essential to both economic prosperity and individual liberty. This does not necessarily imply a vulgar neo-Lockean or classical bourgeoisie conception of “property rights” in the same manner as conventional “right-wing libertarians” of the kind Lyons obviously despises. Rather, it implies a dispersed and decentralized control over resources minus an overarching state apparatus of the kind favored by Marxists or plutocratic corporations of the kind favored by the conventional Right. Of the contending economic factions of the Right, I am probably much closer to the distributists than to the vulgar libertarians.

It is indeed true that much of the corporate apparatus and its supporting institutions are either directly created or assisted and maintained by the state. Kevin Carson, for instance, has documented this extensively, above and beyond the dissection of the relationship between state and capital offered by Marxist critics like Gabriel Kolko. Now, it is also true that without, for example, central banking, laws of incorporation, or corporate welfare, corporate entities of the kind we are presently familiar with might exist anyway, though on a more limited scale. My prediction would be that the breaking of the alliance between state and capital would mean the elimination of the super-plutocracy. There might still be a less concentrated wealthy class, a larger middle class, and a class of the poor that is still capable of living a dignified existence but not the large underclass we have at present. To some degree, I think inequality is inevitable. Most sober thinkers since the Greeks have recognized this. There is inequality of both individuals and groups: nations, regions, communities, businesses, socioeconomic classes, and other demographic groups. Some individuals are more intelligent, motivated, skilled, wise, and virtuous. Some simply have better luck than others. Nature is kinder to some than others. So is chance or fate.

But that does not mean we should not challenge abusive or exploitive economic arrangements when possible. As Aristotle observed, the most successful societies are those that are able to maintain a large middle class. The question is how to go about doing that. The key is to avoid the establishment of a plutocracy at the top or an underclass at the bottom. This implies both a widespread dispersion of property and resources and the existence of institutions that counter balance the influence of commercial and financial interests. Lyons recognizes my endorsement of labor militancy and the creation of alternative economic enterprises of the kind represented by the Mondragon workers cooperatives, anarcho-syndicalist labor unions, consumer cooperatives, tenants unions, non-state social services, private relief agencies, land trusts, and mutual banks. I also support agitation for the repeal of state policies, such as those mentioned in Carson’s “Political Program for Anarchists,” that have the effect of centralizing control over wealth.  I also think we need strong intermediary institutions as a counterweight to the power of economic institutions. One of the effects of managerial liberal-capitalism is its tendency to undermine or absorb institutions other than the state, the economy, and entertainment. Other aspects of life are eradicated. Larry Gambone’s “The Myth of Socialism as Statism” contains an extensive overview of the vast array of alternatives to both state and plutocratic rule that different thinkers have at times proposed.

My own approach to economics is pluralist: Proudhon, anarcho-syndicalism, Henry George, Austrianism, distributism, populism, paleoconservatism, Kirkpatrick Sale and Kevin Carson. Regarding the question of institutional checks on economic power, even orthodox libertarian thought on this question is not as monolithic or lacking in nuance as its critics often suggest. Lyons raises the issue of company towns, which Friedrich Hayek also found problematical. Mutualist and Georgist theories of land ownership suggest the legitimacy of limits on individual or collective accumulation of land wealth. The great libertarian-classical liberal Thomas Szasz has expressed sympathy for antitrust legislation. Later in his career, Robert Nozick came to endorse the need for limitations on inheritance so as to prevent the entrenchment of family dynasties in economic life. Murray Rothbard considered fractional reserve banking to be a form of fraud and thought it should be illegal in a libertarian society. Hans Hermann Hoppe has endorsed the syndicalist model for the distribution of state-owned property and Rothbard and Karl Hess, at least for a time, expressed sympathy for student occupations of state-run universities and worker occupations of welfare corporations and state-subsidized industries. The agorist philosophy of Samuel Edward Konkin III postulated the concept of counter-economics and counter-institutions as antagonisms to the status quo. And while it is true, as Lyons points out, that libertarianism is the faction of the US right-wing that has most impacted my thinking, classical European anarchism has been an even greater influence on my own outlook

The state has unique coercive powers that other institutions do not have such as a legal monopoly on the use of violent force, and an ideological superstructure that legitimizes this monopoly. Max Weber regarded this monopoly as the essence of the modern state as it has existed since the time of the Treaty of Westphalia. The modern state’s powers of taxation and conscription have provided the state with unique capacities for destruction such as the production and amassing of nuclear weapons and the ability to amass the resources necessary to wage war on a total level. The state has a unique penchant for genocide. This is one of the chief political lessons of the 20th century. Whatever one thinks of McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, or Microsoft (and I think very little of these), such corporations simply do not hold a candle to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot regarding the question of institutional propensities towards the extermination of human beings on a massive scale.

The standard efforts at rebuttal offered by contemporary statists to arguments such as those mentioned above almost always involve an invocation of “democracy.” The presumption is that democratic states are of a fundamentally different nature than the more overtly totalitarian manifestations of the state associated with ideologies like Nazism or Stalinism. The assumption behind this argument is that democratic states are essentially peaceful and generally benign in their actions and not specifically inclined towards aggressive warfare, mass killing, or exploitation of subject populations in the same manner as non-democratic states. A school of political science, commonly labeled “democratic peace theory,” is even built up around this presumption. Therefore, a vitally important consideration that must be addressed by any contemporary critic of the state involves the question of the nature of the modern mass democratic state.

