“Free Association for Me, But Not for Thee” 2

An amusing attack on ATS from an antifa writer named Shane Burley who, in keeping with antifa practice, fails get the point. The ATS position has more in common with the fictional United Federation of Planets from “Star Trek” than it would with 20th century totalitarian ideologies, including the “prime directive” and the Vulcan philosophy of “infinite diversity in infinite combinations”.

“For we have agreed that our worlds hold these truths to be self-evident: that all species are created equal, that their citizens are endowed with certain incontrovertible rights, protected by their societies; that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of those states-of-being each individual society holds in greatest esteem…” – Excerpt from the Preamble to the Constitution of the United Federation of Planets

The Historical Failure of Anarchism 1

A critique of anarchism from a one-time anarchist who (I’m told) became a Maoist.

LibCom.Org

1996 Position paper written by Chris Day that was a part of the final conflict in Love & Rage over orientation and direction. In this piece, he emphasizes what he see as the programmatic weaknesses of anarchism and the need to look beyond it for answers.

In the Spring 1996 issue of Workers Solidarity (journal of Ireland’s Workers Solidarity Movement) there is a review by Conor McLoughlin of Ken Loach’s excellent film on the Spanish Revolution, Land and Freedom. The review concludes that:

“(T)he factors involved in the defeat of the revolution would take an article in themselves to explain, ranging from the military power of the fascists (and their outside aid) to the betrayals by the communists and social democrats, and this is not my purpose here. What is important is that the social revolution did not collapse due to any internal problems or flaws in human nature. It was defeated from without. Anarchism had not failed. Anarchists had proved that ideas which look good in the pages of theory books look even better on the canvas of life.”

This quote neatly sums up the lessons that most anarchists seem to have drawn from the history of the anarchist movement. It also neatly sums up what is wrong with the anarchist movement. It is nothing short of a complete abdication of one of the most basic responsibilities of revolutionaries: the responsibility to subject the defeats and failures of the movement to the most thoroughgoing critical scrutiny. Instead it takes a historical experience that ended in a crushing defeat, makes excuses for that defeat and offers the faithful reassuring platitudes that, all evidence to the contrary, the one true path of anarchism is vindicated by the experience.

When anarchists encounter this sort of thing in other ideologies they never fail to tear it to shreds. Does Communism bear responsibility for the heaping piles of corpses produced by Communist regimes? Is Christianity to be blamed for the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts? Of course. We judge ideologies by their practical results in peoples lives not by their pie-in-the-sky promises. Anarchism in Spain raised the hopes of millions that a classless stateless society could be achieved in the hear and now, lead them to the barricades to make it real, and failed abysmally. The Spanish people were condemned to fourty years of fascist rule because of the failure. And yet while the anarchist movement of the past half century has produced an extensive literature extolling the momentary successes of the Spanish Revolution in the creation of peasant and workers collectives, there has been almost no serious effort to analyze how the anarchist movement contributed to its own defeat. Blaming ones political enemies (fascists, Communists, or social-democrats) for behaving exactly as one would expect them to behave only further confuses matters. Betrayal, after all, is only possible on the part of someone trusted.

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Contemporary Anarchism Reply

An interesting discussion of anarchism from a Trotskyist perspective.

By Eric Kerl

International Socialist Review

IN DECEMBER 2008, Time magazine ran the headline, “Could Greece’s Riots Spread to France?”1 The article was accompanied by fiery images of anarchists battling police on the streets of Athens. Four months later, Britain’s Telegraph newspaper fretted that a planned march against the G-20 meetings in London, “could be hijacked by anarchists who are known to create so-called ‘black blocs’—tight, hard-to-break units which can smash through police lines.”2 More recently, student resistance to the economic crisis facing colleges and universities in the United States has sparked debates with anarchists who propose a maximum strategy to “occupy everything” and yet, “demand nothing.”3

Since the advent of the global justice movement of the 1990s, anarchist ideas have had a renaissance, and continue to attract growing numbers of adherents, despite detractors in the mainstream media and political repression from the police. For the social movements of the past decade, the broad ideas of anarchism have defined the political landscape. These ideas express themselves in a multitude of ways: from consensus based decision-making models, activist collectives, spokes councils, and affinity groups to black bloc tactics at demonstrations and targeted property destruction (bank windows, ATMs, Starbucks, parking meters, etc).

