What is “Socialism,” Anyway? 2

The word “socialism” is constantly being thrown about by supposed supporters and detractors alike, most of whom are people who have no clue as to what socialism actually is.

I am opposed to conventional socialism, which I actually consider to be a conservative philosophy (see Murray Rothbard’s essay “Left and Right” on this). Historically, socialist societies have been very conservative. There is no developed, “First World” country that practices socialism, and there never has been. The supposed “socialist” countries in Northern Europe practice a kind of “welfare capitalism” that is often more “free market” than the United States (where the market is subordinated to a kind of corporatist-financier-plutocratic-military-command economy, like an industrial-technological version of the economy of the Roman Empire).

Historically, socialism has appealed primarily to middle-class intellectuals and professionals in colonial societies and feudal countries whose national, political or class ambitions were being frustrated by either external colonialist/imperialist powers, or their own entrenched/inert ruling classes. Socialism was regarded as means of seizing the wealth of external colonial overlords, their colonial puppet rulers, and feudal elites, and utilizing this wealth for internal development (which is why Western colonial powers have been so opposed to socialism). Most of these countries eventually convert to capitalism (or simply stagnate or fall apart).

This Wikipedia entry listing socialist countries that have actually existed is pretty thorough. Notice that not a one of them is or has even been a Westernized industrial democracy. The “socialism” of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, etc is standard welfare capitalism of the kind that developed in the late 19th and early 20th century through philosophies like progressivism, Fabianism, social democracy and reform liberalism.

Modern industrial economies are hybrids of market relations, and bureaucratic-managerial-administrative systems, with interlocking public, private, and independent sectors. Check out James Burnham’s work on the “managerial revolution” from the 1940s. He was an early observer of how classical bourgeois capitalism was being replaced with the modern, corporate, administrative kind. In a historical context socialism means either a nationalized economy that is directed by the state, or a worker run cooperative/syndicalist system, or some kind of New Harmony like utopian commune. However, the latter two examples are a fringe tendency within socialism (or have been during the past century), were denounced by Lenin as an “infantile disorder,” and are not what most people think  of when they think of socialism.

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Uniting the Fringe Against the Center 2

By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit

Exile in Happy Valley

Watching the news lately, you get the impression that the world is being ripped in two by the scourge of the far-right and the far-left. Populism they call it. Warring tribes in a binary war for the soul of the free world. In the US, Our dear orange Pericles is scheming mightily to manipulate the already unconstitutional powers of executive privilege to follow through with his promise to militarize the commons at the boarder. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is in virtual upheaval over how to contain a 5-foot-2 congresswoman for making the “antisemitic” observation that perhaps Israel has too much influence over Washington while the rest of the party keep McCarthyism alive with their own Russophobic “tropes”.

Across Europe and many other parts of the world, you here a similar tale of the populist left and/or the populist right going too far in one direction or the other, many times both simultaneously in an act of sociopolitical fission. You also hear a great collective wail from the established order who still maintain control over the press and the permanent government, lamenting the untimely demise of globalism and an ill-defined sense of pragmatism among the holy Neos, both liberal and conservative. These heavily microphoned scions of the status quo would have you believe that the world was in perfect harmony before the 2008 financial crash that they and their order precipitated with the bipartisan pillage of the world’s financial resources. In times like these the Ivy League appointed intellectual hierarchy of corporate thinktankland like to blow the dust off that old time honored canard of Jean-Pierre Faye’s Horseshoe Theory. The idea that, when push comes to shove, the far-right and the far-left are like two ends of a horseshoe, nearly meeting each other ideologically in the middle.

