From Jennifer S. @ Harvest Liberty. A rather even-handed critique of the ideas and goals endorsed on this-here site.
A question for her: what if the whole notion of a “culture war”, rather than secession, is the “diversionary tactic”?
Before reading the book “Red Republican’s and Lincoln’s Marxists” I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. Despite my predisposition to be wary of any fiber of genuine Christian morality flowing within the veins of Lincoln not to mention the founders of the GOP, I did not think it likely that any of them would be sympathetic towards the precepts of communism. After all, communism is a monster of the 20th century isn’t it? More…
A highly recommended read that distills everything that fails about democracy onto less than a hundred pages!
Check out Aschwin De Wolf’s interview with Karsten at Against Politics; and, if you like that, grab yourself a copy.
Democracy is widely considered to be the best political system imaginable. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that democracy has become a secular religion. The largest political faith on earth. To criticize the democratic ideal is to risk being regarded an enemy of civilized society.
Yet that is precisely what Karel Beckman and Frank Karsten propose to do. In this provocative and highly readable book, they tackle the last political taboo: the idea that our salvation lies in democracy.
The trouble with European politics is that the so-called “extreme” parties are not really extreme enough. This is especially clear from the case of France, where the comparatively mild policies of the Front National have been described throughout the campaign as “extreme” and “far right-wing.”
Like most people, I am not a fan of extremism. But we live in an era when extreme things are happening all around us, so to act with conventional moderation is the equivalent of turning down the heating when the house is on fire.
Centuries of history, including scores of major wars, dozens of invasions and revolutions, and tens of millions slaughtered in battle, have not sufficed to change the ethnic and cultural character or France. However, mass immigration and differential birth rates threaten to do what the likes of Attila the Hun, Moslem Crusaders, English longbowmen, French Revolutionaries, and German panzers failed to do: i.e. change France in its very essence.
In the last few decades, not only has the non-French population of France exploded, but amongst it that part which is inherently inassimilable and therefore anti-French predominates. In the past many non-French – such as Jews, Armenians, Spaniards, and Italians – became French, but now non-French usually means anti-French in that France will change to meet them, not the other way round.
It will not make one whit of difference who is elected president in November, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Either way, it will be business as usual. Both the silver-tongued, Nobel Peace Laureate, drone aficionado and the mean-spirited, Harvard MBA, venture capitalist shark are unwavering in their commitment to war, Wall Street, Corporate America, and Israel. But above all, they are each world class narcissists.
There is but one fundamental question which really matters, and, unfortunately it will not appear on the ballot anywhere. “Is there any justification whatsoever for the continued existence of the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most environmentally toxic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all-time – an empire which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and unfixable?”
In his recent book Why America Failed, Morris Berman argues that the United States is and has always been about “hustling, materialism, and the pursuit of personal gain without regard for its effects on others.” Economist Paul Craig Roberts has expressed similar thoughts in much stronger words. “The United States is an immoral country, with an immoral people and an immoral government. Americans no longer have a moral conscience. They have gone over to the Dark Side.” As evidence of the veracity of this statement, our president recently decided that he has the right to assassinate any American citizen anywhere in the world, whom his White House advisors deem to be a suspicious character.
The United States, which sought to capitalize politically, militarily, and financially from the break-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Sudan, and Czechoslovakia and now seeks to reap the benefits from the similar potential fracturing of the Russian Federation, China, Libya, and Iraq, may receive a taste of its own medicine.Across the United States, there are increasing calls for secession from a federal government that is not providing for the common welfare of the people. Republicans, joined by a number of corporatist Democrats, are echoing the austerity push in Europe to sell-off public assets to vulture capitalists at rock bottom prices. Calls by corporatist politicians to privatize the U.S. Postal Service, AMTRAK, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and even public schools will have the effect of divorcing most Americans from any regular contact with their federal government. Such a development will nurture current movements that call for secession from the United States and seed nascent emergent movements.
April 26, 2012
Keith Preston discusses possible strategies for building resistance to the hegemony of the totalitarian Left.
Keith Preston writes the blog Attack the System, which attempts to tie together both left and right anarchism in a Pan-secessionism against the empire. While I come from a radically different perspective than Keith, I find his critique of the way many left anarchists are militant shock troops of liberalism to be a serious and disturbing critique as well as the Nietzschean critique of modernity to be taken seriously and not softened as it has been in French post-structuralism.
“ Preston’s fantasy that poor Blacks will “trade” civil rights protections and affirmative action for “reparations” resulting in mutual “sovereignty” (that is to say some David Duke-style scheme to partition the country on racial lines) should not require the dignity of refutation.”
Let’s look at some data:
Clearly, there are hundreds if not thousands of localities in the U.S. with a “majority-minority” population. Would not conversion of all of these places into independent city-states and free association on the “neighborhood anarchism” model while utilizing the Carson model of class-based economic reparations be a better means to self-determination for the poor and working class sectors of American’s minority racial/ethnic population groups than the current liberal paradigm of compulsory integration, affirmative action, and the welfare state? The elite sectors of the minority groups who view the state as a means of self-advancement would lose out with the adoption of such a paradigm, but so what?
