The Secession Solution Reply

By Chris Bassil

Earlier this month, Amendment 1 — an amendment to the North Carolina state constitution that precludes the state from recognizing gay marriage, among various other kinds of domestic partnership — was passed by voters. Much has already been made of the bill’s discriminatory content, the former need to “vote against,” and the current need for repeal, but much of this looks more like an exercise in missing the point than anything else.

In the end, the problem with Amendment 1 is not so much that this election was decided in one direction and not the other, but rather that we live in a society content to employ statewide voting as a means of collective decision making in the first place.

One of the problems with a statewide referendum on the issue of gay marriage, or any domestic matter, is that it implicitly assumes that the state — as opposed to the county, city, neighborhood, place of business, or any other pool of people — is the appropriate unit for collective decision making. It suggests that state residency is a common denominator fundamental enough to bind 9.7 million people to one another’s opinions, interests, and backgrounds — complex, diverse, and contradictory though they may be. It contends that it is morally acceptable for 93 counties to decide an issue not only for themselves but for the remaining seven as well. And it denies a man — or two, or several — the opportunity to lead his life as he, and not as his distant neighbors, sees fit.

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Here’s Why You Need To Be Watching Europe’s Secessionist Movements 1

From Business Insider

Scotland’s bid for independence looks likely to change the way that the UK works (to some degree at least), but do secessionist movements have a wider impact?

We’ve taken a look at Europe’s various secessionist movements to show you exactly why you need to watch the situation in Scotland, and why it may have a big impact on the EU.

Everyone’s watching the UK right now.

Everyone's watching the UK right now.

The United Kingdom and Great Britain

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VDARE, Lew Rockwell, and the Race-Obsessed Paleo Problem Reply

An oldy-but-goody from Dylan Waco at the Left Conservative.

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Fresh off the heels of my post about the generational gap within the paleo movement on matters of race, comes the latest race obsessed nonsense from the folks at VDare. This time the issue is the alleged sellout of paleolibertarianism, by lewrockwell.com and the Murray Rothbard inspired, free market fundamentalists associated with the Austrian School of economics. While I am not a partisan of the Rothbardians, it does strike me that they are the saner of the two groupings, and they certainly have their priorities in order. They also understand tactical alliances, something that flies right over the head of the VDare crowd all to often.

Generally speaking I am a fan of the VDare website, particularly its focused work on immigration. While I don’t consider myself a restrictionist, I do think immigration is one of the major problems facing the nation, and lefties who pretend that the tide of illegals sweeping onto our shores is not an issue worthy of thought ought to quit pretending they care about things like the environment, urban sprawl, fair wages, or the autocratic status of the third world hellholes these folks are fleeing from. That said, VDare’s obsession with what it calls the “National Question”, is for the most part ideologically driven nonsense, and postings like the one offered up by “Arthur Pendleton” (most likely a pseudonym) do nothing to advance the cause of decentralized government, personal liberty, or community empowerment.

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American Support For Secession Increases 10% in Just 2 Years.. Reply

Says a new Rasmussen poll. 

Twenty-four percent of Americans now agree with us. Sixteen percent are undecided. We’re getting there.

Posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 9:18:45 AM by CNSNews.com

(CNSNews.com) – Nearly one-quarter of Americans believe that states have the right to secede, according to a recent poll from Rasmussen Reports — up 10 percentage points in two years.

The latest poll is just one of many that shows that Americans have “serious and growing concern about the federal government,” according to Scott Rasmussen, founder and president of Rasmussen Reports.

According to the phone survey released Sunday, 24 percent of Americans believe that states should be able to withdraw from the United States to form their own country, if they want. Nearly 60 percent (59) of Americans say they don’t believe states have the right to secede, while 16 percent are undecided.

“We do see that people are concerned about the federal government in a variety of ways,” Rasmussen told CNSNews.com. “51 percent believe that it’s a threat to individual liberties.

“It may just be part of a growing frustration with other aspects of the federal government,” he said.

“But I think it’s important to keep it in perspective, growing to 24 percent still means that only one out of four Americans think that states have the right to secede, it’s not that they’re advocating for it,” Rasmussen said.

Though a minority, the number has been growing. In 2010, when Rasmussen first conducted the poll, only 14 percent of Americans said states had the right to secede. A year later, the number was up to 21 percent.

