Yesterday, a left-anarchist posted this critique of ARV/ATS on another forum. I’ve included the critique in its entirety at the beginning of this, and then spliced it up with my own comments inserted in the second section.
Paul Gottfried gives his take on the subject.
Given the PC attack on Twain, one would never know that he was both a staunch abolitionist and militant opponent of Christianity.
Paul Gottfried offers some possible explanations of the bizarre attempt to lay the blame on an irrelevant scapegoat.
Jim Goad hits another home run. Maybe the Assange case will awaken progressives to the dangers posed by radical feminist misandry. A reasonable feminist, Naomi Wolf, weighs in on the case here and ATS contributor MRDA comes up with an appropriate term for the situation with Assange and his accusers.
Soon enough articles like this will probably be illegal in England.
The Gingerbread Person?
The good news is that the more ridiculous this PC shit gets, the quicker people will turn against it, and the sooner it will fall. I look for this to be the major political fault line in the future: a rising new elite committed to PC ideology, and a growing class of the economically declining against whom PC is used as a weapon of political, economic, and social control.
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.
This is a particularly good comment:
“I wonder: does Morrissey’s little outburst offer a snapshot of what could happen if the Left acknowledge that their favoured folk aren’t always as innocent, victimized and enlightened as they portray them? Would these universal uplifters react venomously, out of a sense of “betrayal”, upon staring reality straight in its pockmarked face? Does the type of of white Leftist I describe here assign bigotry to his breed in order to avoid acknowledging it in himself? Like the rector who yearns to take it up the rectum, does his socially-sanctioned superego shield a malignant Morrisseyan id, itching to smash the slanty, swarthy “subspecies” into submission?”
This reminds me of what Tom Sunic observed about the former hard-line Communists in Yugoslavia who managed to somehow convert themselves into uber-capitalists overnight as the Communist meal ticket suddenly became invalid. Sunic has said before that the liberal-multiculturalist elites would likely reinvent themselves as hard line racialists or nationalists if the multicultural system proved to be no longer viable. In other words, how many liberals would lose their pretentious humanitarian gloss and become fascists if the latter offered a better deal? To quote myself:
It should also be pointed out that the old-guard Marxists, even the Stalinists, only took their egalitarianism so far. Their professed aims were limited to the ostensible equality of wealth among the social classes and, in some instances, political equality of racial and ethnic groups. They did not nearly go so far as to attack the long list of “isms,” “archies” and “phobias” (for instance, “looksism,” “phallocracy” or “transphobia”) so reviled by today’s leftoids, nor did they typically advocate equality of looks, weight, ability, intelligence or even species (hence, the modern leftist infatuation with concepts ranging from “grade inflation” to virtual prohibition of so-called “fatty foods” to giving animals legal rights approximating those of humans). Nor did they advocate ending race and gender oppression by simply abolishing races and genders. Indeed, the contemporary leftist obsession with both race and health under the banner of multiculturalism and the therapeutic state calls to mind the other great totalitarian ideology of the twentieth century. One shudders to think what will happen when these elements gain control of a more fully developed genetic engineering technology and subsequently combine this with emerging surveillance technologies. An increasing popular concept in leftist academic circles is the notion of “whiteness” which, as might be expected, is typically used as a term of opprobrium. Indeed, one of the more extreme proponents of “whiteness” theory maintains a website whose masthead reads “treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” To understand the implications of this slogan, one need only remove the term “whiteness” and replace it with “Jewishness.”
Some comments from a reader named “Jared”:
Totalitarian humanism is something that I agree is a serious threat and where I live in Canada, it has advanced into law where people can be incarcerated for expressing opinions that are deemed hateful.
[Keith: At present, the First Amendment and a journalistic class conscious of its own self-interest prevents the formal censorship that has emerged in the Western European countries and Canada. This could very well change in the future. Modern American liberals are still somewhat under the residual influence of classical liberal values regarding a number of issues, such as free speech and freedom of the press. But that could end as the PC ideologues gain ever greater power.]
When it comes to the far right and their criticisms of leftist authoritarianism, I think they are on the mark. In many respects I find the authoritarianism of managerial liberalism to be far more distasteful than the worst right wing small town authoritarianism. My reasons for this are that while the crude authoritarianism of the latter sort is laughable to most, the former is taken seriously by people in the cultural elite. Also, the right wing type is up front about it’s authoritarianism while the left often conceals it behind all sort’s of nice sound rhetoric such as, “we as a society,” we are the government” etc. That was one of the things that angered me so much about the way Ron Paul was treated when the whole newsletter scandal broke. The fact that people were so up in arms about Paul’s paper authoritarianism while the media darling, Rudy Giuliani, was never criticized in the mainstream media ( that I saw) about his real life authoritarianism while he was mayor.
[Keith: Yes! A socially conservative but libertarian Republican is far less acceptable to the liberal elite than a socially liberal but authoritarian Republican such as Giuliani.]
On decentralization, I think that the reasons for some of my concerns about what sort of societies might develop come more from what I have seen in both the contemporary anarchist and libertarian movements, from an the perspective of an outsider I might add. As you have said that strategy is a primary concern, I think you would agree that these issues are important to any strategic considerations to be made.
In your past articles, you have discussed your experience with left-anarchist movement years ago and criticized many of the ridiculous elements in that movement. From what I have observed as an outsider, the same movement today of my generation is as bad as the movement was when you were involved, which is the reason that I have no interest in being involved with any of those groups. One thing that really bothers me is not just the fact that those various groups are uncooperative and engage in pointless feuds, but also what accompanies the interpersonal nastiness is a victim mentality that such people have when it comes to the state. Whenever protests occur such as at the recent G-20 in Toronto, invariably what will come out are all sorts of writings, blog posts, and videos full of people complaining about minor mistreatment at the hands of the state, such people give ammunition to the critics who charge that people involved in these anarchist groups are just a bunch of pampered, sheltered, and spoiled brats who are live in complete ignorance of the world around them.
[Keith: Many such protesters do indeed convey an image of “How dare that cop arrest me for throwing a rock through a window?” hooliganism.]
I realize that what I have just stated will seem pointlessly repetitive to you as you haven expressed similar sentiments in your own writings in the past. The reason that I am bring this up now is in the light of the kinds of communities that would exist in a decentralized system. If the current system fails in a sudden way, there will be many groups vying for power and most of them will be a lot worse then the current group of people that control our centralized system. While you have argued that authoritarian groups may gain control in rural areas, but that cities would be a different story, I still have many concerns regarding them. The reason is that in cities there gangs and other organized crime groups who would clearly seek an opportunity to grab more power and control if they saw an opportunity to, which they would have if the current system fell apart. Now if my analysis of most contemporary anarchists and for that matter libertarians (especially of the left types) is correct, it is clear that such people would be absolutely powerless in the face of those groups that would seek the fill the power vacuum left in the absence of the state. I would add that as critical as I am of the police, the fact is that in the current system they are bound by certain rules of conduct whereas the groups that I have mentioned are not.
[Keith: The key to the problems of decentralization is still more decentralization. Let’s say a predatory gang comes to dominate an urban region in an “Escape From New York” scenario. Surrounding communities might build a fence around it and essentially imprison and quarantine the offenders, which I think is the most preferable solution to violent crime anyway.]
One example of what I am describing is among the libertarians who make up the Free State project, which I been following for the past few years. I would invite you to check out some of the activism done there freekeene.com, and you would see many of the same sorts of silliness such as pointless civil disobedience acts, silly protests, and other absurd antics. On top of the fact that such acts do nothing to build a realistic alternative to the current system, the activists have also earned an extremely negative reputation among the people in those communities where they do their activism.
[Keith: That doesn’t surprise me a bit. PR and marketing never were the strong suits of anarchists.]
I suppose that given what I have written here, it isn’t surprising that you would break with both left wing anarchists and libertarians the silly and cowardly nature of so many in those movements. It’s clear that such groups have not improved with the times, but have in fact degenerated. If there ever comes a time when there is a serious movement against the empire, I would rather have this guy on my side (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7420469.stm) than a thousand of the current crybabies that are rampant in anti-authoritarian movements today.
[Keith: I can only imagine what Antonio Baron would think of today’s anarchist movement. I have always said I would rather have five quality people in my camp than five hundred mediocrities or losers]
A close colleague recently put a question to me that I regard as important enough to be well worth discussing publicly. I was asked if whether or not my own assumption of controversial stances on a variety of issues might have the effect of weakening my wider advocacy of an “anarcho-pluralist” political framework and a “pan-secessionist” strategy for achieving it. For instance, by attacking political correctness, am I not alienating many people with PC views on many issues who might otherwise be sympathetic to my wider outlook? By challenging the “open borders” preferences of mainstream libertarians, am I not pushing away anti-statists and decentralists who might also hold pro-immigration views? Indeed, might not even illegal immigrants themselves be viable allies within a pan-secessionist or anarcho-pluralist meta-political framework given that, at least on some levels, they are in conflict with the existing state?
Clearly, a number of important distinctions need to be made regarding such questions. The most significant of these distinctions involves defining what “anarcho-pluralism” and “pan-secessionism” actually are. “Anarcho-pluralism,” as I conceive of it at least, is a brand of anti-state radicalism that has “anti-universalism” and what might be called “radical localism” as it core defining characteristics. It is “anti-universalist” because it rejects the view that there is one “correct” system of politics, economics, or culture that is applicable much less obligatory for all people at all times and in all places. As Russell Kirk observed: “There exists no single best form of government for the happiness of all mankind. The most suitable form of government necessarily depends upon the historic experience, the customs, the beliefs, the state of culture, the ancient laws, and the material circumstances of a people.” Anarcho-pluralism advocates “radical localism” as the best possible method of avoiding the tyrannies and abuses of overarching Leviathan states, and accommodating the irreconcilable differences concerning any number of matters that all societies inevitably contain.
“Pan-secessionism” is the strategy for achieving anarcho-pluralism. Given that most modern societies are under the rule of overarching states possessing expansive bureaucratic tentacles and police powers, the simple territorial withdrawal of regions and localities and renunciation of the central state by the secessionists would seem to be the most practical and comprehensible method of resistance. These few simple ideas are all that anarcho-pluralism and pan-secessionism really amount to. Theoretically, one could hold to just about any other set of beliefs or values and operate within the framework of anarcho-pluralism and pan-secessionism. In its essence, the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist program does nothing more than work to abolish the central state and give every political interest group its own territory to create whatever kind of society it wishes, with ultimate success or failure being the sole responsibility of the local organizers, residents, or participants.
With regards to political correctness, it is certainly possible for persons holding stereotypical PC views to operate within a wider anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist framework or to join an alliance for the organization of such. For instance, the late, great, feminist-extremist Andrea Dworkin was actually a proponent of “lesbian separatism” and apparently favored the creation of communities for those with views like hers complete with “land and guns” of their own. Some in the left-wing anarchist milieu favor an idea called “libertarian municipalism,” a perspective advanced by the late anarchist-ecologist Murray Bookchin which basically involves creating independent city-state-like municipalities organized on the New England town meeting model, presumably espousing the usual communitarian-green-feminist-rainbow values of the far Left. It is theoretically possible that if and when the day comes that a pan-secessionist movement that is actually large enough and well-organized enough to mount a credible challenge to the authority of the U.S. regime and ruling class emerges, a majority or even a super-majority of the individuals, organizations, and communities participating in such an effort could potentially reflect the kinds of “far Left” values and positions on issues of the kinds that most current left-anarchists espouse.
A similar theoretical formulation could be applied to the immigration question. It is entirely possible that many if not most participants in a pan-secessionist action could indeed be persons or groups favoring a completely “open borders” policy for their respective post-secession communities. Indeed, it is even possible that many participants in a pan-secessionist movement or action could be immigrants, even those who immigrated illegally according to present U.S. law, or the immediate descendants of such.
Yet a number of obvious and vital questions remain. The most immediate of these would be: what is the purpose of anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism in the first place, its core principles aside? Anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism is an outlook that myself and some colleagues developed in the late 1990s in response to certain problems that we perceived in the mainstream of the anarchist milieu. From my earliest involvement in the anarchist movement, I noticed that quite frequently anarchists seemed to be, among other things, much more interested in promoting the standard laundry list of liberal or left-wing causes, or simply engaging in countercultural lifestyle practices, rather than advancing the struggle against the state. Opposition to the state itself is the core essence of any anarchist ideology worthy of the name. Anarchism differs from classical liberalism, which views the state as a neutral agent whose purpose is to uphold and protect abstract “rights.” The anarchist view regards the state as a self-interested entity claiming monopoly privilege for its members. Anarchism also differs from leftism in that it regards the state as a parasite and usurper rather than as a reflection of some mythical “general will” (the democratist view) or as an agent of class rule (the Marxist view). The traditional anarchist critique of capitalism regards plutocracy as the result of state-imposed privilege for private interests allied with the state (see Proudhon), and the traditional anarchist opposition to war, militarism, and imperialism results from the anarchist view of these things as simple acts of aggression and plunder by states, no different in kind from ordinary criminality.
An additional factor that shaped my own view was the recognition that many thinkers and activists outside the anarchist milieu and, indeed, outside the subculture of the “far Left” where most anarchists tend to function, possess many cogent criticisms of the state, plutocracy, empire and imperialism that overlapped quite well with the traditional anarchist critique, including some from the “far Right.” While studying the works of leading commentators and theorists from these schools of thought more carefully, I came to the conclusion that a good number entirely valid and legitimate issues and questions were being raised by many in these camps. Initially, I began pushing for greater collaboration between anarchists and the libertarian-left and paleoconservatives, the militia-patriot-constitutionalist milieu, right-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, the populist-right, and so forth. I then discovered the neo-secessionist tendencies that were starting to organize at the time, and around ten years ago I encountered for the first time the national-anarchist tendency that had recently emerged. This in turn introduced me to the world of “third-position” ideologies, to the French New Right of Alain De Benoist, and so forth. I began to understand that quite often the only key differences between many of these “right-wing” perspectives and traditional anarchism are matters of culture, and in some instances mere aesthetics or individual tastes. I wrote a letter to a left-anarchist journal in 1999 where I outlined these views, and I later reworked the letter into an article expounding upon these ideas further.
Anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism was created as a tendency whose specific purpose was to re-orient the focus of modern anarchism away from liberal and leftist social causes and countercultural lifestyles, and towards a more concentrated attack on the state, the empire, and the plutocracy. A related purpose is to form tactical alliances towards this end with many others sharing overlapping critiques or concerns, including some from the “far Right” or other points on the political spectrum apart from the radical Left milieu. Additionally, strategic and organizational issues are to be placed at the forefront of our ongoing efforts and expressed concerns. In other words, anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism differs sharply from the mainstream anarchist movement by
1) shifting focus away from left-wing social causes and countercultural lifestyles towards attacking the state, empire, and plutocracy as the primary values or objectives;
2) working for the construction of an anti-state, anti-plutocratic, and anti-imperialist political alliance comprised of opposition forces from across the political spectrum;
3) developing or promoting regional and local secessionist movements as the strategic and organizational vehicle for the political advancement of such a tactical alliance;
4) rejecting the universalistic claim that all participants in the anarcho-pluralistic/pan-secessionist project must hold to “ultra-liberal,” “far Left,” or countercultural lifestyle views on such matters as abortion, gay rights, feminism, transgendered rights, environmentalism, animal rights, “anti-racism,” “anti-fascism,” immigrants’ rights, “open borders,” veganism/vegetarianism, economic preferences, nuclear power, capital punishment, religion, drugs, family organization, squatting, dumpster-diving, punk rock music, and many other things. This is not to say that participants in such a project cannot hold “ultra-liberal” or countercultural views on such matters, but that such an outlook, while acceptable, is not mandatory.
5) recognizing that a post-state, post-plutocratic, and post-empire nation or civilization where anarchists are politically dominant would contain a genuine diversity of forms of political, cultural, and economic organization, and not just the kinds favored by the “far Left.” Consequently, a post-revolutionary political order would likely include communities and institutions of a conservative, religious, ethnocentric, traditionalist, patriarchal, or just plain old middle-of-the-road, moderate nature as well as those of a leftist or countercultural nature.
The Necessity of Confronting Totalitarian Humanism
Once upon a time, I generally agreed with the standard leftist view that much of the conservative critique of “political correctness” amounts to little more than sour grapes on the part of right-wingers who are on the losing end of history and political struggles. However, upon further experience and reflection, I found it necessary to alter my view. When I first began promoting the ideas outlined above in the anarchist milieu, I knew it would be controversial and that many would object. However, I was somewhat surprised by the level of vociferous hostility and threats of violence I received from the critics. Now, on one hand, if some anarchists regard immigrants’ rights, gay rights, transexual rights, animal rights, or the most extreme forms of “anti-racism” to be the most important issues, then they are still perfectly within their rights to feel this way. If they prefer to tolerate or endure the present system rather than cede any ground, politically or geographically, to the Right, or to have any sort of association with cultural conservatives, then they likewise have the right to make this value judgment for themselves. However, the fact that they cannot accept that some of us would choose a different way, and that they cannot co-exist with our own tendency without making threats of violence and assuming a generally obscurantist attitude, indicates that their commitment to such core libertarian values as freedom of speech and thought is rather limited. This essentially cancels their supposed “progressive” credentials and essentially renders them to the status of either a pre-Enlightenment cult movement, or secular theocrats, or a variation of the modern totalitarian movements that have emerged since the French Revolution. As a biographer of the anarchist historian Paul Avrich observed: “Avrich does not shy away from controversy in his books, treating the anarchist acts of violence honestly and in the context of the time. He does not condone the violence of Berkman, but says he still admires his decision, considering how brutal Frick acted toward striking workers. But Avrich does not have the same patience for some contemporary anarchists, who choose to destroy property and who, he says, come mainly from educated and middle-class backgrounds. “I’m not so crazy about anarchists these days,” he says. Anarchism means that you leave other people alone and you don’t force people to do anything.” He says he is sad that the old-timers are not around to guide the resurgent movement. “They were nicer people –much nicer people.” Of course, the anarcho-leftoids, antifa, and other related groups are merely a symptom of the growing totalitarian movement of which Political Correctness is a manifestation. I have written about this third totalitarianism before, and will continue to do so in the future. For now, it is simply enough to say that Political Correctness must be confronted by serious anarchists in the same way that it was necessary for perceptive anarchists to confront Communism as Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin did in the days when it was the emerging totalitarian movement of the 19th century. This is simply a matter of self-defense, as the left-wing enemy has declared war on us. Given the rabid hatred expressed by PC Left (including its “anarchist” and “libertarian” contingents) towards anyone with political, social, or cultural values that conflict with hard-left orthodoxy, it is unlikely that these elements will ever be able to peacefully co-exist with those who are different from themselves. The PC Left contains within itself the Lenins, Stalins, Maos, Castros, and Pol Pots of the future.
This is not to say that one cannot theoretically be a cultural leftist and simultaneously oppose Totalitarian Humanism. One can be a worker, a political leftist, or even a socialist, and oppose Marxism. One can be black, Jewish, or Hispanic and oppose totalitarian multiculturalism. Many do. One can be a woman and oppose the feminazis. There are many of these. One can certainly be gay and oppose the “homo-totalitarians.” Plenty of examples of this exist. Many of my own views on various issues are well to the left of the Democratic Party, if not the Green Party. Yet Totalitarian Humanism needs to be recognized for what it is, the third triplet after Communism and Fascism.