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The First World Left vs. Anti-Imperialism, Third Worldism, Pro-Indigenous, and Lumpenproletarianism 1

The problem I have with figures like Bernie and Alexandria is that they’re not radicals. They’re simply representatives of the left-wing of the First World middle/upper middle class, pushing issues that are important that socioeconomic demographic. Unlike the traditional American middle class (now the right-wing of the middle class) they don’t necessarily see the state as impeding their upward mobility by means of taxes, business regulations, etc. Instead, the left-wing of the middle class represents upwardly mobile members of traditional outgroups like ethnic minorities, feminist women, gays, etc (hence, the fanatical emphasis on idpol), their aesthetic interests (hence, their interest in environmentalism), their desire to be protected from the “dangerous classes” (hence, their fanatical emphasis on gun control, and their fear of guns in the hands of icky rural rednecks and inner-city brothas). They see the state as a means of upward mobility by means of public sector employment, social security, free schools and healthcare, anti-discrimination laws, etc.

I have no time for any of this. I am (generally speaking) anti-imperialist, Third Worldist, and pro-indigenous in international relations, and pro-lumpenproletarian in First World class relations. Historically, the Right was the party of the traditional elite, the Center was the party of the middle class, the Left was the party of the respectable working class, and the Anarchists were the party of the lumpenproletariat. I stand with the latter.

Tucker Carlson on the Religiosity of the Authoritarian Left 1

Apparently, my critique of the SJW ideology as a kind of theocratic religion is now becoming mainstream. The long term effects of the SJW ideology will likely be the following: centrist Democrats will be pushed rightward (thereby liberalizing the Right in the process), the traditional working class will also be pushed increasingly rightward (i.e. the ones who care about gun rights, free speech, taxes, religious liberty, etc) and more receptive to right-wing populist messages, and the Left will become more fractured among contending factions claiming victimological status, or claiming to be more ideologically pure than others.

Ultimately, my position is that the ATS approach constitutes the “true far left,” i.e. a form of far-left anarchism that embraces the panoply of anti-authoritarian ideas and movements, and rejecting Communism as the Eastern world’s version of National Socialism, rejecting social democracy as a middle class oriented managerial statist ideology, rejecting SJWs as quasi-theocratic social conservatives, and rejecting Antifa as a mere variation of the skinhead street thugs.

Far Left Democrats Declare WAR On Moderates Threatening The Democratic Party Reply

Unlike Tim Pool, who is a centrist vlogger, I am very appreciative of the divisive and disruptive effect that supposed “far left” Democrats are having on their party, just as I am very appreciative of the effect that Trumpism is having on the Republicans. The neocon/neoliberal duopoly is being forced into a defensive position. Interestingly, in one of Pool’s recent videos he describes SJWs as a religious movement, i.e. the Left’s version of theocratic social conservatives, which is the position that I (and others on the margins) have been advancing for years.

Trump’s shaky capitalist support: Business conflict and the 2016 election Reply

An interesting analysis of the relationship between Trumpism and the capitalist class by “antifascist” writer Matthew Lyons. Read the article here. (Caveat: Lyon is vehemently opposed to attack the system).

As I would have suspected, Trumpism was an unwelcome insurgency that was initially opposed by the overwhelming majority of the capitalist class. When other options became less viable, many of the conventional sectors of the traditional right-wing of the ruling class started moving toward Trump, while most of the capitalist class remained in the Clinton camp. As I was saying at the time of the election, of the two candidates it was Trump who was the more “left-wing” of the two, e.g. espousing populist economic views and anti-interventionist foreign policy views (however sporadically, ineptly and inconsistently). Trump is also much more of a social and cultural liberal than the normal Republicans as demonstrated by his multiple marriages, his current marriage to a former Playboy model, his fondness of porn stars, his involvement in vice-related industries, his support for marijuana legalization, gay marriage, and prison reform, his lack of religiosity, and other characteristics that would have barred him from the Republican nomination until very recently.

Some highlights from the article:

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The Future of US Party Politics? 3

A reader at AttacktheSystem.Com nails it:

“I’ve noticed more and more folks on the current right becoming anti-war (at least, selectively anti-war for pragmatic reasons, though some have begun to sound like full-on peaceniks). If nothing else I guess that reflects neocons’ losing hold on the GOP.