It is no mere coincidence that states have become more powerful and intrusive as they have become more democratic, and Plato’s ancient observation that democracy is typically the final stage in the degeneration of a political order before full-blown tyranny begins has been borne out by historical experience. The most vicious totalitarian states of the twentieth century emerged only after the traditional monarchies and aristocracies in their respective nations (e.g. Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia) had been overturned. Likewise, the rise of statism in the United States has transpired in direct proportion to the expansion of democracy. Indeed, the United States provides an excellent case study in how a traditionally democratic state can engage in mass killing and oppression in a way comparable to that of a formally totalitarian regime. It is widely known, for instance, that the USA incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than the ostensibly totalitarian Chinese regime. Likewise, the body count generated by American foreign policy during the Cold War and the subsequent era of the U.S. as the “sole superpower” often matched that of America’s totalitarian rivals. A number of researchers-Johann Galtung, John Stockwell, Peter Dale Scott, Noam Chomsky-have documented that the probable number of casualties generated by U.S.-directed counter insurgency and destabilization campaigns during the Cold War era was approximately six million, roughly the same number of casualties produced by the Jewish Holocaust. The hundreds of thousands of casualties produced by the American invasion and bombing of Cambodia during the early 1970s rivaled the casualty count achieved by the Khmer Rouge regime during the latter part of that decade. A similar comparison could be made between the Cambodian holocaust and the massacres generated by American puppet regimes in Central America during the 1970s and 1980s or the American-sponsored and financed Indonesian occupation of East Timor during the same period. The number of persons killed as a result of U.S. aggression against Iraq over the past two decades easily rivals the number of casualties produced as a result of actions taken by the regime of Saddam Hussein. The American empire is as pertinent an illustration as any of the inability of so-called “democracy” to act as a constraint on the destructive nature of the state.

As a less severe but still significant example of the relative power of the state versus non-state institutions, we might wish to take a look at the practice of debt enforcement and collection in the present day United States. Traditional debtors’ prisons have for the most part been abolished in modern societies. At present, the only debts on which default can lead to imprisonment in the United States are those debts imposed by the state such as taxes, criminal fines, child support, and, in some instances, civil damages awarded in lawsuits. Forms of private debt such as that pertaining to credit cards, utility bills, rent or mortgage payments, bank loans, car loans, school tuition, and so forth can carry significant consequences in the event of default but rarely if ever lead to imprisonment in instances of non-payment not involving actual acts of fraud. To break it down even further, we might wish to take a look at the differences in collection and enforcement practices between state-issued student loans and private student loans. Default on a state-issued student loan can lead to administrative wage garnishment and asset seizure, while private student loan creditors have to go to court to get an order of garnishment. State-imposed debts and state-issued student loans are the only forms of debt which are non-dischargeable through bankruptcy. Private student loans are also non-dischargeable, but are considered an unsecured debt which in turn places greater limitations on the ability of creditors to pursue debt enforcement. The law always prioritizes the interests of the state over and above the interests of private competitors to state power. Even Bill Gates is not exempt from the clutches of the state. George W. Bush, on the other hand, was able to start a war under fraudulent pretenses and kill a million people thus far with impunity.

The evidence from both historical and contemporary experience overwhelmingly affirms the traditional Anarchist view, contra the Marxists, that it is the state that is the ultimate power in society, that the state is a uniquely destructive institutional force in human civilization, and that the state is a privileged class unto itself over and above commercial or socioeconomic interests.

Lyons gives no specific indication of what his own ideal economic arrangements might be. At one point in his critique, he claims to oppose the “centralized state” along with other “hierarchies” but provides no description of how a non-market, non-statist egalitarian economy might actually work. This has been the norm among Marxists for the past one hundred and fifty years.

Maintaining anonymity while using Bitcoins 4

Vince Rinehart
The Daily Attack

6/16/11 – Move your cash into Bitcoin while protecting your identity

The crypto-currency of the future is here: Bitcoin. As can be expected, the government has been making a huge stink about this decentralized, difficult to stop, nearly impossible to control, psuedonymous digital cash. Its an inevitability that when you give people a powerful tool for freedom, they will use it for exactly that. Silkroad, only accessible via the TOR network, using Bitcoin as its currency, has created a near bullet proof service for buying and selling illegal drugs. The site is run in the world of .onion, the unregulated shadow internet run through the TOR network, where users can browse the internet anonymously, or set up their own untraceable servers and websites. At Silkroad, a built in reputation and feedback system reminiscent of eBay ensures that most transactions go smoothly with as little fraud as possible. Mail delivery of concealed drugs appear to have a high rate of making it through the US Postal system undetected. And Bitcoin remains reasonably untraceable. Reasonably untraceable.

Bitcoin is not a truly anonymous digital currency. An example of an anonymous digital currency would be eCache. From the anonymity article at the bitcoin Wiki:

The main problem is that every transaction is publicly logged. Anyone can see the flow of Bitcoins from address to address (see first image). Alone, this information can’t identify anyone because the addresses are just random numbers. However, if any of the addresses in a transaction’s past or future can be tied to an actual identity, it might be possible to work from that point and figure out who owns all of the other addresses. This identity information might come from network analysis, surveillance, or just Googling the address.

Network analysis can reveal which exchange service you bought your bitcoins from. Those bitcoins carry the traces of your original transaction even after you have made your purchase at the Silkroad. For the average user, the problem is moving fiat currency into bitcoin using an unidentifiable method of payment, thereby breaking the link between you and whatever it is you’re using your bitcoins for. Bank wires obviously won’t work. Dwolla, Paypal, Western Union, and any other payment system that requires you to deal with a public, registered corporations will leave a paper trail. Do you think Western Union is going to stand tall and not rat you out if push came to shove? Not likely. Neither is it likely that buying an occasional 1/8th oz. of pot at Silkroad will trigger a full scale investigation into your drug consumption habits. But for those of us who are paranoid, or have some serious money to hide from the IRS, or who are just plain cautious, here are your options to move your US Dollars into bitcoins while maintaining some degree of anonymity. One quick note, unless you’re mining your own coins (hey, not a bad idea!) you will have to deal with and trust someone, somewhere, to get your bitcoins.

Get TOR

If you even want to access a service like Silkroad you need to be running TOR. Even if you’re not buying drugs, TOR is the tool that will anonymize all of your online activity, including setting up accounts and communicating with bitcoin exchangers. The easiest way to do this is the all in one Browser Bundle. It works right out of the box, running its own instance of Firefox. No installation necessary. While your at it, store the Browser Bundle in a Truecrypt encrypted file. TOR+Truecrypt will open you to a whole new world. Trust me.