[Peter Brimelow writes: Needless to say, by no means all VDARE.com readers are Confederate sympathizers, or think that partition of the U.S. along demographic lines is desirable or inevitable—although this dark expectation is more widespread among Americans than you’d expect from MSM reporting.
It’s crucial to note, however, that this article by “Generation 5” is ultimately not about any specific political situation, but an analysis of the different personality types involved in creating any political change—making the key point that all of them necessary. Personally, I guess I’m a “Rhetorical Radical”—I am temperamentally inclined to what I’ve called the “Thick End of the Wedge Theory”. I gather that “Generation 5” doesn’t think that Rhetorical Radicals get much credit. Probably that means I won’t get invited to the signing of the Immigration Moratorium & American Jobs Protection Act. Hey ho—I’m sure I’ll be able to ask my old friend David Frum how it went!]
This year I have read a book that has changed some of my thinking on politics: The Road to Disunion, Vol. II: Secessionists Triumphant by William W. Freehling. This book is particularly valuable because it attempts to showcase the real-time experience and success of an explicitly ethnonationalist and conservative revolution on American soil.
For most of the 1850s, the secessionists were a largely marginalized group. Most of the South was enjoying extreme economic success due to King Cotton, and the hardcore secessionists, mostly concentrated in South Carolina, were often seen as an embarrassment, extremists who made mountains out of molehills and got in the way of making money.
My long term goal is to have ATS and ATS-allied groups operating in cities, towns, counties, and regions all over the USA, and working in tandem to advance ideas like this in their own local areas. The rest of my work is simply about developing an intellectual counter-elite and theoretical foundation for these ideas, developing a workable strategy, cultivating constituents for such a project and developing viable activist endeavors towards such an end.
This article first appeared in the May 15, 1969, issue of The Libertarian Forum.
Norman Mailer’s surprise entry into the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York City, to be held on June 17, provides the most refreshing libertarian political campaign in decades. Mailer has taken everyone by surprise by his platform as well as his sudden entry into the political ranks. The Mailer platform stems from one brilliantly penetrating overriding plank: the absolute decentralization of the swollen New York City bureaucracy into dozens of constituent neighborhood villages. This is the logic of the recent proposals for “decentralization” and “community control” brought to its consistent and ultimate conclusion: the turmoil and plight of our overblown and shattered urban government structures, most especially New York, are to be solved by smashing the urban governmental apparatus, and fragmenting it into a myriad of constituent fragments. Each neighborhood will then be running its own affairs, on all matters, taxation, education, police, welfare, etc. Do conservative whites object to compulsory bussing of black kids into their neighborhood schools? Well, says Mailer, with each neighborhood in absolute control of its own schools this problem could not arise. Do the blacks object to white dictation over the education of black children? This problem too would be solved if Harlem were wholly independent, running its own affairs. In the Mailer plan, black and white could at long last live peacefully side-by-side, with each group and each self-constituted neighborhood running its own affairs.
This is the second in a series of essays in response to Matthew Lyons’ critique “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism.” And here is the transcript of a recent lecture by Lyons where yours truly gets a couple of mentions. Part One may be viewed here.
by Keith Preston
“If the individual cannot get along with the community, and the community cannot tolerate the individual, what real good will state intervention produce—wouldn’t separation be, in any world, the rational, noncoercive, nonviolent solution? Yes, it might be possible to contrive a state process that would force a Jewish Community to accept the Nazi Individual, or a White Community the despised Black, or a Fundamentalist Community the threatening Atheist. But it needs only for the principle of free travel to be observed—to the advantage of both the leavers and the stayers—and the Nazi, the Black, the Atheist can all find congenial communities of their own. The virtue of a multi-communitied world would be precisely that there would be within its multitude of varieties a home for everyone.”
“Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town meeting would be an asshole.”
“When a previously disadvantaged group rises to power, it exploits its new position just as did the group or groups it has displaced.”
-Mark A. Schneider, American sociologist
“The ultimate aim of multiculturalism is the creation of a totalitarian state ordered as a type of caste system where individual privilege is assigned on the basis of group identity and group privilege is assigned on the basis of the position of the group in the pantheon of the oppressed.”
The core aspects of Lyons’ objections to my own outlook are fairly well summarized in the following passages from his critique, and these comments from Lyons are also fairly representative of the most common arguments against my views offered by Leftists:
Preston only acknowledges oppression along lines of race, gender, sexuality, or other factors to the extent that these are directly promoted by the state, particularly through formal, legal discrimination against specific groups of people. Arguing that “the state is a unique force for destruction,” Preston ignores or trivializes the dense network of oppressive institutions and relationships that exist outside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the state. It is these societally based systems of oppression, not state intervention, that perpetuate dramatic wealth disparities between whites and people of color, widespread domestic violence that overwhelmingly target women, and suicide rates much higher among LGBT teens than heterosexual teens, among many other examples.
Preston portrays secession as a voluntary process, in which many varied groups of people decide to go their own separate ways and coexist peaceably side by side. But what does “voluntary” mean in a context where wives are expected to submit to the authority of their husbands, workers to obey their bosses, or homosexuality is regarded as a perversion and a crime? And how long would peaceable coexistence last in the face of absolutist ideologies that are inherently expansionist? The leaders of a Christian Right statelet would believe that homosexuality and feminism are wrong not only within the statelet’s borders, but everywhere, and they would feel a religious duty to enforce this belief as widely as possible.
