For our 123rd episode of Rebel Yell, Mencken’s Ghost, Fulwar Skipwith, and Keith Preston, of Attack the System, speak about Appalachia in our series about Colin Woodard’s book American Nations. Listen here.
The future infrastructure of pan-anarchism? The city-states should only be the meta-structures for thousands of local communities, intentional communites, neighborhoods, districts, and autonomous zones. And why only 100? Ancient Greece was comprised of nearly 1100 autonomous cities. The Holy Roman Empire included hundreds of kingdoms intersecting with many more free cities and territories.
By Nolan Gray
From ancient Greece to Renaissance Italy to the Four Asian Tigers, city-states have always punched above their weight. They’ve driven culture forward, facilitated global commerce, and charged ahead of their nation-bound peers.
Indeed, cities — and the metropolitan regions that orbit around them — make sense as a political and economic unit. The key services we depend on government to do, from building infrastructure to ensuring public safety, are mostly handled by cities. And contrary to earlier predictions, the forces of globalization and the rise of the information economy have only made cities more important as economic engines and innovation hubs. It’s no surprise, then, that cities — and their mayors — are increasingly finding their voices in a world previously dominated by nations and international entities.
Unfortunately, the way the United States is structured today undermines this trend by privileging states as the key political entity. State boundaries in these modern times are typically arbitrary and often no longer reflect any meaningful political, cultural, or economic reality. Some U.S. cities, both big and small, manage to straddle state borders (think Texarkana or Bristol) while others run right up to the state edge but sharply hug the border (think Cincinnati or St. Louis). And a number of states are inexplicably fragmented because their seat of government is very different from their most populous town (think New York City/Albany and Chicago/Springfield). This often results in excessive fragmentation, unproductive competition, and a near total lack of regional land-use and transportation planning. We all suffer as a result.
Whenever a Republican president is in office, I see articles like this coming from the liberal side, and when a Democrat is in office, I see similar articles coming from conservatives. But these ideas never seem to gain any traction. Too many on the right are attached to nationalism (“USA! USA!”) and imperialism (what is euphemistically called “a strong national defense”). Too many on the left are attached to the idea of a global social democracy and “human rights imperialism,” or simply paralyzed by fear of the idea that some backwoods counties might do something un-progressive.
New York Mag
The year is 2019. California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, recently elected on a platform that included support for the creation of a single-payer health-care system, now must figure out how to enact it. A prior nonpartisan analysis priced it at $400 billion per year — twice the state’s current budget. There appears to be no way to finance such a plan without staggering new taxes, making California a magnet for those with chronic illnesses just as its tax rates send younger, healthier Californians house-hunting in Nevada and big tech employers consider leaving the state.
But Newsom is not alone. Other governors have made similar promises, and Newsom calls together the executives of the most ideologically like-minded states — Oregon, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland. What if they banded to create a sole unified single-payer health-care system, spreading risk around a much larger pool of potential patients while creating uniformity across some of the country’s wealthiest states?
Only 7? Sounds a bit moderate. It’s interesting how these ideas keep getting circulated but never really catch on beyond the margins. Are that many people really that unhappy with the system? Or are political partisans really just equivalents of sports fans (with “extremists” like the Antifa and Alt-Right merely assuming the role of the football hooligans)?.
By Bonnie Kristian
Look, we had a good run.
Well, maybe “good” isn’t quite the right word … but certainly it’s been interesting. These United States were a grand experiment. But the experiment has gotten out of hand. It’s time to peacefully dissolve the union.
I know, I know. This is not what good Americans are supposed to suggest. “Four score and seven years ago” and all that. But to borrow a lesser-known phrase from that brief address, it seems to me we have tested whether this nation “can long endure,” and increasingly it is clear it cannot. It’s just not working. Do you really disagree? Do you like the way things are?