Now that TOR is running, use it and only it while accessing any Bitcoin related service or internet site. Also open an email account. A few of the services below don’t require email communication, but at some step of the way you’ll likely need to message someone. Remember to open and access this email account only through TOR! I suggest Safe Mail. They’ll wonder why you logged in from India 15 minutes ago and now appear to be in Australia, but they won’t pry.

Get a place to store your bitcoins

You’ll need a place where you can receive, store, access and spend your bitcoins. The easiest way would be to set up an account with a service like My Bitcoin. They act as a sort of online wallet. It’s the least technical way to get going with bitcoin, but it does require that you trust a third party with your money. If you are only sending through a small amount of money at a time for occasional transactions (like for retail volumes of drugs?) then your risk exposure is pretty low.

Mixing

You could just follow the advice at the Bitcoin Wiki and use a mixing service such as Bitcoin Laundry. This requires that you already have bitcoins, acquired through some of the more anonymous methods mentioned later in this article, or by using a bank transfer or other payment method at Bitcoin Exchange, MtGox, or another such service. This is ok, since the mixing service breaks the connection between you and your bitcoins after you purchase your bitcoins.

Right now Bitcoin Laundry is in beta, and its reliability to obscure your funds is limited by how many other people are using the service. Basically, a mixing services acts like a big pot that everyone throws their cash into. The mixing service then gives the pot a good shake, pulls the cash out, and distributes it back to everyone who put their money in, minus a small commission. If you were using US Dollars, imagine throwing a twenty dollar bill in, and receiving back someone else’s random twenty dollar bill, or a ten and 2 fives.

Again, the effectiveness of this is limited, you may get some of your own bitcoins back, or there may not be enough people using the service to adequately obscure who put in what and took out how much. BitLaunder (only accessible through TOR) takes a different approach. They take your bitcoins, sell them for another currency, then use that currency to buy different bitcoins and then send them to you. I imagine the bitcoins they sent back to you would still have their trace on them, but most important, they wouldn’t be directly traced back to your original purchase of bitcoins using Dwolla or wire transfer. So you still may have an issue with acquiring the original bitcoins that you throw into the mixer. Would you rather no money transaction service or financial institution know that you are moving money into Bitcoin?

The Cash is in the Mail!

The US dollars in your wallet have served the black market well over the years. Cash is pretty darn untraceable. Estimates of the US black market put its total value at 8-10% of GDP, all traded in crisp US bills. Hey! Maybe the Feds should be trying to shut down the US dollar instead of Bitcoin! Anyway…. in an ideal world, you’d be able to anonymously mail an envelope of cash to a trusted, reputable bitcoin exchanger and instruct him where to send your bitcoins. Two examples of such a service are:

Bitcoin 4 Cash

and

Bitcoin 2 Cash

They have different methods of operation, which can make a big difference. Bitcoin 4 Cash does in and out exchanges, meaning they buy bitcoins (in exchange for pre-loaded virtual credit cards, pretty cool) and sell bitcoins for cash. The exchange rate you pay is either locked in (a 10% deposit is required) or you take whatever the going rate is for bitcoin at the time Bitcoin 4 Cash receives your payment. In the first scenario, with a locked in rate, Bitcoin 4 Cash bears the risk that Bitcoin could sky rocket in value between the time you lock in your rate and the time your cash arrives in their mail box. This exact scenario has played out recently, leading to some drama (search the bitcoin.org forum.) In the second scenario, you bear the risk that your dollars will be worth fewer bitcoins by the time they reach Bitcoin 4 Cash.

Bitcoin 2 Cash (don’t get them confused, now,) operates an exchange market that matches buyers and sellers. When you send them your cash, you aren’t actually buying bitcoins from them. Instead, you’re funding an account that you then use to buy from another account holder who is selling. The theory here is that there are enough people doing out exchanges or trading to fill demand for bitcoins. The advantage is that you can decide exactly when you want to execute your exchange, leaving out some of the guess work that comes with trying to price out your dime bag in bitcoins a week into the future given market fluctuations.

Both of these services rely on a lot of trust in the operators. I highly suggest you research the reputation of these dealers and any other such service you consider using. If you take the proper precautions in mailing your cash, the only trace back to you will be the originating zip code the envelope was mailed from, which is not a whole lot to go on. And remember to direct them to send your bitcoins to your online wallet (like at My Bitcoin) that you opened and access only through TOR!

In Person Exchanges

You might just fire up your TOR web browser and go to the bitcoin forums and try to find someone nearby who is willing to sell you bitcoins in person. If you want to go really cloak and dagger, you could arrange a drop site for your cash, but you’d be relying on the seller of bitcoins to actually transfer bitcoins after you’ve paid him. Treating it like a Craigslist transaction is probably best. Meet at a coffee shop, bring a laptop, and engage in mutually beneficial trade. Ubitex, BTC Near Me, and Bitcoin.Local all take this concept a step further by matching buyers and sellers according to geographic location. Last I checked, no one was selling in my area, though. Your mileage here may vary.

Conclusion

Bitcoin is not inherently as anonymous as cold, hard cash. But following the steps above can make you reasonably safe. Some would even say that taking these steps to, say, buy drugs on the Silkroad is being a little too paranoid. The rationale being that the DEA will be most interested in busting the Silkroad operators and sellers on the site, and not worry too much about the buyers. But if you’ve read this far, you want to make it as difficult as possible for the man to get his hands on your bitcoin, and you’d rather he not know about how you spend your recreational time.

Remember this formula if nothing else: TOR + TRUECRYPT + BITCOIN = REASONABLE ANONYMITY!

