R.I.P. Infoshop, 1995-2020 Reply

Infoshop was the longest-running left-anarchist site on the web. It had been around almost as long as the Internet has been available for public use.  However, its archives remain available. The following article by the recently deceased left-anarchist David Graeber on “The Twilight of Vanguardism” is interesting.

“The Twilight of Vanguardism”

By David Graeber, Infoshop

This essay was delivered as a keynote address during the “History Matters: Social Movements Past, Present, and Future” conference at the New School for Social Research (www.newschool.edu/gf/historymatters for more information).

Revolutionary thinkers have been saying that the age of vanguardism is over for most of a century now. Outside of a handful of tiny sectarian groups, it’s almost impossible to find a radical intellectuals seriously believe that their role should be to determine the correct historical analysis of the world situation, so as to lead the masses along in the one true revolutionary direction. But (rather like the idea of progress itself, to which it’s obviously connected), it seems much easier to renounce the principle than to shake the accompanying habits of thought. Vanguardist, even, sectarian attitudes have become deeply ingrained in academic radicalism it’s hard to say what it would mean to think outside them.

The depth of the problem first really struck me when I first became acquainted with the consensus modes of decision-making employed in North American anarchist and anarchist-inspired political movements, which, in turn, bore a lot of similarities to the style of political decision-making current where I had done my anthropological fieldwork in rural Madagascar.

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What Are So-Called “Second Amendment Sanctuaries?” Reply

Based on everything that has happened in 2020, I’d say the ATS position has largely been vindicated. On an international level, unipolarity seems to be moving toward retreat. Domestically, the lumpenproletariat has clearly demonstrated itself to be the vanguard class of the anarchist revolution. Pan-secessionism seems to be developing and coming from all points on the political spectrum as evidenced by sanctuary cities (from the left), 2nd amendment sanctuaries (from the right), and drug war resistance initiatives (from libertarians). The only major point I seem to have gotten wrong was overestimating the commitment of conventional radicals to overthrowing the system and underestimating the intensity of culture war psychology. That precludes the development of a left/right alliance against the state, but something just a valuable is happening in the form of the fractiousness that is taking place. The center is being delegitimized and the Left and Right have come to view each other as existential enemies with different factions, ranging from anti-lockdown protestors and to anti-police protestors, simply disregarding the state as they see fit.

Brady United

In a backlash to newly passed gun safety laws, gun rights extremists in some localities across the country are declaring that state gun safety laws don’t apply in their communities. Calling themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” some localities are going so far as to pass resolutions declaring that they will refuse to enforce and dedicate tax-funded resources to the implementation of state gun safety measures.

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Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States 3

Center for Immigration Studies

The sanctuary jurisdictions are listed below. These cities, counties, and states have laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions, policies, or other practices that obstruct immigration enforcement and shield criminals from ICE — either by refusing to or prohibiting agencies from complying with ICE detainers, imposing unreasonable conditions on detainer acceptance, denying ICE access to interview incarcerated aliens, or otherwise impeding communication or information exchanges between their personnel and federal immigration officers.

A detainer is the primary tool used by ICE to gain custody of criminal aliens for deportation. It is a notice to another law enforcement agency that ICE intends to assume custody of an alien and includes information on the alien’s previous criminal history, immigration violations, and potential threat to public safety or security.

Sanctuary Cities

OpenTheBooks Oversight Report - Federal Funding of America's Sanctuary  Cities | Open The Books

Second Amendment Counties

Second Amendment sanctuary - Wikipedia

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Nonviolent revolution Reply

The Wikipedia entry on nonviolent revolution. This is how it’s done. I wouldn’t necessarily endorse every revolution described in this, and I’m not opposed to violence as a matter of principle, but successful revolutions are those which are simply about withdrawing consent from the existing ruling class and dispersing power. Violence needs to be restricted to the defense of territories that have broken away from a wider system of authority, or in resistance to those who attempt to seize power as a new ruling class. Revolutions that are driven by ideological fanaticism always produce new tyrannies or civil wars.

