The Alternative to Ideology 8

By Jerry Taylor

Niskanen Center

When we launched the Niskanen Center in January 2015, we happily identified ourselves as libertarians. Sure, we were heterodox libertarians, but there are many schools of libertarianism beyond those promoted by Charles Koch’s political operations. The school we identified with was a left-libertarianism concerned with social justice (a libertarian perspective that I’ve defended in debates with more orthodox libertarians here and here). That worldview lacked an institutional voice in 2015. Our ambition was to create a space for it and, in so doing, redefine what it meant to be libertarian in the 21st century.

I have abandoned that libertarian project, however, because I have come to abandon ideology. This essay is an invitation for you to do likewise — to walk out of the “clean and well-lit prison of one idea.” Ideology encourages dodgy reasoning due to what psychologists call “motivated cognition,” which is the act of deciding what you want to believe and using your reasoning power, with all its might, to get you there. Worse, it encourages fanaticism, disregard for social outcomes, and invites irresolvable philosophical disputes. It also threatens social pluralism — which is to say, it threatens freedom.

The better alternative is not moral relativism. The better alternative is moderation, a commodity that is rapidly disappearing in political life, with dangerous consequences for the American republic.

My hope is that I might best convince you to leave ideology behind by holding up a mirror to an ideological culture that is likely not your own — the world of libertarianism — and discussing the reasons why I left it behind. I suspect that, for those who hold to an “–ism,” the ideological culture of my old world doesn’t look too terribly different from your own.

I do not aim here to settle old scores or to criticize friends and former colleagues. After all, the beliefs that I find wanting today are the very beliefs that I myself held for most of my adult life. I simply mean to put in stark relief the pitfalls of ideological thinking, to illustrate those pitfalls in the world I know best, and to make the case for something better.

Ideology = Motivated Cognition

The first pangs of doubt about my old ideological attachments arose from my loss of faith in the case against climate action. As I began to express doubts about the narratives offered by climate skeptics, I found it impossible to offer an argument that resonated with my libertarian colleagues. But just how, exactly, does an ideological commitment to limited government, free markets, and individual dignity inform an understanding of atmospheric physics or paleoclimate records? And what does libertarianism have to contribute regarding the case for hedging against incredibly dangerous risks stemming from the misuse of a common pool resource, such as the atmosphere?

Libertarians have nothing at all to contribute to the conversation about the science of climate change as libertarians. They could, however, marshal ideological insights to suggest the best means of addressing global warming if it indeed turns out to warrant a policy response (as I believe it does). For libertarians, that could mean a carbon tax, but for other, more hardline libertarians, it could mean that greenhouse gas emitters should be held liable for climate-related damages via common-law legal proceedings.

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Ann Coulter vs Hasan Piker on Immigration 1

A predictable shit show. I love political fractiousness. Virtually none of the contending factions associated with the present political/culture war paradigm have any relevance to the pan-anarchist position. All of them are groups that seek control of the state or seek to solicit favors from the state. The best bet is for the Left and Right to continue to attack the Center, while simultaneously attacking each other, and for the Left and Right to similarly fracture internally. The objective is to weaken the state’s ability to  maneuver while preventing any political faction from gaining a monopoly on power.

 

Far Left Media Is Dying Because Gen-Z Is Too Conservative 6

Will the rise of Generation Z mark the death of SJWism? Is the PC/SJW/Antifa phenomenon simply the final stage in the backlash against the “old world” that existed before the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, and which has now become status quo?

It is necessary for anarchists and libertarians to oppose authoritarianism wherever it emerges. In the 1950s, it was racism and McCarthyism. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was the draft and the Vietnam War, Nixonism, and COINTELPRO. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was Reaganism, the War on Drugs, the “Satanic panic,” the religious right, Clintonism, and the “war on crime.” In the 2000s, it was the neconservatives and the War on Terrorism. In the past decade or so, left-wing authoritarianism of the SJW variety has become pervasive. In the future, it could become something else. For instance, “anti-sex trafficking” hysteria seems to be on the rise, or perhaps SJWism could create a right-wing backlash of the kind that has already been partially observed by the emergence of Trumpism, the Alt-Right/Lite, etc. Eternal vigilance.