While the black-hooded anarchist rioters of global justice demonstrations remain the media’s favorite spectacle, anarchists of all types are currently debating new tactics, political shifts, and reassessments of the anarchist tradition. Importantly, strains of contemporary anarchism have offered convincing critiques of the lifestyle approach to social change, rehabilitated the legacy of syndicalism, reoriented to class struggle, and initiated new ways of relating to the working class and social movements. At the same time, other anarchists have mounted vicious attacks on the organized political left and activism in general.

This article is an attempt to explore these new developments and seek common ground with the best aspects of today’s anarchism. Further, this article will analyze the shared assumptions of these disparate strains of anarchist thought and offer a Marxist critique of anarchism’s historical, as well as present, shortcomings.

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Fascism: The Career of a Concept Reply

Available at Amazon. Reviewed by David Gordon here. Listen to an interview with Dr. Gottfried here.

What does it mean to label someone a fascist? Today, it is equated with denouncing him or her as a Nazi. But as intellectual historian Paul E. Gottfried writes in this provocative yet even-handed study, the term’s meaning has evolved over the years. Gottfried examines the semantic twists and turns the term has endured since the 1930s and traces the word’s polemical function within the context of present ideological struggles. Like “conservatism,” “liberalism,” and other words whose meanings have changed with time, “fascism” has been used arbitrarily over the years and now stands for a host of iniquities that progressives, multiculturalists, and libertarians oppose, even if they offer no single, coherent account of the historic evil they condemn.

Certain factors have contributed to the term’s imprecise usage, Gottfried writes, including the equation of all fascisms with Nazism and Hitler, as well as the rise of a post-Marxist left that expresses predominantly cultural opposition to bourgeois society and its Christian and/or national components. Those who stand in the way of social change are dismissed as “fascist,” he contends, an epithet that is no longer associated with state corporatism and other features of fascism that were once essential but are now widely ignored. Gottfried outlines the specific historical meaning of the term and argues that it should not be used indiscriminately to describe those who hold unpopular opinions. His important study will appeal to political scientists, intellectual historians, and general readers interested in politics and history.

 

A History of Fascism, 1914-1945 Reply

Given the tendency to call anything and everything “fascist” nowadays, it might be helpful to understand what historical fascism actually was.

Available at Amazon.

A History of Fascism is an invaluable sourcebook, offering a rare combination of detailed information and thoughtful analysis. It is a masterpiece of comparative history, for the comparisons enhance our understanding of each part of the whole. The term ‘fascist,’ used so freely these days as a pejorative epithet that has nearly lost its meaning, is precisely defined, carefully applied and skillfully explained. The analysis effectively restores the dimension of evil.”—Susan Zuccotti, The Nation

“A magisterial, wholly accessible, engaging study. . . . Payne defines fascism as a form of ultranationalism espousing a myth of national rebirth and marked by extreme elitism, mobilization of the masses, exaltation of hierarchy and subordination, oppression of women and an embrace of violence and war as virtues.”—Publishers Weekly

Speaking Heresy: Fascism Wasn’t That Bad? 1

Anarcho-Dictator
Instead of a Blog

For an interwar government, the Fascist Italy under Mussolini wasn’t too bad – they were pretty mild and not too crazy or controlling. The worst move that Mussolini made was joining up with Hitler, and the second worst was invading Ethiopia – but the USA allied with Stalin and invaded like 50 countries, so big deal.

 

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The Left’s Abandonment of Liberalism and the Hypocrisy of Antifa (Brendan O’Neill Pt. 1) Reply

Brendan O’Neill (Editor of Spiked Online) joins Dave to discuss issues surrounding the threat to free speech, free speech in relation to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, how the left has abandoned liberalism and shifted towards identity politics, the lefts movement against working class people, the hypocrisy of Antifa, finding allies on the right, and more.

What is a Marxist Libertarian? (Brendan O’Neill Pt. 2) Reply

Brendan O’Neill (Editor of Spiked Online) joins Dave to discuss why he defines himself as a ‘Marxist Libertarian,’ his views on the pursuit of happiness, self censorship in the U.S., the issue with Bill of Rights only existing in writing and not in the hearts of Americans, the debate surrounding tearing down monuments, and more.