By Umair Haque
America is ripping itself apart. So much so that I couldn’t help but notice another strange, gruesome, and bizarre turning point in American collapse today. On the heels of Trump mocking Dr Ford, many famous and powerful right-wing extremists were bellowing, for the first time I can remember, in unison, a shared, loud, and explicit support of real, physical violence — “I love fighting!! What kind of man hasn’t been in a fight? Not a real one, I’ll tell you that!” Violence is virtuous, healthy, ennobling, in other words. My friends, this is far, far outside the lines of discourse we should expect from a civilized society. These are the kinds of things the sneering thugs and grandees who become the proud lieutenants and captains in the armies of dictators tend to say just before a democracy collapses. So while all that might strike you as inconsequential, I think it’s indicative of a deeper and truer malaise — because, of course, on the heels of the Kavanaugh debacle, it is a justification for the idea that anything should go. But can anything go in a democracy?
Americans don’t agree on two things anymore. Personhood and violence. They don’t agree that all people are people, or should be, or even can be — and therefore, many Americans appear to believe in many or most of the following things. It’s perfectly acceptable to rape women if you can get away with it, it’s perfectly fine to put children in camps, it’s perfectly desirable to suggest, believe, “know that” some groups are inherently superior to others, it’s quite alright to want to ethnically cleanse a society, it’s perfectly healthy to “debate” ideas like authoritarianism and fascism (as if two world wars hadn’t settled the question). Need I go on?
The Russians are coming!
An amusing and at times interesting presentation from the Left-Birchers, featuring some of the usual suspects. Watch this video, and then watch the video at the bottom of this post featuring an interview with Dr. Fred Schwarz of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade from William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” in 1967. Notice the similarities. The Russians are coming!
Thursday, May 17, 2018 at Third Place Books Alexander Reid Ross, Eva Cherniavsky, Shane Burley, Charu Charusheela, Philip Wohlstetter (moderator) Secession–the founding of a new community by breaking off from an existing state–is an idea that comes both in a Left version (anarcho-commune) and a Right version (white identity state). Under neoliberalism, the state itself has been seceding from its former functions like funding public works and providing a social safety net. How will these opposing forces interact both globally and in the future? What kind of strategies are open to the Left? Join Alexander Reid Ross (Against the Fascist Creep, AK Press); Eva Cherniavsky (Neocitizenship: Political Life After Democracy, NYU Press); Shane Burley (Fascism: What It Is and How to End It, AK Press) and Charu Charusheela (Rethinking Marxism) as they tease out the answers.
Startup Societies Summit San Francisco, California Aug 11, 2017 Tom Reed New State Movement Chair, d10e
By Scott Shackford
Another movement to split up California is brewing. This one wants to create a state called “New California,” essentially by separating the red from the blue.
New California would be made up of the inland and non-metropolitan parts of the state (with the notable exception of San Diego). Classic California would consist of the coastal regions from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. A stubby finger pointing eastward from the Bay Area would lump Sacramento in with the coastal folks.
This new push is happening for pretty much the same reason as every other push for secession in California: People in one part of the state feel ignored, unrepresented, and abandoned by state government. From Sacramento’s CBS affiliate:
“Well, it’s been ungovernable for a long time. High taxes, education, you name it, and we’re rated around 48th or 50th from a business climate and standpoint in California,” said founder Robert Paul Preston….
“There’s something wrong when you have a rural county such as this one, and you go down to Orange County which is mostly urban, and it has the same set of problems, and it happens because of how the state is being governed and taxed,” Preston said.
New California would remain in the union; they just want their own state. It is not unlike the efforts in northern California to break away into a new state named Jefferson.
The infrastructure of pan-anarchism is already being created.
Mexico’s corrupt, failing government that covers up official mass murders by attacking journalists and dissidents with cyberweapons is locked in a stalemate with the country’s horrific, mass-murdering gangs, and the Mexican people are caught in the crossfire.
The weak Mexican state has made it possible for cities across the country to effectively secede, abandoning the political parties, the state-funded police, and even the rule of law in a bid to find stability.
By Jeff Deist
Dr. Robert Murphy and I enjoyed a robust discussion of the current political landscape this past weekend at the University of Central Florida. A significant percentage of attendees, maybe half, agreed with the proposition that the US is past the point of political solutions. Everyone agreed, regardless of their age and background, that the possibility of America breaking — violently or voluntarily — is very real.