 

Which raises another interesting question. What is the future of the Republican Party proper? As you pointed out yesterday in your Coming Dystopia piece, and in the past, the kind of Republicans that make up Trump’s base are largely a (literally) dying breed. And the more time passes the more I agree with your assessment that the new “conservatives” will essentially be neoliberals who reject progressive-style economic proposals and/or some of the excesses of SJWism.

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Am I Left or Right? 1

I generally agree with the Left’s and Right’s standard criticisms of each other. Yes, the French revolutionaries were right about the Ancient Regime. But Edmund Burke and Joseph De Maistre were right about the French Revolutionaries. Yes, the Marxists were right about the industrial bourgeoisie, but the anti-Communists were right about Communism. Yes, the SJW/PC crowd is correct about the historic oppression of women, people of color, gays, etc But their critics raise many valid points as well. It would seem that Left and Right are necessary critics of each other.

The Coming Dystopia? 22

The future of the US, or the future “post-US” or the “future of the Western world” or “the future of the global order, will be rule by the techno-oligarch/new clerisy alliance, where neoliberals constitute “conservatism” and progressives/SJWs constitute “liberalism.” Everyone, including the historic WASP culture, will be a minority. We will have a highly stratified Latin American-style class system with the Rainbow Culture as its self-legitimating state ideology. The emerging ruling class will also have a world empire, a military industrial complex and a police state that it will have inherited from previous regimes.

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‘Something will crack’: supposed prophecy of Donald Trump goes viral Reply

This is an interesting article from 2016, published immediately after the Trump election, which references some of the criticisms of the Left that were raised by the postmodernist philosopher Richard Rorty in the 1990s. Rorty’s prediction was that by abandoning class politics in favor of cultural politics, the Left would push the working classes to the Right, as the working classes would come to recognize the Left as cultural enemies, and as unwilling to defend their economic interests.

I started noticing the same thing during the 1990s as well. But my “solution” was the polar opposite of Rorty’s. Rorty wanted to turn back the clock to old-fashioned liberalism of the New Deal era. Whereas I, then and now, wanted to move to a much further left position, i.e. a revolutionary left that recognizes neoliberals as the primary enemy, that understands that the “right-wing” represents a dying traditional elite and traditional culture, that rejects the statism of the Marxist Left, and that recognizes PC as a “left-wing of the middle class” ideology that is a fundamentally anti-working class and anti-revolutionary position.

An authentic revolutionary libertarian-left would not be about demanding more favors from the state or creating or more state activities (such as “single-payer healthcare” or “Green New Deal”). Instead, it would be about eliminating all state actions (from the county level to the international level) that undermine the self-determination of the poor and working classes (from zoning laws to the IMF and World Bank). Further, an authentic revolutionary libertarian-left would be unreservedly anti-imperialist (including opposition to so-called “humanitarian intervention” or “human rights imperialism”). The appropriate position on “social issues” for a revolutionary libertarian-left is the traditional anarchist one, i.e. individual sovereignty, free associations, voluntary communities, decentralized pluralism, bottom-up federalism and mutual aid (and not “political correctness,” “cultural Marxism,” “totalitarian humanism,” “progressive stacking,” or other crap.)

Richard Rorty wrote in 1998: ‘The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for.’


Richard Rorty wrote in 1998: ‘The nonsuburban=electorate will decide that the system has failedand start looking around for a strongman to vote for.’ Photograph: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

Americans trying to unpick the phenomenon of Donald Trump have turned to a late left-leaning academic, who predicted that old industrializeddemocracies were heading into a Weimar-like period in which populist movements could overturn constitutional governments.

In 1998, the late Stanford philosopher Richard Rorty published a small volume, Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America, that described a fracturing of the leftwing coalition that rendered the movement so dispirited and cynical that it invited its own collapse.