The bottom line is that the primary objection to anarcho-pluralism, pan-secessionism, national-anarchism, anarcho-libertarianism and overlapping perspectives raised by leftists such as Lyons is their fear that some individuals, institutions, organizations, or communities is such a meta-political framework will practice values disapproved of by leftists or engage in discrimination against groups favored by leftists. The selective and arbitrary nature of such criticism is easy enough to identify. Imagine if a right-wing critic of anarcho-pluralism were to make comments such as the following:
Preston only acknowledges oppression resulting from liberalism and the Left to the extent that these are directly promoted by the state, particularly through formal, legal discrimination against specific groups of people. Arguing that “the state is a unique force for destruction,” Preston ignores or trivializes the dense network of oppressive institutions and relationships that exist outside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the state. It is these societally based systems of oppression, not state intervention, that perpetuate dramatic disparities in the rate of violent crimes perpetrated against whites by blacks and Hispanics, widespread dissemination of pornography that contributes to sex crimes and social decay, and the promotion of drug use, sexual promiscuity and homosexuality leading to teen pregnancy, illegitimacy, drug abuse, broken families, child neglect, venereal diseases, crime, welfare dependency and other social pathologies .
Preston portrays secession as a voluntary process, in which many varied groups of people decide to go their own separate ways and coexist peaceably side by side. But what does “voluntary” mean in a context where leftist localities have the option of banning private firearms and private property, where urban white families have to live among and send their children to schools with violent black youth, or where Christianity is regarded as a backward superstition and a dangerous threat to freedom and progress? And how long would peaceable coexistence last in the face of absolutist ideologies that are inherently expansionist? The leaders of a Marxist statelet would believe that Christianity and private property are wrong not only within the statelet’s borders, but everywhere, and they would feel an ideological duty to enforce this belief as widely as possible.
Such criticisms would correctly be dismissed as special pleading on behalf of right-wing ideological values, political interest groups and favorite causes. One of the principal ideas behind anarcho-pluralism is the recognition that irreconcilable differences between different political factions and population groups will always exist, and the need to establish societal institutions that are capable of accommodating such differences in a way that avoids both bloodshed and the subjugation of some groups by others. With regards to the “authoritarianism” question, it is necessary to point out that abstract notions like “freedom,” “liberty,” and so forth are understood in radically different ways by different kinds of people. Lyons gives no evidence that his own ideological preferences are somehow decreed by the cosmos, by some divine creator, or by natural law. The bottom line is that the political and social preferences of leftists like Lyons reflect the subjective value judgments of individuals and groups in the same manner as any other kind of assertion of ideological principles. Leftism is ultimately just another tribe like Christianity, Islam, fascism, libertarianism, Satanism, or veganism.
The selectivity of Lyons’ criticisms is further illustrated by his choice of which groups to attack from the list of potential constituents for anarcho-pluralism that I have identified. He focuses on three of these: the League of the South, Christian Exodus, and believers in Christian Identity. He chooses not offer any criticism of “Marxist-Leninists,” “Islamic rightists,” “people of color nationalist movements,” “militant environmentalists,” and so forth. It is only those tendencies that claim to speak for the interests of white Christians that he seems particularly concerned about. This raises the question of whether it is really “authoritarianism” that Lyons is worried about or whether it is merely white Christians as a general population group whom he regards as the problem with political “authoritarianism” not really being all that important if it is controlled by leftists and their allies or constituents.
Article by Michael Kleen. I’ve posted this here before but it’s worth posting again.
Out of all modern philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was one of the most unique critics of the modern State, yet his views on the subject have been largely overshadowed by his more famous critiques of morality, religion, and art. Since his death, only a handful of authors have broached the topic. Nevertheless, Nietzsche’s views on statism are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them down over a century ago. In his more sober moments, he saw the modern State as nothing more than a vehicle for mass power and as a squanderer of exceptional talent. In his most feverish moods, the State was “a cold monster” and a base falsehood.
During his lifetime, Nietzsche bore witness to the rise of statism in central Europe, and his disgust with nationalism, liberalism, and mass politics led him to live most of his life in self-imposed exile in Switzerland and northern Italy. Even after resigning from the University of Basel in 1879, he took to living in cheap boarding houses rather than return to his native land, which had undergone a dramatic transformation during that time. When Nietzsche was born in Saxony in 1844, the German Confederation consisted of 43 duchies, principalities, kingdoms, and free cities. He was only four years old when liberals and nationalists began to agitate for the creation of one unified German state. They succeeded in 1871, when Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War (in which Nietzsche briefly served as a medical orderly).