The Necessity of Strategic and Organizational Thinking
A criticism that has been issued against my outlook in the past is that it is overly concerned with pragmatic or strategic considerations and not rooted strongly enough in matters of abstract principle. But ideas are worthless (Stirnerite “spooks”) if they cannot be translated into real world action. If we wanted we could simply form a monastery where we sit around and debate whether drunk driving interferes with anyone’s property rights or whether non-coercive ageism or transphobia conflicts with the natural rights of man, but for what purpose other than intellectual masturbation? If that is what some wish to do, so be it, but for those of us who want an anti-state movement that is a real world contender, matters of strategy and organization are indispensable. Therefore, considerations of what kinds of demographic groups, subtendencies, organizational methods, and tactical efforts are most conducive to the success of the objectives outlined above, and considerations of time frame, are essential to our wider theoretical framework.
The Necessity of High Intellectual Standards and Political Foresight
While considerations of strategy and action are important to the formulation of theory, this does not mean that we should not aspire to high intellectual standards. For one thing, the purpose of ARV/ATS is not to simply be popular and attract sympathizers, but to cultivate an elite leadership corps who will be the revolutionary elite of a future anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist populist movement. A competent leadership corps has to first possess not only high intellectual standards but a capacity for serious political foresight. These considerations are relevant to many different questions. For now, we can reflect a bit on the relevance of these to the immigration question, given that immigration is at present a prominent and controversial public issue.
With the exception of the paleo-libertarians, national-anarchists, and perhaps some Green-anarchists, most present-day anti-state radicals generally advocate “open borders,” meaning that the existing states should simply order their border and coast guards to stand down and allow entry into their respective countries by anyone who wishes to enter for whatever reason. If that’s how many if not most libertarians or anarchists feel at present, then that’s their prerogative. Yet the popularity of a position should not be a barrier to its challenge. After all, if the goal were to simply be popular in the anarchist milieu, our own tendencies would not even exist in the first place.
I criticize the “open borders” beliefs of many anarchists for a variety of reasons. First, I regard mass immigration as a phenomenon that is actually generated by the forces of State, Capital, and Empire, and serves the interests of present day political elites and ruling classes. Second, I am skeptical as to whether a civilization of anarchic communities would actually have “open borders” as many anarchists conceive of such. “Open borders” simply invites the existing state to impose a uniform immigration standard on all communities and institutions within the wider society. There is likely to be a considerably greater degree of variation with regards to matters of immigration and citizenship in the absence of an overarching statist system. Third, it is doubtful that the cultural and social ultra-liberalism promoted by many anarchists and libertarians is compatible with the importation of unlimited numbers of persons from profoundly illiberal cultural environments. Fourth, the history of efforts by genuinely multi-ethnic and multicultural societies to maintain civil peace is not a particularly happy one or a cause for optimism. Fifth, there are the practical costs of mass immigration. For instance, do we really want North America to become as populous as China or India? Lastly, I am skeptical as to whether anarchists who champion “open borders” the most fervently are motivated primarily by anti-statist or civil libertarian concerns.
For instance, many anarchists have not devoted nearly as much effort, or no effort at all, to opposing statist legislation that is far more onerous or draconian in content and effect than the recently enacted Arizona immigration law. So are these anarchists motivated by anti-statism and civil libertarianism, or are they motivated more by universalism, e.g. the view that immigration is a good unto itself regardless of the state’s role in fostering or prohibiting it? What sort of concerns do they express? What sort of criticisms do they raise? Do they say “Requiring travelers to display passports is a statist interference with freedom to travel!”? Perhaps they do at times, but there are plenty of laws on the books of a comparable nature that they rarely if ever discuss, for instance, those requiring motorists to obtain and carry a driver’s license. Are they not more likely to say, “Restricting immigration is racist and xenophobic!” It is fairly clear that for many of the “open borders” anarchists and libertarians, univeralism rather than anti-statism is the guiding value.
Now, to be fair, it should be pointed out that those anti-statists with anti-immigration views are often likewise motivated by values beyond those of mere concern with the role of the state in promoting or sponsoring immigration. The same could be said of libertarians holding opposing views on other controversial matters like abortion or capital punishment. Yet, anti-statists who are anti-immigration are typically much more likely to demonstrate anti-universalism. For instance, Hans Herman Hoppe is a leading paleolibertarian critic of “open borders” libertarians, yet he recognizes the degree of discrimination or non-discrimination, inclusion or exclusion, homogeneity or heterogeneity, will inevitably vary from community to community and institution to institution minus a system of uniformity imposed by the central state. Likewise, the national-anarchists typically recognize that the internal norms and standards of differing “tribes” or communities will vary greatly in the absence of the state, and typically understand that without the state homogeneous communities will co-exist with multicultural ones. Neither paleos nor national-anarchists typically engage in slander, vilification, threats, or violence towards those who do not share their views. Therefore, their claims of authenticity are at present the most valid and compelling.
The Necessity of a Flexibility of Theory and Tactics
The matter of immigration raises a few other issues that are relevant to the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist paradigm. For instance, I have had some no doubt sincere and well-intentioned people ask questions such as these?
1) How can it be argued that the state promotes immigration and that immigrants benefit from statism when illegal immigrants are subject to arrest by the ICE or other police agencies?
2) Is not criticizing immigration promoting division among enemies of the state, thereby weakening the anti-state cause?
3) Is not criticizing immigration actually strengthening pro-state elements on the Right, who are after all motivated not by anti-statism but by statist nationalism?
4) Would not it be strategically more feasible to ally with immigrants against overarching common enemies, such as the global plutocracy?
Here are some short answers to these questions:
1) The state not a monolithic conspiracy. Many anarchists and libertarians seem to regard “the state” the same way Marxists regard “the capitalists” or Nazis regard “the Jews.” The state is a collection of certainly overlapping and interconnected interests, but one that also contains within itself plenty of contradictions and conflicts. Yes, certain elements within the state (for instance, the ICE or Joe Arpaio) might well have self-interest in enforcing immigration law. But plenty of other interests within the state actually benefit from immigration. These have been widely documented by immigration critics. Further, simply being a lawbreaker does not necessarily make one an enemy of the state per se, much less an anarchist revolutionary. If mere law-breaking were to be our standard of anarchist authenticity, then we would have to say that dirty cops are among the most anarchistic of all. After all, dirty cops commit perjury, plant evidence, engage in police brutality, confiscate drugs and then use or sell them, steal from evidence lockers, accept bribes, participate in illegal searches and seizures, solicit sexual favors from suspects or prisoners, or even engage in outright common crimes such as robbery, rape, kidnapping, and murder. There are certainly plenty of laws prohibiting these things, but are we prepared to argue that such cops measure up to anarchist standards?
2) For reasons that are widely known, it is doubtful whether immigrants, or even illegal immigrants, can be classified as enemies of the state on any kind of consistent level. As Andrew Yeoman succinctly put it: “…the ideal is to decentralize political power and increase the power of local institutions outside state control. This does not mean supporting illegal immigrants, who aren’t outside the state — to the contrary. Illegals represent a minority that is trying to impose its will on the majority by fully integrating itself within the state. Illegals oppose state power just as much as they oppose capitalism, which is to say, not at all — they are here to make money and eager to take advantage of all the benefits of the welfare system. They are also seeking race replacement.”
3) It is undoubtedly true that many on the anti-immigration Right are motivated less by an opposition to the imposition of a uniform and universalist immigration policy by the central state, and more by a desire for a xenophobic brand of statist nationalism? But to what degree are these elements reflective of ruling class values or elite consensus, or even the mainstream of public opinion? For instance, the New York Times (which Abbie Hoffman used to refer to as “the voice of the ruling class”) has consistently taken an “open borders” stance, as has the Wall Street Journal (which might be called “the voice of the global plutocracy”). The evidence is overwhelming that while elites and the radical Left share the common goal of total or near-total abolition of immigration standards, hard-core “xenophobes” are a fairly marginal, fringe movement. Research indicates that the average American of all races or colors generally has a tolerant view of legal immigrants, while regarding present immigration rates as too high and believing that illegal immigration should be barred. This is hardly an indication of imminent genocide as “immigrants’ rights” hysterics would have us believe.
4) All of these issues aside, are there indeed areas or situations where illegal immigrants might well be potential allies? Aside from my strenuously un-PC views on certain questions, one of the areas of my own thinking that often raises the most eyebrows is my position that outlaw organizations might well be valuable allies against the state in certain instances. For instance, motorcycle gangs, survivalist militias, common street gangs, exotic cults, and the like. There are a number of reasons why I hold to this view. One is the obvious. Many of these groups view themselves as a nation of their own that is at war with the government, therefore in a situation of direct conflict with the state, they may be viable military allies against a common enemy. Second, many of these groups have a history of being in direct conflict and combat with the repressive apparatus of the state, e.g. the BATF, FBI, DEA, or state and local SWAT teams or paramilitary police. Thirdly, by recruiting them as allies or mercenaries for “our side” we prevent our various enemies from doing so. There are other, less significant reasons why I take this position as well.
This brings us to the final question of on what issues might it be appropriate to take a pro-immigration stance or to ally ourselves with illegal immigrants. As mentioned, individuals participants in the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist project can have any other views they wish. By extension, they can advocate for their own tribe, community, or territory whatever political values they wish. For instance, if some left-anarchists, left-libertarians, Hispanic ethno-nationalists, or liberal multiculturalists decide to organize a Miami secessionist movement (the “Republic of Miami”) and decide they wish for an independent Miami to have completely open borders, so be it. If most people in a liberal metropolis like New York City or San Francisco prefer that these regions be “sanctuary cities,” then that’s how it will be. Likewise, while I would defend Arizona’s sovereignty against the feds regarding the controversial immigration law, if one of Arizona’s cities or counties, say, Tucson or Flagstaff, decided to secede from Arizona in protest of the immigration law, I would defend their right to do so as well. Nor does this mean that any policy of any seceded polity is necessarily “written in stone.” For instance, in an independent Arizona, pro-immigrationists could certainly agitate for less restrictive immigration policies, and I would defend their free speech rights to do so. In an independent “Republic of Miami” with open borders, immigration restrictionists could push for more limits on immigration, and I would likewise defend their free speech rights as well.
An analogy could be made to class issues. Any interest of mine is organizing secessionist efforts by large cites with an emphasis on class issues. While I am a Southerner, neo-confederate ideology or Dixieland revivalism doesn’t really interest me much. Instead, I would prefer to develop secession movements on the part of the large metro areas like Richmond, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chattanooga, Charleston, and so forth. The focus would be on achieving economic self-sufficiency and self-determination for the lower classes, and on repealing policies that generate much of the violent crime in these urban areas, particularly drug prohibition. Consequently, if we were to organize a general strike or mass walkout by workers in fast food chains, superstore chains, meatpacking plants, crony-capitalist real estate developments, or agribusiness plantations, I would very much advocate labor solidarity among all the workers, even though many of these places employ illegal immigrants.
At the same time, as part of the process of developing a pan-secessionist movement, I am certainly open to class collaboration on certain issues. While my personal focus would be on the urban lower classes, in many of the counties surrounding my own city there are affluent, upper-middle class communities with strong conservative leanings. If indeed a secessionist movement motivated by a desire to simply not pay taxes to Washington, D.C. or the state government were to emerge among such people, I would certainly back their efforts. Likewise, even though I am a pro-abortion atheist who thinks the cause of gay marriage is more silly than offensive, if a rural county or small town comprised of evangelical Christians or other religious conservatives were to secede rather than recognize Roe v. Wade or gay rights/gay marriage laws, I would support their efforts as well.
In a similar vein, given the reality that the future of the American Southwest likely belongs to Aztlan, it may well be likely that tactical collaboration with Hispanic ethno-nationalist secessionists in the Southwest, including many illegal immigrants or their immediate descendants, will be strategically feasible or even necessary at some point in the future.
Read about it on David Yeagley’s blog.
Isn’t it ironic that leftoids who are always complaining about their opponents’ alleged efforts to “silence” the voices of their favorite groups (minorities, feminists, gays, transexuals, etc.) do not see any need to extend what they hypocritically demand for themselves to those who do not share their own ideological biases?
The American Renaissance conference was repeatedly relocated and then canceled due to threats of violence against the employees of the hotel hosting the conference. So much for these leftoids’ commitment to “workers’ rights.” We already know how much they value freedom of speech. Theirs is the standard Communist line of support for free speech only when out of power. Now that cultural leftism is becoming the mainstream social norm, they have no qualms about showing their true colors. It should also be remembered that violent intimidation of opponents was a tactic of the German Nazi movement even before it took power and overthrew the Weimar regime. This kind of behavior by lefto-fascist “anti-racists” is even more common in Europe.
It should also be pointed out that American Renaissance is not a fascist nor neo-Nazi organization. Its founder and leader, Jared Taylor, has taken only two public positions on race: repeal of antidiscrimination laws which many libertarians view as an abridgement of private property rights and freedom of association, and a moratorium on Third World immigration, whose critics have included such prominent neo-Nazis as Ralph Nader, the late African-American politician Barbara Jordan, and the black writer Carol Swain, who has written critically but objectively on the white nationalist movement in the U.S. Past American Renaissance conferences have featured Jewish speakers like Paul Gottfried, Michael Hart, Michael Levin, Rabbi Mayer Schiller, and even anarchists like Joe Sobran. David Yeagley, an American Indian, was scheduled to appear at this year’s conference.
What the lefto-fascists object to is the mere fact that some people are holding a meeting to discuss or promote conservative views on racial issues. Whatever one thinks about these questions, if the lefto-fascists are successful in these kinds of effort to silence opponents through violent and random threats, it is quite likely they will start using similar tactics against other ideological opponents as well. If they can deny freedom of speech and association to racial conservatives, why not pro-lifers, conservative Christians, opponents of gay marriage, Second Amendment advocates, critics of environmentalism, economic conservatives, men’s or fathers’ rights groups or anyone else who is outside the totalitarian humanist paradigm.
It is also likely that as totalitarian humanism/political correctness/Cultural Marxism becomes ever more deeply entrenched into institutions that “law enforcement,” law and order liberals like the SPLC, and extra-legal, lefto-fascist, Communist and anarcho-leftoid hoodlums will start bending towards one another and establish a more cooperative relationship. Be prepared.
Carol Moore is someone who deserves credit for helping to publicize the secessionist cause. See her website here. Unfortunately, she has delivered a classic example of an ad hominem argument against Yours Truly in response to my suggestions that the radical Left should seriously consider the possibility of adopting a secessionist outlook. You can see Ms. Moore’s response here. Here it is in full:
While Preston’s article seems rational, if you look at the list of articles he’s published he also promotes “National Anarchism” which is against “miscengenation” and promotes (as opposed to merely accepting) separation of the races. He also promotes revolutionary violence, including by Tim McVeigh. FYI.
The ad hominem part of this is obvious. What Carol is saying amounts to is: “Yes, Keith Preston makes reasonable arguments as to why the radical Left should consider secession, but he’s also a bad guy, so this refutes or at least dimishes his arguments.” A response to the charges is in order:
“…he also promotes “National Anarchism”…”
Guilty but proud. See my discussions of National-Anarchism and related views here, here, and here. National-Anarchism is a freshingly interesting and vibrant current when compared with the dull conformists and predictable lefto-losers associated with the mainstream anarchist movement.
“…which is against “miscengenation”…”
There’s no “n” in this term, but as something of a serial miscegenator myself I don’t really care what views National-Anarchists may or may not hold on “miscegenation.” See John Derbyshire on this one. I don’t really adhere to any of the Christian taboos about “adultery” or “fornication” either, but I’ve also promoted Christian secessionist or separatist groups in the past. I’ve even promoted Mormon polygamists. To demonstrate the absurdity of this kind argument against the National-Anarchists, imagine if a Muslim, an Orthodox Jew or a Seventh Day Adventist were to make an argument like this: “Yes, Preston makes reasonable arguments in favor of secession by Muslims, Jews, and Adventists, but he also promotes individuals and groups that eat pork, drink alcohol, and refrain from keeping the Sabbath…..”
Enough said on that point.
“…and promotes (as opposed to merely accepting) separation of the races…”
As an anarchist, what I actually advocate is a concept I call “separation of race and state” on the same model as the Jeffersonian idea of “separation of church and state.” If racial and ethnic integrationism of the kind favored by liberals and leftists can take place on its own without the coercive apparatus of the state to compel it, and without the economic pressures generated by state-capitalism and imperialism, then so be it. On the other hand, if the kind of racial separatism favored by “racial conservatives” (for lack of a better term) is indeed normal or natural, then that’s fine by me as well. My guess is that there would probably be some of both, with the degree of extremes on either end depending on other factors like local culture, institutional forms, ideological currents, economic factors, population size, geography, history, individual personalities and so forth. Imagine if Carol were to instead make an argument like: “Preston promotes (as to merely accepting) separation of the cultures and religions where hippies, Christian evangelicals, Catholics, goth-rockers and Jehovah’s Witnesses simply do their own thing-what a god-awful thing this is!”
What leftoids just can’t seem to accept is that some of us just flat out don’t give a damn if races are “separated” or not. Indeed, some the present-day “anti-racism” hysteria is starting to sound a lot like the anti-commie panic of the 1950s or the “Satanic panic” of the 80s. If Joe McCarthy were alive today, no doubt he would be talking about the evil cabals of racists who’ve infiltrated American institutions. If Dana Carvey were just inventing his “Church Lady” character today, he’d have to make her a PC liberal: “Satan?…Racism!!!!!”
Enough said on that one.
“He also promotes revolutionary violence,…”
It is quite unlikely that the existing regime, ruling class, and empire is going to let territories within the U.S.A simply walk away without a fight. So, on that great day of reckoning, it is indeed quite likely that secessionist movements will indeed need defense organizations of a “fourth generation” nature. See Hezbollah, Hamas, the FMLN, or the Peoples’ War Group. See 1776, 1861, or Spain 1936. Pacifism doesn’t interest me.
“including by Tim McVeigh”
McVeigh got an “A” for attitude but an “F” for tactics and good sense, in my book.
Enough said on that one.
The University of Delaware forces students to undergo PC brainwashing under the guise of therapy, or “treatments.” Read all about it.
This is the “totalitarian humanism” I have been warning about in the past. The totalitarian Left has spent decades working to gain control of the universities. Now, what’s going to happen when they finally gain control of the state, the police, the legal system, the army, etc.? This is the Cultural Marxist Revolution in full operation.
[Update: Apparently, exposure has forced the university to drop the program. See here. But they’ll be back. These cretins view this as a Long March.]
(hat tip to Chris Donnellan)
My position on this has always been to promote meritocracy. Whether women (or blacks or Mexicans or some other group) are on average less intelligent or not, if someone from a group whose average intelligence is lower than others can still rise according to their own abilities, then what does it matter? For instance, if women, blacks, or others are individually capable of being great scholars, scientists, inventors, or artists, and no one prevents them from doing so, then what else is there to be concerned about?
For some years now, I have advocated for the anarchist movement in North America a change in direction from the course it has followed since the 1960s. Essentially, the general flavor of the anarchist milieu is one that expresses the same set of primary values as Marxists, social democrats and left-liberal Democratic Party activists, with the added qualification of “by the way, we’re also against the state as well.” A principal problem with such an approach is that it fails to distinguish political anarchism from run of the mill leftism. Furthermore, anarchism exists primarily as a kind of youth culture/subculture that focuses on a very narrow ultra-leftism and hyper-counterculturalism that inevitably has the effect of relegating political anarchism into a fringe ideological ghetto.
This is a situation that I have sought to change. I have done so by advocating a broader, more expansive approach for political anarchism than what the current mainstream of the movement will allow for. This effort has won me many highly sympathetic friends within the anarchist milieu and many bitter enemies as well. In a recent and highly controversial essay, I argued for a “revolution within anarchism.” What I was calling for is the future advent of a “non-leftoidal” anarchist movement, meaning one that is more substantive, comprehensive and original in its approach, rather than simply championing the run-of-the-mill causes and issues favored by leftists and post-60s counterculturalists.