 

Far Left Media Is Dying Because Gen-Z Is Too Conservative. Study after study shows the trend, generation z is becoming conservative and mostly resembles libertarians or moderate Republicans. This is a dramatic shift from Millennials who are overwhelmingly progressive. What happens then is that these companies cannot grow or attract new readers because young people do not want far left media. The outcome is obvious, these companies are laying people off and collapsing. While social justice is something most people agree with, the regressive left is too authoritarian and off putting.

Critiquing Left-wing Authoritarianism is Essential to Anarchism Reply

The foundation of anarchism should be a commitment to anti-authoritarian values generally, not just opposition to “right-wing authoritarianism.” Far too many anarchists are simply “conventional progressives, minus the state” and even the anti-statism of many “anarcho-social democrats” is questionable. Left-wing authoritarianism has been a plague on radical movements for more than two centuries. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the critiques of left-wing authoritarianism that have been developed over time.

One of the first and most important works of this kind was Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. The writings of Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche provided an analysis of left-wing politics as a expression of secularized religiosity. Early anarchist criticisms of Marxism are also an important part of this history, particularly the critique of Marxism offered by Bakunin. In the 20th century, a range of writers from the left and right created critiques of Communist authoritarianism. The writings of Arthur Koestler are among the most interesting of these.

Many anarchists, even those of a hard left variety, are aware of the history of Communist totalitarianism (although such tendencies are also making something of a comeback in leftist circles as well, and are presently infesting the anarchist milieu in various ways). However, many anarchists are oblivious to the fact that the tradition of leftist authoritarianism is far more than merely Bolshevism or Stalinism. Hence, most anarchists have no intellectual armor against the influence of critical theory and “cultural Marxism.”

The Marxism That Must Not Be Named 1

History repeating itself as a tragedy and a farce. The principal weakness of most contemporary anarchists is their failure to recognize that any set of values can be turned toward authoritarian ends, not just conservative ones, and any kind of group can act in an authoritarian manner, not just traditionally hegemonic ones. Here’s the money quote from this article:

“And if all the volumes of scholarship are not enough, the parallels between Marxism-Leninism and cultural Marxism are obvious:

  • Both eliminate freedom of thought and expression and attempt to impose totalitarianism on their suffering subjects, as we see on too many American university campuses.  Stalin’s and Mao’s tyranny was more oppressive than Hitler’s or Mussolini’s and killed far more people, probably at least ten times as many.
  • Both see history as a product of only one factor, in Marxism-Leninism ownership of the means of production and in cultural Marxism which groups, defined by race and gender, have power over which other groups.
  • Both define some groups of people as good and others as evil regardless of what individuals do.  Marxism-Leninism defines workers and peasants as good and capitalists and members of the middle class (the hated bourgeoisie) as evil, while cultural Marxism says whites, males, heterosexuals, and non-feminist women are evil while blacks, third world immigrants, gays, and feminists are good.

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How Leftists Learned to Love Le Pen Reply

This article is almost two years old but relevant to current events. Has the “far right” become the “new left” now that the Left has largely fallen down on the job? On an international level, if neoliberalism has become the standard, and if the traditional left has largely been coopted and absorbed by neoliberalism, is populism the “new left” in terms of domestic politics of Western countries? And is Eurasianism the “international left” when it comes to global geopolitics?

By Katy Lee and Claire Sergent

Foreign Policy

The leader of the French far-right National Front (FN) party Marine Le Pen visits on March 20, 2015 a farm in the northwestern French town of Juilley ahead of the ahead of the March 22 and 29 departemental local elections. AFP PHOTO/CHARLY TRIBALLEAU. (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

The leader of the French far-right National Front (FN) party Marine Le Pen visits on March 20, 2015 a farm in the northwestern French town of Juilley ahead of the ahead of the March 22 and 29 departemental local elections. AFP PHOTO/CHARLY TRIBALLEAU. (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

HAYANGE, France — The towers of the ArcelorMittal steel mill loom over the little town of Hayange, silent and shuttered. Few people stopped to chat on a recent winter day — the streets were shrouded in an icy fog — but those who paused summarized life here succinctly: There has been little work since the blast furnaces at the mill were shut down in 2013, and little hope either.