In less than a decade, the German Confederation went from a motley collection of different dialects, customs, and political associations to a fully modern welfare state driven by mass politics. Contrary to the wartime propaganda image of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck’s Germany was just as liberal—if not more so—than the other great European powers. Members of the German bund traded away their regional independence for universal manhood suffrage, national healthcare, accident insurance, and old age insurance. A common criminal code, as well as court, civil, and criminal procedures, replaced a cornucopia of local legal systems. During his Kulturkampf, Bismarck attempted to erase the last vestiges of the old order by promoting one way of “Germanness,” much like “Americanism” sought to unify the United States around the Federal government after the American Civil War. This centralizing tendency was characteristic of all modern States, and according to Catholic socio-political theorist Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, “This alone is able to foster uniformity and egalitarianism, and to ensure swift execution of governmental orders.”1 Nietzsche identified the rise of the modern State, with its emphasis on centralization and egalitarianism, as one of the defining features of the 19th Century.
What is the State? In Nietzsche’s mind, the State (Staat) is something apart from other forms of social organization such as family, tribe, society, or nation. In “The Greek State” (1871), a preface to an unwritten book, he described the State as a “clamp-iron” that is impressed upon those other forms of social organization. “Without the State,” he wrote, “in the natural bellum omnizim contra omnes,2 Society cannot strike root at all on a larger scale and beyond the reach of the family.”3 He seems to have later retreated from this view of society and family, but fundamentally, he retained the notion that the State acts as a shell or harness that is imposed from without and which restrains and shapes society. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn agreed, arguing that modern government had achieved autonomy from society and “can now be separated from the body social like the outer hull of a broiled lobster.” He added, “Nietzsche’s ‘coldest of all monsters’ would terrify pre-Renaissance man.”
“Preston’s vision emphasizes individuals choosing the communities they want and not bothering other people…”
A “watchdog” critic from the Left wants to save America from such a horrifying fate. Read the whole thing at the New Politics site.
This critique by Lyons is actually quite good, and is light years ahead of previous efforts by leftists to critique my own work. I get the impression he is making an honest, serious, and intelligent effort to understand my own views and interpret them correctly. This is considerably different from the usual habit of my critics of either misrepresenting my work in a seemingly deliberate manner, or of simply lacking the level of skill, knowledge, or ability required to interpret my work correctly. There are not many actual quibbles I would have with this piece regarding facts alone, ideological differences aside. I do see some problems with matters of focus, emphasis, or proportionality. These problems affect the “big picture” analysis of my work by zeroing in on peripheral matters that are inconsequential to the most substantive aspects of my work. Lyons’ interpretation of the broader philosophical framework I adhere to is a bit crude, and he greatly oversimplifies some of my economic views. There are a few seeming contradictions in places. But all in all, it’s a good effort. I’ll have a thorough reply forthcoming relatively soon.
Recently, there was an interesting exchange between Paul Gottfried and myself at AlternativeRight.Com. It began when I posted a recommended reading list in response to similar lists posted by James Kalb and Richard Spencer. Paul Gottfried expressed puzzlement regarding the eclectic nature of the collection of readings I suggested as well as the incongruity of some of the influences I claim. I posted a response here and here. Gottfried responded briefly here.
An understandable mistake that Gottfried continues to make is to presume that I am an orthodox modern libertarian of the kind identified with the Mises-Hayek-Rand-Friedman-Rothbard axis. While modern American libertarianism of this type is certainly an influence on my thinking, and I agree with libertarians of both the right and left variety on a good number of issues, this hardly represents the full body of my outlook. Gottfried also continues to be perplexed that I can be an admirer of right-wing critics of liberal democratic states like Carl Schmitt and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn without endorsing the full body of their work, and taking their criticisms of the liberal democratic state in a radically different direction from what they intended (at least with Schmitt, Kuehnelt-Leddihn is more ambiguous). The best analogy I can think of right now to explain this intellectual dilemma is to point out that many, probably most, leftists implicitly or explicitly endorse the Marxist critique of capitalism, without necessarily endorsing Marx’s prescription of communist revolution, much less outright Bolshevism. Likewise, it is possible to recognize the validity of Schmitt’s insights into the contradictions and theoretical errors in liberal democratic theory and the inadequacies of its practice, or Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s characterization of mass democracy as a prelude to totalitarianism, without endorsing their specific prescriptions of a Hobbesian state in the case of Schmitt or a traditional monarchy in the case of Kuehnelt-Leddihn.
This gets us to the question of the relationship of political anarchism to wider philosophical and metapolitical concepts. I generally regard a Nietzschean general philosophical framework, a metapolitical outlook of the kind developed by the European New Right (while recognizing the multiple tendencies to be found within the ENR-see here), and a philosophical conservatism regarding human nature and the nature of society to be the best intellectual foundation for a modern political anarchism. On the latter question, I described this particular type of philosophical conservatism at AltRight: ” natural inequality of persons at both the individual and collective levels, the inevitability and legitimacy of otherness, the superiority of organic forms of human organization over social engineering, rejection of vulgar economism, and a tragic view of life.”
However, I do not consider such an intellectual framework to be mandatory or necessary for a viable political anarchism, only preferable. Indeed, most anarchists at present would no doubt reject such an outlook. One could likewise be a committed anarchist revolutionary and hold to a Lockean natural rights position, a utilitarian outlook, a simple pragmatic philosophy in the style of William James, some kind of religious outlook, or even a Rousseau-inspired utopian-egalitarian-humanism. After all, I was an anarchist long before I developed the broader intellectual framework to which I now subscribe. Whatever the broader philosophical beliefs we may subscribe to, it remains true that one of the most important of all human questions is the matter of how society is to be organized, and the first question regarding social organization is the matter of statecraft, or the political question.