A nonviolent revolution is a revolution conducted primarily by unarmed civilians using tactics of civil resistance, including various forms of nonviolent protest, to bring about the departure of governments seen as entrenched and authoritarian without the use or threat of violence.[1] While many campaigns of civil resistance are intended for much more limited goals than revolution, generally a nonviolent revolution is characterized by simultaneous advocacy of democracy, human rights, and national independence in the country concerned.

An effective campaign of civil resistance, and even the achievement of a nonviolent revolution, may be possible in a particular case despite the government in power taking brutal measures against protesters.[2] The commonly held belief that most revolutions that have happened in dictatorial regimes were bloody or violent uprisings is not borne out by historical analysis. Nonviolent revolutions in the 20th century became more successful and more common, especially in the 1980s as Cold War political alliances which supported status quo governance waned.[3]

In the 1970s and 1980s, intellectuals in the Soviet Union and other Communist states, and in some other countries, began to focus on civil resistance as the most promising means of opposing entrenched authoritarian regimes. The use of various forms of unofficial exchange of information, including by samizdat, expanded. Two major revolutions during the 1980s strongly influenced political movements that followed. The first was the 1986 People Power Revolution, in the Philippines from which the term ‘people power’ came to be widely used, especially in Hispanic and Asian nations.[4] Three years later, the Revolutions of 1989 that ousted communist regimes in the Eastern Bloc reinforced the concept (with the notable exception of the notoriously bloody Romanian Revolution), beginning with the victory of Solidarity in that year’s Polish legislative elections. The Revolutions of 1989 provided the template for the so-called color revolutions in mainly post-communist states, which tended to use a color or flower as a symbol, somewhat in the manner of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

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Exercise: What Would an Anarchist Program Look Like? Reply

This is an interesting document.  I would agree with many of the statements made in this, and much of the overall analysis that is provided. The ostensible goals may even be admirable in many ways. But this “program” would ultimately end up the same way as all “world transformative” schemes, i.e. with bloodshed and tyranny. What this program amounts to is basically a standard Marxist revolution with an element of ethnic/tribal/racial warfare blended in. The historical verdict on such efforts has been rendered, and the evidence is overwhelming they produce horrible results.

Crimethinc’s “program” for a civil war is about as “anarchist” as Chairman Mao or Pol Pot. The end result of the proposed scenario would be Yugoslavia 1992 or Lebanon 1982. That may not be the intention but that is the results they would get. A successful anarchist revolution, or a successful revolution of any kind, cannot be about the kinds of retribution and recrimination described in this. It has to be merely about dispersing power with people and groups going their own way. “Year Zero” schemes of the type being proposed by Crimethinc are dangerous and need to be guarded against.

It is impossible to achieve many of these objectives without an authoritarian, centralized, Marxist-Leninist-like regime. Instead, an anarchist revolution needs to be more like Cheran, Mexico where communities simply disregard conventional political authority and manage their own affairs, whether independently or in voluntary federation with other communities.

Crimethinc

Every campaign season, political parties publish platforms detailing their promises plank by plank. These platforms are not binding—politicians rarely fulfill their promises, and it’s often worse when they do—but they do offer an outline of the vision each party claims to represent. Anarchists take a different approach: rather than offering a prefabricated blueprint, we propose to work things out together, dynamically, according to the principles of self-determination, horizontality, mutual aid, and solidarity. Still, whenever people encounter anarchist ideas for the first time, there is a certain kind of person who always demands to see a clear template. In response, one of our contributors has put together an example of an anarchist program—a set of proposals that could be put into effect in the course of a revolution—as an imaginative exercise, to make it easier to picture what sort of practical changes anarchists might aim to implement.

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What Will It Take for Americans to Consider Breaking Up? Reply

I would point out that Jeff Deist, a supposed vocal proponent of secession, was actually opposed to CHAZ/CHOP, which probably indicates that many libertarians would oppose any form of secession that does not conform to bourgeois economic or behavioral norms, just as many left-wing anarchists oppose any kind of secession that does not embrace leftist cultural values, which means they are really not against the system but merely represent rival factions of the system.