UPDATE – 6/17/11

Bitcoin exchanger to comply with any court sanctioned investigations

Mt. Gox has announced that they will comply with any court sanctioned investigation. Due to the fact that they are an above ground company and under the legal jurisdiction of multiple nation states, this is not surprising. Indeed they could be forced to comply and cooperate or find their bank accounts frozen and their management held in contempt of court. Protect yourself! Protect your identity! Anonymize your bitcoin transactions!

Can’t We All Just Not Get Along? Reply

Kevin Carson on the real Obama.

Yeah, Obama’s been imposing a regular Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution on the country, all right.  A continuation of the Bush version of TARP, a doubling down on the war in Afghanistan, a scorched earth battle to defend Bush era war criminals against their rightful punishment, new claims of plenary Executive power….  The most “progressive” thing he’s done is a national version of Romneycare (you can almost hear the insurance CEOs crying “Please don’t fling me in that briar patch!”).

Obama’s even more of a managerial centrist than he let on during the campaign.  He was entirely truthful when he called himself a moderate. The real lie is the ideology of  moderation itself.

Obama lied when he said, “There is not a rich America, and a poor America….  We are one nation, one people.”

No, we’re not.  As Howard Zinn said, the U.S. political leadership talks as if there was some single “national interest” that “applied equally to all of us, colored or white, rich or poor, as if General Motors and Halliburton have the same interests as the rest of us, as if George Bush has the same interest as the young man or woman he sends to war.”  But it’s a lie…

…The idea that Obama is “hard-Left” is utterly laughable.  There is no Left in mainstream American politics.  Nancy Pelosi’s husband is an investment banker.  Joe Biden was the Senator from MBNA, and now he’s the Vice President from the MPAA.

The genuine Left was virtually destroyed, as a major political force, during Woodrow Wilson’s War Hysteria and Red Scare.  Since then, popular anger has been pretty effectively distorted and channeled by the myth of America as a “middle class country” with a common “national interest.”

Beware Human Rights Imperialism Reply

It’s somewhat surprising to find an article like this in a relatively mainstream publication like the Guardian.

Yet it does not require that much thought to realise that people in different countries may have different views about what policies would be most appropriate for achieving economic growth or that attitudes towards certain human rights are quite socially and culturally specific. No one should ever be tortured, arbitrarily executed or held in slavery, but notions such as freedom of expression, religion and sexual relations do vary in different parts of the world. The right to private property is basically a western concept, which may be politically sensitive in societies where it is associated with capitalism and colonialism.

Why Motorcycle Clubs Are Potential Constituents for Anarcho-Pluralism 5

Of all my positions on various things, one of the most controversial is my view that official outlaw organizations like motorcycle clubs and street gangs are potential constituents for the anarcho-pluralist struggle against the state. Indeed, aside from my militantly anti-totalitarian humanist outlook, this issue combined with my insurrectionist views are probably the aspects of my thinking that raise the most eyebrows.  Here’s an illustration of why I take this position:

Jury Chosen at Outlaws Trial in Richmond

Notice this passage in particular:

(Defense attorney) Collins said the job of the undercover agents is to break up gangs such as the Outlaws. He urged the jury to pay close attention to whether they were collecting evidence or instigating problems.

An authentic anarchist movement should be defined first and foremost by two essential characteristics. The first of these is a commitment to freedom of thought and speech in the tradition of Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, or Bertrand Russell. This is where our PC “anarchist” thought police fail the exam. The second characteristic should be a defense of all those who come under the attacks of the state. Clearly, the role of state agents in the infiltration of motorcycle clubs and other comparable organizations for the sake of stirring up violence between different groups should be exposed and attacked by opponents of the state. There are numerous reasons for this. First, such state agents often participate in crime themselves, and not just consensual crimes like buying and selling drugs. State agents of this kind provoke violence that would not otherwise occur in many circumstances. State attacks on motorcycle clubs or anti-gang laws essentially criminalize freedom of association and are used as a weapon against subcultures that are at odds with the establishment. Lastly, the same tactics that are used against groups like motorcycle clubs are often used against political dissidents as well. See COINTELPRO.

It matters not whether the members of such organizations are “good” people are not. Political and social struggles are not contingent on the virtue of the individual members of groups that are under attack by the state or the ruling class. We might aid a general strike by fast food workers, even though some fast food workers may be virtuous people and others may be scumbags. The historic struggle against evils like labor exploitation, slavery, the religious subordination of women, religious persecution, or the state persecution of homosexuals was not contingent on the individual character or personality of individual workers, slaves, women, religious or ethnic outgroups, and gays. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we adopt the totalitarian humanist practice of defining individual virtue by group identity, either. It is fine to recognize genuine problems caused by, for instance, the presence of street gangs for residents of nearby neighborhoods.  It is fine to hold individuals accountable for harm they do to others. Not all criminal prosecutions are “unjust” by any means, though we may ultimately seek abolition of the state’s “criminal justice” system and its replacement with our own private, common law, tribal, or otherwise non-statist legal systems.

Still, a crucial test of a true anarchist is the degree to which anarchists defend all enemies of the state, regardless of their personal feelings about them or the individual characteristics of persons involved. Fuck the feds, I’m rooting for the Outlaws.

Organizing the Urban Lumpenproletariat 14

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:

http://zombietime.com/gaza_war_protest/

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.

Why You Conservatives Should Give Us Anarchists a Chance: A Reply to Paul Gottfried 2

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.

You Musn’t Forget S-L-A-V-E-R-Y!!!!!! 1

In contemporary American political discourse, we often hear talk of “the legacy of slavery,” primarily in discussions of racial issues. To be sure, the “legacy of slavery” has had a damaging impact on American race relations (it wasn’t so wonderful for the actual slaves, either). Many of the rather severe social problems found among certain sectors of Americans of African ancestry today are often attributed to this legacy. I tend to think such claims are often overstated. For one thing, the overwhelming majority of American blacks are far from being the social or economic basket cases many people imagine them to be. As the black economist Dr. Walter Williams puts it:

If one totaled black earnings, and consider blacks a separate nation, he would have found that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world’s 16th richest nation. That’s just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans have been chief executives of some of the world’s largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, headed the world’s mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black. A few black Americans are among the world’s richest people and many are some of the world’s most famous personalities. These gains, over many difficult hurdles, speak well not only of the intestinal fortitude of a people but of a nation in which these gains were possible. They could not have been achieved anywhere else.