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Thomas H. Naylor on Leviathan, Secession and Vermont’s Small Nation Dream Reply

Tom Naylor is interviewed by Anthony Wile

The Daily Bell is pleased to present this exclusive interview with Thomas H. Naylor (left).

Introduction: Thomas H. Naylor, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University, is a writer and a political activist who has taught at Middlebury College and the University of Vermont.  For 30 years he taught economics, management science and computer science at Duke. As an international management consultant specializing in strategic management, Dr. Naylor has advised major corporations and governments in over 30 countries. During the 1970s he was President of SIMPLAN Systems, a 50-person computer software firm whose clients were Fortune 500 companies in the US and abroad. Recognizing that the United States had become more like its former nemesis the Soviet Union than most Americans care to admit, in 2003 he founded the Second Vermont Republic, a nonviolent citizens network and think tank opposed to the tyranny of corporate America and the US government and committed to the return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic.  Ode Magazine editor Jay Walljasper dubbed him, “Tom Paine for the 21st century.” The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Adbusters, Christian Science Monitor, The Nation and Business Week have published his articles. For additional information, visit http://www.vermontrepublic.org.

Daily Bell: Can you give us some background on yourself?

Thomas H. Naylor: I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1950s where my father admonished me to “be cautious” and always be concerned about “what people will think.” I was never very cautious nor very concerned about what people thought. I used to refuse to stand when Dixie was played at Ole Miss football games, and I understood fully the significance of that decision.

After three years at Millsaps College I moved to the Great Satan, New York City, and entered Columbia University where I earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Two years later I received my M.B.A. from Indiana University. Summer jobs at International Paper Company, Sun Oil and Dow Chemical convinced me that Corporate America was not for me. At I.U. I became interested in computers, which played an important role in my life for the next 20 years.

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Red Republicans and Lincoln’s Marxists: Marxism in the Civil War 8

From The Rising Seed

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…

Karsten & Beckman Shatter the Democratist Delusion Reply

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.

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The Death of France …and the Rise of the Provinces Reply

By Colin Liddell


The Death of France
Liberté, égalité, sharia!

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.

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The Liberation of America From Itself Reply

By Thomas Naylor

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.

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Pulling off the American Emperor’s Clothes Thread by Thread Reply

By Wayne Madsen

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.

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Attack the System: Totalitarian Humanism and Strategies for Resistance Reply

April 26, 2012

https://i0.wp.com/reasonradionetwork.com/images/2012/04/no_vote_button.jpg

Listen to the interview

Keith Preston discusses possible strategies for building resistance to the hegemony of the totalitarian Left.

Topics include:

  • The weaknesses of strategies that others have proposed, such as the Majority Strategy and third part efforts;
  • How the shrinking size of working to middle class whites makes the achievement of a demographic majority impossible;
  • Keith’s concepts of “Liberty and Populism” and “Pan-Secessionism” as grand strategies for building a long term effective resistance to the ruling class;

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Keith Preston on Balkanization and the state of exception 2

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.
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Race and Reparations: A Question for Christopher Gunderson 17

Anarchist turned Commie Christopher Gunderson says:

 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:

U.S. communities with a majority African-American population

U.S. counties with a majority African-American population

U.S. cities with over 30% African-American population

African-American neighborhoods

U.S. cities with majority non-white populations

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?

What Americans Can Learn Today From The Politics Of Confederate Secession Reply

Interesting article about the factions that emerged in the period leading up to the southern secession.

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[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 imageby 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.

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Rothbard on Power to the Neighborhoods 6

Another Rothbard classic.

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.

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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.

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A Reply to Matthew Lyons, Part Two: The Subjectivity of Authoritarianism and Special Pleading as Ideology 28

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.”

Kirkpatrick Sale

“Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town meeting would be an asshole.”

–Karl Hess

“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.”

-Keith Preston

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.

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"A Cold Monster”: Nietzsche on the State Reply

Article by Michael Kleen. I’ve posted this here before but it’s worth posting again.

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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).

Friedrich_Nietzsche_-_in_uniform

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.”

On Saving America from the Horrors of Liberty and Community 10

“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.

Paul Gottfried and Me: An Exchange on Left and Right and Anarchism 10

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.