In the days after Trump’s electoral college victory over Hillary Clinton, passages from Rorty’s book went viral, shared thousands of times on social media. Rorty’s theories were then echoed by the New Yorker editor David Remnick in an interview with Barack Obama and essay on his presidency, and taken up across the internet as an explanation for Trump’s success.
In the book, Rorty predicted that what he called the left would come to give “cultural politics preference over real politics”. This movement would contribute to a tidal wave of resentment, he wrote, that would ricochet back as the kind of rancor that the left had tried to eradicate.
Rorty suggested that so long as “the proles can be distracted from their own despair by media-created pseudo-events, including the brief and bloody war, the super-rich will have little to fear”.
But as democratic institutions began to fail, workers would begin to realize that governments were “not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or jobs from being exported”, Rorty wrote. They would also realize that the middle classes – themselves desperately afraid of being downsized – would not come to their rescue.
“At that point,” Rorty wrote, “something will crack.”

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Slavoj Žižek: Trump’s rise is a symptom of a dark and subtle force 23

For 25-30 years, I have said that the main political issues in the USA are imperialism, widening class divisions, and use of the wars on drugs, crime, and (later) terrorism to create a domestic police state. Regrettably, most of liberal and left opinion during this time has been more focused on “identity” issues and (to a lesser degree) environmentalism or expanding the welfare state instead.

We are seeing the consequences of that now. The US has killed millions of people in the past 20 years with wars of aggression. Class divisions are the widest they have been in a century, and incarceration rates are setting world records. In fact, it’s often been the far right (paleocons, libertarians, sovereign citizens, isolationist xenophobes) who are more in tune on many of these issues than liberal and left opinion.

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The Sordid Origin of Hate-Speech Laws Reply

Thursday, December 1, 2011

All western European countries have hate-speech laws. In 2008, the eu adopted a framework decision on “Combating Racism and Xenophobia” that obliged all member states to criminalize certain forms of hate speech. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Supreme Court of the United States has gradually increased and consolidated the protection of hate speech under the First Amendment. The European concept of freedom of expression thus prohibits certain content and viewpoints, whereas, with certain exceptions, the American concept is generally concerned solely with direct incitement likely to result in overt acts of lawlessness.

Yet the origin of hate-speech laws has been largely forgotten. The divergence between the United States and European countries is of comparatively recent origin. In fact, the United States and the vast majority of European (and Western) states were originally opposed to the internationalization of hate-speech laws. European states and the U.S. shared the view that human rights should protect rather than limit freedom of expression.

Rather, the introduction of hate-speech prohibitions into international law was championed in its heyday by the Soviet Union and allies. Their motive was readily apparent.  The communist countries sought to exploit such laws to limit free speech.

As Americans, Europeans and others contemplate the dividing line emerging on the extent to which free speech should be limited to criminalize the “defamation of religions” and “Islamophobia,” launched by the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (oic) since 1999, they should bear this forgotten history in mind. However well-intended—and its initial proponents were anything but well-intended—the Western acceptance of hate-speech laws severely limits the ability of liberal democracies to counter attempts to broaden the scope of hate-speech laws under international human rights law, with potentially devastating consequences for the preservation of free speech.

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How the System Works 1

“It’s interesting how figures like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are labelled as “communists” for wanting the economic policies of the 1950s (when a third of the US labor force was unionized and the top income tax bracket was 91%), and the Trumpians/MAGA hats are considered “fascists” for wanting immigration policies that are to the left of Eisenhower’s in the 1950s. Whatever the USA was in the 1950s, it was hardly fascist or communist.

In most countries with a democratically elected government (roughly 60 to 75 percent of the world’s nations), open socialists, communists, fascists, nationalists, fundamentalists, Greens, quasi-anarchists, animal rightsers, populists, and all kinds of assorted weirdos regularly run for and get elected to all kinds of stuff. That’s how “democracy” is theoretically supposed to function.