By Jeff Deist, Mises Institute

It’s one thing for mass democracy to produce bad results, in the form of elected politicians or enacted policies. It’s another when the democratic process itself breaks down because nobody trusts the vote or the people who count it. But that’s precisely where we are.

As things stand at this writing, last night’s presidential election remains undecided and looking ugly. At least six states are still uncalled, and both the Trump and Biden camps have their legal teams claiming victory. We may be in for days, weeks, or even months of legal skirmishes, all of which can only add to our intense political (or more accurately cultural) breakdown.

Today, perhaps 140 million American voters are in purgatory, fearfully wondering what will happen to them if the other guy wins. This is nothing short of a national psychosis, absurd yet deadly real. And it gets worse every four years, despite the narrowing of any “policy” differences between the two parties over recent decades. If anything, presidential votes are overwhelmingly about tribal affiliations with our kind of person, not substantive ideology.

Yes, this is unhealthy. And yes, the psychosis manifests because the stakes are so high. It manifests because government is far too big and rapacious; lawmaking and jurisprudence too centralized in DC; the unitary executive presidency too powerful; and society too politicized. But these are unhelpful truisms. Plenty of Americans abjectly support more government, more centralized political power, an omnipotent president and Supreme Court, and the sharp politicization of every facet of life.

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Salvaging Secession Reply

By Bill Kauffman, Reason

Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union, by Richard Kreitner, Little, Brown and Co., 496 pages, $30

The late Thomas Naylor, gentle godfather of the modern Vermont independence movement, used to sign off with “God bless the Disunited States of America.”

Naylor attracted a stalwart and colorful band to his project, ranging from the diplomat George Kennan (the author of the Cold War “containment” policy had come to view the United States as overly confining) to a delightful mélange of populist “woodchucks” (native Vermonters), organic-farming greens, Ethan Allen impersonators, and more. Naylor’s Second Vermont Republic had a merry, slap-happy, larkish feel, but Naylor, who died in 2012, was dead serious. And now, barely two decades since secession talk first scented the Green Mountain air, the entire country is getting an invigorating whiff.

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How Could Everyday People Stop a Coup? 1

My take on the present situation is both presidential tickets are (roughly) equally dangerous.
Trump is a narcissist and a megalomaniac but so are most politicians. What is most dangerous about him is his complete fealty to the KSA, UAE, and the state with whom the US has a “special relationship.” And his running mate is another George W. Bush waiting to happen. Biden is clearly experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia which means that his running mate, who appears to be a clinical psychopath, will be the acting president and merely a frontwoman for a ruling class unity regime, which is what a faux “Biden” administration would be.
The Republicans are a combination right-wing plutocratic party (like El Salvador’s ARENA) and an ultra-militarist party (like Likud). The Democrats are a far-right imperialist party and a center-right neoliberal party (and on the right end of neoliberalism). The various far-right/far-left streetfighter groups are de facto gangsters operating in either direct or indirect service of the parties. None of these groups would create a better society than the one that exists now (which is a pretty low standard).
Even worse is the fact that the neocons and their allies have more or less gained direct control of or substantial influence in ALL of the campaigns, parties, and factions, from top to bottom, and are engineering chaos from the top in order to prevent any unified resistance to the state, ruling class, and empire from developing.

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Why unarmed revolutions topple some dictators but not others Reply

Most revolutions result in dictatorships that are more authoritarian and repressive than whatever they replaced. The partial exception is those revolutions that are merely about the dispersal of power. Revolutions that are about the far-reaching transformation of societies almost always produce horrific results. The models of a revolution that are appropriate for the United States would be the American Revolution, in which the 13 colonies simply seceded from Britain, or the overthrow of the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact, in which the Soviet empire was dissolved into a collection of dozens of independent nations. Cheron, Mexico, which simply expelled political parties and cartels and took up self-management, is another example.