“Everyone is sick of it,” said Pascal, who declined to give his last name, leaning on the door of his tattoo parlor. “100 percent I am going to vote for Marine Le Pen.”

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The Last Temptation of the Evangelical Right 2

I generally hold to the obviously heterodox view that, contextually speaking, Donald Trump is the most liberal president the USA has ever had (though Barack Obama was more liberal on some social issues like the environment and transgender rights, and Jimmy Carter was more liberal on some foreign policy issues like international human rights). It is therefore interesting that his biggest supporters would be some of the furthest right sectors of US society, such as the religious right and the racialist right. Imagine Hugh Hefner or Larry Flynt running for president in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s with followers of George Wallace, Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson as their biggest backers., and you have a rough analogy to the present situation. This article by a neocon evangelical and former member of the Bush administration explains why. During the George W. Bush era, I said that Dubya did not govern any further to the right than LBJ, and Trump is much further to the left.

By Michael Gerson

The Atlantic

ne of the most extraordinary things about our current politics—really, one of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history—is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. The president won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.

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The Weekly Standard’s demise is a reminder that there are some ideas worse than Trumpism Reply

It’s good to see someone on the Left recognizing this. The most important benefit of Trumpism, in my view, is the eclipsing of the neocons.

By Matthew Yglesias

Vox

Moderator Joy-Ann Reid (L) and Bill Kristol at an “LBJ” panel during Politicon at the Pasadena Convention Center on July 29, 2017, in Pasadena, California.
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon

The future of the venerable conservative magazine the Weekly Standard is in doubt for the sin of being insufficiently pro-Trump to satisfy the tastes of its owner and other denizens of the right-wing moneybags community. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the American conservative movement.

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Anti-White Politics is anti-Revolutionary Nonsense Reply

An interesting M-L-M critique of the critical theory oriented “Left.” I don’t agree with his general ideology but I agree with his assessment of “identity politics” as having no real value other than to create divisiveness that will have the effect of undermining the system (“destabilizing the imperialist core”), thereby making anti-imperialist victory more likely. That’s why I have spent so much time promoting all kinds of fringe, freakazoid movements and ideologies, and favor the most extreme, ridiculous or insane political candidates. Weaken the system at its core. Another thing I like about Jason is that he recognizes that the “revolutionary potential” of the First World is minimal to non-existent. I agree with his assessment of the Third World at the focus of anti-imperialist revolution, even if I don’t share his Marxism.

 

 

Xi Jinping & Chinese Communist Party are the cutting edge of Marxism Reply

Needless to say, I think Caleb is overly enthusiastic about China (interestingly, I know Libertarians who are Sinophiles as well). But his takedown of the Western Left is refreshing. Caleb is also being overly optimistic about the interest of young people in “socialism.” Yes, there is a growing number of Millennials who identify as “socialists,” but for them that only means the Canadian healthcare system and free college tuition (i.e. neo-Rooseveltian liberalism). Very few young people would have a clue about ideas like nationalization of the means of production and a centrally planned economy or, alternately, workers control of the means of production on the syndicalist model.

 

 

From Rojava to the Mapuche Struggle: The Kurdish Revolutionary Seed Spreads in Latin America Reply

Internationalist Commune

For several years, the Kurds have been at the forefront of a revolution in Western Kurdistan (Rojava). Their alternative system to capitalism has resonated all over the globe. Their society is organized according to Democratic Confederalism, an ethical form of political organization that brings together ideas from libertarian municipalism, social ecology, and feminism.

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Do We Need a Fifth Political Theory? 7

Alexander Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory is an attempt to create a new ideology beyond lliberal democracy, fascism, and communism while avoiding “prejudices” against any of these. I would argue that the approach of ATS amounts to a “fifth political theory” which involves establishing the anti-authoritarian paradigm (pan-anarchism) as a “revolutionary center” which opposes liberal democracy, fascism, and communism as existential enemies.