Until a few centuries ago, political rule was justified and legitimized by religion in virtually all societies. This outlook was demolished by the Enlightenment, and this particular aspect of Enlightenment thinking which began as a European project has now spread to much of the world. Modern political philosophy is derivative of the ideas of Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, Hegel, Mill, Marx, and some others. All of these systems would seem to be efforts to legitimize and retain the state while denying its traditional source of legitimization, i.e. its supposed divine origin. As I’ve mentioned recently, anarchism is to political theory what atheism is to theology (not that political anarchism necessitates atheism per se as there are also religious anarchists). There is in the anarchist canon a huge body of literature that demolishes the conventional intellectual arguments used to justify the state, and from a wide range of philosophical or theoretical perspectives, including socialists and individualists, religionists and atheists, philosophical liberals and philosophical conservatives, utilitarians, rights-theorists, moral skeptics, and nihilists. I regard all of these approaches as complementary rather than contradictory with one another.
The question that I have for anarchists is this: If we reject the legitimacy of the state, then how exactly do we go about getting rid of the damn thing? I have focused much of my own efforts on the question of anarchist strategy for the reason that I consider this to be one of the most important yet most neglected aspects of anarchist thinking. How can anarchism come to dominate Western civilization (or other civilizations for that matter) in the same way that Christianity was dominant for 1500 years and in the same way that Enlightenment liberalism has dominated for two centuries?
A major problem for anarchists is the one has also been a problem for Christians, particularly Protestants, and that is the question of sectarianism. Most anarchists have held to some kind of hyphenated brand of anarchism, e.g. anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism, anarcho-capitalism, anarcha-feminism, national-anarchism, etc. Many of these sects of anarchism do not recognize many of the others as legitimate. I have tried to compensate for this problem by developing an “anarcho-pluralist” (a term I lifted from the late Sam Dolgoff) framework, and which is really just a re-working of older ideas like “anarchism without adjectives” and the “synthesist” outlook developed by the French anarchist movement in the pre-World War Two period. What would be the irreducible minimum of ideas one would have to accept to be reasonably considered to be an anarchist? I’d suggest that one would have to advocate abolition of the present system of rule by corporative entities commonly described as “the state” that hold a monopoly on the legal use of violence, rule-making, and physical coercion within a geographical territory, and whose members collectively form an identifiable political class who social role is differentiated from that of other people, e.g., whose purpose is simply “to rule.” This would mean opposing not only the corporative form of the state familiar to modern societies, but also systems of personal rule that were common in older societies, e.g. emperors, kings, etc.
It is also necessary to have an irreducible minimum of ideas concerning what the state is to be replaced with. The guiding principles for anarchists on this question have been voluntarism, mutualism, decentralism, and federalism. In other words, the state is to be replaced with federations of autonomous or semi-autonomous communities with a strong emphasis on voluntary associations and mutual aid, i.e., the general framework outlined by Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin (the “holy trinity” of the founding fathers of modern anarchism). Presumably, the economic and cultural variations of such arrangements could be immensely different from one another. This seems to be where most of the difficulty concerning sectarianism among anarchists emerges. Conflicts regarding different economic and cultural values lead to different sects of anarchists attempting to exclude one another. A historic example of this was the rivalry between the anarcho-communist Johann Most and the individualist-anarchist Benjamin Tucker.
If we take political anarchism as our starting point, we can then branch out into other areas of political philosophy and identify tendencies, ideologies, and movements with which we have considerable overlap. These include paleoconservatism, populism, Catholic distributism, the traditional Jeffersonian philosophy that American political theory is ostensibly rooted in, and modern libertarianism from the Right. These also include varying strands of socialism, the various Green philosophies, black nationalism, indigenous peoples’ movements, neotribalism, and the anti-globalization movement from the Left. These are the areas where we can branch out into other movements and form strategic alliances and an enhanced theoretical framework. At present, I would identify the main weaknesses in the anarchist milieu as these:
1) A failure to recognize that the absence of a centralized coercive authority in the form of the state automatically suggests pluralism in all sorts of matters, including perspectives that radically disagree with one another, even among self-proclaimed anarchists. This necessitates that anarchists recognize the inevitability and legitimacy of “otherness,” as opposed to some kind of abstract universalism. One reason why I endorse a Nietzschean philosophical framework for anarchism is its ethical subjectivism. Moral objectivism strikes me at least as holding the door open for authoritarianism of the kind associated with both traditional theocracy and modern forms of statism. There is no greater tyrant than one who possesses moral certainty. As H.L. Mencken said: ” The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression. ”
2) A failure to develop a viable strategic outlook concerning how the state is to be abolished. Ideas are worthless if they can’t be translated into real-world action. If other anarchists don’t like my ideas on this question, then they are welcome to come up with their own, of course. But the question of strategy is one that is severely neglected among anarchists.
3) The tendency of anarchists to get sucked into “culture war” politics that serve as a distraction from the broader struggle against the forces of State, Capital, and Empire. I’ve said plenty about this in the past and my views on this question are already well-known.