Of course, there is another side to this question, primarily the ongoing gap in accumulated wealth between whites and blacks, and the even more serious problem of the enormous black “underclass.” I’m inclined to think these latter problems have broader and more recent causes, such as ongoing patterns of class conflict, repression, politically imposed hinderances to the economic self-advancement of blacks, and attacks on the organic community life of the lower classes by the state. Still, there’s no doubt the “legacy of slavery” contributes to the disproportional representation of blacks among the lower classes that are impacted most heavily by such things.

There’s still another way in which the “legacy of slavery” has damaged American politics, and that is the persistent identification of ideas like local sovereignty, community autonomy or political decentralization as code words for slavery or compulsory racial segregation of the kind associated with Jim Crow. For instance, in much of American higher education, the classical American republican doctrine of “states’ rights” is simply dismissed as an anachronism that never had any purpose other than to defend the interests of slave-holders. Having studied American history in an advanced academic setting, I’ve noticed the general tendency is to present the unfolding of American history as an evolutionary struggle towards the achievement of “progress,” meaning overcoming reactionary ideas like states’ rights, limited government and other impediments to the glorious victory of the federal welfare state and centralized micromanagement of local race relations. Joe Stromberg’s parody of a modern course in what used to be called Western Civilization, which can be viewed here, is only a slight exaggeration.

The obsession with slavery has corrupted not only political discourse in elite academic circles, and among mainstream “progressive” thinkers, but also among fringe radicals as well. For this reason, my Number One Fan Aster feels it necessary to place this item in the proposed constitution for her rendition of Utopia:

The principle applies to places not subject to the jurisdiction of the County of Bohemia too, but this isn’t an excuse to bomb foreigners and take their stuff. Or to get other foreigners to ruin their livelihoods so they have to work in your sweatshops for virtually nothing. It even applies to BROWN people, believe it or not- and the fact that it took you this long to figure that out means you suck.

Section VII. Aster shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Actually, anyone who wants to stop a slavery situation should feel empowered to do it. Figuring out the enforcement and incentive structures will be a bitch, though- but that’s not an excuse for giving up and just letting slavery happen, Keith.

Soviet Onion:

Aster has written some unwarranted misrepresentations of Keith (I prefer to think he enables fascists rather than being one himself) and even more of Jeremy, but this isn’t one of them. Consider Keith’s mission statement that he’s a single-issue activist looking to bring down the Empire and will work with everybody from Fascists to Stalinists to do that, so long as they’re willing to secede, go their separate ways and dominate their own territories once the job is done. If he’s so ecumenical that he’s willing to work with all these people, then why not also some small-scale secessionist group that ended up practicing slavery in their area? What would make them so special that, given his stated criteria, Stalinoids are OK but they’re not?

If you include authoritarian forms of parenting, education and marriage as forms of slavery, then those are cases where he does directly advocate slavery. Unfortunately, that just makes him like everybody else.

So should we “just let slavery happen”? First of all, where does contemporary slavery actually take place? Mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. You know, the places where all of those supremely virtuous “people of color” tend to be found and who would have remained in the Garden of Eden if only those evil white European snake-devils hadn’t come along and fucked up their otherwise idyllic world. If only those evil white-devil slave traders hadn’t brought Africans to the Western hemisphere as slaves, perhaps their current descendents could enjoy living in the paradise of Nigeria, where seven percent of the population are still enslaved. Maybe the prosperous members of America’s black middle class (roughly seventy-five percent of American blacks) could even be in the oasis of Mauritania, where twenty percent of the population are still slaves. Of course, to their credit, the Mauritanians did pass an anti-slavery law in 2007. Who says they’re not progressive?

Do we need to “just let slavery happen?” No, a coalition of nations could invade the African continent and force the locals to free their slaves, in the style of U.S. Grant, Bill Sherman and Phil Sheridan. However, the only nations with the level of wealth and/or military power to even attempt such an effort (disaster though it would be) would be those of North America, Europe and Russia (plus the wild card of China). Problem is it’s mostly white folks who live in those nations. So a liberatory invasion of Africa and other slavery hotbeds seems to be off the table. Otherwise, we might be practicing European colonialism, or even white supremacy. Plus, it’s been done already. Wasn’t decolonialization supposed to be a “progressive” thing? So, yes, it looks like we do indeed need to “just let slavery happen.” Anything else might even be racist or white supremacist. Of course, we could assist those actual groups who really are doing something to oppose slavery in place like Africa. For instance, those groups who have actually purchased the freedom of Sudanese slaves. Problem is a lot these actually effective anti-slavery groups seem to be Christian in orientation, and we couldn’t endorse that, given that they are all no doubt frothing-at-the-mouth homophobes who express skepticism as to whether anal sodomy and/or rimming ought to be elevated to the level of sacramental rites, right along with eucharist, baptism and the last rites.

Actually, I don’t think we should be that hard on the African slave-holders. After all, they’re not so different from us white Americans of a mere 150 years ago. Plus, the slave-holders in places like Nigeria or the Sudan never got to go to U.S. or Western European public schools, receive multicultural education, or participate in “teaching tolerance” programs whose curriculum was designed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. So give them a break.