If one surveys most of the contemporary anarchist websites and publications, one typically sees persistent and predictable references to things like the evils of racism, sexism, and homophobia, the villainy of pollution and cutting down trees, the need to be kinder to animals, the championing of unions and worker-related causes, the need for better health care, and other things that any little old lady at a Democratic Party precinct meeting, liberal Methodist pastor, or high-school social studies teacher might be interested in. Added to this might be standard countercultural causes like publishing “zines,” alternative media projects, squatting, “Food Not Bombs,” vegetarianism or veganism, neo-pagan or New Age religions, transsexualism, hippie communes, or punk music. Many of these are no doubt good causes or perfectly harmless activities, but it is questionable as to how much they really do to subvert “the System.” After all, the radicals from the 60s have for the most part been victorious on most of the issues that emerged during that time. But what has been the result? The military-industrial complex is larger and more expansive than ever before, and the empire more far-reaching and more overtly aggressive. The state is more expansive and repressive, and the police state and prison-industrial complex have emerged as major growth industries. The plutocracy has become ever more exploitive, and the socio-economic classes ever more polarized. And the “culture wars” have degenerated into battles within the middle class over symbolic issues like same-sex marriage.
I submit that anarchists in North America should strive to break the grip that the “60s model” of radicalism has on their own milieu and begin looking for new directions. In my previous writings, I have called for the development of an anarchist-led pan-secessionist movement with a strong populist orientation, and oriented towards the lower socio-economic orders, e.g., the lumpenproletariat, neo-peasantry, declasse’ sectors, lower petite bourgeoisie, respectable poor, sinking middle and so forth. Such a movement would champion “third way” economic tendencies beyond socialism or capitalism, with an emphasis on decentralization and the voluntary sector. There would be an across-the-board defense of civil liberties (defending both drug decriminalization and the right to bear arms, for instance) and irreconcilable cultural differences would be handled according to the model of “peace through separatism,” meaning groups like the feminist/gay Left or the Religious Right would have their own separate institutions, associations, communities, and, if necessary, entirely separate regions, with explosive cultural matters like the definition of marriage, abortion, capital punishment, the rights of children against their parents, educational practices, and immigration being determined according to local community standards. The emergence of such a movement would involve a situation where the independent Left, populist Right, radical Middle, underclass, lumpenproletariat, declasse’ sectors, radical ecologists, and racial-nationalists among the minority groups would naturally bend towards one another against the neoconservative/left-liberal establishment.
My own ideological perspective is, for all practical purposes, virtually identical to what one might find at a website like Infoshop.Org , with several important differences. One of these is my rejection of abstract internationalism in favor old-fashioned foreign policy isolationism. A similar policy has worked quite well for the Swiss and Swedes for generations, and an emphasis on strict neutrality in international relations is even more important in an era where “humanitarianism” is used as a justification and cover for imperialism. Second, the phenomena of what is called “political correctness” needs to be effectively and comprehensively challenged, given that this is the ideological superstructure of an emerging form of totalitarianism. Lastly, I wish to end the “culture war/race war” mentality common to many Leftists and Rightists alike, and deal with differences of religion, culture, race, ethnicity, language and so forth according to the principles of individual liberty, voluntary association, pluralism, meritocracy and peaceful co-existence where possible, otherwise decentralism, localism, secessionism, separatism, self-determination and mutual self-segregation. For holding such positions, I have gained many enemies, but I have also brought in new friends, allies, and ideological tendencies whose tenants overlap to a great degree with those of traditional anarchism. Just as those of us who opposed the Cold War were often accused of fueling Communism, so are those of us who today oppose the Culture War accused of fueling Nazism, fascism, racism and theocracy but, as has been said, “this too shall pass.”
A question that emerges from this discussion involves the issue of what sort of time frame we are looking at. I prefer to use the “forty years in the wilderness” analogy, a reference to the biblical legend whereby the escaped Israelite slaves wandered in the wilderness for forty years before reaching the Promised Land. I will explain the relevance of this analogy shortly, but when considering such a matter it is important to recognize identifiable trends in U.S. politics. These include:
1) The two-party system has proven to be extraordinarily durable, and has survived for 200+ years since the founding of the Republic, with no significant alterations and in spite of many subsequent changes in American society of a monumental nature.
2) The state has persistently grown throughout U.S. history, with no significant rollback at any point, and will likely continue to do so in the forseeable future, particularly given the economic troubles that lie ahead. Depending on whose estimates one relies on, the U.S. state now consumes 35 to 40 percent of the GDP, and is capable of consuming still more, as the European social democracies demonstrate. Further, there is no real evidence that the public at large objects to this. Opinion research indicates that anti-statist ideologies like libertarianism and paleoconservatism are the least popular so far as ideologies somewhat connected to the political mainstream are concerned.
3) Demographic, cultural and generational trends indicate that the center-left and, consequently, the Democratic Party, will be the dominant force in American national politics in the decades ahead. It is also true that American domestic partisan cycles tend to run at 35 to 40 year intervals. The Democrats recently emerged victorious after Republican dominance since the late 1960s. The Nixon Republicans displaced the Democrats who had been dominant since the election of FDR in 1932, and FDR ended the Republican reign that had begun in the 1890s (with the exception of the disastrous Wilson presidency). If this trend has any meaning for the future, the current Democrat-dominated partisan cycle should begin to expire sometime in the 2040s, precisely the decade when Americans of non-European ancestry are expected to collectively become a demographic majority.
In other words, we should count on the center-left being dominant for the next 40 years or so, and we should plan on using that time to build up a revolutionary movement that will eventually displace the current center-left coalition that has emerged victorious with the election of President Obama. Of course, there are a lot of people who wish to unseat the present center-left ruling coalition from the Right, ranging from right-wing neocon Frumites to paleocon Buchananites to the “grassroots Republican” Palinites to the Religious Right, Libertarians, and so forth. However, it is unlikely that any of these elements will ever achieve anything more than marginal or temporary victories, as all of them represent forces that were once dominant in American society but are in a serious state of decline. Neoconservatism, for instance, is a degenerated form of Cold War liberalism and the Paleocon/Religious Right program of turning back the clock to the 1950s is something of a joke. That mainstream “conservatives” have found no one better than Sarah Palin to be their leader demonstrates what a joke their perspective is as well. The purpose of present day “conservatism” is not to gain political power but to attract listeners and viewers to talk-radio or FOX News (itself a product of the “dumbing down” of American culture) and to sell books by barely literate right-wing polemicists.
It is of the utmost importance that a genuine revolutionary movement identify the present and future center-left ruling coalition as the primary enemy. To focus on “right-wing conservatives” is foolish given that these represent the losing forces of history, e.g., the right-wing of the old-monied elite, proponents of archaic nation-state based nationalism, religious fundamentalists, opponents of the sexual revolution, the declining white middle class and so forth. Yes, Rush Limbaugh may be a fat-assed windbag who peddles jingoism in its crudest form, and Ann Coulter may be a sniveling cunt, but there is no evidence that the movement they represent will ever achieve comprehensive or enduring political power in the United States. Indeed, the Bush administration, with its grotesque ineptness, may well have been their last gasp. Even more foolish is the tendency of some in the anarchist movement to devote inordinate amounts of attention to “right-wing extremist” groups, e.g., the Ku Klux Klan, neo-nazis, skinheads, et.al. Nothing is more marginalized and irrelevant to the mainstream of American politics than these. Persistent battles between “racists” and “anti-racists” are as socially and politically productive as wars between one-percenter motorcycle clubs or crack-dealing, inner-city street gangs.
The correct historical model to draw on in the development of a 21st century revolutionary movement in North America is not the battle between the Left and classical Fascism in the 1920s and 1930s but the historic rivalry between the anarchists and the Communists, with the center-left and its ideology of political correctness now playing the role of the “new totalitarianism.” I submit that the anarchist movement in North America should adopt as its primary objective the development of a revolutionary movement to challenge the center-left from the left, with the goal of obtaining political pre-eminence once the center-left expires its historical utility. In other words, there should be an anarchist-led revolution in the United States sometime during the 2040s, and the interim decades should be a build-up period to that point.
American history informs us of how we might proceed. Given the historic durability of the two-party system, it is worth noting that the only disruptions of that system were the replacement of the Federalists with the Whigs, and the subsequent replacement of the Whigs with the Republicans prior to the U.S. Civil War. Given that the Democrats are likely to be the ruling party over the next few decades, the aim of the revolutionaries should be to eventually replace the Republican Party with a yet to be named or thoroughly defined revolutionary coalition/organization/federation of some kind.
It is also worth noting and rather ironic that the only “near miss” as far as rolling back the perpetual expansion of the Leviathan state in U.S. history was the attempted Southern secession of 1861, which the Republican Party was formed primarily to prevent. Given that the two largest revolutionary events in U.S. history were the secession by the 13 colonies from Britain and the attempted Southern secession from the Union, it makes sense that a continuation of the American secessionist tradition should be our primary strategic tool. There is also the question of how to best go about formulating propaganda whose purpose is to shift popular opinion in our direction. As anarchists, we can quote Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, Proudhon, Spooner, Tolstoy, Stirner, Nock, Rothbard, Bookchin or Chomksy within our own circles all we wish. The fact that remains is that most Americans don’t know and don’t care about such things. What they do know is the American populist revolutionary tradition that extends back to Jefferson and the Declaration Independence. In other words, we anarchists should follow the lead of Voltairine de Cleyre and work to fuse anarchism with American radical traditions in a way that makes sense to the ordinary person.
The need to abandon conventional “culture war/race war” psychology cannot be emphasized strongly enough. This does not mean that anarchists, the majority of whom identify with the left on social and cultural matters, should abandon their own ideals, interests or preferences. For instance, the majority of anarchists probably take a favorable view of the “immigrants’ rights” cause. Because immigration is a highly divisive social issue within the ranks of the poor and working class, I have advocated simply decentralizing immigration policy to the local level. This means that some localities might have the ultra-liberal immigration policies of contemporary “sanctuary cities” and others might take a position more like the contemporary Minutemen. In a community where the prevailing opinion on immigration was rather “conservative” in nature, left-wing anarchists could still agitate for an alternative point of view if they wished, vote against an anti-immigration referendum, etc. Nevertheless, it remains true that a wide assortment of demographic groups commonly identified with the “cultural right” will likely come under increasingly severe attacks from the state in the decades ahead. What we anarchists should say to the Right is this: “You rightists will get a better deal from us than with the totalitarian Left. We will defend you against attacks from the state. We will uphold the right to bear arms, free speech, educational freedom, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. We will shut down the police state. We will recognize your political sovereignty in those communities where your perspective is the prevailing sentiment. We will uphold the economic interests that you share in common with others.” It should not be difficult to connect and form alliances with a wide variety of rightist factions against the common enemy in the central government given that states’ rights and local sovereignty are venerable American traditions of the kind which conservatives are the ostensible champions.
The center-left will eventually collapse as it begins to fracture along various lines. As political correctness becomes more deeply entrenched in American society, it will have fewer and fewer inhibitions about showing its fangs. As the role of the Israel lobby in U.S. foreign policy becomes increasingly exposed, the center-left will fracture along pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist lines. As the immigrant and non-white population expands and becomes more powerful, racial and ethnic divisions on the Left will become more obvious. Other contributing factors to the eventual demise of the center-left ruling coalition will be growing class divisions, ideological differences among the left (multicultural vs universalism), the incompatibility of some of the left’s constituent groups (socially conservative blacks and homosexuals, for instance), the decline of the traditional Right as a common enemy and unifying force for the center-left, and the economic bankruptcy of the welfare state. Ultimately, the greatest fault line will be between upper middle class, white, liberals mostly concerned with social issues like gay rights, abortion rights, environmentalism and secularism, and lower class, mostly black and Hispanic, radicals concerned with class and economic issues, framed as racial and ethnic issues.
Over the next twenty years or so, anarchists should work to re-orient their movement away from a narrowly focused ultra-leftism and towards the broader pan-secessionist, decentralist populism I have outlined here. This will be achieved by those anarchists who already hold a similar position agitating for such ideas in the anarchist milieu and eventually gaining positions of leadership as the older ways become increasingly archaic. Once again, this does not mean that anarchists should necessarily abandon many of the projects with which they are currently involved. It means simply expanding the horizons of the anarchist milieu, appealing to a wider variety and larger number of people, and tackling a wider assortment of issues.
Once the project of re-orienting the anarchist movement towards becoming a more effective fighting force is achieved, the next step will be to work to gain political preeminence at the local and regional level for the ultimate purpose of overturning the present and future center-left ruling coalition, and doing so in a way that involves radical decentralization of power to the lowest possible level. This does not mean that decentralization is the only value. There are currently many worthwhile projects that anarchists are involved with ranging from assisting the homeless, to agitating for the living wage, to prisoners’ rights, to alternative schools, to solidarity with the Palestinians, Tibetans and oppressed people in other parts of the world. This does not mean that any particular set of anarchists needs to abandon their preferred set of cultural values. What I am simply proposing is that irreconcilable cultural differences be handled according to the model of “peace through separatism” as opposed to civil war, persecution, subjugation or oppression. Some rural counties may not allow abortion and some liberal enclaves may not allow handguns or smoking in bars. Some science academies may discriminate against creationists, and some churches may discriminate against feminists and homosexuals. Some schools may teach Afro-centrism and some may teach Euro-centrism. Some neighborhoods may exclude outspoken racists and others may exclude drug dealers or vice merchants. Such is an inevitability in a highly diverse civilization of hundreds of millions of people.
As to where those anarchists already committed to an outlook such as the one I’ve outlined here should begin, I would suggest that anarchists of this type begin infiltrating larger organizations for the purpose of gaining leadership positions. For instance, most of the current “third party” organizations are politically worthless, and there has never been a genuinely successful third party in U.S. history. However, these parties might well be captured by the anarchist movement and combined into a federation of more authentically revolutionary organizations, with their own infrastructure, social services, schools, media, militia and so forth, perhaps on the model of Fourth Generation entities like Hezbollah. It is these institutions and organizations that should replace the state once the present ruling class crumbles.
For some time now, I have argued for an alliance of left-wing anarchism and right-wing populism against the common enemies of imperialism and Big Brother statism. I have argued that the strategic application of such an alliance would be a pan-secessionist movement rooted in the traditions of the American Revolution and the later Southern War of Independence. Secessionism is often associated with political conservatism, given the greater regard of conservatives for American traditions like states’ rights and the conservative nature of the Southern secession of 1861. Indeed, pro-secessionist rumblings have emerged in the mainstream Right recently. Such developments are a welcome thing, of course, and no doubt a future pan-secessionist movement would have a strong right-wing and radical center constituency behind it. As the middle class continues to sink into the ranks of the underclass, and as the vast array of cultural groups associated with right-wing populism continue to come under attack by the forces of political correctness, no doubt an increasing number of people, including many former jingoists, members of the religious right and one-time neocon sympathizers, will realize that the centralized liberal-managerial regime is their enemy, and decide that a political exodus is their best bet. Certainly, a mass army of secessionists in the rural areas, small towns and red states will be a welcome addition to our cause.
However, I do not think that it is on the Right that the crucial political battles will be fought. The Right represents an agglomeration of political, cultural and demographic factions that are losing power and shrinking in size. Instead, the crucial battles will be fought on the Left. The dominant center-left that is now consolidating its position is a liberal Left that espouses liberal internationalism, universalism, humanism and human rights imperialism, and expresses itself in the form of the therapeutic-managerial-welfare state. However, there is an emerging radical Left that is oriented towards pluralism, postmodernism, cultural relativism, pro-Third Worldism and anti-Zionism. Eventually, there will be a sharp split between these two lefts, as the former is capable of cooptation by state-capitalism, but the latter is not. Take a look at these photos:
Can a radical Left that is fervently anti-Israel and pro-Third World nationalism ever be reconciled with the American ruling class? It is highly unlikely. Furthermore, the spectacle of conservative Muslims, feminists, gays, transgendereds, Marxists, anarchists, leftists, nationalists, national-anarchists, Jews, anti-Semites, racialists, anti-racists, peaceniks and Hamas sympathizers marching against Zionism and U.S. imperialism is not only a potential ruling class nightmare, but a manifestation of the kind of pluralistic, culturally relativist, cross-ideological alliances against the System that I have been arguing for in the past.
The legitimizing ideological superstructure of the present regime and ruling class, i.e., liberalism, is antithetical to both paleoconservatism from the Right and cultural relativism from the Left, but there is sufficient enough overlap between these latter two as to make strategic alliances possible. We see the beginnings of this in the current alliance between bioregionalist and Green decentralist left-wing secessionists and conservative Christian right-wing secessionists. As left-liberalism continues to become an increasingly status quo and upper middle class ideology, the radical Left will find itself increasingly alienated from liberalism. The more deeply entrenched political correctness becomes, the more it will alienate even many of its former sympathizers.
The real political war of the future will be between not only the liberal-left and the postmodern left, but between the totalitarian and anarchistic left, and the New Class and the underclass. Just as the U.S. Civil War sometimes found members of the same family on different sides of the fence, so will the future political war find members of constituent groups from the contemporary Right and contemporary Left on both sides. If the battle is between liberal universalism and relativist pluralism at the intellectual level, then the natural political expression of the latter would be some kind of decentralized anarcho-pluralism, with its popular form resembling something like left-conservatism or pan-secessionism.
Although most of the actual secessionist movements at present are rooted in the red states or the more maverick blue states like Vermont and New Hampshire, a serious pan-secessionist movement will need to be first and foremost oriented towards the large metropolitan areas. This is where the majority of the U.S. population resides. It is where the plutocratic elites, state bureaucracies and New Class managerialists are located, and it is also where the lumpenproletarian masses are located. The large cities are where the paramilitary police forces are located and they are where most of the residents of the prison-industrial complex originate from.
The goal of a serious pan-secessionist movement whose aim is to overthrow the empire for real should be to obtain political preeminence in large cities as a first order of business. Cities tend to be dominated by the aforementioned plutocratic elites, and by landlords, developers, and well-heeled civic and business interests. These elements are for the most part bought into the System, and can therefore never be converted to our side. So strategically speaking, an urban secessionist strategy will generally have the flavor of plutocratic/bureaucratic elites vs Everyone Else. Recognition of this fact implies the necessity of a class-based radical movement rooted in the lumpenproletariat, petite bourgeoisie, lower respectable poor, lower middle class, bohemians and de classe elements. The goal is to obtain a political majority capable of seizing power at the municipal level in large metro areas. Once political preeminence was obtained in a fair number of cities, a formal alliance of municipal secessionist movements could be formed, and these could form a wider alliance with secessionists among the Red Staters, Greens, indigenous people and so forth. In “Liberty and Populism” I wrote:
We need to abandon the bourgeoise identity politics that have grown out of the new left. The legacy of this has been to create a constituency for the left-wing of capital among elite members of traditional minority groups including educated professionals among blacks, feminists and homosexuals, middle-class ecology enthusiasts and animal-lovers and so on. The best approach here would be to attempt to pull the rank-and-file elements of the traditional minorities out from under their bourgeoise leadership. This means that anarchist revolutionaries such as ourselves would need to seek out common ground with nationalist and separatist elements among the non-white ethnic groups against the black bourgeoise of the NAACP, poor and working class women against the upper-middle class feminist groups like NOW and the gay counter-culture (complete with its transsexual, hermaphrodite and “transgendered” elements) against the more establishment-friendly gay middle-class.