By Daniel P. Ritter, Washington Post

Over the last few decades, the world has witnessed the proliferation of a new type of revolution. Alternatively labeled “negotiated,” “democratic,” “electoral,” “color,” “nonviolent” or “unarmed,” these revolutions largely eschew violent tactics and have become a distinguishing feature of contemporary international politics. Since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last shah of Iran, was toppled in January 1979 as the result of unrelenting protests and strikes, authoritarian leaders and regimes in the Philippines, Chile, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Indonesia, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Tunisia and Egypt — to mention a few — have met their political ends in similar fashion.

Although the long-term gains achieved in the wake of these and other unarmed revolutions have often disappointed their protagonists, their ability to unseat autocrats through the use of nonviolent tactics — sometimes referred to as “civil resistance” — constitutes a formidable social science puzzle in itself. How can we explain that highly repressive and seemingly all-powerful regimes sometimes collapse at the hands of protesters armed with little more than slogans and resolve? And, in a related issue, why do some attempts at unarmed revolution fail to oust despots, even though such movements may initially appear identical to their successful counterparts?

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The State of What Passes for Radical Politics in America Reply

A reader offers the following observations concerning “alternative” politics in the US at present.

I’ve been thinking recently about the state of what passes for radical politics in America, particularly in the context of third parties and the potential for pan-secessionism.

The handful of relevant third parties in the United States (and would-be third parties like Unity2020 or the Movement for a People’s Party) all speak, I think, to interesting if flawed attempts by more or less well-meaning people to reform a system they clearly grasp is broken. I am reminded of something you wrote earlier this year about how each of the various groups in the country trying to “fix” the system (both within and outside the mainstream) are all stuck in dated paradigms of their own, none of which by themselves has the answers.

Obviously, the mainstream Blue Tribe / Red Tribe conflict virtually monopolizes the conversation, pressuring and frightening people to “pick a side”, either as voters, or as street brawler LARPists on the extreme ends.

To my mind, the third parties currently relevant on a national level basically boil down to 4 (or 3) groups: the Greens, the Movement for a People’s Party, the Unity2020 gang, and the Libertarians. (Though, admittedly, calling any of them “relevant” is probably a stretch. But any other groups than these are even more on the fringe, like the PSL on the left—while those on the right, like the Reform or Constitution Parties, are probably largely Trumpists now.)

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Should the United States Stay United? Reply

The Left always performs much better when a Republican administration is in power.

By Jessica Suriano

The Nation

The United States has never been an equal, peaceful, or functional nation, despite what the history textbooks say. It was built from genocide, slavery, and stolen land. This year, the Black Lives Matter protests and the abolition movement, coupled with a pandemic that preys most on people consistently excluded from the broken health care system, demonstrate the lie of our “more perfect union” even more. Will there ever come a time to abandon this myth and the 50 “united” states altogether? If so, is that moment already here?

These are just some of the questions Richard Kreitner invites with his new book, Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union. While secessionism is probably most commonly associated with the Civil War, Kreitner shows that support for disbanding the union has always been present throughout the country’s history and among Americans with contrasting political beliefs, including abolitionists. As Kreitner notes in the book, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison considered the Constitution “a pact with the devil.” While opposition to the idea of a union existed even within the original colonies, Donald Trump has highlighted the fault lines and contradictions in federalism significantly over the past four years, causing many, including Kreitner, to reconsider the value in staying together.

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Unity 2020: Why the Lesser Evil? 2

If I had to identify any way in which my views have shifted over the years, it would probably be that I have largely moved away from the idea of a far-left/far-right “third position” type of tactical framework toward more of a revolutionary centrist one. The far-right and far-left are not alternatives to the duopoly as much as mere caricatures or parodies of the duopoly. The far-right and far-left typically either have totalitarian ambitions of their own or merely get absorbed in lesser evilism. I also underestimated the entrenchment of culture war politics and overestimated the commitment of radicals to actually overthrowing the system. Though I think recent events have certainly confirmed my long-held view that the urban lumpenproletariat is the vanguard class of a modern revolution.