My talk focused on the value of smaller polities. Given the stubborn tendency for governments to emerge and endure in human societies, we should focus our efforts on creating smaller political units that more closely allow for a Misesian vision of democratic self-determination. This may not satisfy libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, but neither will trying to persuade a winning electorate of 70 million Americans to vote for even a reasonably liberty-minded presidential candidate.
Mass democracy, in a decidedly diverse nation of 320 million people, is a recipe for disaster. And we’re seeing that disaster unfold in the cold civil war known as the Trump era. Increasingly federalized state power, combined with our winner-takes-all, top-down rule by DC, creates terrible zero-sum outcomes for millions. Five people on the Supreme Court wield an extra-constitutional power that creates deep and lasting cultural divides. 535 members of Congress have the ability to spend, tax, regulate, inflate, and war us into oblivion.
A few salient points from my presentation:
By Trey Goff
[Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations by Tom. W. Bell]
When I first met him, Tom W. Bell seemed more like the successful lawyer/entrepreneur type than he did the type of guy to write an intensely well-sourced book synthesizing information from a variety of fields. On that front, he pleasantly surprised me: this book is an excellent, abundantly well-sourced paean to consent, choice, and competitive governance.
Bell begins the book by explaining how smaller, consent-rich and decentralized government is creating a “bottom-up, peaceful revolution” in the way governance is organized around the world. He cites the usual examples of Chinese special economic zones and SEZs all around the world generally as evidence of this. All of this has been surveyed extensively by other authors as well, but Bell does an excellent jo of succinctly re-presenting it here. However, Bell forays into a field I’ve not seen broached elsewhere by examining previous examples of special jurisdiction-type entities within the United States. Specifically, he details the extensive use of foreign trade zones (FTZs) throughout the United States as an example of special jurisdictions closer to home. These zones exempt the businesses within them from many aspects of US customs, excise taxes, and import taxes. These zones are ubiquitous and play host to a sizeable portion of US foreign trade. He closes this survey of the evidence of special jurisdictions by dedicating a chapter to some interesting examples: Henry Ford’s spectacularly failed attempt to make a massive city in the middle of the Brazilian rain forest (Fordlandia), Honduran ZEDEs, and seasteads.
A recent interview. Listen here.
The world has been watching the play-by-play of Catalonia’s bid for independence from Spain, but one group is tuning in more closely than most: California secessionists.
The California Freedom Coalition, the campaign that has taken the lead in the effort to break California off from the United States, sees similarities with Catalonia’s secessionist movement. But there’s an important caveat: they believe California has more legal tools at its disposal, creating an easier path to secession – if that’s what Californians decide they want.
“There are definitely similarities in the fiscal situation – we both give more than we get back,” said Dave Marin, director of research and policy for the California Freedom Coalition. “But there’s more flexibility in the U.S. Constitution for secession than there is in the Spanish one. California has more tools available to it.”
Catalonia has approached secession in the best way it could, Marin said. If secession is what Californians want, he says their path to independence will be easier thanks to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says any powers not explicitly given to the federal government are retained by the states. The states cannot unilaterally declare independence, but Marin argues that the Constitution provides the federal government and the states a sanctioned path toward that negotiation.
The California Freedom Coalition is collecting signatures to get its ballot initiative in front of voters in 2018. It does not definitively say California will declare independence from the United States; it would repeal a provision in the state constitution that says California is “an inseparable part of the United States.” It also directs the governor to negotiate for greater autonomy from the federal government and establishes an advisory commission on California autonomy and independence.
By Jennifer Maffesanti
Foundation for Economic Education
We’re seeing a huge uptick in provinces and territories seeking independence from their parent countries all over the globe. I already wrote about Catalonia — a dramatic situation that is still ongoing — but they are by no means the only ones. And with these attempts to make new sovereign nations, lovers of liberty are faced with some hard truths about other people’s choices.
Around the World
Iraqi Kurdistan is similar to Catalonia in that it enjoys a measure of relative autonomy within the Iraqi state. It has also spent a long time chafing under the rule of one country or another, including the Ottoman empire, the British empire, and Iraq. Unlike Catalonia, the Kurds have actually mounted armed revolts a few times, and each one was put down savagely.