The 21st Century is Becoming the 19th Century: Repeating Tragedy as a Farce 2

History repeatsfirst as tragedy, then as farce” … -Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

By Keith Preston

The present era of globalization in the early 21st century is very similar to the era of industrialization in the early 19th century, in the sense of both the way that it is transforming the world, as well as the conflicts that it is generating.

The primary political conflict in the early to middle 19th century was the battle between the rising bourgeoisie and the Ancient Regime. The present day equivalent of that conflict is the emerging conflict between the “national bourgeoisie” (represented by, for example, the declining WASP elite in the United States), who are the contemporary equivalent of the throne and altar traditionalists of earlier times. This declining ruling class sector is pitted against the globalist techno-oligarchs, financiers, and information/managerial class professionals that comprise the New Elites (the present equivalent of the 19th century bourgeoisie). The populist-nationalist movements of the West who serve as the ground level constituency for the national bourgeoisie are comparable to the 19th century European peasants and petite bourgeoisie who supported the royalists against the rise of the classical bourgeoisie (and whose opposition to the global economy is somewhat comparable to the Luddites who opposed the advent of industrialization). For instance, to understand the presidency of Donald Trump, and the rise of the Trumpians, one needs only to read Marx’s The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, which describes how “how the class struggle..created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero’s part.

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte

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Donald Trump

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The rise of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century, the subsequent institutionalization of the bourgeoisie as the new ruling class (replacing the monarchs, aristocrats, and clerics), the parallel growth of industrial capitalism, and the related class polarization, generated the rise of opposition to the bourgeoisie from the Left. This opposition took the form of the socialist, communist, anarchist, and labor movements of the 19th and early 20th century.

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Radicalism is on the rise in American politics 1

Another article by Kotkin that is consistent with my own analysis of domestic US politics as well. Domestic US politics at present can be divided into four basic factions:

The Dominant Faction. Centrist neoliberals representing the rising techno-oligarchy, Wall Street and Kotkin’s “new clerisy” embedded in the managerial class, academia, and the media, and represented by politicians like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Rising Left-Progressive Faction. The left-leaning sectors that are a rising force in the Democratic Party as described by Kotkin in the article below.

The Declining Republican Establishment. The odd alliance of the traditional WASP American plutocracy, right-wing Zionist billionaires, and right-wing Trokskyist neocons that dominated US politics during the George W. Bush era.

Trumpian Populist-Nationalists. Elements within the elite who oppose both the dominant faction and the Republican establishment, and who prefer a more Reaganesque approach to economic policy and a Nixonian/Kissingerian realist approach to foreign policy, that is primarily interested in countering the rise of the Eastern axis in international relations. To understand the populist-nationalist “base” that supports this faction, one need only read Marx’s 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon or my own critiques of “movement conservatism” (see here and here).

By Joel Kotkin

Orange County Register

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Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy Reply

A classic from Paul Gottfried and one of the definitive works criticizing totalitarian humanism. Available at Amazon. The important point for anarchists and libertarians is that totalitarian humanists are not amoral, libertine, hedonists as their critics often claim. Instead, they are fanatical moral puritants (“secular theocrats”). They oppose religious fundamentalists, nativists, racists, reactionaries, right-wing authoritarians, etc not because they are pro-freedom but because they want to replace these with authoritarian state-centric  moralisms of their own. Many anarchists and libertarians have trouble understanding this, because they sympathize with the rhetorical values of the totalitarian humanists. Most anarchists and libertarians are not religious conservatives, racists, nativists, etc (though some are). But many anarchists and libertarians do sympathize with leftist causes like anti-racism, anti-sexism, gay liberation, environmentalism, etc, and consequently remained blinkered regarding totalitarian humanism.

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The Alt Right Among Other Rights 4

This is the text of a lecture I gave to the H.L. Mencken Club on November 4, 2017.