The USA has one of the most tightly controlled and narrowly constrained electoral systems in the world. Some of the most retrograde Latin American nations have a similar system. The different factions of the oligarchy (mostly the traditional Chamber of Commerce types vs the newer techno-oligarchs and urban professional class) put forward their bought candidates as quasi-celebrities, and the role of the media is that of a pro-wrestling announcer, i.e. to pretend like it’s all a real contest as opposed to a staged theatrical production.” – Keith Preston

“Its a rigged game and a charade, and people are starting to see it, even if they cannot describe it in the political language that you just did. Parliamentary systems are better because even outsider candidates can pick up a few seats. The US is actually a Plutocratic, Quasi Totalitarian State with Democratic façades. The electoral system and the liberal and conservative wings in the US are totally bought off, and the corporate and national security state elements actually run the country, with the political class being basically their employees from the President on down. Freedom of Speech is no threat, the US population is so brain benumbed and ignorant, repeating all the nonsense they hear from Fox News and MSNBC that nothing they think, say, or do can pose any kind of challenge to the system. OTOH people are disgusted with government, corporations, banks, the government, and the establishment parties, they no they are getting screwed and the system is scared. So there is tactic of inculcating strife between various groups in society over race, political views, sexism, LGBT, etc. Cultural Liberalism as a divide and conquer strategy. Economic misery us breaking down American society, the fissures are everywhere. It will get so bad with drug use, suicide, nihilism, mass killings, mental illness, that society will no longer function normally anymore, and it will collapse.”-David Alexander

In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard Reply

An interesting article from Daily Kos. I know the author of this piece, who is generally friendly to ATS.

By Alex Shepard

Daily Kos

he election of 2020 is approaching us fast, and the primary season will be here before we know it. Already, the 2020 democratic field has a few challengers. The darling of the establishment, Elizabeth Warren, has announced. From the insurgency ranks, outside of the establishment, is Hawaii congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard.

Tulsi Gabbard, on nearly all sensible and progressive policies gets a perfect score. She supports the reinstitution of the Glass Steagall act.[1] She supports raising the minimum wage.[2] She also has vocally opposed and taken part in protests against the monstrosity called the Keystone Pipeline. She has continuously called for Climate change to be taken seriously and for America to embark on a pragmatic shift away from fossil fuels to efficient alternative energy.[3] She has supported civil rights for all individual Americans, including our Latino, LGBT, African-American, disabled and Muslim citizens.[4] So therefore, it appears she should be an ideal candidate for all left-leaning individuals, mainly those who supported Sanders in the 2016 primary. She also was one of the few Democrat Party officials to endorse Bernie Sanders during his presidential race in 2016, with considerable risk to her political career. She freely resigned from her high ranking post as vice chair of the DNC in order to follow her conscience and endorse Sanders, much to the chagrin of the DNC’s operators.

Most importantly, and speaking from the personal perspective as a PHD candidate in the field of Middle Eastern Studies, she has a spotless foreign policy. Hers is the kind needed for a successful and functional American relationship with not only the Middle East, but the rest of the world as well. She has rightly condemned the illegal war of aggression against Syria.[5] At great risk to her person, and her own political career, she undertook a fact-finding mission in the war-torn nation of Syria. She has since taken it upon herself, much to the ire of the Democratic Party establishment, to tell Americans the truth about where their tax-dollars are going. They are being funneled at the behest of the Military Industry Complex, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to aid the wrong side of a conflict that is of no interest to the United States. Mainly, the American government is actively using American money to assist those who have killed Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.[6] She also repeatedly called for the suspension of aid and weapon sales to the atrocious and genocidal regime in Saudi Arabia, which has been in the process of starving the Yemeni population to death.[7] She also condemned Obama’s illegal war of aggression against Libya, which our former commander in chief admitted was a tragic mistake.[8]

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Tulsi Gabbard Is Running For President In 2020 Reply

This is a pretty good discussion of Gabbard. From what I can tell, she’s basically just a moderate who trends liberal on social issues, who is pro-military, pro-Israel, and pro-terror war but who merely thinks the neocon/neoliberal foreign policy paradigm is insane (which it is), largely from her experience of actually having been in the military in Iraq. She apparently has a soft spot for India, which is obviously due to her own Hinduism. The worst thing that I have ever heard about her is her friendship with Sheldon Adelson.

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.