4) A failure to identify who the enemy actually is. In the Western world today, the primary enemy is the state’s legitimating ideology of totalitarian humanism (whether in its neoconservative or conventional left-liberal variations). The failure of anarchists to recognize totalitarian humanism for what it is severely limits their ability to form a viable movement of any kind. One of the most pathetic activities anarchists engage in at present is to waste time focusing on irrelevant fringe groups like the neo-Nazis or the Fred Phelps cult. The real enemy is those who actually hold state power, not exotic cults despised by the wider society. As for movements that are currently out of power, the greatest potential threat in posed by an insurgent Islam made possible by demographic change in the West. This the primary reason why I endorse the European New Right as the best available metapolitical framework for present day anarchists. More than any other contemporary intellectual current, the ENR has developed a critique of the philosophical underpinnings of totalitarian humanism, as well as a rational response to the question of threats posed by demographic transformation.
Until contemporary anarchists develop a serious and concentrated effort to overcome the weaknesses I have identified here, I regrettably see no prospects for anarchists to become an effective or even relevant movement.
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.
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.
Kirkpatrick Sale of the Middlebury Institute recently observed that there is presently “more attention being paid to secession than any time since 1865” and predicts that “one of the American states will vote for its independence in the next 10 years.” Neo-secessionist sentiments are frequently stereotyped as a characteristic exhibited primarily by “right-wing extremists.” Yet there are serious reasons why genuine progressives should consider secession. Among the most compelling reasons why the Left should consider dissolving the U.S. into multiple nations, regions, or city-states are:
-Break-up of the U.S.A. means an end to the American empire that has killed millions of people throughout the world over the last sixty-five years, including perhaps two million Iraqis, three million Southeast Asians, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans, half a million Timorese, thousands of Afghanis, and many, many more.
-Without the support of the U.S., international capitalist organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. would be much less powerful and influential.
-The demise of the federal regime would mean an end to U.S. aid to Israel, and a fighting chance for the Palestinians.
-The collapse of the U.S. federal system would mean an end to federal corporate-welfare, bank-welfare, and, above all, the death of the military-industrial complex.
-No more federal regime means no more DHS, FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Indian Affairs, federal drug war, federal mandatory minimums, or the national police state built up around the war on terrorism. What could be more successful at overturning the “terror war” legislation of the last eight years than complete disintegration of the federal government itself?
-An end to federal corporate welfare means a severe weakening of Big Pharma, agribusiness, or local developers utilizing federal money in efforts at gentrification.
-The disintegration of the U.S. means not only the end of federal drug prohibition but an end to U.S. support for the international drug war and the America-centric structure of international drug prohibition, thereby allowing other nations to develop more progressive policies on this matter.
Some may object that progressives have at times appealed to federal power against local reactionaries (for instance, in cases of civil rights, abortion rights, and church/state separation issues) and that dissolution of the federal regime may also weaken gains in this area. However, it should be considered that the majority of the U.S. population resides in the 75 to 100 largest urban, metropolitian areas. If these areas-New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Miami-were all independent city-states or micronations along the lines of Monaco, Luxemborg, or Singapore, genuine progressives would be in a much superior political position than at present. The major U.S. urban areas tend to be the most diverse culturally, racially, ethnically, and religiously. It is also in these areas where the majority of racial minorities, LGBT people, persons with countercultural values, and those with left-leaning political views tend to be concentrated. The majority of the underclass persons fed into the prison-industrial complex also originate from the large cities. It is in the major cities where most abortion services are located and where most abortions take place.
If these larger urban areas were separated from the states in which they are presently located and from the federal system, urban progressives would no longer need to share space politically with rural, small-town, or suburban reactionaries, conservatives, or religious fundamentalists. Therefore, it would be immensely easier for independent city-states of this kind to enact, for instance, single-payer health care, same-sex marriage, stem cell research or a living wage. It would also be easier to protect abortion rights from the influence of current state legislatures or the federal government. Likewise, it would be much more possible to decriminalize drugs, prostitution, gambling and other “consensual crimes” along the lines of New Zealand, Portugal, or the Netherlands at present. Such changes would severely weaken and undermine the police state and prison-industrial complex. The likely weakening of corporate power following the demise of federal and state corporate welfare would also provide a more level playing field for activists to take on landlords, developers, bankers, and other plutocratic interests on a municipal and regional level, and perhaps initiate economic alternatives like cooperatives, collectives, communes, LETS, mutuals, land trusts, and so forth. Meanwhile, social conservatives and other non-progressives who dissented from this prevailing liberal-libertarian-left paradigm could likewise achieve sovereignty for themselves in their exclusionary suburban enclaves, homogenous rural counties and towns, or sparsely populated red zones. Surely, this would be a better state of political affairs than the present system. If indeed secessionist sentiments are likely to grow in the years and decades ahead, why should progressives be left out?
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.