Of course, it is sometimes argued, though usually not by sensible people, that American-style antebellum slavery was of a particularly nasty variety, unlike the sunny and hedonistic kinds that existed in places like South America, Africa, China or the Islamic world. And while we would not want to impose Eurocentric Western values like slavery abolition on places like Africa (to do so would be racist), surely the recent ancestors of us white Americans, at least the enlightened ones from up North, should not have “just let slavery happen” in the states of the Old Confederacy? Africans enslaving Africans, Chinese enslaving Chinese, or Arabs enslaving Arabs might be something we can tolerate because, well, it just couldn’t be all that bad if “people of color” are doing it, but the idea of white American Southerners (and Christians, no less) enslaving Africans, well, that’s just, well, worse than awful, for some reason or another.

I reject the claims of modern day Confederate patriots that the U.S. Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and that it was all about tariffs, agriculture and states’ rights. However, I agree that the motivation of the Union was self-preservation rather than slavery abolition because, well, the President of the Union said so. Still, wasn’t the victory of the Union a victory for liberty? Yes, if we want to overlook the imposition of the draft in both the North and South during the course of the war, the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, and the maiming or displacement of millions more. Well, wasn’t it at least a victory for “anti-racism”? Well, not really, considering the next major military effort after the defeat of the Confederacy was the conquest of the Indian territories in the West. There’s also the thorny question of the fact that there were both Indians and blacks on both the Union and Confederate sides.

Then there’s the question of the impact of the Civil War on the future of American politics. The war marked the death of the old confederal republic and the creation of a centralized, Jacobin, nationalist regime and continental empire. If America had been split into two republics in the 1860s, the Wilson regime might not have entered World War One a half century later. It was American involvement in that war that led to the total destruction of Germany, the subsequent rise of Nazism, World War Two, the genocides that transpired during the war, the invention of atomic weapons, the Stalinist occupation of Eastern Europe, the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, the brush wars in Asia, the present day American world empire and other not-so-nice things. Indeed, the war for slavery abolition advocated by many of Lincoln’s abolitionist supporters would seem to be an example of the “armed doctrine” that Edmund Burke warned against. Of course, that does not mean that an actual guerrilla war against the Southern slaveholders of the kind advocated by the anarchist Lysander Spooner would not have been justified.

So back to Soviet Onion’s comments:

Consider Keith’s mission statement that he’s a single-issue activist looking to bring down the Empire and will work with everybody from Fascists to Stalinists to do that, so long as they’re willing to secede, go their separate ways and dominate their own territories once the job is done. If he’s so ecumenical that he’s willing to work with all these people, then why not also some small-scale secessionist group that ended up practicing slavery in their area? What would make them so special that, given his stated criteria, Stalinoids are OK but they’re not?

If you include authoritarian forms of parenting, education and marriage as forms of slavery, then those are cases where he does directly advocate slavery. Unfortunately, that just makes him like everybody else.

Aside from the fact that comparing “authoritarian” parenting, compulsory school attendance and marriage to chattel slavery does little except make others think that anarchism is a philosophy not suitable for anyone over the age of fifteen, there are certain significant qualifications that would need to be added for this to be an accurate description of my actual views. I am for the dissolution of the American regime into smaller, more manageable units. Presumably, America’s international empire would no longer be able to sustain itself. Those nations are that are now colonies, vassalages, or client-states of the U.S. would achieve their full independence. However they choose to organize themselves upon achieving independence is none of my business. If the Italians elect a representative of the fascist Italian Social Movement as mayor of Rome, or if the Venezuelans prefer Chavez as their leader, or if the Cubans fail to rise up against Castro as the Romanians did to Nicolae Ceausescu, then that’s none of Keith’s goddamn business.

The question of what political factions or ideologies, if any, should be excluded from a pan-secessionist alliance in North America is indeed an interesting one. While ideologies like Nazism and Stalinism are too alien to American political culture to ever become mass movements, it is possible small bands of such groups could carve out separatist enclaves for themselves. There could theoretically be autonomous urban neighborhoods run by skinheads, or rural compounds of neo-nazi survivalists, or communes organized by Stalinist or Maoist groups. Groups of this type could even hold fairly large tracts of land that would be their de facto private property. If such communities are entirely voluntary in their membership, then there can be no political objection to them on libertarian grounds. Of course, others might have aesthetic, moral or cultural objections. But that’s too bad.

In a case where, say, a Neo-Nazi or hard-core Communist group were to seize a wider city or town, I would say the degree to which such an effort should be challenged or recognized should depend on the circumstances. At bare minimum, I would want those who wished to leave to be given the chance to do so on a model similar to, say, the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. If such requests were refused, should surrounding communities engage in military action against the offending community? Perhaps, or perhaps not, depending on the circumstances, potential costs of such an action, the degree of severity of the offense given, and the probably of victory by the self-appointed policemen.

Ironically, this debate has relevance to an issue that I have raised with anarchists and libertarians in the past, and it is an issue where I have never received a satisfactory answer. What about a scenario where a libertarian or relatively libertarian society, or a federation of anarchies, was threatened by domestic political movements of an authoritarian or totalitarian nature? The classic example of this is the Weimar liberal republic, where the center collapsed and the two largest political parties were Hitler’s NSDAP and the Stalinist KPD, with each of these maintaining their own private armies, and engaging in routine, violent streetfighting with each other. To what degree do such groups cease to be mere political organizations using their rights of association, free speech and right to bear arms and become outright domestic invaders? Would the broader alliance of citizen militias, mercenaries, guerrillas, paramilitaries, posses, gangs or whatever that would comprise the defense forces of an anarchist federation ever be justified in suppressing the activities of a group like the NSDAP or the KPD? I believe they would, if such groups grew large enough, powerful enough, disruptive enough or violent enough to pose a “clear and present danger” to the survival of the anarchist federation. There is no reason why a confederacy of anarchies should tolerate an insurgency by a Khmer Rouge or a Shining Path.

I’ve even made similar arguments concerning immigration. To what degree should a host society allow or tolerate immigration by persons demonstrating values or originating from societies whose values are hostile to those of the host society? What constitutes a legitimate demographic threat? Should a billion Chinese be able to migrate to the U.S. tomorrow if they so choose, irrespective of the wishes of the natives? Should liberal-Enlightenment or Greco-Roman Western nations accept immigration from theocratic Islamic societies unconditionally? I think not.  It would seem that political, economic and civilizational survival would be an issue that trumps the migratory rights of immigrants.