Indeed, we have not even begun to touch on the possibilities for building a radical movement rooted in part in marginalized social groups ignored, despised or persecuted by the establishment. These elements include the handicapped, the mentally ill, students, youth, prostitutes and other sex workers, prisoners, prisoner’s rights activists, advocates for the rights of the criminally accused, the homeless and homeless activists, anti-police activists, advocates of alternative medicine, drug users, the families of drug war prisoners, immigrants, lumpen economic elements (jitney cab drivers, peddlers, street vendors), gang members and many others too numerous to name. On these and other similar issues, our positions should be to the left of the ACLU. Adopting this approach will bring with it the opportunity to politically penetrate the rather large lumpenproletarian class that exists in the US with little or no political representation. At the same time, the last thing we should wish to do is emulate the mistakes of the new left by adopting an ideology of victimology and positioning ourselves as antagonists of the broader working masses. Nothing could be more self-defeating. The defense of marginal populations way beyond any efforts in this area offered by the left establishment should be part of our program, but only part. Our main focus should be on the working class itself, the kinds of folks who work in the vast array of service industries that comprise the bulk of the US economy.
There are several reasons for these positions. The first is rooted in recognition that as the Left has abandoned class-based politics in favor of the cultural politics of the left-wing of the upper middle class, it is only natural that we should step in to fill the void. The second is rooted in recognition of a wide assortment of outgroups that have never made it into the Left’s pantheon of the oppressed/victimological coalition, and the possibility of recruiting from these groups in order to increase our own numbers. The third is to undermine liberalism’s claimed monopoly on do-gooderism. A pan-secessionist movement that is seen as the simultaneous champion of the ordinary working poor and the marginalized and persecuted such as the homeless, punk rock squatter kids, mental patients, drug addicts, prisoners, et.al. will have a much easier time of deflecting the “fascism and racism” labels that will ultimately be thrown in our direction. The fourth is to undermine liberalism by splintering its constituent groups.
Note that I am not implying anything politically correct here. For instance, while we might uphold the legitimate rights of gay organizations, businesses or individuals that come under attack by the state, and practice non-discrimination within the context of our own alternative infrastructure radical organizations, this does not mean that we will allow “gay rights” organizations allied with the liberal enemy to dictate who can or cannot be a part of our own movement. Being a primarily lower class movement, it is only natural that many people with conservative views on sex, morality, religion and the like will also be included within our ranks. Likewise, we may support organizational efforts set up to provide genuine assistance to transgendered people (even the Iranians do this), drug addicts, the handicapped, people with AIDS or other special populations, but we do not insist on the universalization of liberalism. For instance, we might also be just as supportive of skinhead squatters as leftist punk rock squatters, national-anarchists as leftist-anarchists, separatist tendencies among redneck white communities along with black separatists. More broadly, the radical movement would vehemently defend all victims of political correctness wherever they can be found just as strongly as we might defend victims of police brutality. We would defend students harassed by school authorities for carrying Bibles or other religious artifacts just as quickly as we would defend students harassed in a similar fashion for wearing “Goth” clothing. While in urban areas at least, we would take an liberal-left-libertarian, ACLU-like approach to cultural and social matters, with some exceptions like our own defense of the right to bear arms, unlike left-liberals we would recognize that controversial social questions like abortion and gay marriage are best handled at the local level according to community standards. While our own worker, tenants, squatter, and prisoner defense organizations would out of necessity be inclusive of both natives and immigrants, even illegal immigrants in some instances, this does not mean we would necessarily accept carte blanche immigration as a matter of principle.
The question of race is a particularly interesting and challenging one. African-American anarchist Mark Gillespie offered this assessment:
Whether you are a homo-leftist-anarcho-syndicalist-voluntary-eco-feminist or a racist-ultra right-wing-neo-conservative-constitutionalist-patriot, both agree that the State, in its current form, is detrimental to their views and lifestyles. In this “society”, these groups are kept from uniting by the activity of the state and its media. However, we know that in anarchy, diversity of views is a strength, not a weakness. We have allowed the State to divide us based upon the most trivial things.
The fact is that, under anarchy, all of these different groups may “have it their way”. If the an-caps want a completely free market economy for themselves and the an-socs want to combine in communes, they can do this better under anarchy than they can now. If the Homo-an-syn-fem (hell of a moniker, yes?) wants to separate from the Neo-con-con-pat or vice versa, they can and do it more peaceably than they can under statism. This is the best weapon of an anarchist vanguard. We can and should embrace the different elements that make up this country. Think about this. If we can embrace just two major groups under the anarchist banner, we could send the statists home, without a shot. The major ethnic groups in this country are the New Worlders (Aboriginal Americans, Blacks and Spanish/Aboriginals) and the Old Worlders (people of mostly European descent). These groups are kept at each other’s throats and socially separated by negative media reports and by institutionalized racism. Reports of rampant crime, lack of morals and mob violence send shivers down the spines of the average, patriotic, “law-abiding”, traditionalist citizens, amongst the Old Worlders. Historic wrongs, appeals to end needed restorative services in the community and a envy for those who seem to do better than them, keeps New Worlders in the grip of a fear that the statists work hard to instill. Neither one of these groups are necessarily wrong, but, their fears and hatred, spread and protected by the weapons of the state, virtually ensures that these two major groups will meet together, only when they are pointing guns at each other.
The New Worlders make up a combined 25.7 percent of the nation’s population (approximately 72 million people). Let’s assume that the mostly Old Worlder patriot movement makes up about 3 percent of the white population (approximately 6.5 million). With these numbers, and a properly educated and motivated anarchist vanguard, there are at least 32 different states that are immediately vulnerable to a takeover and disbanding of the state government (based upon a population of less than 5 million/state) and any state in the union is vulnerable to a gradual takeover.
Something like 32 states and maybe 50 major cities sounds about right. I’m also inclined towards the view that an anti-state, pan-secessionist revolutionary movement would actually have a disproportionately high number of racial and ethnic minorities. Of course, even this would not stop our enemies from throwing the “racist and fascist” label in our direction. Of course, the proper response to such accusations would not be persistent denial and attempts at clarification but a simple middle finger. But while we should not treat the politically correct classes with anything but contempt, it does seem natural that a pan-secessionist alliance would indeed include many ethnic sub-tendencies, for instance, blacks in inner-cities, indigenous people in Hawaii, Alaska, the western plains or on reservations, Puerto Ricans independencias, Muslim or Arab enclaves in Michigan, Hasidic, Asian neighborhoods in large cities, or Indian Quebecois separatists, majority Aztlan local communities in the Southwest, and perhaps even revolutionary organizations within Mexico itself. Indeed, the pan-secessionist revolutionary organizations might even form tactical alliances with insurgent forces in Central and South American countries or in the Middle East such as Hezbollah or the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. After all, it is the empire that is our common enemy. None of this is inconsistent with our insistence on the sovereignty of nations against imperialism, communities against statism, and individuals within the context of freedom of association.
An urban, lumpenproletarian revolutionary movement would be unlike anything that has come before. It would be socially conscious out of the recognition of the economic circumstances of the lower classes and the social conditions of a wide array of marginal population groups. Yet it would shun the political correctness of the liberal upper-middle class and cultural and intellectual elites, and no doubt have a conservative and libertarian as well as progressive dimension to its character.
A recent exchange at Taki’s Magazine between two of my favorite writers, Justin Raimondo and Paul Gottfried, prompted me to consider ways in which the thought of anarcho-libertarians and traditional conservatives might be reconciled or at least overlap. For many years, I was involved in the left-wing anarchist milieu, and I still consider Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Chomsky, Goodman, Bookchin, et.al. to be among my primary influences. Yet over time, I developed a strong appreciation for writers and thinkers of the traditional and not-so-traditional Right as well, including Rothbard, Mencken, Nisbet, Kirk, Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Pareto, Junger, De Benoist and others. I’ve also come to strongly admire the American populist tradition beginning with Jefferson and extending through contemporary paleocons and alternative Rightists. Consequently, my ideological leanings have come to be an eccentric “left-anarcho-libertarian, populist-nationalist, decentralist-pluralism.” Odd? Perhaps, though I suspect the fact that Kropotkin’s daughter Alexandra was a Goldwater Republican indicates more continuity than radical departure within the context of her family’s ideological heritage.
Because the source of the disagreement between Gottfried and Raimondo was an earlier piece by Jared Taylor, and because the majority of the persons within the left-anarchist milieu from whence I came are known for their hysterical “anti-racism,” I should probably note that while I agreed in part with Raimondo’s criticisms of Taylor, I also recognize Taylor as someone who dares to ask provocative questions that ought to be given a fair hearing, but are forbidden by the self-appointed censors of political correctness. Surely, libertarians can do better than that. Furthermore, Taylor has publicly advocated only two policies: complete freedom of association in racial, ethnic, religious and cultural matters; and a moratorium on Third World immigration. Contrary to what many of my anarchist compatriots, themselves in the grip of political correctness, would have us believe, neither of Taylor’s proposals are in violation of traditional anarchist articles of faith. In fact, the Webster’s dictionary defines anarchism in part as “advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.” Historically, anarchists have opposed the monopolization of power, wealth, land and resources by states or by state-connected plutocratic elites, and have argued for self-managed communities and a wider dispersion of ownership. But ownership implies the right of exclusion. Whether one is a leftist-syndicalist-communitarian anarchist or a rightist-proprietarian anarchist, it certainly does not follow that either collectively owned communes or associations of private property owners are obligated to admit all comers, regardless of beliefs, behavior, or individual contributions. Consequently, immigrants do not have any “right” to immigrate into the communities or proprietary associations of others, and while public areas (streets, lands, amenities) might consitute a kind of commons where individual citizens (such as street vendors or skateboarders) should not be arbitrarily excluded for the gratification of others, it does not follow that those from elsewhere have a “right” to enter or squat on such properties.
But what is even more interesting is Gottfried’s dissection of Raimondo’s Rothbardian “anarcho-capitalist” ideology. Says Gottfried:
The real source of Justin’s outrage lies in the contradiction between his ideology and Jared’s emphasis on cultural and biological specificity. The world as conceived by Justin is a collection of self-determining individuals, who should be free to work out their social and economic affairs, providing they do no physical harm to anyone else. In this ideal society, all humans, at least adults, however one defines them chronologically, will be free to develop themselves on the basis of their feelings and self-interests. Personally I couldn’t imagine how such a chimerical society could come into existence, let alone sustain itself, except in the minds of libertarian intellectuals or on a very provisional basis among likeminded ideologues. Such ideas are the modern counterparts of nineteenth-century utopian communities, all of which were attempts to restore a natural human condition that as far as I can tell never existed.
Historically, there have been more anarchist communities than many recognize, and while it is true some of these have lasted only for a few decades, or even a few years, others, such as the Icelandic Commonwealth and Gaelic Ireland, have lasted longer than the United States has been in existence.
Without authority structures, whether created by traditional hierarchies or by the modern managerial state, human beings have never lived together for any length of time. This generalization would apply to, among other societies, early America, which was a stratified and family-focused place.
I would dissent from the claim that political libertarianism necessarily implies either a radically egalitarian society or some kind of alteration of human nature from what it is at present. Certainly that is not the case for someone like myself, whose views on political science and social science are heavily influenced by the likes of Lawrence Dennis and James Burnham. Indeed, some of the most essential insights of elite theory like Michels‘ “iron law of oligarchy” and Pareto‘s “80/20” principle tell us that human organizations of any size will be dominated by the few rather than the many, and with a natural ranking of persons in even the most liberal circumstances. These principles are no less true for, say, an anarcho-syndicalist labor federation or an anarcho-capitalist private defense agency than for a conventional business firm or university. Nor does libertarianism, even in its more anarchistic forms, imply doing away with non-state social institutions such as family, religion, community, education, commerce, charity, or professional, cultural, and fraternal associations. Indeed, the elimination or massive reduction of dependency on the state should actually serve to strengthen such institutions.
Our sharp difference of views is reflected in the divergent ways in which Justin and I define the American Old Right. From his perspective, that American Right, about which he wrote an entire book, featured radical individualists resisting societal pressures and state authority. On my reading the interwar Right stood for a small-town and predominantly Protestant America faced by bureaucratic centralization and the rise of the modern culture industry.
Is it really a case of either/or? Surely, it would not be wholly counterfactual to suggest that Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, H.L. Mencken, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Jay Nock, or Lawrence Dennis were indeed “radical individualists resisting societal pressures and state authority,” particularly Dennis, who was placed on trial for sedition by the sinister Roosevelt regime. However, there is certainly no denying that the American Right, whether in its “old” or “new” forms, has traditionally “stood for a small-town and predominantly Protestant America faced by bureaucratic centralization and the rise of the modern culture industry,” at least at the rank and file level.
Are libertarian-individualist anti-statism and rural, small-town, Protestant conservatism really all that incompatible? Not that I can tell. As one who wants to see government stripped down to the level of city-states, counties, communities, and neighborhoods, it would seem to me that some kind of libertarian-anarchism would potentially be the political salvation of the entire spectrum of the authentic political and cultural Right, whether cultural conservatives, moral traditionalists, religious fundamentalists, ethnic preservationists, immigration restrictionists, family advocates, racial separatists, property owners, firearms owners, homeschoolers, tax resisters or hard money advocates. It is these forces that are the most under attack by the centralized, managerial-therapeutic-multicultural-welfare state. Surely, the death of the state is at least the partial victory of social and cultural forces such as these. Surely, those most under attack by the heavy hand of totalitarian liberalism will have more to gain through the obtainment of sovereignty for their own communities and institutions than through the perpetual expansion of the state.
Now, to be honest, I would make the same argument to the Left as well. I have long believed that the ultimate settlement to the culture wars will have to be some kind of Peace of Augsburg rooted in pan-separatism. Surely, the blue counties could have all the single-payer health care, affirmative action, gun control, same-sex marriages, smoking bans, publicly subsidized transgender surgeries, institutionalized animal rights and wacky environmental laws they wished if only they did not have to share a political roof with those nasty, fascist conservatives, Nazi Republicans and Christian Talibanists! Traditionally, conservatives have argued for such principles as states’ rights, local sovereignty and community standards with regard to social and cultural matters. I agree with them. So it would seem that the demise of the state would essentially solve many of these conflicts, as the various sides would simply go their own way. To some degree, everyone would win, especially those who are most likely to suffer escalating attacks as political correctness becomes ever more deeply entrenched in state and state-connected institutions.
In his autobiography, Jerry Rubin, the late leader and co-founder of the 1960s era leftist-anarchist court jester faction the “Yippies”, told a story about how during a speech he had remarked that hippie kids should “kill their parents for the revolution.” He was speaking metaphorically, suggesting that the perceived stodgy or overly jingoist values of the pre-60s generation should be overturned, not that hippie kids should procure a knife from the kitchen and off Mom and Pop, Charlie Manson-style. But a menacing photograph of Rubin subsequently appeared on the cover of the National Enquirer with the bold headlines: “Yippie Leader Tells Kids to Kill Their Parents.” And so both a legend and a scandal were born.
I really don’t know what to make of the reaction to my recently published essay, “Is Extremism in the Defense of Sodomy No Vice?” in the circles of what is called “left-libertarianism,” particularly considering that I have been only peripherally associated with that “movement.” Given the rather extensive number of blog posts and comments threads that have appeared in response, perhaps someone in a “man from Mars” position could be forgiven for assuming that Keith Preston must be someone of overwhelming importance, perhaps a presidential candidate or leader of a mass movement of millions, with its own mass army, and who has called for a “night of the long knives” purge of the left-deviationist, homo-erotically-inclined, Ernst Roehm wing of the Left Libertarian Anarcho-National Socialist Workers Party, no doubt to secure my own grip on the Chancellorship. I suppose I should be honored that others consider my pronouncements to be of such significance, though my first inclination is to respond with the immortal words of William Shatner, who said in a comparable context: “Get a life!”
With the notable exception of Kevin Carson’s very gracious “Open Letter,” most of the criticisms expressed either a) do not contain enough substance to merit the dignity of a response or b) originate from individuals who have already rejected my own positions fairly thoroughly, anyway or c) both of the aforementioned. However, there have been a few critics who raise issues worth addressing, and if others find my own ideas to be important enough to merit the volume and kinds of response that has been generated, I suppose I should make the effort to insure that my views are being accurately understood and represented in the discussion that is taking place. So here goes.
Totally Unrepentant: A Reply to Mike Golguski
Mike Golguski is someone I know absolutely nothing about, except that he’s the fellow who renounced his American citizenship and has become officially “stateless” as someone who is not a citizen of any particular nation. If all that is true, then I very much respect him for taking such an action, given that such doings can hardly be in his own personal self-interest. Apparently, Golguski is the one who got the ball rolling in the flood of responses to my “sodomy” piece, and I’ve already posted a response on the No State blog. I want to follow up by addressing Golguski’s final sentence: “Without substantial work at repentance, Keith will not be welcome at my table, nor in my tent.”
I do not care if Golguski does not want me at his table or in his tent. After all, this whole anarcho-libertarian thing is supposed to include something about freedom of association and property rights, and that goes double for a pan-separatist like bad old me. Unlike some of my more vociferous critics, I do not care if others wish to “exclude” me from their midst. What do I find interesting is Golguski’s use of the term “repentance.” This would seem to provide evidence for the claims that I and others far more capable than myself like Alain De Benoist, Tomislav Sunic, Murray Rothbard, Samuel Francis or Paul Gottfried have made that modern “cultural leftism,” “multiculturalism,” “political correctness,” “cultural Marxism” or whatever one wishes to call it is, like orthodox Marxism and American-style liberal-progressivism before it, a type of secularized, pseudo-Christian moralism. As Thomas Sowell has mentioned, ideological leftists often tend to regard their opponents as not being not only in error, but in sin, in the same manner as their ostensible Christian rivals. Suffice to say that as a pagan, a Machiavellian, a Nietzschean, and a Stirnerite, Keith Preston does not “repent” of anything. I am reminded of an incident from well over twenty years ago when I received a letter from a former pastor of the Christian Reconstructionist church I went to as a kid, urging me to repent of the Satanic monstrosities I had inflicted on the world as an adult. I replied with a brief note saying, “Fuck you, Jesus Freak!” or something to that effect. I’d say something similar in this particular context as well.
People, Revolution and Warfare: A Reply to Brad Spangler
Brad Spangler has a post up that seems to be sincere in intentions but is a grotesque misrepresentation of my actual views. The ideas Spangler attributes to me are something like what I would imagine a parody of Keith Preston to be like.
First, as I see it, Preston mistakes the sociopathic proclivity for personal violence commonly encountered among white nationalists for martial prowess and “fighting spirit”. Simply put — every bigot is a bully, and every bully is a coward. If we are to fight, let us fight at the side of the brave. There is no Nazi utopia. The handful of “damaged personalities” who would lay down their lives for a twisted, dystopian vision would undoubtedly be no challenge for a suitably well-armed Girl Scout troop.
I actually agree with everything Spangler says here. The problem is these comments have nothing to do with my actual views. If one wishes to understand the nature of what I have called “martial spirit,” then read “In Storms of Steel” by Ernst Junger, who, by the way, was a close personal friend of the martyred Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam. I also disagree with the view that everyone bearing the label “white nationalist” fits the narrow stereotypes derived from images of George Lincoln Rockwell-influenced, Hogan’s Heroes-imitating, neo-nazis being described here. In fact, one could make the ironic claim that there might just be a little bit of the dreaded “bigotry” involved in such characterizations and generalizations. I will say that I actually agree with Spangler’s analysis of the psychology of those who do fit such stereotypes. I know very few such people, probably because there are very few such people. Occasionally, some of these Hogan’s Heroes types will creep into the periphery of my circle. I tend to regard them as an interesting oddity and curious sociological phenomena and little more. And, yes, most of them are sociopaths and damaged personalities, not unlike many of their counterparts on the Left, which is why they’re useless as political allies.
Secondly, despite wearing the grandiose term “American Revolutionary Vanguard” on his sleeve, that same above statement by Preston betrays an apparently very crude, shallow and underdeveloped understanding of anarchist revolution as simply insurrection. It appears that in Preston’s view, if we can manage to collect enough of those who simply want to kill people and blow things up, we “win”. A more credible understanding is the notion that by attacking the illusionary moral legitimacy of the state we build a revolutionary class consciousness among the victims of statism that can compel them to cooperate in defending themselves against the state. And since you can’t blow up a set of dysfunctional social relationships, Preston is metaphorically flailing about at imagined nails because the only tool he apparently respects is a hammer.