Imagine, for one horribly unpleasant moment, that the anarchist movement (movements?) in North America, in their present form, were to carry out an actual revolution. What kind of social or political system would be the result? The Wikipedia entry on anarchism in the United States lists a number of individuals who represent North American anarchism in different ways. These include Michael Albert (Chomskyite proponent of participatory economics-“parecon”), Ashanti Alston (black power anarchist), Hakim Bey (lifestyle anarchist), Bob Black (nihilist and reputed psychopath), Kevin Carson (Proudhonian mutualist), Noam Chomsky (Marxo-syndicalist-anarcho-social democrat), Peter Coyote (love generation), Howard Ehrlich (social anarchist), David Friedman (anarcho-capitalist), David Graeber (anarcho-anthropologist), Hans-Hermann Hoppe (anarcho-monarchist), Derrick Jensen (primitivist), Jeff Luers (eco-anarchist prisoner), Judith Malina (anarcho-pacifist actress), the late James J. Martin (individualist anarchist and Holocaust revisionist), Wendy McElroy (Rothbardian anarcho-feminist individualist), Jason McQuinn (post-left anarchist), Cindy Milstein (Bookchinite), Chuck Munson (anarchist without adjectives), Joe Peacott (individualist-anarchist), Sharon Presley (left-libertarian feminist), Keith Preston (agent of the forces of darkness), Lew Rockwell (Rothbardian paleolibertarian), Jeremy Sapienza (market anarchist), Crispin Sartwell (individualist-anarchist), Rebecca Solnit (environmentalist), Starhawk (neo-pagan eco-feminist), Warcry (eco-anarchist), Dana Ward (anarcho-archivist), David Watson (primitivist), Mike Webb (murder victim), Fred Woodworth (atheist anarchist), John Zerzan (primitivist) and Howard Zinn (New Left anarcho-Marxist).
This list does not even begin to mention all of the ideological tendencies to be found among anarchists, e.g., indigenist anarchism, anarcho-communism, national-anarchism, insurrectionary anarchism, Christian anarchism and many others. Even so, anarchists collectively probably do not comprise even one percent of the population at large. Imagine if the anarchist milieu were to grow to include tens of millions of people. Most likely all of these specific tendencies would grow exponentially, and some new ones no one has heard of yet would probably appear. How would anarchists go about organizing society if indeed anarchism were to become a mass movement and the state in its present form were to disappear. More specifically, how would we reconcile the differences between all of these different tendencies, and how would anarchists co-exist with persons of other belief systems? Unless we want to start sending people to re-education camps, or placing them in gulags, or engaging in summary or mass executions we had better start thinking some of this out.
There are really only three ways. One would be anarcho-totalitarianism, where whatever anarchist faction or group of factions that happens to have the most power simply represses their rivals, anarchists and non-anarchists alike. Another would be anarcho-mass democracy, where we have an anarchist parliament consisting of the Syndicalist Party, Primitivist Party, Libertarian Party, Ecology Party, Feminist Party, et.al., perhaps presided over by, say, Prime Minister Chuck Munson. While this might be an interesting situation, it ultimately wouldn’t be much different than the kinds of states we have today.
The only other alternative is the dispersion of power to local units. These could be localities where everything is completely privatized (Hoppe) or everything is completely collectivized (anarcho-communism), or some point in between. The specific anarchist tendencies these communities represented would be determined according to prevailing ideological currents at the local level. One contemporary anarchist observes:
The superficial story is that the primmies control the NW, the SW desert and the Appalachians, while the Reds control the entire NE block and have a mild advantage everywhere else.
So “after the revolution” the “primmies” would be dominant in their regions and the “Reds” in theirs, and presumably the Free Staters in theirs, and the queer anarchists in theirs, and so forth. It’s also interesting to observe how radically different the value systems and definitions of “freedom” employed by different kinds of anarchists are. One anarchist has noted that some anarchists wish to bar alcohol, drugs, tobacco, meat, porn, S&M and prostitution from their communities. This should go along way with those libertarian-libertine anarchists for whom anarchy is synonomous with all sorts of legalized vice. Then there’s the conflict between the ethno-preservationist national-anarchists and the anti-racist left-anarchists, and between the proprietarian anarchists and the communal anarchists. I’ve even come across an anarchist proponent of the draft. Of course, the different kinds of anarchists will insist that others are not true anarchists, but that’s beside the point. Each of the different anarchist factions consider themselves to be the true anarchists, and that’s not going to change.
The adherents of many of these philosophies act as though the fate of the world depends on their every move, when in reality each of these tendencies will often have no more than a few thousand, maybe a few hundred, maybe even just a few dozen sympathizers (or even fewer than that). Rarely is any attention given to the question of how anarchists will ever achieve any of their stated goals, to the degree that anarchists have any common goals, or any goals at all.
If anarchists want to have any impact on the wider society whatsoever, I believe there is only one way. First, anarchists, whatever their other differences, need to band together in large enough numbers to become single-issue political pressure group. This would be a pressure group just like those in the mainstream: pro-choice, pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage, anti-gay marriage, marijuana decriminalization, etc. The purpose of this pressure group would be to reduce political authority down to lowest unit possible, which, I believe is the local community, i.e., cities, towns, villages, districts, neighborhoods,etc. I recognize some anarchists wish to reduce politics down to the individual level. I’m a little more skeptical of that. For instance, I’m not so sure competing criminal codes could exist in the same territorial jurisdiction, but I’m willing to agree to disagree on that. I say let’s work to reduce things down to the city-state, county or village level, and then debate how much further to go from there. Such a pressure group could include not only anarchists of every kind, but also left-green decentralists, conservative local sovereignty groups, regionalist or secessionist tendencies or even good old fashioned Jeffersonian states’ rightsers. This idea does not mean that every locality would need to be an independent nation unto itself. They could be sovereign entities within broader territorial confederations, so long as they retained their right of withdrawal or to veto policies favored by the larger bodies. This way, even communities with radically different cultural values or economic arrangements could collaborate on projects of mutual interest such as maintenance of transportation systems, firefighting, or common defense.