By Keith Preston

Speaking about the intricacies of different ideological tendencies can often be a bit tedious, and certainly a topic like the Alt-Right can get very complicated because there are so many currents that feed into the Alt-Right. I know that when I spoke here last year I was speaking on the right-wing anarchist tradition, which is a highly esoteric tradition, and one that is often very obscure with many undercurrents. The Alt-Right is similar in the sense of having many sub-tendencies that are fairly obscure in their own way, although some of these have become more familiar now that the Alt-Right has grown in fame, or infamy, in the eyes of its opponents. Some of the speakers we have heard at this conference so far have helped to clarify some of the potential definitions of what the Alt-Right actually is, but given the subject of my presentation I thought I might break it down a bit further, and clarify a few major distinctions.

What is the Alt-Right?

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8 Common Misunderstandings About Anarchism Reply

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, text

Apparently, anarchists have been trolling the Return of Kings website. Given the source, this piece has a predictable masculinist bias.

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Few weeks ago, I published an article calling for the political independence of America and I was pleased to see that many people were open to the idea, so I have decided that the readers are ready to explore the source of this philosophy: Anarchism.

Ever since I took the black pill of anarchism, I haven’t been able to see the political world the same way. All that I’ve accepted as normal, all the power structures that I saw as both legitimate and inevitable, and my perception of personal freedom and autonomy were all flipped upside down. I realized that it was either anarchism or slavery—there is no other option.

So for those who are curious, here are eight points to guide you through one of the most misunderstood ideology for freedom.

1. Anarchism isn’t what you think it is.

As soon as the average person hears the word “anarchist,” the first image he conjures in his head is that of unemployed losers dressed in black, who are causing trouble for no good reason. This is unfortunately part true as the anarchist ideology has been hijacked by the leftists who turned it into a movement of their own (Ted Kaczynski made a prescient warning about this in his manifesto, Industrial Society and its Future). This was also the reason why I’ve been reluctant to take anarchism seriously for the longest time.

While I’m not a fan of saying “They’re not real _____!,” the case must be made against the fake anarchists of today who are giving the entire ideology a bad name. The fact is, while anarchism at its core is about the abolition of state power (and all other forms of rule from above) in favor of total freedom and self-determination, these leftists thugs, like the Antifa, are more interested in combating those whom they consider “fascists.”

And who is a fascist? Someone who rejects the ideals of globalism and equalism promoted by the establishment. So what we have with the leftist “anarchists” are bunch of goons who act as the unwitting foot-soldiers of the elites by fighting against the anti-establishment groups who may be more anarchist than they are. These leftists dregs are no more anarchist than some African dictatorship is a “republic.”

2. Anarchism is not about total chaos and disorder.

The best way to think of anarchism is to see it as a push for a total decentralization and full local autonomy rather than some nightmare scenario Thomas Hobbes liked to imagine. Anarchism is not about no rule, but self rule. This means no government interference, no coercion of any sort by the state, and no policing of your innate freedom.

The only rules you abide by are the ones you and your community decided for yourselves and the rule of nature—you are solely responsible for yourself and your tribe. If you can’t protect or support yourselves, or if your system of rule fails in anyway, you’re on your own with no government to bail you out.

One of the main argument against anarchism is that everything will cease to function and everyone will suffer in lawless destitution without the government’s graceful rule. This notion that people would be completely helpless and lost without the the state is a ridiculous one. Are we to believe that people are incapable of working for themselves and being responsible for their own lives? Are we some helpless children who can’t even defend ourselves without the police (as opposed to now where the government restricts weapons for citizens while criminals are free to use them)? Are we to think that the people won’t have any clue as to how to build and maintain roads, water supplies, and establish civic order without some incompetent and wasteful government doing it for them?

With anarchism, you’re simply cutting out the middleman and manager who mishandles your tax money (which they extorted from you). With anarchism, you get to live without the nanny who’s telling you what to think and how to act for the benefit of “progress” and and the good of all.

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Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty 3

It’s always great to go back and revisit this classic essay by Murray Rothbard that I think offers some of the best analysis of modern ideological history yet devised.

In this work, Rothbard is analyzing the origin and meaning of the terms Left and Right, arguing correctly that “true” conservatism is the defense of the ancient regime against the rise of classical liberalism and the Enlightenment intellectual culture that was the foundation of liberalism, with classical liberalism and its descendants representing the “true” Left. I’m frequently asked by bemused right-wing friends why I consider myself to be a leftist, to which my standard reply is, “Because I am not a monarchist, a feudalist, a medievalist, or a theocrat.”