I actually agree that delegitimizing the state is a fundamental part of a revolutionary effort. Where I suspect Spangler and I would disagree is that I think it unlikely that “the masses” will ever become self-proclaimed “anarchists,” and reject abstractions like “the state”, much less “authority,” “hierarchy,” “domination,” yadda, yadda, in some carte blanche sense. Without getting too deep into it, I’ll say that I don’t think the evidence from social psychology indicates that hopes for such an occurrence are warranted. However, there is much precedent of particular states losing their perceived legitimacy, usually do to their perceived violation of long-established cultural, political and historic traditions within a particular society. That is why I advocate a secessionist strategy. Secession has strong roots in American political culture, and we need to assemble a critical mass that recognizes that the present ruling class is illegitimate according to popular norms of what constitutes legitimacy. What I have in mind would simply be a repetition of 1776 and 1861, that is all.
Third, Preston suffers from a failure to understand the realities of multilateral conflict in failing states. I’ll use Iraq as an example. Ba’athists, tribal militias and Islamists commonly do cooperate on the battlefield on a per-project basis when it suits them, despite the gross differences in their visions of what they are fighting for. They create no unifying organization. Preston’s laughable proposal to “purge” an entire family of related movements with no centralized command and control speaks volumes about his understanding of organization. He’s acting as if he seeks some sort of neo-Maoist political coalition unified in thought and action — and any thoughts would apparently be okay, as long as those thoughts gather together a sufficient amount of cannon fodder.
Umm, excuse me, but has anyone ever heard of Lexington and Concord? Fort Sumter? The Durruti Column? Nestor Makhno? I simply advocate political and military alliances against common enemies, not alliances based on ideological abstractions. Nations and armies do this all the time. The issue of internecine fighting among alliance members is obviously a genuinely serious matter. That’s part of the reason why I am a pan-separatist. The anti-imperialist resistance needs its own Peace of Augsburg.
Immigration Uber Alles? A Reply to Charles “Rad Geek” Johnson
Johnson offers the same criticisms as others, with the addition of a rather intense focus on issues related to immigration, reflected in these comments pulled from different blog postings:
Similarly, I wonder what you think about the several paragraphs Keith spends attacking “the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism,” by which he apparently means the plumb-line libertarian position against government border checkpoints, papers-please police state monitoring, and government prohibitions on hiring immigrant workers [?!]. When Keith claims that the anarchistic position is to enforce border checkpoints and police-state monitoring of national citizenship papers, the use of government immigration enforcement to exile from the country those that the American government declares “criminals [or] enemies of America” (?!) and suggests government prohibitions against employing undocumented immigrants, and apparently also government prohibitions against employing any immigrants at all during a strike (?!) — when, in short, he calls, over and over again for the expansion of the state and an increase in the power of government border police, in the name of nationalist politics, and attempts to justify this Stasi-statism by pointing to the majority opinion among those approved to vote in government elections by the United States government (?!) — what do you think of that? Do you really think of that as just a problem of “tone”? Or is a problem with the substance of his position?
The only place in which decentralization is mentioned in the discussion of immigration politics is to suggest that criteria for naturalization — that is, extending the status as politically-enfranchised citizens to immigrants — be spun off to “local community standards.” Once that’s done, though, he has nothing to say about changing how the central state treats people who are or are not counted as naturalized. Nowhere does he suggest dismantling existing centralized definitions of “national borders.” Nowhere does he suggest dismantling or even decentralizing existing agencies of border fortification, border checkpoints, border patrol, immigration-status documentation and surveillance, imprisonment and trial of alleged undocumented immigrants, paramilitary immigration enforcement, forcible deportation, etc. etc. etc. Instead he suggests giving these existing centralized government agencies more to do. He explicitly calls for deployment of the existing centralized government immigration control system: he explicitly calls for “designated checkpoints” to be run by the government, with “an objective screening process,” which is designed to screen out “criminals, enemies of America” (?! how the fuck do you suppose you ban entry to government-defined “enemies of America” in a decentralized fashion?) and people with “certain kinds of contagious diseases”; he calls for deportation of those who don’t have permission slips for their existence from the worthless megamurdering United States government (from where to where? if it’s outside the borders of the U.S.A., we’re not talking about decentralization, are we?); he adds calls for new government prohibitions on “employers … using immigrants as scab labor” and “employer use of illegal immigrant [sic] labor”. How do you suppose you go about enacting and enforcing these government prohibitions and government bans on peaceful, consensual labor contracts, without expanding the size, power, and reach of the State?
For instance, how about the several paragraphs that he devotes to arguing that anarchists, of all people, ought to be calling for the expansion of government checkpoints, documentation requirements, and prohibitions against immigrant workers? I don’t know about you, but I’d say that there’s some ideological shortcoming going on when a professed anti-statist goes around arguing for the escalation of police state tactics by government border thugs (because, hey, a majority of government-approved voters want it! well, hell, sign me up!).
I wonder what you think about the several paragraphs Keith spends, in an essay which, according to you, is mainly defending freedom of association and dissociation, attacking what he characterizes as “the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism,” by which he apparently means the plumb-line libertarian position against government border checkpoints, papers-please police state monitoring, and government prohibitions on hiring immigrant workers.
When Keith claims that the anarchistic position is in fact to enlist the United States government to enforce border checkpoints and police-state monitoring of national citizenship papers, to demand the use of government immigration enforcement to exile from the country those that the American government declares “criminals [or] enemies of America” (?!); when he suggests escalating government prohibitions against employing undocumented immigrants, and apparently also creating new government prohibitions against employing any immigrants at all during a government-recognized strike (?!) — when, in short, he calls, over and over again for the expansion of the state and an increase in the power of government border police, in the name of nationalist politics, for the purpose of a systematic assault on free markets and free association, and then attempts to justify this Stasi-statism by pointing to the majority opinion among those approved to vote in government elections by the United States government (?!) — what do you think of all that? Do you think that this is defending the claim that “people can associate however they want in a libertarian world”? Do you think that this propaganda for growing the size, scope, and intensity of government enforcement, is the sort of thing that would make libertarianism more attractive to “regular (?) anti-government” types?
Rather than rehash all the pro and con libertarian arguments concerning immigration, which aren’t going to convince anyone anyway, I’ll simply describe how my own views on this topic have evolved over time. Until I was in my thirties, I was an unqualified “open borders” libertarian. If there was one individual who could be credited with motivating me to modify my views, it would be the late Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, a great irony considering the context of this debate, as Fortuyn was a flamboyantly gay man. Fortuyn argued against allowing mass Third World immigration into the West, and he argued from the Left rather than the nationalist or racialist Right. Simply put, his position that the “liberal” cultural values of the West, such as secularism, civil liberties, women’s rights, gay rights, and, in the case of Holland, tolerance of drug use and consensual prostitution, as well as the wider intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, were endangered by the importation of large numbers of persons from cultures that do not share such values. Fortuyn was mostly critical of Islamic immigration, but he gained the support of many among older Muslim communities in Holland, who believed immigration policy had become so indiscriminate as to allow criminals, terrorists, career welfare recipients and other such elements into the country. For his efforts, Fortuyn was assassinated, not by a Muslim, but by a fanatical leftoid. I was in Holland myself when all of this happened, and it was a bit of a wake-up call.
Today, I would consider myself a moderate on the immigration question. I’m not ready to embrace the “immigration is the root of all evil” rhetoric of VDare, yet I am also skeptical of Johnson’s free-for-all approach. I tend to agree with the analysis of Laurence Vance on this question. Most of the proposed policies that I have thrown out in the past concerning immigration are merely ideas for discussion, and nothing I’m particularly committed to. I will formally commit myself to only one policy concerning immigration: That immigration policy itself be taken out of the hands of the federal government and ruling class elites and as Hans Hermann Hoppe says:
More specifically, the authority to admit or exclude should be stripped from the hands of the central government and re-assigned to the states, provinces, cities, towns, villages, residential districts, and ultimately to private property owners and their voluntary associations. The means to achieve this goal are decentralization and secession (both inherently un-democratic, and un-majoritarian). One would be well on the way toward a restoration of the freedom of association and exclusion as it is implied in the idea and institution of private property, and much of the social strife currently caused by forced integration would disappear,…and to solve the “naturalization” question somewhat along the Swiss model, where local assemblies, not the central government, determine who can and who cannot become a Swiss citizen.
From there, vigorous debate can take place concerning how much or how little immigration there should be, and under what circumstances and conditions.
I have consistently defended you against the charges of fascism, racism, homophobia, and all the rest of it, that arose in response to your “big tent” strategy of offering solidarity to secessionists of all kinds. I still think you went too far in promoting active solidarity with national anarchist groups and racists.
Because my association with national-anarchists seems to be a particular thorn in the side for many of my critics, I will refer the reader to an essay I wrote assessing national-anarchism back in 2003. It can be viewed here. As for the libertarian credentials of national-anarchism, I will cite this interview from the movement’s founder, Troy Southgate. Beyond that, I will say that in my personal experience with national-anarchists, I have found all of them, to a person, capable of civil disagreement concerning major issues in a way that is completely absent from the “anarcho-leftoid” milieu. In other words, it is the leftoids who are the ones with the problem. Additionally, I know a number of people who consider themselves to be both left-libertarians and national-anarchists, and I know of number of national-anarchists who are sympathetic to many of the economic ideas of left-libertarianism, and I also know left-libertarians who personally disagree with national-anarchism but can approach the issue calmly. Unfortunately it is the leftoid loudmouths who seem to dominate the left-libertarian milieu’s online presence.
When Aster kicked you out of her Salon Liberty, I thought (and still think) she did so on inadequate grounds, and that nothing you’d said up to that point on your strategic approach (as outlined above) warranted such a reaction. As I recall, I said as much on her Salon at the time.
A bit of clarification is in order. When Aster booted me from her “salon” (which I can assure everyone was a long, long, long, long way from being the most tragic thing that ever happened to me), I actually defended her decision privately to others who criticized her. As a proponent of freedom of association, private property rights, the right of exclusion and pan-separatism, I have no problem with someone saying they don’t want me on their discussion list, or in their house, or in their backyard, or in their country club, or wherever. When Aster booted me, I bowed out in a way that, I think, was actually rather gracious. However, Aster has since that time persistently engaged in what quasibill has called “serial slander and cyber-stalking” towards me, at times attempting to do so anonymously but not very competently, and has attempted to draw wedges between me and others with whom I have no real quarrel. Furthermore, Aster’s clique of “friends” has refrained from criticizing her for doing so, but reacted with outrage and joined in her personal attacks when I have retaliated by throwing personal insults in her direction. The reasons for this double standard ought to be obvious.
But since she evicted you, I’ve noticed that your general language toward gays and transgender people has become increasingly “colorful” (i.e., deliberately demeaning) and hostile, by what seems like an order of magnitude or so.
No doubt about it. As this particular faction within left-libertarianism has escalated the personal attacks directed at me, I have retaliated. It’s a two-way street. I make no apologies for that. I reject the argument that the physical or sexual characteristics of others are off-limits when it comes to rhetorical political combat. For instance, the opponents of the Nazi movement during the Weimar Republic period used to refer to Goebbels as “Mickey Mouse” because of his large ears. I have no problem with such rhetoric. If others do, that’s their prerogative, but I simply do not share their conviction. If they wish to disavow or disassociate themselves from me because of it, then I would once again uphold the principle of free association and encourage them to do so.
Also, I should clarify that this war between myself and the anarcho-leftoids long pre-dates my conflict with Aster. I mean, for God’s sake, Aster’s internet postings read like a schizophrenic on an acid trip. Do I really give a damn about such a person? Of course not. The quality and content of my anti-leftoid rhetoric has not changed one bit since I first encountered Aster a couple of years ago. If one takes a look at this old article, and this, this, this, this, and this, one can see what I mean. All of these pieces were written before I ever heard of Aster, and make the same arguments and use similar rhetoric. It is true I had largely avoided such rhetoric in the left-libertarian milieu itself, as there was no need for it, but that changed as Aster and company began to attack me.
Likewise, you have become increasingly dismissive of all who express concerns about racism or fascism–even when they do not endorse thuggish “antifa” tactics–purely out of what seems to be your own increasingly knee-jerk hostility toward the “cultural left.”
I think there’s a point here that can be well-taken, with the qualification that in order to really answer this charge thoroughly I would need some working definition of what “racism and fascism” actually are, given that these terms are typically thrown about so loosely. I do concede that I find professional “anti-racism” hysterics to be a particularly ridiculous lot, and have also frequently been on the receiving end of their attacks, and consequently I have spent an excessive amount of time mocking them.
I recall a scene from the film “Born on the Fourth of July” where Tom Cruise portrays Ron Kovic, a disabled Vietnam vet who becomes a figure in the antiwar movement. In the early part of the film, Kovic is a gung-ho young guy who says he’s going off to fight in the Vietnam War in the name of anti-communism. As he is planning this escapade, a cynical but very sensible friend remarks, “Communists? Where are they? I don’t see them!”
On a more personal level, I get a very strong sense of deja vu whenever this “fascism” question is raised. When I was in the Central America solidarity movement, I used to get a lot of accusations of “communism” thrown in my direction, or else I was accused of being an abettor of “communism.” No matter how much effort I would put into explaining the difference between anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism and Stalinism or Maoism, no matter how much I insisted the issue in Central America was not between “democracy” and “communism” but between imperialism and self-determination, there were always plenty who didn’t want to hear it. I assure everyone, this got to be rather annoying-particularly when it was coming even from Mom!! Now twenty-three years later, the political winds have shifted and most of the serious revolutionaries are on the Right (at least in the U.S.). So I have shifted accordingly. Actually, I haven’t so much shifted as much as I’ve gone from being a “communist” to being a “fascist” simply by remaining in place.
In the advanced industrial democracies where nearly all of us reside, there are no organized “fascist” movements or parties of any significance. The closest thing I know of is the U.S. Republican Party, whose neoconservative ideology seems to share certain traits with fascism, such as jingoistic militarism and nationalism. See here, here and here. But neoconservatism also has a liberal-universalist dimension to it that would probably make it more compatible with Jacobinism that fascism. Either way, when my critics talk about “fascism,” I don’t think they’re talking about the neocons anyway.
Some might point to an incident like a former member of the Italian Social Movement getting elected mayor of Rome, but this would seem to be about as significant as David Duke getting elected to the Louisiana state legislature some years ago. Italian politics has always had a freakish dimension to it. It had the largest Communist party in Europe in the 70s, and in the 80s the Italians elected a porn star to Parliament. Others might point to something like France’s National Front, but that has black members and a pro-Israel stance, so it’s obviously a long way from what is typically meant by “fascism.” The bottom line is that there’s not going to be a “fascist” mass movement in North America anymore than there’s going to be a Maoist or anarcho-communist mass movement. These ideologies are completely alien to our own society, and regarded as utterly freakish by 99.999% of observers.
As for “racism,” there are few things that have become greater taboos among Western elites than this. In some countries, charges of “racism” will land you in the joint. Even an eminent scientist like Dr. James Watson is not immune from professional retaliation over the issue of “racism.” Nothing destroys a public figure’s career quicker than “racism,” as Don Imus found out. I see no threat of “racism” whatsoever, just as I saw no threat of “communism” when I was in the Central America solidarity movement two decades ago. Indeed, I would argue that in many countries today, so-called “anti-racism” has become a force for obscurantism rather than enlightenment, just as “anti-communism” has played a similarly obscurantist role in the past. On such questions, I would agree with most of the views outlined in Sean Gabb’s book, “Cultural Revolution, Culture War.” Indeed, if one takes Gabb’s analysis and applies it to the United States, one would have the essential views of Keith Preston.
I just can’t see how “racism” is that big of a deal in a society where blacks are thirteen percent of the population, yet where a black man is head of state, and where things like this go on. I’ve spent years around universities and graduate schools, and decades around leftist political groups, so I’m familiar with the arguments concerning “institutional racism” and the major works upholding such themes. I don’t fully discount all such arguments. Likewise, I’ll certainly concede that there are subsets of blacks who aren’t doing so well, whether because of state policies like I’ve written about here, here and here or self-inflicted wounds. Beyond that, I’ve argued for the justifiability of reparations on “forty acres and a mule” grounds, endorsed black secessionist movements, and amnesty for blacks imprisoned for “victimless crimes” and other frivolities. I’ve even characterized the L.A. Riots as a lumpenproletarian class uprising against the police state and capitalism. What else is there?
But while I could respect your willingness to tolerate loathsome people on pragmatic grounds, I can’t remain neutral when you advocate purging the anti-state movement in order to appease those loathsome people. You have “evolved,” if you can call it that, from a willingness to share a tent with racists and homophobes for the sake of defeating Empire as the primary enemy, to promoting an active purge of anti-racists and gays from the anti-Empire movement because the majority of your anti-state coalition might find them offensive. In short, you have “evolved” from tolerating racist and homophobic groups as a means to an end, to withdrawing support from the “cultural left” in order to appease the right wing of your coalition.
Well, the problem is that it’s the “cultural left” faction that’s causing all the ruckus. I rarely, if ever, get these kinds of personal attacks from “the right wing of my coalition,” even among people with whom I have significant differences. The only exceptions are rare nutcases like one fellow whose ideology was some kind of Hitler-Stalin synthesis (“Aryan Communism”). Also, I’ve noticed that it’s the right-wingers who are better at policing their own movements, e.g., not tolerating shitty behavior from favored in-groups while “calling out” everyone else’s real or imaginary offenses, and responding with indignation to every cross word thrown in their direction.
Once again, I’m also being given too much credit in some respects. There is no “anti-Empire” movement in North America beyond scattered individuals and tiny groups. The real anti-Empire movement is in places like Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, and, to some degree, Russia. Also, as I indicated, this conflict between me and the “cultural left” is nothing new. It’s been going on as long as I’ve advocated these positions. For instance, the Infoshop.Org crowd has been attacking me for years now, and in the same manner and for the same reasons. Attack the System came under assault from the cultural left, commies and anarcho-leftoids from the moment we first went online eight or nine years ago. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of the “left-libertarian” milieu in which we are swimming at the moment has always rejected my own pan-secessionist, third-positionist outlook. It certainly didn’t start with my “sodomy” essay, nor did it start with my conflicts with Aster and her cohorts.
If my choice is between “self-hating whites, bearded ladies, cock-ringed queers, or persons of one or another surgically altered ‘gender identity’,” and Nazis, Klansmen and white nationalists, I know which side I’ll take.
There are no Nazis in my circle, except occasional gate-crashers on the periphery. To my knowledge, there are no Klansmen. As for white nationalists, that’s a term that’s about as varied as “socialists.” See here and here . Just as not every socialist is a Pol Potian, every white nationalist is not a Nazi. Raimondo has a current piece critiquing white nationalism. While I would agree with many of Raimondo’s criticisms, I wouldn’t dismiss someone like Jared Taylor quite as quickly, given that Taylor raised questions that ought to at least get a fair hearing, but that no one is allowed to ask.
I do not ask that you revise your original strategic assessment that the threat of Empire justifies a broad secessionist coalition that includes some (in my opinion) very objectionable people on the right. I do not ask that you share my judgment that such objectionable people alienate more potential support than do those on the cultural left. I ask only that you 1) repudiate the flame-war quality of demeaning rhetoric that you have increasingly adopted toward sexual minorities since your breach with Aster,
I will go further than that and cease participation in the “left-libertarian” milieu altogether, on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” with two exceptions. One exception will be for my relationships and associations with those individual left-libertarians who are also part of the pan-secessionist, national-anarchist, anarcho-pluralist, New Right, left-conservative or other movements that I am also associated with. There are more of these than some might think. The other exception will be for the promotion of left-libertarian scholars whose work I respect (such as Kevin).