Unity2020 – Ballot access: Can you see it? Reply

The main problem I see with Bret’s idea, aside from the technical issues and sectarian conflict, is that the elected officials are merely managers and the electoral system is merely a front for the oligarchy.  Unity 2020 is not entirely dissimilar to the “pan-secessionist meta-party” idea I’ve written about in the past but the PSMP would only be an afterthought once a dual power system has already been developed, which would require not only large scale organization but also much higher levels of political education than what currently exists by a huge margin. Nor would the PSMP be a means of taking state power but merely the political propaganda arm of a movement to abolish the state, which can only be achieved through dislodging the oligarchy.

The Struggle for Bottom Unity in an Age of Division Reply

By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit

Exile in Happy Valley

“The most interesting political questions throughout history have been whether or not humans will be ruled or free, whether they will be responsible for their actions as individuals or left irresponsible as members of society, and whether they can live in peace by volitional agreements alone.”

-Karl Hess

“We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.”

-Fred Hampton

Solidarity is a bitch when everyone who can afford a knife is slitting each other’s throat. That’s the nasty little limerick that keeps playing on repeat in my skull like a mantra as populist grassroots uprisings devolve into bitter proxy wars between roaming tribes of bitter proles, killing each other over which oligarch’s name they have scrawled across their battle flags. Everyone wants to pick sides. Everyone is trolling for convenient scapegoats. I just see poor people killing poor people while two sick rich candidates arrange their corpses into clever platforms to stand on and promote more war from. The splintering of the George Floyd Uprisings into partisan turf warfare doesn’t just rip up my already bleeding heart because I had so much hope for the revolutionary potential now being squandered. It kills me because I have people on both sides of these gorey shenanigans and they should both be on the same damn team. All poor people should be, regardless of race or even politics.

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The Boogaloo Movement Is Not What You Think 2

This is a comment from an Antifa-oriented social media page:

I have a comrade who was monitoring the Boogaloo pages before they got taken down and said they were very pro-gay, pro-black, etc, just very accelerationist and anti cop. I cant wrap my head around it. They had a very incel vibe IMHO.”

This is exactly what we need. Hardline anti-System extremism that fully rejects any last vestiges of “law and order” conservative statism while completing shedding any affinity for culture war/race war/tribal war/civil war politics. We need a Boogaloo right of the kind described above and a Bolo’bolo left of the kind described in the adjacent post, and for these tendencies to eventually bend toward each other. Build the Boogaloo-Bolo’bolo Axis!

The “Booglaoo” movement would at this point seem, at least in some ways, to be the most advanced of any “extremist” sector in US fringe politics in terms of their overall thinking. In order to build an authentically revolutionary movement in North America, two things have to happen. First, the revolutionaries must shed any last remaining attachments to the system. That rules out the archaic American patriotism of many on the far-right and the “anarcho-Democratic Partyism” of many on the far-left. Perhaps some of these folks will move toward an actual revolutionary perspective at some point in the future, but for now, they are still too much under the residual influence of “Systemism.” Second, the revolutionaries must shed any attachment to the idea of a racial, cultural, tribal, ideological civil war. There cannot be even a hint of this among the actual revolutionaries. Unfortunately, most supposed “extremists” have not abandoned this idea at all, and often enthusiastically endorse as much, thereby making themselves into nothing more than parodies and caricatures of the Red and Blue tribes.

More so than other far-right tendencies, and most far-left tendencies, the Boogaloos seem to understand this if their recent public pronouncements and actions are any indication.

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How Pan is your Pan-Secessionism? Reply

This post from Anarchist News (and the discussion thread that follows) from a few months back is worth checking out. It is illustrative of something that I have been thinking would eventually happen in the “left” anarchist milieu. While many left-anarchists are clearly oriented toward the Maoist-influenced Antifa, and others toward reformist tendencies like DSA, it appears that still others are gradually moving toward “pan-secession” or, roughly, the kinds of ideas discussed at ATS. The “Bolo’bolo” left-anarchist utopian book from the 1980s is very popular among left-anarchists, particularly Green types, and seems to have heavily influenced the thinking of some anarchists, a small number of whom have now embraced the “pan-secession” framework. Increasingly, I am coming across conflicts in the left-anarchist milieu between those who are primarily motivated by mere anti-rightism and those who are motivated by anti-systemism on a general level.