A Refreshing Discussion from the Serious Hard Left Reply

This is a really interesting discussion between two Marxist-Leninists that actually gets into a range of important questions. I’m not sure of their specific affiliations. Caleb Maupin is a former member of the Workers Worker Party who is now a journalist for Russia Today, and appears to be a generic Marxist-Leninist who supports the model developed in China by Deng (which many hardliners consider revisionist). Jason Unruhe runs the “Maoist Rebel News” YouTube channel, but he has said he is no longer a Maoist, and describes himself as a Third Worldist. They discuss the difference between actual Marxism and “cultural Marxism,” Soviet economic development, why SJWs aren’t real “socialists,” race relations and economics in South Africa, the various intellectual and historic arguments for socialism over capitalism, the libertarians vs. Marxists debate, neoliberalism, social democracy, how liberals have abandoned the antiwar cause, why the Trumpians are better than McCain and the neocons, the Communist interpretation of the of the demise of the Soviet Union, the role of fascism and how fascists borrowed from Communism, present day Communist countries, the situation in Venezuela, etc.

These guys remind me of the old guard Communists I used to hang out with during my time as an activist against the US war in Central America in the 1980s. I do not and have never subscribed to the Marxist-Leninist ideological framework, but it’s interesting to hear a perspective on the condition of the supposed “Western Left” from actual hard leftists. I could offer my own predictably idiosyncratic interpretation of the Communist experience within a historical perspective. I largely agree with the anarchist or left-Marxist position (and the position of Murray Rothbard during his New Left phase) that the Communist revolutions in the East were the Eastern world’s equivalent of the bourgeois revolutions in the West in the 18th and 19th century. Only these revolutions occurred within a Marxist ideological framework (largely because Marxism had already replaced liberalism as the dominant revolutionary ideology among intellectuals), and within the tradition of Eastern despotism rather than Western liberalism. The Communist revolutions took place in feudal agrarian rather than industrial capitalist societies, so the big question for Communist regimes was the matter of how to achieve industrialization. I tend toward the idea that the surviving Communist states have done so largely by adopting a variant of Lenin’s New Economic Policy, i.e. using capitalism as a means of economic development. This is certainly the route that China, Vietnam and Laos have pursued, and Cuba and the DPRK seem to be headed in that direction. In other words, Communism was largely a historic transitional phase between feudalism and capitalism in Eastern agrarian societies, and a number of places in Asia and the Global South. It might be possible to include non-Leninist forms of socialism from outside the West in this paradigm as well (e.g. Baathism, Nasserism, Third International Theory, African socialism, etc).

Why Social Justice And The Far Left Are Doomed To Collapse 1

Some interesting commentary from Tim Pool.

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Social Justice And The Far Left Are Doomed To Collapse due to internal inconsistency within itself. They advocate for the rights of groups at odds with each other and for positions that can’t be brought together. You can’t advocate for Abrahamic fundamentalists while also advocating for the rights of women and other marginalized groups. You can’t support health care for all but also open borders as resources are finite Social justice groups and feminists constantly fight among themselves over issues yet still try to bring in more groups and ideologies. We are left wondering which is the real feminists? Second wave feminism? Third wave? Fourth?

Trump’s Great Wall is Trump’s Great Stall? Reply

Ann Coulter, as everyone knows, is a staunch conservative and immigration hawk. But she correctly perceives that Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric is largely a ruse intended as raw meat to be thrown to his base. Coulter’s examination of electoral politics correctly perceives that the future belongs to the ascending forces represented by the alliance of the techno-oligarchs and the new clerisy (as I have been saying for almost 20 years). By any reasonable standard, Trump is one of the most liberal presidents, if not the most liberal, that America has ever had. Anarchists, libertarians, anti-statists and anti-authoritarians need to get over the “rightwingophobia” that is common in our circles, and start focusing on who the enemy will be in the future.

Every day that Trump does not keep his promises on immigration, thousands of immigrants turn 18 and start block voting for the Democrats, while thousands of traditional Americans die off. Florida and Texas are about five years away from turning solid blue. Trump was our last chance. After this, the country is never going to elect a Republican president again.

Yep. As I am not a conservative, I am not at all unhappy about the prospect of never electing a Republican President again.

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