As for the issue of my prior rhetoric concerning sexual minorities, I suppose I would respond to that in the same way I might respond to someone who criticized me for calling the cops “PIGS” as I consistently do. There are no doubt some cops who are good people just trying to do a job, and hoping they might actually help out some crime victim, accident victim, missing child, etc. in the process. To those cops, I would say: If you’re a cool cop, then don’t take my “pig” rhetoric personally, because it’s not about you. Likewise, with sexual minorities, if you’re a cool Joe/Jane Sixpack gay guy, lesbian, transgendered person, transvestite or whomever, and you just want to be left alone to do your own thing without anyone messing you, then you’re okay with me. Don’t take it personally, because it’s not about you.
and acknowledge that you allowed a personal grudge to goad you into overreaction on that score.
No, it’s about a whole lot more than that. As I said, the battle between me and the “anarcho-leftoids” began years ago, long before I ever heard of Aster. It is certainly true that the battle has intensified within the left-libertarian milieu itself in more recent times, and that Aster’s persistent attacks on me and my counterattacks have been a big part of that.
and 2) repudiate your call for a purge of anti-racists, gays, transgender people and the cultural left in order to appease the majority.
Again, that’s taking me way too seriously. I have no power to “purge” anything except a turd out my own ass. I will “re-phrase” what I originally said. In the context of a revolutionary anti-state, pan-secessionist movement, I have no problem with the participation of individuals who happen to be anti-racists, gays, transgender people or who might think of themselves as “cultural leftists.” For instance, I have no problem with these categories of persons being in a revolutionary guerrilla force, militia, cooperative business enterprise, copwatch or neighborhood watch program, alternative media project, non-state social services project or other such alternative or intermediary institutions. I have no problem with them holding leadership positions, or being “equal” members of secessionist organizations or support organizations, just as I have no problem with Mormons, pot-smokers, punk rockers, snake-handlers, Christian Scientists, vegetarians, or persons with tattoos and piercings being engaged in similar participation. I have no problem with them having separate organizations to promote their own interests or simply for fraternal purposes. In fact, I would encourage them to do so. Nor do I have any problem with individual secession movements within a broader pan-secessionist alliance having an explicitly “cultural left” or “sexual minority” orientation. Nor would I have any problem with a secessionist tendency specifically oriented towards racial/ethnic minorities being part of a pan-secessionist alliance. For instance, the Peoples’ Democratic Uhuru Movement advocated an independent black city-state in the majority black section of St. Petersburg, Florida some years ago. Then as now, I supported them in their ambitions.
I would view sexual minorities in the same manner that I would view other marginal social groups like drug users, prostitutes or polygamists, or fringe religious sects like Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Scientologists, or subcultures like Grateful Deadheads, bikers, or heavy metal rockers. I would gladly undertake a lengthy battle with those who wished to engage in the genuine persecution of such groups. In fact, though I started out as a foreign policy radical, it wasn’t until I began to notice the “war on drugs,” and the related police-state and prison-industrial complex, and the police state atrocities at Ruby Ridge and Waco which involved precisely the sort of oppression or marginal religious sects I’m discussing here, that I began to turn my attention to domestic political matters within the United States.
What I do reject is the claim that a revolutionary anti-state, pan-secessionist movement should be built up around such proclivities, or that other people with different value systems should be excluded for not sharing or agreeing with such proclivities. Here’s an illustration: Within the context of the present day secessionist movement in North America, many of the groups involved have something of a “right-wing populist” orientation, such as the League of the South, Christian Exodus, Alaskan Independence Party, and the Republic of Texas. Some of these right-wing secessionists are explicitly Christian, while others are not. Others are oriented towards indigenous peoples of different kinds, such as the Lakota Republic, the Kingdom of Hawaii or the movement for Puerto Rican independence. Some are ideological libertarians, like the Free State Project and United Texas Republic. Others are non-ideological and advocate secession for its own sake, like the movement for Long Island independence. Some seem to be rather centrist (or perhaps “radical middle) in their actual politics, like the proposed New England Confederation. Still others involve people who have their roots on the Left, such as the Second Vermont Republic , Novocadia Independence Party, and Cascadia, and secessionists from the Left often have a very strong green-decentralist-ecologist-bioregionalist orientation. The North Star Republic, which is based in Illinois, is self-described as “Marxist-Leninist.”
Now, in my view, this is precisely what a pan-secessionist movement would and should look like. It makes perfect sense that secessionists in “conservative” regions would generally hold conservative values, and secessionists in “liberal” regions would generally hold liberal values and so forth. However, as we might expect, “left-wing” secessionists like the Second Vermont Republic have been attacked by various forces of liberal-totalitarianism, such as the $outhern Poverty Law Center, for being part of an alliance that also includes factions from the Right. I think Kirkpatrick Sale’s answer to these critics has been both cogent and correct:
Concern has arisen in some quarters in recent weeks regarding secessionist organizations that express values—or are charged with expressing values—that others do not like, and questions have been raised about alliances with such groups. The Middlebury Institute would like to establish a basic response to such concerns and questions.
First, the secessionist movement is made up of organizations of many different kinds that are alike in their advocacy of secession—of secession in general and of secession of their particular part of the planet. That is what makes them colleagues and allies—because in this difficult task of making secession and separatism a legitimate political goal they stand shoulder to shoulder with each other.
Second, it is not up to any organization in the movement (or its friends) to judge the attitudes, philosophies, or beliefs of others. While one would hope to have those compatible with one’s own, it must be understood that different people in different places will have different ideas, desires, goals, and strategies—that, after all, is the whole point of secession. A group is for secession precisely because it does not want to be part of a larger entity whose beliefs and actions it does not like, and wishes to live free on its own terms.
Third, the kind of people who insist on telling others how to live and think so as to have one unanimous right-minded uniformity are dangerous people and precisely the kind that establish national governments and pass laws applicable to entire populations. Fascism is one obvious and ugly form of this, but mass industrial democracy is a similar, if often more benign, form. And it is exactly this that secession and separatism are opposed to.
Fourth, as to the League of the South, it is demonstrable that as an organization it is not racist and would not establish a racist state if they were successful in secession. The Middlebury Institute has offered to be a co-sponsor with the LOS of the next Secessionist Convention this year squarely because it believes it to be an honorable and legitimate—and non-racist—organization sincerely and intelligently devoted to peaceful secession from the empire.
We accept the fact that there may be people in the LOS who have expressed intemperate and intolerant opinions—but of what group, we ask, could that not be said? (And the scare-mongering charges along these lines by the Southern Poverty Law Center have much more to do with its desire to squeeze money out of people made to be afraid of hobgoblins than by any genuine exposure of misbehavior.] Moreover, even if there are, as individuals, LOS people we could from our point of view deem racist, that would matter not one whit as to whether they were legitimate colleagues in the secessionist movement. It is irrelevant.
People turn to secession because they want their own form of government, on their own terms, and hope to create a state that will live out their beliefs, principles, ideals. It is no more justifiable for one organization to question or criticize or castigate those goals if they work toward a Christian-directed government that outlaws abortion and adultery than if they work for a secular democracy favoring gun-control and same-sex marriages. The beauty of secession is that it looks toward having a world where those and many other kinds of states can exist, free and independent, and not impose its ideas on others or have others’ ideas imposed on it.
Ultimately we in the secessionist movement stand divided, but we stand together. We believe in secession, each of us, and though the ends we work for may be different—and what a thriving, vibrant, multi-variant world that would bring us to—the means we use unites us all.
What Sale is saying here is simple: The purpose of the pan-secessionist movement is to promote pan-secessionism, not to promote any one faction’s cultural particularities, ideological specifics or lifestyle interests, and certainly not to allow outsiders who oppose or are indifferent to secessionism in the first place to dictate who may or may not join a pan-secessionist movement or to dictate what sort of political or cultural values they must hold. Ditto.
I envision the future political struggle in the United States as something that will constitute an intra-Left struggle that essentially pits whiteys against whiteys, rather than a racial struggle or a Left vs Right struggle. Most of the political groups that now constitute the Right represent cultural, generational or demographic factions that are in decline. I’ve discussed that a bit here. I see two lefts emerging. One of these will be an establishment Left oriented towards political correctness, therapeutism, multiculturalism, what I have called “totalitarian humanism,” globalism and corporate social democracy. In other words, the present-day center-left coalition that is currently seizing the reins of power and consolidating its position. The other will be a kind of revolutionary left that transcends current left/right boundaries. This will happen for a number of reasons:
1) Over the next few decades the inherent problems associated with mass immigration will become painfully obvious. Consequently, the new revolutionary left will take a more skeptical view of multiculturalism.
2) As political correctness becomes more deeply entrenched in institutions, it will be ever more bold about showing its fangs. Hence, many people will get a wake-up call.
3) The present day left-wing coalition of traditional outgroups will splinter. This will happen for several reasons: a-growing class divisions that transcend such boundaries, b-ideological differences among the left (multicultural vs universalism), c-the incompatibility of some of the left’s constituent groups (socially conservative blacks and homosexuals, for instance),d-the decline of the traditional Right as a common enemy and unifying force for the center-left, e-the economic bankruptcy of state-socialism
4) A decisive factor will be the increased opposition to Zionism, the Israel Lobby, AIPAC, however one wishes to term it in the years ahead. The cat is out of the bag on this issue, and there is nothing that is currently more divisive among the Left than the Israel question. Recent anti-Zionist demonstrations I have observed have featured leftists, nationalists, anarchists, national-anarchists, Communists, anti-Zionist Jews, anti-Semites, libertarians, gays, transgendereds, minorities, racists, feminists, male chauvinist pigs, Greens and Muslims under the same political banners. I suspect such a “third position” left is the future of the Left, as left-liberalism becomes ever more status quo. Indeed, I suspect the PC Left will become with increasing frequency the enforcement arm of PC statism. These “anti-racist” and “antifa” hoodlums, for instance, maybe even some reading this right now, may well be the secret police of the future.
As for the relevance of all this to my wider pan-secessionist, anarcho-pluralist outlook, see here, here, here, and here. In American political conflagrations of the past, the various out-groups of the era tended to end up on both sides of the fence. For instance, there were blacks and Indians on both sides on the American Revolution, Indians, Germans, Jews and Irish on both sides of the Civil war, even a few black Confederates. There were blacks, civil rights liberals and segregationists in the New Deal coalition. I suspect a pan-secessionist movement, for instance, a movement where, say 30 states and 50 major cities attempt to leave the U.S., would include gays, transgendereds, blacks, Jews, Hispanics, etc. on both sides of the fence, but for the most part it would be a white vs white conflict.
The Question of Empathy
As a final word, I will note that some have criticized my alleged “lack of empathy.” While I in no sense consider myself to be a liberal-humanist-humanitarian, I have been involved in the past in a good number of efforts on behalf of the genuinely downtrodden. In fact, I suspect some would be shocked by some of the activities of bad old Nazi/fascist/racist/bigoted/terrorist Keith Preston in this regard. However, I prefer to keep such things separate from my wider political agenda (as it’s mostly irrelevant). There also reasons of prudence why such things should not be broadcast too loudly. Lastly, perhaps the one aspect of my Christian upbringing that I retained was the view that actions of piety or virtue are best done in secret rather than in the public square.
“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”
“With respect to libertarian eccentricity, the dream of an absolute private freedom is one of those visions that issue from between the gates of ivory; and the disorder that they would thrust upon society already is displayed in the moral disorder of their private affairs. Some present here will recall the article on libertarianism in National Review, a few years ago, by that mordant psychologist and sociologist Dr. Ernest van den Haag, who remarked that an unusually high proportion of professed libertarians are homosexuals. In politics as in private life, they demand what nature cannot afford.”
“Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you, but human history is not entirely summarized by the bold struggle for the “right” to poke your veiny ding-dong through disco-bathroom glory holes. Not every act is political. Some are just silly and ugly and stinky.”
For all of my adult life, I have been fascinated by the ideas of classical anarchism, classical liberalism and modern libertarianism, including the works of Jefferson, Paine, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rothbard, Hess, Szasz, Chomsky, Bookchin, and other such thinkers. For roughly the same amount of time, I have never failed to be completely underwhelmed by most of what I have found in organized anarchist, liberal or libertarian circles.
I became a radical roughly twenty-three years ago, after having been awakened to the nature of U.S. war crimes and state-sponsored genocide in places like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, East Timor, Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere. Early on, I noticed most of the other people in the anti-imperialist movement were Communists, left-wing Christians, and pro-state liberals. Maybe it was because I grew up among Birchers, Falwellites, Wallaceites, and Reaganites, but I never cared much for the Big Brother statism of the Left on domestic issues, however much I might have agreed on foreign policy. So, to make a long story short, I became an anarchist.
From the time that I first encountered the organized anarchist movement, I was a bit puzzled by the overwhelming obsession with “racism” to be found in those circles. It might have made sense if anarchists were predominantly blacks or Hispanics or Asians, but, then as now, probably ninety-eight percent of anarchists were white, at least in North America. I personally helped found two separate anarchist student groups at one point. How many “people of color” did we ever attract? I recall two. One was a young black woman with an upper middle class background whose father was a colonel in the U.S. military. Another was an immigrant from Sri Lanka from the northern Virginia suburbs. For several years, I was the local representative of the anarcho-syndicalist labor union Industrial Workers of the World. I attended several national events of the IWW. How many non-whites did I ever meet? I recall one, a black middle class schoolteacher from Brooklyn. I was on the national committee of the U.S. section of the International Workers Association (which also includes the CNT of Spanish Civil War fame). How many non-whites did I ever meet? Two, both of them Cuban exiles. I was at the founding conference of the old “Love and Rage” anarcho-communist faction. How many people of color? Two blacks, an Caribbean immigrant and a gay ex-Trotskyist who had recently converted to anarchism. I attended two separate continental anarchist gatherings in the late 1980s, both of them attended by several thousand people, mostly countercultural youth, but very few non-whites. This pattern has continued ever since.
While organized left-anarchism (and its “free market” variation of “left-libertarianism”) might have a grossly disproportionately low number of racial minorities, one thing that also becomes immediately apparent in such circles in the grossly disproportionately high number of “sexual minorities,” e.g., gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendereds, transvestites, transsexuals, and butch-women, along with the occasional hetero female feminist. And this is the likely explanation for the rather pronounced hostility to myself found in many left-anarchist and left-libertarian circles.
The ironic thing is that those who attack me the most fervently are those whom I agree with most of the time. I’ve taken Theodore Adorno’s “F Scale” test and come up with the rating of “liberal airhead.” I’ve taken this “political compass” test and come up as a “left libertarian.” So if my critics are to be believed, I’m a liberal airhead-left libertarian-neo fascist. Oh, well, so be it.
I admit that I am often baffled though amused by the rantings of my political enemies. I have tried to figure out where the “fascist” label assigned to me originates from. Am I an advocate of totalitarian government? No, I am a loud critic of the state. Am I an advocate of a Mussolini-like corporatist economy? No, I’m the author of a prize-winning essay attacking such things. Am I an apologist for imperialist war? No, I am an outspoken opponent of the U.S. empire. Do I favor a police state? No, my published writings are filled with denunciations of the state, the law, the cops, the prison system, the war on drugs, and victimless crime laws, even to the point of advocating virtual insurrection against such things. Do I support jingoistic nationalism? No, I’m right alongside Noam Chomsky in my “anti-American” sentiments.
Am I an apologist for Hitlerism or Nazism? No, I’ve attacked Nazism repeatedly. Do I promote theocratic fundamentalist Christianity? No, I am an atheist. Am I a social conservative? No, I support legalized abortion, euthanasia, drug decriminalization, abolition of laws prohibiting consensual adult sex, and repealing vice laws. Do I lack concern for the oppressed, disadvantaged or downtrodden? No, I’ve written, spoken and even appeared on television upholding the rights of the homeless, the disabled, the sick and diseased, runaway teenagers, students, prisoners, psychiatric inmates, prostitutes, drug addicts, and others whom many people don’t give two shits about. I have written repeatedly in favor of forming non-state defense organizations for these kinds of marginal populations. I favor abolition of compulsory school attendance laws. I am opposed to the drinking age. I am opposed to state-licensed or state-regulated marriage. Am I some sort of reactionary “family values” conservative, moral traditionalist? No, for years I worked for a Greek family that owned a collection of strips joints and all-night bars and many of my female friends are strippers, hookers, lesbians and biker chicks. For all of my life since about age sixteen, I’ve been associated with marginal subcultures: one percenter motorcycle clubs, hippies, anarchists, rock ‘n’ rollers, gutter punks, ex-cons. I am for the abolition of the prison system. I am opposed to capital punishment. I would put more restrictions on the power of the police than ACLU would. I am opposed to statutory rape laws. I am for upholding the right of unconventional religions to practice unmolested by the state, for instance, Mormon sects that practice polygamy or sequestered cults whose members can be subjected to abduction and forcible “deprogramming” by others. I am for the right to practice alternative medicine. I’m even skeptical of laws requiring driver’s licenses. Unlike the left-wing “civil libertarians” who think the proper response to the police state is to file lawsuits, I am for forming civilian militias for the purpose of chasing the PIGS away. Hell, I’ve even defended street gangs on the basis of freedom of association and more broadly as a form of class-based insurgency. Indeed, my views on most social issues are well to the left of the Democratic Party, often to the left of the Green Party.
Am I an anti-Semite? I’m very critical of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and I generally agree with the analysis of this question advanced by Mearsheimer and Walt and by James Petras. I generally think that American Jews who favor Israel’s interests over keeping the U.S. out of foreign wars should simply put their money where their mouth is and go live in Israel, take their right-wing Christian Zionist cohorts with them and leave the rest of us alone. I suppose some would say this makes me an anti-Semite. Certainly Norman Podhoretz would think so. However, probably fifty percent of my primary intellectual influences have been Jews. These include Thomas Szasz, Noam Chomsky, Murray Rothbard, Murray Bookchin, Milton Friedman, David Friedman, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Sam Dolgoff, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Friedrich von Hayek, Paul Goodman, Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, Paul Gottfried, and Norman Mailer. So there would seem to be some problems with the “anti-Semite” label. With regards to Israel, do I care that Israel exists? Of course not, just as I do not mind that China or Japan exist, though I am quite strongly in favor of Palestinian independence, just as I am in favor of independence for the Tibetans. What I do oppose is the hijacking of American foreign policy by the Israel Lobby. I think the arguments of those who claim that severance of the U.S.-Israel relationship would result in genocide of the Israelis at the hands of the Arabs are absurd. If anyone in the Middle East is likely to be genocide victims, it is the Palestinians. But assuming such an argument has merit, I’d say, okay, fine, then we can simply establish a West Israel in one of the New York City boroughs, or in West Palm Beach, or in Hollywood and be done with it.
Am opposed to black people? Like most white Americans, I’m mostly indifferent to blacks. I live in a majority black city, with a black dominated municipal government, and I’ve done so for twenty-two years. I guess if I thought blacks were that awful, I would have relocated to whiter pastures by now. I’ve had plenty of blacks among my co-workers, fellow students, business associates, and neighbors. I even had a couple of black roommates when I was in my twenties. I can’t say that on average I’ve regarded them any higher or any lower than my white associates in the same situations. Hell, of all the women I’ve had, I’d say about a third of them were something other than white (Indian, Asian, black, Hispanic, American Indian, Arabic-the whole fucking Crayola box). Fuck, one of my grandmothers is Cherokee, for god’s sake. So there would seem to be some problems with the “racist” label being applied to myself as well. Politically, I have advocated reparations to blacks for the purpose of economic development of politically sovereign black homelands in North America, the creation of independent black municipalities in sections of large cities and metro areas where blacks are dominant, and legal amnesty for most black prisoners (and most other prisoners, for that matter). These are essentially the same positions as the Nation of Islam, Republic of New Afrika, and the People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement. What I do oppose are efforts to abridge freedom of association, micromanage race relations by the state, or create a new racial caste system based victimological ideology in the name of compulsory integrationism.