AnarchistNews.Org

A while ago I/we made a topic of the week discussing differences among anarchists. This topic is about how you engage with not-anarchist people and ideas, stemming from the recent debate about Bellamy’s new project Liberty and Logos in which he’s engaging with someone who’s a self-identified reactionary (and someone who apparently has some unpleasant yet unsurprising interests according to some recently deleted tweets).

The concept of anarchy that Bellamy is working with here is one where there’s no big happy ending where everyone agrees with us (never mind us agreeing with each other) – an idea that most readers on this site can probably get behind. Most people, even people we love and care for, don’t agree with us, and relationships with people who aren’t anarchists are inevitable in this world. The more complicated question is where do we go from there?

Agree with his approach or not, this is what Bellamy is attempting. My question for you is, what is your next step from that premise? What does it mean to look for allies in a world that’s generally hostile to us? How wide do you draw your circle, where and how do you draw the line, and what does that engagement mean?

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The Ten Core Demographics Revisited Ten Years Later Reply

Ten years ago, I identified what I considered to be the “ten core demographics” that proponents of the ideas we discuss here at ATS will have to reach in order to eventually find the Holy Grail. The original piece is available here. It is interesting to evaluate the status of each of these ten demographics (which are really collections of sub-demographics) a decade later in light of the current uprising. Here is where things seem to stand. The parts in italics are from the original piece.

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Sovereign Counties: Free Association through Local Autonomy Reply

Sovereign Counties is a new project that has given its endorsement to Attack the System. The Foundation for Intentional Community is an interesting group as well, and seems to be a domestic parallel to the Startup Societies Foundation. Also, see my essay “The Case for the City-State System.”

The ideas of sovereign counties, intentional communities, and startup societies is really the only set of ideas that we non-world dominationist anarchists need to be promoting among the left, right, center, all religions and ethnic groups, all philosophical and ethical systems, and all subcultures, countercultures, and youth cultures. These ideas provide the framework for Anthony Sutton’s “voluntary associations, voluntary communes, or local rule and decentralized societies” as an alternative to imperialism, and Gene Roddenberry’s ideal of “infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” I even know Trumpists or Democratic Party voters who like the ideas we discuss at ATS but still vote for one of the major parties out of “fear of the other.”

Sovereign Counties

Sovereign Counties is a movement to create intentional communities governed by the consensus of county residents. Conventionally, members of an intentional community found the community, so all members accept its principles from the outset. In the longer run, new members are born into the community and remain into adulthood by choice while members falling outside of an evolving consensus leave. Counties can become intentional communities in the latter sense. Discuss conventional communities here.

Foundation for Intentional Community

The Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC) defines an intentional community as a group of people who have chosen to live together or share resources on the basis of common values. You may have heard of a commune, ecovillage, cohousing, coliving or student coop. These are all types of intentional communities – models for more cooperative, sustainable and just ways of life. FIC curates a directory of over 1,000 communities worldwide, as well as supplies resources, runs educational events and promotes community classifieds. Support our work by making a donation today!

Startup Societies Foundation

A startup society is typically a small territorial experiment in government. For centuries, innovators have created enclaves to escape institutional barriers. America itself was created to escape religious persecution in Europe. The startup societies of today are making the world into a more diverse and competitive place.

A Strategy for Forcing the State Back Reply

By Per Bylund

LewRockwell. Com

As libertarians, we like to discuss two things: what could be and what is wrong with society today. Some of us are intrigued by the promises of a free society, no matter if we advocate the total abolishment of the State or wish to radically cut back on its powers. It kind of sets your mind free to dream of all the things that could be weren’t it for the welfare-warfare State.

Some libertarians feel the adrenaline flowing when talking about the injustice caused people by the State: about immigrants being forced back to torture because they are not the “legal” kind; about poor people kept out of the labor market by minimum wage laws; about small business owners forced into bankruptcy because of totally unnecessary regulations and restrictions; about average Joes being forced off their property for the “common good”; about people literally being taxed to death.

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