These are difficult questions, and appeals to rigid ideological formulations and overblown juvenalia do not help to answer them.

Cultural Radicalism Beyond Political Correctness 2

I’ve written rather critically of the cultural Left in the past. I do this for two primary reasons: 1) my view that left-wing concerns about matters like oppression of racial minorities, women, homosexuals, et al, while rooted in legitimate concerns and historical realities, have metamorphed into a new kind of authoritarianism, intolerance, and dogmatic fanaticism that is only now starting to become prevalent and will likely become more predatory in the future; and 2) my view that the contemporary emphasis on cultural politics from the Left has proven to be extremely destructive to the broader struggles against the forces of State, Capital and Empire.

I have had many brickbats thrown at me because I hold these positions. Some of the criticism on these matters I have received is rooted in simple disagreement or honest misunderstanding. Yet, much of the more vociferous hostility I have encountered seems to be rooted in dishonesty, mendacity, and hysteria, thereby proving my point.  I’m going to outline what I consider to be  the “proper” positions on cultural politics for libertarian radicals in the contemporary era. I say “proper,” in the sense of conformity to actual, tangible facts, relevance to the types of societies we find ourselves in, and the relationship of such questions to broader issues.

In looking around for examples of how the cultural Left typically thinks, an excellent example is a pamphlet in my possession published by a left-wing anarchist “collective” in my local community in 2002. I’m going to quote extensively from this pamphlet, and offer my own thoughts in response. The folks associated with this collective are very good people, some of whom I’ve known for over ten years, who have supported various projects of my own, whom I’ve appeared on television with, and who do very good work on many issues. In no way is any criticism I offer meant to convey hostility or personal attacks.  The first point of this left-wing anarchist manifesto calls “For An End to White Supremacy”:

We live in a culture that was founded upon the slavery of Africans, the genocide of indigenous people, and the brutal exploitation of people of color.

No disagreement so far, though there was plenty of “brutal exploitation” of white labor during early American history as well.

Since our culture has not come to terms with its white supremacist past we continue to live in a white supremacist present based upon the unrelenting economic exploitation of people of color, the mass imprisonment of black and Latino youth, and the privileging of white people and their value systems. Behind the creation and perpetuation of this white Euro-centric status quo is the drive to create profitable capitalist empire.

I thoroughly disagree that we are in a “white supremacist present” in the contemporary United States, at least as far as historic American “white supremacy” is concerned. If that were the case, a black man could not be elected President, people would not lose their jobs or public figures would not be subject to relentless opprobrium for perceived racist utterances. Nor would features such as affirmative action or sensitivity training be the institutional norms that they have become. Are people of color really subject to “unrelenting economic exploitation”? The urban underclass, which is mostly black and Hispanic, falls into this category, but so does the rural white lumenproletariat. What about the black middle class? What about the black professional class or wealthy, upper class blacks?

White people need to know that allowing people of color marginal participation in the dominant white culture is not true freedom.

The problem with a statement like this is that it ignores demographic realities. Blacks are only 12.5% of the U.S. population, so it is unlikely that blacks are ever going to be dominant or a numerical majority in institutions or social organizations. The exception would be those geographical areas where blacks are a demographic majority, and in large American cities where that is the case, black dominated local governments are quite frequently found.

People of color in North America have historically resisted their oppression and colonization by any and all means necessary. From slave revolts to riots against the police to union organizing to movements for control of their own destinies they have resisted their oppressors. The white status quo has historically conceded only what was necessary  to preserve their power and prevent the emergence of a revolutionary mass movement against white domination.

There’s no mention of what a “revolutionary mass movement against white domination” would actually involve.  So long as whites are a demographic majority, there’s only three possible ways to avoid “white domination.” One would simply be to import large numbers of non-white immigrants to such a degree that whites would no longer be a majority. Indeed, this seems to be one of the reason why the Left is rather enthusiastic about mass immigration. Yet, the consequences of such an action are likely to be quite severe. Historically, genuinely multicultural/multiethnic societies tend to be rather unstable and prone to outbursts of intercommunal violence. Oppression of minorities by majorities becomes less of an issue than persistent strife and even bloodshed between contending racial/ethnic power groups attempting to get the political upperhand. Another method might be to grant minorities political and economic privileges and power beyond that of their actual numbers. This has been done through such measures as antidiscrimination laws, affirmative action, electoral redistricting so as to guarantee a certain number of minority legislators, quotas and set asides, school “busing” policies, and many other such measures that are too numerous to mention. Yet, in spite of all of this, minority and/or left-wing claims of inequality still persist.

The third alternative may well prove to be the most satisfactory one. Towards the end of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was apparently moving towards the idea of an independent black nation in North America, for the sake of achieving economic parity with the wider white society. Indeed, the level of wealth in the black community is already such that if black Americans were an independent nation, they would be one of the world’s more prosperous nations, comparable to many European or the more advanced Asian nations. Perhaps black sovereignty, and reparations for that purpose, will be the next phase of the movement for civil rights. The relative prosperity of black Americans may well be an obstacle to white embracement of reparations, as no living Americans ever owned slaves, and many were not even born when Jim Crow when still in effect. Still, there’s no denying that such past policies have prevented black prosperity of today from being what it otherwise would have been. If reparations were combined with elimination of statist social engineering policies concerning race relations, perhaps whites would not be as resistant.

We wholeheartedly support the needs and desires of people of color to organize in their own communities and workplaces free from the intrusion of the guilt-ridden consciences of white radicals. We recognize the ability of people of color to self determine their course in the world. People within the — — Collective who have white skin privileges will stand as allies and work in coalitions with people of color, when and only if, the people of color involved so desire.