A favorite cause of many contemporary left-anarchists and left-libertarians is pro-immigration. Virtually every website, zine, or blog of this type is littered with pro-immigration propaganda. I happen to think this is an issue reasonable and honest anti-statists can disagree on, as it involves population transfers among states, and it is states that create the conditions under which population migration occurs. The reasonable pro-immigration position might be something like that articulated by Craig Biddle:
“Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration. Nor does it mean that anyone who immigrates to America should be eligible for U.S. citizenship—the proper requirements of which are a separate matter. Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America—providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases. Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.”
Indeed, Rasmussen research has shown some interesting results concerning immigration:
Sixty-six percent (66%) of likely voters nationwide say it is Very Important for the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 32% of America’s Political Class agrees.
An even more dramatic gap appears on the question of legalizing the status of those immigrants now in the country illegally. Voters nationwide are evenly divided on the question of whether it is even somewhat important: 48% say it’s important, and 45% say it’s not.
However, among the Political Class, 74% say legalizing the status of these residents is important, and only 17% disagree.
So it seems that we have the interesting spectacle of anarchists aligning themselves with the political class against “the people” when it comes to immigration. It is not that “the people” are overcome with xenophobia and racist “hate.” As the Rasmussen study points out:
One major misunderstanding has clouded the debate over immigration. Most pundits assume that those angry about the issue are angry at the immigrants. In fact, data shows that the anger is directed primarily at the federal government. Rather than being angry at immigrants, 56% continue to favor a welcoming immigration policy that would let anybody move to the United States except national security threats, criminals and those looking to live off the U.S. welfare system.
So it would appear that the majority of Americans take a rather magnanimous, tolerant view of immigrants. I would argue that the mass immigration problem that we currently have in the Western nations is the fault of perverse incentives created by our own ruling classes, who are addicted to easily exploitable Third World immigrant labor, and who use liberal-multiculturalist ideology as a smokescreen, and whose class of court intellectuals, liberal academicians and media hacks generate propaganda for such on their behalf.
I would probably take a position not dissimilar to Biddle’s, with the qualifications that “antidiscrimination” (prohibition of freedom of association) legislation be repealed, that immigrants be ineligible for state entitlement programs and tax-payer funded services, that employers be prohibited from using immigrants as scab labor, that employer use of illegal immigrant labor be barred, that immigrants convicted of serious crimes (like rape, robbery and murder, not drug possession or vending without a license) be deported, and that naturalization policy be decentralized according to local community standards. These measures, combined with large-scale efforts to create alternative economic institutions operating independently of the capitalist class which demands immigrant labor and, if necessary, the formation of volunteer citizen militia to better safeguard border areas would likely reduce immigration to manageable levels. I am actually quite wary of the proposals by some to create a “war on drugs” or “war on terrorism” police state crusade against illegal immigration. Nor do I “hate” or personally resent the masses of Latin American immigrants into the United States or Islamic immigrants into Europe. In a purely legal sense, I don’t think illegal immigrants should be dealt with any more harshly than ordinary trespassers, shoplifters, traffic offenders, or vagrants camped out on someone else’s property. My priority political issue is to oppose U.S. imperialist aggression against other societies where many of the Left’s much beloved “people of color” actually live. But just because I do not wish to see people in other lands slaughtered does not mean I wish for Western civilization to commit economic, political and cultural suicide, just as my opposition to the statist persecution of homeless drug addicts does not mean I’m going to invite them all to move in with me, either. As Murray Rothbard said: “It’s the only civilization we’ve got.”
Yet the propaganda of pro-immigration leftists-anarchists-libertarians would have us all believe that opening the borders to any terrorist, criminal or welfare colonist who wants to jump a fence somewhere would be just fine. Why bother screening for communicable diseases immigrants from countries where public health standards are just about zero? What’s the big deal about tuberculosis, anyway? Why not allow a few hundred million Asian, African, Latin American or Eastern European immigrants to come on over and sign up for public assistance? Why not allow foreign states to empty their prisons of violent criminals and send them to America as Fidel Castro did during the boatlift of 1980? If al-Qaeda wants to open a branch office on Main Street, USA, then who are the rest of us to say otherwise?
What is odd is that the anarchist and libertarian groups who push such ideas are almost all white. Check out a group photograph of any anarchist sect and you will rarely find a “person of color.” So what is the source of the extreme “anti-racism” hysteria and equally over-the-top “immigrants’ rights” perspectives held by many of these people? Perhaps they are simply regurgitating what they have picked up from the media, the entertainment industry, their public school teachers and university professors, or their ex-hippie parents. Perhaps they come from right-wing subcultures, and such views are a means of giving the finger to their Christian fundamentalist, redneck racist or bourgeoisie Republican parents? Clearly, there is no issue of self-interest involved. Or is there?
So what of the homosexuals? When I was about fourteen, I was in a fundamentalist church, and I heard a hysterical Jim Jones-like preacher advocating the death penalty for “sodomites,” saying something to the effect that “if Jack and Fred want to make out on a street corner, then we should fry Jack and Fred.” I recall being baffled by the intensity of this fellow’s rhetoric and emotions. Then as now, I really couldn’t give a good goddamn if two queers want to poke each other in the anus or not, just as I don’t care if some hetero dude wants his girlfriend to shove a strap-on up his fucking rectum. For that matter, I don’t particularly care if others wish to engage in S&M or coprophilia or just about any other sort of sexual freakiness they prefer. In fact, as one who grew up among the so-called “religious right,” including some of its more extreme branches, like the Christian Reconstructionists and the Bob Jones people, I could never really understand what the point behind all the hooey about “the homo-sex-shuals” really was. When I was in my mid-teens, there were two gay guys who bought the house next door to my parents. I don’t recall that it was any kind of issue. My first real exposure to homosexuals was in a state correctional facility when I was in my late teens. While I didn’t exactly go out of my way to befriend them, I thought they were basically harmless. When I was in my early twenties, one of the guys who lived on my floor during college was a stereotypical “flaming gay” and I had no problem with him. Since then, I’ve had plenty of gay co-workers, neighbors, a gay professor, and other such associates, and I’ve never had any problem with them. As mentioned, the many leftist, liberal, libertarian and anarchist political groups I’ve been associated with over the years have included many homosexuals, and I’ve never had any problem with that. A few years ago, there was an openly gay anarchist who lived at a nearby commune who was an occasional guest at my residence.
So what is the source of the problem? I used to think it was ridiculous when members of the religious right and other social conservatives accused the gay rights movement of demanding “special rights.” Having taken a harder look at the “gay rights” phenomenon, I’ve more or less changed my opinion. Among those who have attacked me the most fervently as a “fascist,” those who can be personally identified are, with few exceptions, gay militants of one type or another. This has been true in my local community, on the internet, and in hate mail that I have received.
What is it that I do or say that is so offensive to gay militants? Have I called for the reinstatement of sodomy laws, or for vigilante violence against homosexuals, or for the closing of gay-oriented clubs or businesses? Have I called for severe social or economic discrimination against gays? Have I even criticized homosexuality as a lifestyle or practice? I’ve done nothing of the sort. Have I belittled the cultural or intellectual achievements of homosexuals? No, I haven’t. For instance, I’ve gone out of my way to promote the work of Justin Raimondo, not because Raimondo is gay (who cares?), but because Raimondo is one of the very best critics of U.S. imperialism to be found. One of the very best critics of the police state is Glenn Greenwald, a gay man. One of my favorite political writers is Gore Vidal, who is a homosexual. Have I called for the legal prohibition of transgender surgery as some reactionary conservatives have done? No, I haven’t. Would I care if gays could legally marry? No, though I don’t think the state should be involved in marriage in any capacity. I am not even carte blanche opposed to the adoption of children by same-sex couples, though I think the preference should be for hetero couples, all other variables being equal.
The source of the hostility seems to come down to two things: My advocacy of political decentralization ordered on the principal of individual liberty, freedom of association, private property and community sovereignty, and my advocacy of political alliances against statism, state-capitalism, and imperialism that transcend cultural boundaries and divisive social issues and, yes, alliances that might sometimes include people who disagree with homosexuality for religious, cultural, moral or philosophical reasons.
As a big tent, pluralistic anarchist, I would favor the proliferation of a wide assortment of lifestyles and communities in a libertarian system. For instance, on the economic issues that divide libertarians, I would advocate a plurality of economic arrangements. I would say there can be competing systems of property rights, perhaps determined on a geographical basis, of the kind Kevin Carson has suggested, reflecting Lockean, Georgist, or Proudhonian systems of property. There can be anarcho-capitalist private defense agencies, anarcho-communist kibbutzes, anarcho-syndicalist workers’ councils, mutual banks, geoist land trusts, and all the other kinds of economic institutions different kinds of libertarians favor. When it comes to issues that libertarians differ on, there are many. These include capital punishment, abortion, immigration, environmentalism, animal rights, childrens’ rights, property theory, theories of criminal punishment and many others. I’d say let these be determined according to community standards at the local level. There can be agrarian or primitivist colonies where modern technology or even industrial civilization of any kind is banned. There can be separatist enclaves for feminists, homosexuals or “people of color,” where men, heteros or whiteys are forbidden. There can be anarcho-puritan communes that bar guns, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, porn, S&M, prostitution, religion or meat-eating. On the other hand, there can be hedonist associations, modeled on places like the Red Light Districts of Amsterdam and Frankfurt (where I’ve visited numerous times) where virtually anything goes.
Of course, I’ve applied the same principles to the cultural right as well as the cultural left, and this is where the real source of the conflict between myself and others in the anarchist milieu begins. Hans Hermann Hoppe has gained much criticism for statements like this:
“…the anarchistic upshot of the libertarian doctrine appealed to the countercultural left. For did not the illegitimacy of the state…imply that everyone was at liberty to choose his very own nonaggressive lifestyle? Did this not imply that vulgarity, obscenity, profanity, drug use, promiscuity, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, polygamy, pedophilia or any other conceivable perversity or abnormality, insofar as they were victimless crimes, were no offenses at all but perfectly normal and legitimate activities and lifestyles?”
“the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism-will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”
“Say what you will in support of this statement – it is stark, it is well written, it is radical, it gives a well deserved intellectual kick to the teeth to some groups who richly deserve it — it is still exceedingly difficult to reconcile it with libertarianism. For, in the free society, there will always be the likelihood that different groups will tend to amalgamate in certain geographical areas, and even have restrictive covenants that enforce just requirements, and limitations on free speech. In places like parts of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, for example, there is little doubt that such sentiments will be the order of the day. But there will likely be other areas of the country, for example, the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Mass, Greenwich Village in New York City, heck, the entire Big Apple for that matter, where pretty much the opposite outlook will legally prevail. That is, in these latter places, positive mention of free enterprise, capitalism, profits, etc., will be severely punished by law. Why libertarianism should be equated with the former views and not the latter is a mystery. Surely, the libertarian philosophy would support the rights of both groups to act in such manners. As for homosexuality, it is entirely possible that some areas of the country, parts of Gotham and San Francisco for example, will require this practice, and ban, entirely, heterosexuality. If this is done through contract, private property rights, restrictive covenants, it will be entirely compatible with the libertarian legal code.”
I would go still further than Block, and advocate entirely separate homelands for those with irreconcilable political differences, for instance, neo-nazis and their equally thuggish “antifa” opponents. As I’ve written before:
Leftists whose main issues are “racism, sexism and homophobia” could create their own homelands complete with a constitution that required that a majority of the seats in the highest body of the provincial government be given to people of color, feminists and homosexuals. There could be “anarchist” city-states organized on the basis of “consensus-based direct democracy” complete with marathon debates over “process” along with “communist” city-states ruled hierarchically by the “vanguard party”. Recall the dichotomy between demo/hedo/homo/art-fag Athens and commie/fascist Sparta. In the white separatist states, there could be sub-communities established for “Aryan” white nationalists and Jewish white nationalists (yes, there is such a thing). Their could be collections of towns and villages for the followers of “moderates” like Jared Taylor and Michael Levin on one hand and “extremists” like the Aryan Nations or the World Church of the Creator on the other. In the black separatist states, there could be sub-communities for Garveyites, adherents of Black Israel, Black Muslims, black separatist Christians and Marxists like the Republic of New Afrika.
Of course, I don’t think it’s generally necessary to take things to these kinds of extremes. For the most part, I think cultural differences can be handled the same way religious differences are presently handled. Different groups could simply have their own institutions. For instance, with regards to education, there might be Afro-centric schools, “traditional American” schools, Catholic schools, fundamentalist-evangelical schools, Hasidic schools, liberal-leftist-politically correct schools, libertarian-anarchistic Summerhill-type schools, “white supremacist” schools, Islamic schools, and, yes, even “homo-centric” schools.
I take it as a given that there will always be groups as well as individuals with irreconcilable political, ideological, cultural, religious, racial, ethnic, economic and other kinds of differences. One of the virtues of libertarian ideas like decentralization, freedom of association, a wide dispersement of economic resources and so forth it that these things allow such differences to be accommodated without bloodshed or oppression. For instance, just as some leftists might prefer a way of life that priorities homosexuality, feminism, “green-consciousness,” racial and ethnic integrationism, hedonism, communalism, therapeutism or vegetarianism, so might some other people prefer a way of life that prioritizes religious devotion, ethnic preservationism, social conservatism, cultural traditionalism, asceticism, racial separatism, racial, religious or cultural homogeneity, “morality,” “family values,” private property, hunting, meat-eating or tobacco farming. There is no reason why there needs to be a civil war between such factions, or that such factions even be under the same political roof. There can be separate schools, churches, cultural organizations, intermediary institutions, media outlets, non-state social services, economic enterprises, common law legal systems, defense organizations, neighborhoods or, if necessary, entirely separate towns, counties, cantons or provinces for such competing factions.
Seems fair enough to me. After all, freedom of choice and freedom of association are two-way streets. Just as some people may wish to live a homosexual or hedonistic lifestyles, others might wish to live a “racist” or religious lifestyle. But what I have come to call “homo-totalitarians” typically respond in one of two ways. Some are outright political totalitarians who wish for an all-powerful central government to eradicate the associational, religious, economic, privacy and property rights of others with antidiscrimination laws, direct subsidies to homosexual organizations, the use of gay marriage laws to require taxpayers to finance state-funded benefits for same-sex couples, granting homosexual pairs preferential consideration so far as the adoption of children is concerned, criminalizing speech that is critical of homosexuality, the use of tax-funded public schools for the dissemination of pro-gay propaganda under the guise of “sex education” and “teaching tolerance”, enacting hate crimes (thought crimes) laws granting homosexuals legal protection above and beyond that of ordinary crime victims and many other such privileges.
Still others argue less for political totalitarianism of this kind and instead prefer a censorious intellectual culture where dissent from PC orthodoxy on homosexuality is forbidden. We have seen previews of what this would look like in the phenomenon of “political correctness” that has infested certain sectors of society, particularly the academic world and the media. What this amounts too, at minimum, is reacting to those with un-PC views on “gay rights” with hysteria, shrillness, rudeness, slander, vilification, and threats.
Within the context of libertarianism, some have argued that those with un-PC views pertaining to homosexuality, “racism” and a few other things should be written out of the libertarian milieu so as to uphold some standard of cultural leftist purity. Isn’t this interesting? To demonstrate the lunacy of such a proposal, one only need to ask what might happen if other supposed “minority” groups engaged in such special pleading? Should Mormon libertarians demand that libertarians refrain from criticizing Mormon theological beliefs or practices of the Mormon church? Should drug-using libertarians demand that drug use be off-limits so far as disapproval or disagreement from other libertarians is concerned? Should vegetarian libertarians demand that other libertarians refrain from criticizing or ever expressing disapproval of vegetarianism? What if people with tattoos and body piercings asked for similar favoritism? But this is precisely what “homo-totalitarian” libertarians expect. Anyone who comes near the libertarian milieu who has perfectly fine libertarian credentials but who disagrees with homosexuality for whatever private reasons should not only be shunned but personally attacked, according to the logic of these folks. Now, homo-libertarians have every right to criticize the views of anti-homo-libertarians. Hell, I’ve even criticized them on occasion. For instance, if homo-libertarians want to go picket a lecture by an anti-homo-libertarian like Hans Hermann Hoppe, then of course they are well within their rights, just as conservative Christian libertarians are well within their rights to organize boycotts of Disneyland for holding “Gay Day” or whatever the fuck it is. Yet, this kind of thing would seem to me at least to go against the “live and let live” spirit of libertarianism, and it is utterly baffling to me at least that others would regard such matters as equally pressing or even more pressing with concerns like, oh, well, overthrowing an empire that has killed eight million people worldwide.
This hypersensitivity to criticisms of homosexuality found in many anarchist and libertarian circles helps, I think, to explain the otherwise inexplicable “anti-racism” hysteria and enthusiasm for the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism, not to mention the most ridiculous renditions of feminism, found among these people, virtually all of whom are white, overwhelmingly male, and mostly from middle class backgrounds. Anti-racism, anti-xenophobia and feminazism are simply surrogates for homosexualism. The wider “gay rights” movement has gone out of its way to attach itself to the legacy of the black civil rights movement. They do this because they know that most Americans recognize the treatment given to black Americans prior to civil rights was unfair, and thereby proclaim themselves to be a comparable victim group. Therefore, they promote the most extreme and lunatical forms of “anti-racism” and immigrationism, and loudly proclaim any kind differentiation of persons or groups along racial, ethnic, national or gender lines to be the ultimate in human evil, no matter what its purpose, and then subsequently proclaim themselves to the equivalent of an oppressed ethnic group deserving similar favoritism. Apparently, their rallying cry is to paraphrase Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the defense of sodomy is no vice.”
I’ve wondered why there is so much acrimony between myself and many of these left-anarchist people, given that I agree with them the vast majority of the time. Some of it is no doubt attributable to what Thomas Sowell has called a “conflict of visions.” This has to do with broader philosophical differences beyond preferred political systems, economic policies, particular laws, positions on single issues and so forth. It is a conflict that emerged during the Enlightenment and has endured ever since. Says Sowell:
The great evils of the world-war, poverty, and crime, for example-are seen in completely different terms by those with the constrained and unconstrained visions. If human options are not inherently constrained, then the presence of such repugnant and disastrous phenomena virtually cries out for explanation-and for solutions. But if the limitations and passions of man himself are at the heart of these painful phenomena, then what requires explanation are the ways in which they have been avoided or minimized. While believers in the unconstrained vision seek the special causes of war, poverty and crime, believers in the constrained vision seek the special causes of peace, wealth, or a law-abiding society. In the unconstrained vision, there are no intractable reasons for social evils and therefore no reason why they cannot be solved, with sufficient moral commitment. But in the constrained, whatever artifices or strategies restrain or ameliorate inherent human evils will themselves have costs, some in the form of other social ills created by these civilizing institutions, so all that is possible is a prudent trade-off.
Recognition of these facts can sometimes require that hard choices be made. For instance, the need to balance being kind and generous to immigrants with cultural, civilizational, political and economic survival. The need to establish political priorities that aim to minimize the greatest harms (like imperialist war, mass imprisonment of harmless people, and severe economic failure that will severely damage tens of millions) as a primary consideration, as opposed to focusing primarily on upholding to the letter the interests and preferences of marginal fringe groups, like “sexual minorities,” regardless of other considerations.