Earlier this week, though, they tried a different tactic: voting. In a regional referendum, Iraqi Kurds and non-Kurds alike overwhelmingly voted for secession. Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, is apparently unhappy with the outcome as he’s called for the result to be canceled. Baghdad has also canceled international flights into the region.
Again, I can understand why Iraq wouldn’t want to let go of the Kurdistan region as it’s very rich in oil. In fact, the Iraqi parliament has asked the prime minister to deploy troops to the region to bring the residents under control. The Kurds themselves have taken up arms in preparation. And with the outside influences of the international community, both for and against independence, it’s all becoming quite a mess.
The Flanders region of Belgium has been agitating for independence for some time. Like the Catalans, the Flemish have their own language and their own national identity separate from Belgium. Unlike Catalonia, which enjoys widespread support for its secession by the European community, Flanders has been labeled as being divisive and “threatening instability.”
Belgium is also not thrilled with the Flemish independence movement. But, then again, the Flemish independence movement has roots that go back as far as 1788, and Flanders has yet to gain its independence. Also like Catalonia, Flanders is one of the wealthiest parts of Belgium. Of course they don’t want to let that go.
The recent events involving the efforts of Catalonia to separate itself from Spain, and the resulting repression at the hands of the Spanish state, along with the growing prominence of the Kurdish independence movement, have been accompanied by a range of criticisms being levied against both movements.
The Catalan independence movement has been criticized for not being radical enough, for essentially being a conservative movement within an affluent region that does not wish to pay taxes to the Spanish state, for advocating for a state of its own, and for not rejecting the global capitalist system per se. A similar movement exists in the form of the Lombard League in Northern Italy. The Kurdish independence movement has been criticized for being tacitly allied with the USA and Israel against the Eastern axis within global capitalism, whereas the Socialist hard left and revolutionary nationalists alike tend to have more favorable view of the Eastern axis as opposed to the Western axis
These criticisms are certainly legitimate. However, the issue of the legitimization of secession as an end unto itself is a separate issue from the actual reasons for a particular secession or the objectives of particular groups of secessionists. Having looked at the ideas of hundreds, if not thousands, of secessionist tendencies around the world, I tend to disagree, often strongly, with the specific ideological orientations of these groups. For instance, we have a California secessionist tendency in America that more or less wants California to be a one-party state ruled by the Democratic Party. We have what amounts to a Republican version of the same thing in Texas and Alaska. Some of the Native American reservations here have a semi-independent status even if they function as de facto Bantustans for the US federal regime.
The money quote, and the main reason why most US political factions are worthless:
“Unfortunately, most Americans do not bat an eye at the worst offenses committed by the presidency, namely the killing of millions in undeclared wars of choice with nations who have never attacked the United States.”
By Tom Mullen
Foundation for Economic Education
Trump Derangement Syndrome rages on, the latest symptoms flaring equally based on causes both legitimate and ridiculous. A key characteristic of the syndrome is its ability to evoke the same outrage over the president retweeting a harmless (and let’s admit it, funny) meme as threatening to destroy an entire nation. The breathless apoplexy over absolutely everything Trump-related, down to the shoes his wife wears while traveling, has desensitized Trump’s supporters to behavior even they should be concerned about.
It is true Trump has inspired new levels of hostility — even for politics — but Americans have been hating the president for this entire century, which is no longer in its infancy. Bush may not have been “literally Hitler,” but he was Hitler nonetheless to the Democrats, just as Obama was “literally Mao” to conservatives. But the proud American tradition of hurling invectives at the president isn’t nearly as ominous as the trend towards violence. Both the right and the left have mobilized armed groups, not just carrying signs but ready for violence. In fact, violent resistance is the far-left Antifa’s stated raison d’etre.
Liberal democratic capitalism shows what it really thinks of self-determination and political dissent.
Thomas S. Harrington
I just got of the phone with Josep Maria Sole Sabaté, my friend and a leading Catalan historian and public intellectual. He was nothing short of breathless as he described the helicopters flying overhead stated flatly that he was in the the midst of a coup being carried out by the Spanish State.