Absolutely. I think the key phrase here is “when and only if, the people of color involved so desire.” Most radical groups in North American are predominately white, often exclusively so. The more rhetorically “anti-racist” they are the more all-white they seem to be. Racial minorities in North America who are politically motivated typically tend to prefer their own, separate political organizations. Some of these are obviously more about getting a bigger piece of the System, rather than overthrowing the System. But others aren’t, and it would seem the proper course of action would be to simply recognize and, when feasible, collaborate with black nationalists and related tendencies when mutually beneficial, with everyone otherwise going their own way. The emergence of groups such as Anarchist People of Color, the Lakota Republic, or the Pan-African International Movement would seem to be a positive development along these lines.

Another plank in my anarchist friends’ manifesto reads “For An End to All the Tentacles of the Patriarchy”:

We aim to shape a society based on equality, mutual respect, celebration of difference, and freedom from dominant patriarchal values and behaviors. Our society places value on labor, politics, and culture that benefits men, heterosexuals, and people who don’t bend the gender they were assigned at birth. Women, transgendered people…transvestites…transexuals…butch women…and feminine males..intersexed people… and sexual minorities (gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, etc. are in different ways oppressed by a patriarchal system that privilges the masculine, the “normative” heterosexual, and the “appropriately” gendered.

I think some qualification is in order here. As Justin Raimondo points out, certain sectors of the homosexual population are quite successful and prosperous. It’s also true that some within the “gay rights” movement have an authoritarian and destructive agenda of their own. Still, if freedom or liberty or anarchy means anything, it ought to mean the right to be different or to be a non-conformist, and there are some people who would not give a “sexual minority” a fair shake no matter what. While there’s always going to be a certain price attached to being “different,” as that’s the way human nature and human societies actually work, it is true that oppressions of this type have long been overlooked. There are religious non-conformists that have been persecuted in American history to various degrees-Quakers, Antinomians, Mormons, “witches,” Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moonies, Branch Davidians. There exists such groups today on the cultural level (drug users, for instance).  No reason exists why the oppression of sexual /gender outgroups cannot be opposed with the same vigor with which one might oppose religious persecution.

The patriarchy manifests itself in many visible ways; from the disparity of earning power between women and men…

There are reasons for this besides rank misogyny but there’s no identifiable reason why there cannot be a meritocracy whereby individual recognition is based on personal achievement and ability rather than group characteristics like gender. One of my favorite examples of such are the resistance movements in Latin America. Twenty percent of the FMLN of El Salvador’s fighting forces in the 1980s were females, and there were even all-female military units. At times, one third of the FARC of Colombia’s forces have been teenaged girls, and when it comes to leadership roles, there’s no denying the place of leaders like Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman or Voltairine de Cleyre in the anarchist pantheon. Some of the most ferocious fighters in China’s Tai Ping rebellion in the 19th century were female warriors.

…to brutal hate crimes against queer and trans people…

Certainly, such crimes are despicable, yet they are only a very small portion of all the violent crime that occurs in America. The people who perpetrate such actions are not honored by society. Such actions often become national scandals and the perpetrators subject to arrest and lengthy terms of imprisonment. However, just as some people commit other acts of murder, robbery or rape inspite of laws, arrests and prosecutions ostensibly designed to prevent such behavior, “sexual minorities” continue to be victimized in such ways at times as well. Perhaps the Pink Pistols are the solution?

…to the inaccessibility of hormones and surgery for transsexual people…

Very few people today realize that the polio vaccine was developed without state funding. Instead, it was developed through a private foundation founded by FDR, with funds provided by the March of Dimes. Perhaps there could also be a “March of Dollars” to generate funding for gender reassignment surgery for trans people?

…to the constant fear of violence that many women feel on the streets…

The obvious solution here is more women who are skilled and trained in the use of weapons, including firearms, for self-defense, and the repeal of laws restricting self-defense. This should be an issue where anti-rape and anti-sex crime feminists and conservative gun rights activists can find common ground.

Simultaneously, the patriarchy operates in many “invisible” ways; from the way that we speak and interact intimately…

Sorry, but “intimate” relationships are a matter of interpersonal relations, whatever the issues that arise, not political matters.

…to the self loathing that many queer, intersexed people, transgendered people and women feel…

Psychological peace has to come from within. If you look to others or to society to provide it, you’ll be waiting a long time. It’s as simple as that.

…to eating disorders caused by sexist beauty standards…

Again, self-acceptance comes from within, not from without. All societies have “beauty standards” of some sort. An acquaintance of mine who is a specialist in Latin American history tells me the Mayans thought crossed-eyes were attractive. In some cultures, “plump” women are considered attractive. Such variations we will always have with us.

…to the feeling of entitlement that people socialized as male often feel…

And not just “people socialized as male.” The assholes ye shall always have with you.

As a first order of business, cultural radicals need to get past their tendency to act with reflexive hysteria whenever “conservative” social views or opinions not in line with left-wing orthodoxy are presented or expressed. The dichotomy between “change” and “tradition” or “reactionary” and “progressive” will always exist on some level. Any genuine libertarian philosophy must have freedom of thought, opinion, speech and honest and open debate as a foremost principle. Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance describes the intellectual atmosphere of Hans Hoppe’s annual gathering of the Property and Freedom Society in Bodrum, Turkey:

These conferences provide a time and a place where nothing is off limits. There are no forbidden subjects, no polite suggestions that whatever is being loudly debated over dinner by the swimming pool might be “inappropriate”. The only rule is the obvious one—that you listen to the other side before making reply.

These are conferences where social conservatives sit down with anarcho-libertarians, where Czechs and Chinese discuss where history went wrong, where English is the preferred language, but a knowledge of half a dozen other languages will frequently come in handy.

They are also conferences useful for what everyone nowadays describes blandly as networking, but what the old Marxists, with a more sinister and accurate turn of phrase, called “cadre building”. It is in Bodrum, every May, that the connections and ideas that will be the future of the libertarian movement are first to be perceived.

And so it should be.