Some years ago I sat in on a conversation of university professors discussing the mystery of the “origins of racism.” But the origins of racism are no mystery. Conflict of this type has existed as long as there have been human beings. The mystery is those rare instances where peace between races has been achieved. On another occasion, a liberal associate was highly offended by my defense of a man who had been arrested for shooting and killing a criminal who had been burglarizing his home, and my associate was giving me the usual drivel about “the sanctity of human life” and “criminals are victims of socio-economic oppression,” as though the interests of the crime victim counted for nothing. I responded with a quote from Adam Smith: “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.” I once had a political science professor, a Princeton graduate, who said in all seriousness that the real issue in the gun control debate is whether “having a gun makes you feel safe” versus “knowing that someone else might have a gun makes you feel unsafe,” as though mere subjective emotions and states of mind are the real basis for public policy debates, irrespective of actual facts and tangible reality. Many years ago when I was in the Central America solidarity movement, I once criticized what I felt was the overuse of civil disobedience by antiwar protestors. To me, it seemed counterproductive to ritualistically sit down in the street and blockade traffic in a way that had zero effect on actual U.S. foreign policy, but resulted in hundreds of people being carted off to jail, and resources squandered on fines, bail, lawyer fees and court costs. I was told by a very intelligent man with a decades long history of involvement in such activities that the purpose of civil disobedience was to “make a personal statement” that one is taking a stand on this, that or the other thing. In other words, it was all about the individual protestor, not the actual cause itself.
If we see anarchism as a movement to oppose statism, capitalism, imperialism, aggressive war, and authoritarianism, and to uphold individual liberty, decentralism, voluntarism, federalism, mutual aid, cooperativism, syndicalism, communitarianism, pluralism, human scale, institutions, intellectual freedom, free inquiry, free speech, and freedom of association, then the attacks of my critics don’t really make sense. But if we see so-called “anarchism” as a movement of homosexuals seeking political, institutional and cultural privilege, while hiding behind the rhetoric of egalitarian-universalist-humanism, then such attacks begin to make a great deal of sense. To my enemies, I would respond by citing the immortal words of Jim Goad:
I don’t care about your precious personal lifestyle choices. I really don’t. And your entire dingbat philosophy, the whole tectonic plate upon which San Francisco rests, is based on the false presumption that people such as me are somehow upset about the manner in which you flap your genitals around. Egads.
It isn’t what you do, it’s the way you do it. Not the meat, but rather the motion. It’s not what you’re saying, it’s your lousy voice. It isn’t your private cock-slurping, it’s your public megaphone-mouth. It ain’t how you move beneath the sheets, it’s the way you wave the picket signs around. The problem isn’t your self-consciously “decadent” personal lifestyle, it’s your warped social instincts.
It has nothing to do with the widespread sidewalk displays of ass-rimming…or the women who look like Lou Costello…or even the concept of white people who hate the concept of white people… It’s the attitude.
As for the rest of us in the anarchist milieu, I say it’s time for a purge, if not an outright pogrom. Does the spectacle of a bunch of white college students crying about “racism, racism, racism” and pretending that they’re Black Panthers do anything to actually increase the number of Actually Existing People of Color in our ranks? It hasn’t yet after decades of trying. The typical convert to anarchism is an angry, young, white, male from an upper strata working class to upper middle class socio-economic background, one who possesses above average levels of intelligence and education, and an interest in history, philosophy, political science and related fields. Do we really attract more people into our ranks by having so many self-hating whites, bearded ladies, cock-ringed queers, or persons of one or another surgically altered “gender identity” in our midst? Is this really something the average rebellious young person wants to be associated with? Could we not actually attract more young rebels into our ranks if all of this stuff was absent? I believe we could. For instance, I’ve been amazed at how fast the “national-anarchist” movement has grown in the short amount of time it has been around. And it is largely due to the efforts of Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard to purge libertarianism of precisely this kind during the late 1980s and early 1990s of thing that eventually made possible the Ron Paul movement and the post-paleo movement that has followed it. Does the average young rebel really want to join an “anarchist” movement that is only going to tell him what a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic sinner he is? No, he can go to church or take university humanities courses for that.
As for the feminism thing, I suspect the absence of such “feminist” elements will actually increase the number of actual female participants in our ranks. In my experience, right-wing political groups and even fundamentalist churches tend to have at least as many women participants as left-wing groups, if not more. I mean, let’s be real. What confident, intelligent, secure, emotionally stable woman with a keen sense of individuality wants to join a movement of pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair? I really doubt that many of our stereotypical angry young male anarchists really, in their heart of hearts, want to belong to such a movement. I recall a conversation with a female friend of mine, a 23-year-old bisexual anthropology student. I was criticizing the “gay rights” movement as having no real message other than: “We suck cock, and we deserve merit badges for it.” Her response: “Yes, exactly. That’s a perfect description.” As for homosexuals, let them be evaluated according to what they actually contribute to our movement rather than simply for their status as homosexuals. We need the likes of Justin Raimondo or the late Alisdair Clarke. I’m not so sure we need some of these others.
So where do we go from here? I suggest that those of us who want to have a non-leftoidal anarchist movement simply go about building one, and ignore the personal attacks that will continue to be thrown our way. As Andrew Yeoman of Bay Area National Anarchists suggests:
My goals are (in no particular order) are consistent with a pragmatic libertarian anti-capitalist holistic ethnocentric worldview. This is why I advocate for 1) less government authority and the repealing of many laws, 2) greater autonomy for the self-determination of all peoples, and 3) believe it or not, greater cooperation between powerless political factions. With caveats I will work with people who I disagree with on most issues because the philosophy I live by is to organize with different but like minded tribes. This tenet is continuously emphasized by National Anarchists like Troy Southgate. Disagreeing with me on issues is fine, but you will never tell me or my tribe how we shall live our lives.
National Anarchism is a political tendency that allows different communities to form a political structure according to their own values. That’s it. That’s the solution to the irreconcilable differences between me and other anarchists, different lifestyles, religions, and even races that have historically had problems living together (above and beyond mere class conflict).
Before we can have an anarchist revolution, we need to have a revolution within anarchism itself. We need to convey the message to other radical tendencies and to the public at-large that anarchism as a political ideology is not simply some freak show that exists to provide group psychotherapy to a bunch of psychologically damaged personalities. In recent years, an “alternative Right” has developed in the U.S. consisting of paleoconservatives, paleolibertarians, post-paleos, anarcho-capitalists, “left-conservatives,” and Ron Paulistas. New tendencies within anarchism have also emerged like national-anarchism, tribal anarchism, and anarcho-pluralism. Out of all of these strands, perhaps we can build a new “revolutionary Right” that in essence becomes the “true left,” a new radicalism that eventually replaces PC leftoidism as the dominant outlook of radical youth, and then begins the process of becoming an actual popular movement to displace the dominance of liberalism in American society.
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.
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.
Over the last few days, there’s been an interesting discussion going on over at the blog of left-libertarian philosopher Charles Johnson (also known as “Rad Geek“). I’ve avoided posting there, due to the presence of an individual who has declared themself my mortal enemy (a role I’m happy to assume), but the subject matter of the discussion provides a very good illustration of why any sort of libertarian philosophy that demands a rigid universalism cannot work in practice. A poster called “Soviet Onion” remarks:
It seems that both social anarchism and market libertarianism have respectively come to adopt forms of collectivism typical of either the statist left or right. That’s a result of the perceived cultural affinity they have with those larger groups, and partly also a function of the fact that they appeal to people of different backgrounds, priorities and sentiments (and these two factors tend to reinforce each other in a cyclical way, with new recruits further entrenching the internal movement culture and how it will be perceived by the following generation of recruits).
On the “left” you have generic localists who feel that altruism entails loyalty to the people in immediate proximity (they’ll unusually use the term “organic community” to make it seem more natural and thus unquestionably legitimate). Most of them are former Marxists and social democrats, this is simply a way to recast communitarian obligations and tacitly authoritarian sentiments under the aegis of “community” rather than “state”. This comes as an obvious result of classical anarchism being eclipsed as THE radical socialist alternative by Leninism for most of the twentieth century. Now that it’s once again on the rise, it’s attracting people who would have otherwise been state-socialists, and who carry that baggage with them when they cross over.
On the “right”, it’s a little more straightforward. Libertarians have adopted the conservative “State’s Rights” kind of localism as a holdover from their alliance with conservatives against Communism, to the point that it doesn’t even matter if the quality of freedom under that state is worse than the national average, just so long as it’s not the Federal Government. And with this, any claim to moral universality, or the utilitarian case for decentralism go right out the window. Like true parochialism, it hates the foreign and big just because it is foreign and big.
That’s also one of the reasons why I think there’s a division between “social” and “market” anarchists; they each sense that they come from different political meta-groups and proceed from a different set of priorities; the established gap between right and left feels bigger than the gap between they and statists of their own variety. And the dogmatisms that say “we have to support the welfare state, workplace regulations and environmental laws until capitalism is abolished” or “we should vote Republican to keep taxes down and preserve school choice” are as much after-the-fact rationalizations of this feeling as they are honest attempts at practical assessment.
The problem with left-libertarianism (or with the 21st century rebirth and recasting of 19th century individualism, if you want to imperfectly characterize it that way), is that instead of trying to transcend harmful notions of localism, it simply switches federalism for communitarianism. It does this partially as a attempt to ingratiate itself to social anarchists, and partly because, like social anarchists, it recognize that this idea is superficially more compatible with an anti-state position. But it also neglects the social anarchists’ cultural sensibilities; hence the more lax attitude toward things like National Anarchism.
These are some very insightful comments. And what do they illustrate? That human beings, even professed “anarchists,” are in fact tribal creatures, and by extension follow the norms of either their tribe of origin or their adopted tribe, and generally express more sympathy and feel a stronger sense of identification with others who share their tribal values (racism, anti-racism, feminism, family, homosexuality, homophobia, religion, atheism, middle class values, underclass values, commerce, socialism) than they do with those with whom they share mere abstractions (“anarchy,” “liberty,” “freedom”).
Last year, a survey of world opinion indicated that it is the Chinese who hold their particular society in the highest regard, with 86 percent of Chinese expressing satisfaction with their country. Russians expressed a 54 percent satisfaction rate, and Americans only 23 percent. Observing these numbers, Pat Buchanan remarked:
“Yet, China has a regime that punishes dissent, severely restricts freedom, persecutes Christians and all faiths that call for worship of a God higher than the state, brutally represses Tibetans and Uighurs, swamps their native lands with Han Chinese to bury their cultures and threatens Taiwan.”
“Of the largest nations on earth, the two that today most satisfy the desires of their peoples are the most authoritarian.”
What are we to make of this? That human beings value security, order, sustenance, prosperity, collective identity, tribal values and national power much more frequently and on a deeper level than they value liberty. Of course, some libertarians will likely drag out hoary Marxist concepts like “false consciousness” or psycho-babble like “Stockholm syndrome” to explain this, but it would be more helpful to simply face the truth: That liberty is something most people simply don’t give a damn about.
The evidence is overwhelming that most people by nature are inclined to be submissive to authority. The exceptions are when the hunger pains start catching up with them and their physical survival is threatened, or when they perceive their immediate reference groups (family, religion, culture, tribe) as being under attack by authority. We see this in the political expressions of America’s contemporary “culture wars.” During the Clinton era, many social or cultural conservatives and religious traditionalists regarded the U.S. regime as a tyranny that merited armed revolt. During the Bush era such rhetoric disappeared from the Right, even though Bush expanded rather than rolled back the police state. Meanwhile, liberals who would denounce Bush as a fascist express polar opposite sentiments towards the Obama regime, even though policies established by Bush administration have largely continued. So how do we respond to this? Soviet Onion offers some suggestions:
The proper position for us, and what could really set us apart from everyone and make us a more unique and consistent voice for individualism in the global Agora, is to recognize all cultures as nothing more than memetic prisons and always champion the unique and nonconforming against the arbitrary limitations that surround them, recognizing their destruction as barriers in the sense of being normative. And to that end there’s the instrumental insight that the free trade, competition, open movement and open communication are forces that pry open closed societies, not by force, but by giving those who chafe under them so many options to run to that they make control obsolete, and thus weaken control’s tenability as a foundation on which societies can reasonably base themselves. Think of it as “cultural Friedmanism”: the tenet that open economies dissolve social authority the same way they render political authority untenable.
THAT’s what left-libertarianism needs to be about, not some half-baked federation of autarkic Southern towns filled with organic farms and worker co-operatives. It can still favor these things, but with a deeper grounding. It doesn’t ignore patriarchy, racism, heterosexism, but opposes them with a different and more consistent understanding of what liberation means.
But how far should our always championing of the “unique and nonconforming” go? If, for instance, a group of renegades happen to show up at the workers’ cooperative one day and commandeer the place, should we simply say, “Hell, yeah, way to go, noncomformists!” As for the question of the “Big Three” among left-wing sins (“racism, sexism and homophobia”), are we to demand that every last person on earth adopt the orthodox liberal position on these issues as defined by the intellectual classes in post-1968 American and Western Europe? Why stop at “patriarchy, racism and heterosexism”? Soviet Onion points out that many “left-wing” anarchists do not stop at that point:
I used to be an anarcho-communist. Actually, I started out as someone who was vaguely sympathetic to mainstream libertarianism but could never fully embrace it due to the perceived economic implications. I eventually drifted to social anarchism thanks to someone who’s name I won’t mention, because it’s too embarrassing.
After hanging around them for a while I realized that, for all their pretenses, most of them were really just state-socialists who wanted to abolish the State by making it smaller and calling it something else. After about a year of hanging around Libcom and the livejournal anarchist community, I encountered people who, under the aegis of “community self-management”, supported
- smoking and alcohol bans
- bans on currently illicit drugs
- bans on caffeinated substances (all drugs are really just preventing you from dealing with problems, you see)
- censorship of pornography (on feminist grounds)
- sexual practices like BDSM (same grounds, no matter the gender of the participants or who was in what role)
- bans on prostitution (same grounds)
- bans on religion or public religious expression (this included atheist religions like Buddhism, which were the same thing because they were “irrational”)
- bans on advertisement (which in this context meant any free speech with a commercial twist)
- bans on eating meat
- gun control (except for members of the official community-approved militia, which is in no way the same thing as a local police department)
- mandatory work assignments (ie slavery)
- the blatant statement, in these exact words, that “Anarchism is not individualist” on no less than twelve separate occasions over the course of seven months. Not everybody in those communities actively agreed with them, but nobody got up and seriously disputed it.
- that if you don’t like any of these rules, you’re not free to just quit the community, draw a line around your house and choose not to obey while forfeiting any benefits. No, as long as you’re in what they say are the the boundaries (borders?) of “the community”, you’re bound to follow the rules, otherwise you have to move someplace else (“love it or leave it”, as the conservative mantra goes). You’d think for a moment that this conflicts with An-comm property conceptions because they’re effectively exercising power over land that they do not occupy, implying that they own it and making “the community” into One Big Landlord a la Hoppean feudalism 🙂
So I decided that we really didn’t want the same things, and that what they wanted was really some kind of Maoist concentration commune where we all sit in a circle and publicly harass the people who aren’t conforming hard enough. No thanks, comrade.
These left-wing anarchists sound an awful lot like right-wing Christian fundamentalists or Islamic theocrats. Nick Manley adds:
I have encountered an “anarchist” proponent of the draft on a directly democratic communal level.
Of course, we also have to consider all of the many other issues that anarchists and libertarians disagree about: abortion, immigration, property theory, economic arrangements, childrens’ rights, animal rights, environmentalism, just war theory, and much, much else. We also have to consider that anarchists and libertarians collectively are a very small percentage of humanity. Nick Manley says:
I spend more time around libertarians then left-anarchists — although, I briefly entered “their” world and sort of know some of them around here. I was a left-anarchist at one time, but I no longer feel comfortable with the hardcore communalism associated with the ideology. I don’t really want to go to endless neighborhood meetings where majorities impose their will on minorities. I also would agree with Adam Reed that it’s naive to imagine such communes being free places in today’s world — perhaps, this is less true of New Zealand.
The list of things supported by anarcho-communists posted by Soviet Onion confirms my fears about village fascism posturing as “anti-statism”. I frankly do just want to be left alone in my metaphorical “castle” — I say metaphorical, because I am not an atomist and don’t live as such. I will engage in social activities, but I will not allow someone to garner my support through the use of force or do so to others. Like Charles, I have a strong emotional and intellectually principled revulsion to aiding the cause of statism in any way whatsoever. I’d be much happier being at some risk of death from handguns then in enforcing laws that harm entirely well intentioned peaceful people. This is not a mere political issue for me. I know more than a few people with guns who deserve no prison time whatsoever — one of them has guns affected by the assault weapons ban.
I honestly see a lot of principled parallels between conservative lifestyle tribalism and left-liberal lifestyle tribalism. Oh yes: there are contextual inductive distinctions to be made. A gun is not the same as homosexuality. The collectivist dynamic is still the same. Gun owners become no longer human in sense of rational beings. All of contemporary politics seems to be one thinly veiled civil war between fearful tribalists.
It would appear that tribalism is all that we have. I have been through a long journey on this question. I was a child of the Christian Right, drifted to the radical Left as a young man, then towards mainstream libertarianism, then the militia movement and the populist right, along the way developing the view that the only workable kind of libertarianism would be some kind of pluralistic but anti-universalist, decentralized particularism. Rival tribes who are simply incompatible with one another should simply have their own separatist enclaves. This concept is explained very well in a video series beginning here. Unlike the other kinds of libertarianism, there is actually some precedent for what I’m describing to be found in past cultures. See here and here. As Thomas Naylor remarks:
Conservatives don’t want anyone messing with the distribution of income and wealth. They like things the way they are. Liberals want the government to decide what is fair. Liberals believe in multiculturalism, affirmative action, and minority rights. Conservatives favor states’ rights over minority rights.
What liberals and conservatives have in common is that they are both into having—owning, possessing, controlling, and manipulating money, power, people, material wealth, and things. Having is one of the ways Americans deal with the human condition—separation, meaninglessness, powerlessness, and death. To illustrate how irrelevant the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have become, consider the case of Sweden and Switzerland, two of the most prosperous countries in the world.
Sweden is the stereotypical democratic socialist state with a strong central government, relatively high taxes, a broad social welfare net financed by the State, and a strong social conscience. Switzerland is the most free market country in the world, with the weakest central government, and the most decentralized social welfare system. Both are affluent, clean, green, healthy, well-educated, democratic, nonviolent, politically neutral, and among the most sustainable nations in all of history. By U.S. standards, they are both tiny.
Switzerland and Sweden work, not because of political ideology, but rather because the politics of human scale always trumps the politics of the left and the politics of the right. Under the politics of human scale, a politics that trumps our now-outdated and useless “liberal-versus-conservative” dualistic mindset, there would be but one fundamental question:
“Is it too big?”
It would seem that contemporary America is precisely the place to build a movement for this kind of decentalized particularism, a huge continent wide nation with many different cultures, religions, subcultures, ethnic groups and growing more diverse all the time, and where political and economic polarization is the highest it has been in over a century, and where dissatisfaction with the status quo is almost universal.
My challenge to anarchists, libertarians, communitarians, conservatives, radicals and progressives alike would be to ask yourself what kind of community you would actually want to live in, and where and how you would go about obtaining it. For instance, the geography of the culture war typically breaks down on the basis of counties, towns, precincts, municipalities and congressional districts rather than states or large regions. So why not envision forming a community for yourself and others in some particular locality that is consistent with your own cultural, economic or ideological orientation? The Free State Project, Christian Exodus, Second Vermont Republic, Green Panthers and Twin Oaks Commune are already doing this.
Political victory in the United States is achieved through the assembling of coalitions of narrow interest groups who often have little in common with one another (gun toting rednecks and country club Republicans, homosexuals and traditional working class union Democrats). Imagine if a third force emerged in U.S. politics whose only unifying principle was a common desire to remove one’s self and one’s community from the system. The only thing anyone has to give up is the desire to tell other communities what to do.