Meanwhile, outside the context of this single-issue movement for radical decentralization, the different anarchist factions could continue their other interests in different contexts. Libertarians could continue to push for private money or competing currencies. Syndicalists could continue to push for anarcho-syndicalist unions. Primitivists could set up tech-free communes or villages. Anti-racists could protest Klan marches, and national-anarchists could set up ethnic separatist intentional communities. Pro-lifers could agitate against abortion and feminists could agitate against pro-lifers. Gun nuts could simultaneously belong to the NRA and pacifists could belong to the Catholic Workers. Anarcho-communists could organize Israeli-style kibbutzes and anarcho-capitalists could set up their preferred private defense agencies.
Additionally, different factions with different beliefs could target certain geographical areas for colonization as the Free Staters are doing in New Hampshire, the Christian Exodus is doing in South Carolina, the Native Americans are doing in the Lakota Republic, or the Ron Paulites are doing in the Liberty Districts. Indeed, Bill Bishop’s interesting book “The Big Sort” describes how Americans are in the process of self-separation along the lines of culture, religion, ideology, political affilitation, sexuality, age, income, occupation and every conceivable other issue. Colonization can then become a movement for full-blown local secession. The values and ideals of those whom you disagree with are not as personally threatening if you do not have to live under the same political roof , and the worse someone’s ideas are, the better that they be separate from everyone else.
This does not mean that sovereign communities cannot have institutionalized protects for individual liberties, minority rights, or popular rule. Some state constitutions or municipal charters already have protections of this type in some instances, and sometimes on a more expansive level than what is found in the U.S. Constitution. Individual sovereign communities could make such protections as extensive as they wanted. Nor does this mean that libertarian anti-statism is the “only” value. There are some values in life that transcend politics, and one can also be committed to other issues while also being committed to political decentralization and local sovereignty. For instance, I am also interested in prisoners’ rights, legal, judicial, penal and police reform, ending the war on drugs, repealing consensual crime laws, abolishing compulsory school attendance laws, opposing zoning ordinances, eminent domain, the overregulation of land and housing markets, sex worker rights, the right to bear arms, self-defense rights, the rights of students, the homeless, the handicapped, medical patients and psychiatric inmates, freedom of speech and the press, labor organizing, worker cooperatives, mutual aid associations, home schools and alternative education, credit unions and mutual banks, LETS, land reform, indigenous peoples’ rights, alternative media, non-state social services, and many other topics. My primary area of interest is foreign policy. In fact, foreign policy was the reason I became an anarchist and have remained one, in spite of being continually underwhelmed by the organized anarchist movement. I think the American empire and its effects on peoples throughout the world is an abomination, and I want to see it ended. Yet, I think at the same time an agglomeration of anarchist communities in North America would need some kind of “national defense” system, given that Europe and Asia may not “go anarchist” at the same moment, which is why I am interested in the paleoconservatives with their traditional American isolationist views.
At the same time, there are some topics that many anarchists are committed to that don’t particularly interest me. Environmentalism is one of these. Like all reasonable people, I think we need clean air and water, and it’s not cool to build a toxic waste dump in a residential area. Yet, the eco-doomsday ideologies associated with ideas like global warming and peak oil are not things I’m sold on as of yet. I also really just don’t see what the big deal about endangered species is. The overwhelming majority of species that have existed thus far have already gone extinct, so what’s a few more? Still, if this is an issue others care passionately about, then by all means enaged in direct action on behalf of sea turtles or spotted owls or against urban sprawl. Don’t let me get in your way. Gay marriage is another topic I really just don’t give a fuck about, not because I’m anti-gay but because I view marriage as an archaic religious and statist institution that anarchists or libertarians or radicals of any stripe should not be promoting. But that’s just me. As an atheist, I also don’t care much for the militant politicized atheism found in some circles. I agree that compulsory religious instruction and practice should not exist in state-run schools, but I think extending this idea to things like prayers at city council meetings or football games, or extracurricular religious clubs in state institutions, is taking things a bit far. It is this sort of thing that alienates the usually religious poor and working class from radicalism.
Lastly, we need to consider how to appeal to all those ordinary folks out there whose assistance we might need in order to achieve these kinds of goals. An anarchist-led, libertarian-populist, radical decentralist, pan-secessionist movement that appealed to the tradition and ideals of the American Revolution is the only possible avenue. What I have outlined here is essentially the same set of views promoted by Voltairine de Cleyre in her essays “Anarchism without Adjectives” and “Anarchism and American Traditions“. If you don’t like my views, then come up with a plan of your and let the rest of us hear about it.
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.