He wanted to get in touch with me and others “out there” because he was not sure how much longer free communication would be available to him and other out in the street protesting against he Spanish central government’s arrest of members of the Catalan Autonomous government.
As of this writing at least six agencies of the Catalan Government have been the object of forced police searches and thirteen, mostly mid-level members of the Catalan government have been arrested.
The homes of two the leading architects of the incipient Catalan state, Carles Viver Pi i Sunyer and ex Spanish judge Santi Vidal, have been searched by police. The headquarters of the far-left CUP, part of the pro-vote coalition in the Catalan Parliament, has been surrounded by police.
The leader of the Catalan National Congress Jordi Sanchez and the head of Omnium, a major Catalan cultural organization, Jordi Cuixart, has called Catalans to come into the streets and they have responded with a massive presence.
By Kirkpatrick Sale
While division between both political parties has been accepted as a norm for decades, we have witnessed a level of intensity in 2017 that has dwarfed anything remotely similar in recent American history. While it appears to be boiling over, perhaps many are ready to set aside their differences in a way reminiscent of the Declaration of Independence.
Over Labor Day Weekend, a nationwide poll of 800 likely voters, conducted by John Zogby Strategies asked, among other questions, which view is closer to their own on the topic of secession; Statement A: If a majority of residents within a given state prefer to have the final say over their destiny without the control of Washington D.C. then let them have it – it is their right.Statement B: If residents within a given state were to take such a drastic measure and secede from the United States, the federal government would be justified in sending in the military to prevent secession from taking place.
While nearly 1/3 of the public (32%) agree that the federal government should intervene to stop any state movement for secession, nearly four in ten (39%) agree that each state has the ultimate say over their destiny and that secession is a right. Just shy of three in ten were not sure (29%).
By Keith Preston
The State exists for the purpose of maintaining a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within a particular geographical territory in order to more effectively control resources, exploit subjects, protect an artificially privileged ruling class, and expand its own power both internally and externally. The State does this while maintaining a self-legitimating ideological superstructure, and buying the loyalty of the middle class by suppressing the lower/underclass. The State is what you would get if the Mafia managed to eliminate all of its competitors, including the State itself, and consequently become a state of its own.
At times, the State will seek to maintain total control over every aspect of social life (e.g. the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, present day North Korea or Islamist regimes like ISIS, the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia, or Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories). However, most modern states allow for a fairly robust civil society to exist that may actually have the effect of affording the average person a fair amount of comfort. States of these kinds, so-called “liberal democracies,” may even encourage intense political debate within certain narrow parameters (or even fairly broad parameters). Some states will allow or even encourage a fair amount crime and disorder in order to legitimize the expansion of state power to an even greater degree (what the late paleconservative writer Samuel Francis called “anarcho-tyranny’‘). For example, isn’t it interesting that in spite of the massive police and prison systems that now exist in the United States, one third of all murders go unsolved?
However, no state can allow disorder to spiral too far out of control, or it will lose its legitimacy in the process. A state of this kind is a protection racket that continues to engage in extortion and exploitation, but can no longer offer actual protection. Hence, states tend to be very sensitive to perceived threats to their own legitimacy. At present, the violence that is taking place between the Antifa, Alt-Right, and their various allies certainly poses no threat to the state. America in 2017 is light years away from Weimar Germany in 1932. But the important question involves the issue of to what degree the State will continue allow such violence to persist, if indeed it does persist, which it may not. That remains to be seen.
By Keith Preston
Special thanks to Peter Topfer, Adam Ormes, Thom Forester, and Sean Jobst for their assistance in the writing of this summary.
On June 17 and 18, the first ever conference of the National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM) took place in Madrid. The process of arranging this conference was certainly not without its difficulties, and the organizers deserve much praise for their diligence in this regard. Originally, the conference was supposed to be hosted by the Madrid section of N-AM, who dropped out of the project shortly (and out of N-AM altogether) before the conference took place. This led to the irony of a conference being held in Spain where no actual Spanish people were among the attendees. Because National-Anarchists are widely despised by leftists who mistakenly regard N-A as a “fascist” tendency, security was a paramount concern.