Rothbard’s interpretation of progressivism, socialism, communism, and fascism are also interesting, and, I think, largely correct in the sense that all of these are at least partial repudiations of the liberal tradition in favor of the retention of elements of the Old Order. Progressivism and socialism were only partial repudiations of liberalism, but fused the liberal legacy with scientism to be imposed by means of the public administration state. Communism and fascism were complete repudiations of the liberal tradition, with their thought rooted in Counter-Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau and Hegel, even if they accepted certain other aspects of modernity such as science, technology, industrialization, secularization, etc.

I generally concur with Rothbard’s line of thinking on this, except I think his critique of classical liberalism didn’t go far enough. In this piece, Rothbard essentially outlines the classical anarchist interpretation of modernity in everything but name, and embraces proprietarian anarchism rather than syndicalism or anarcho-communism as an economic model.

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Revisions and Dissents: Essays Reply

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know what the true intellectual Right actually is. And I say that not just because there is a chapter discussing my own work where Dr. Gottried graciously compares me with Noam Chomsky, William Appleman Williams, C. Wright Mills, and Christopher Lasch. The book is available through Amazon.

Paul Gottfried’s critical engagement with political correctness is well known. The essays in Revisions and Dissents focus on a range of topics in European intellectual and political history, social theory, and the history of modern political movements. With subjects as varied as Robert Nisbet, Whig history, the European Union election of 2014, and Donald Trump, the essays are tied together by their strenuous confrontation with historians and journalists whose claims about the past no longer receive critical scrutiny.

According to Gottfried, successful writers on historical topics take advantage of political orthodoxy and/or widespread ignorance to present questionable platitudes as self-evident historical judgments. New research ceases to be of importance in determining accepted interpretations. What remains decisive, Gottfried maintains, is whether the favored view fits the political and emotional needs of what he calls “verbalizing elites.” In this highly politicized age, Gottfried argues, it is necessary to re-examine these prevalent interpretations of the past. He does so in this engaging volume, which will appeal to general readers interested in political and intellectual history.

Top 10 Ways to Fix the Criminal Justice System Reply

While many of these suggestions may be reasonable as far as modest reforms go, and some of these proposals are actually pretty far reaching, one thing that many “liberal” criminal justice reformers seem to have trouble figuring out is the need for fewer laws in the first place.

By Jessica Henry

Huffington Post

Vladek via Getty Images

It’s that time of year when people are making lists and checking them twice. Here is my action list about ways to fix the criminal justice system, with suggestions for steps we all can take. What would be on your list?

 

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Alt-Right and the Left’s response – Angela Nagle about ‘Kill all Normies’ 1

The Internet is the battleground for the revival of culture wars, says author and journalist Angela Nagle in her recently published book Kill All Normies. In De Balie Nagle chronicles the rise of the alt-right and how the worst of the internet went mainstream. But she doesn’t spare the “politically correct left” for its response. According to the New York Times, Angela Nagles Kill All Normies is “among the best examinations of the origins of the alt-right”. The “alt right”, says Nagle, ranges from neo-reactionary and white separatist movements to geeky subcultures like 4chan, to more mainstream manifestations such as the Trump-supporting gay libertarian Milo Yiannopolous. What characterizes the alt-right and how should the left respond? And how urgent is her story for the identity politics discussion in The Netherlands? Zihni Özdil (Dutch MP for Groenlinks and writer of Nederland, Mijn Vaderland) responds to the book and analyzes the Dutch context.

The Alt-Right: History, Ideology, and the Future of a Fascist Movement Reply

An interesting and generally accurate discussion of the Alt-Right from a far left perspective.

As one who was present at the time of the founding of the Alt-Right, and has remained peripherally associated with the Alt-Right milieu ever since, I have developed my own perspective on the role of the Alt-Right in contemporary politics and what is fueling the Alt-Right. In many ways, the Alt-Right can be compared to the Religious Right of the 1970s and 1980s in the sense of being a reaction against rapid political and cultural change. The Religious Right was a reaction against the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, and the ongoing secularization of the wider society (for example, the removal of religious instruction from public schools). However, the Religious Right was a much larger, and much more influential movement. It leaders actually got invited to the White House during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

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