The Stark Truth. Listen here.
Whenever a Republican president is in office, I see articles like this coming from the liberal side, and when a Democrat is in office, I see similar articles coming from conservatives. But these ideas never seem to gain any traction. Too many on the right are attached to nationalism (“USA! USA!”) and imperialism (what is euphemistically called “a strong national defense”). Too many on the left are attached to the idea of a global social democracy and “human rights imperialism,” or simply paralyzed by fear of the idea that some backwoods counties might do something un-progressive.
New York Mag
The year is 2019. California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, recently elected on a platform that included support for the creation of a single-payer health-care system, now must figure out how to enact it. A prior nonpartisan analysis priced it at $400 billion per year — twice the state’s current budget. There appears to be no way to finance such a plan without staggering new taxes, making California a magnet for those with chronic illnesses just as its tax rates send younger, healthier Californians house-hunting in Nevada and big tech employers consider leaving the state.
But Newsom is not alone. Other governors have made similar promises, and Newsom calls together the executives of the most ideologically like-minded states — Oregon, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland. What if they banded to create a sole unified single-payer health-care system, spreading risk around a much larger pool of potential patients while creating uniformity across some of the country’s wealthiest states?
Only 7? Sounds a bit moderate. It’s interesting how these ideas keep getting circulated but never really catch on beyond the margins. Are that many people really that unhappy with the system? Or are political partisans really just equivalents of sports fans (with “extremists” like the Antifa and Alt-Right merely assuming the role of the football hooligans)?.
By Bonnie Kristian
Look, we had a good run.
Well, maybe “good” isn’t quite the right word … but certainly it’s been interesting. These United States were a grand experiment. But the experiment has gotten out of hand. It’s time to peacefully dissolve the union.
I know, I know. This is not what good Americans are supposed to suggest. “Four score and seven years ago” and all that. But to borrow a lesser-known phrase from that brief address, it seems to me we have tested whether this nation “can long endure,” and increasingly it is clear it cannot. It’s just not working. Do you really disagree? Do you like the way things are?
By Brandon Smith
Over a decade ago, critics of the liberty movement would often argue that it was not enough to simply point out all the problems plaguing our economy — we needed to also offer solutions. Of course, a common Alinsky tactic is to demand your opponents solve all the world’s ailments before they can earn the right to complain. “If you can’t give us a solution, then stop going on and on about the problem,” they would squawk incessantly like parrots.
I don’t agree that our right to analyze the instabilities of our financial system is predicated on our ability to fix the issue outright. In fact, that sounds rather insane. How can we fix the problem if we don’t educate the public on the problem first? However, I do think that the only people who have the drive and the knowledge to ultimately come up with a solution are those in the liberty movement. Who else is going to try? Who else is even qualified?
I have seen many ideas come and go over the years. The thing about fixing what is broken is that while you might get most people to agree on the problem, getting a majority of them to agree on a solution is a nightmare. Once enough people agree on a solution, you then have to find a way to motivate them to act on it. The masses often want desperately to help themselves, they just don’t like it when a lot of effort or sacrifice is required.
This is why we only tend to see organized activism and a push toward self-sufficiency AFTER a crisis has already struck. Most human beings require obvious incentive before they become motivated. They need immediate gratification. The people that can see the long game, who can see the incentives years or generations down the road, we call “leaders.” The hope is that one day every individual can be educated to the point that they can self-lead; that each individual will become an innovator and problem solver in their own right.
I’m inclined to say “I’ll believe it when I see it” but is this a case of the system actually working?
By Jennifer Gonnerman
The New Yorker
Krasner asked his young prosecutors, “Who here has read Michelle Alexander?”
Photograph by Jeff Brown for The New Yorker
Until Larry Krasner entered the race for District Attorney of Philadelphia last year, he had never prosecuted a case. He began his career as a public defender, and spent three decades as a defense attorney. In the legal world, there is an image, however cartoonish, of prosecutors as conservative and unsparing, and of defense attorneys as righteous and perpetually outraged. Krasner, who had a long ponytail until he was forty, seemed to fit the mold. As he and his colleagues engaged in daily combat with the D.A.’s office, they routinely complained about prosecutors who, they believed, withheld evidence that they were legally required to give to the defense; about police who lied under oath on the witness stand; and about the D.A. Lynne Abraham, a Democrat whose successful prosecutions, over nearly twenty years, sent more people to death row than those of any other D.A. in modern Philadelphia history.
Do the ideas of thinkers like James Corbett represent the way forward for an anarchist-led/informed revolutionary center that identifies the global power elite as the true enemy?
The discussion itself was very good, although I found the intro monologue to be something of a turn off in the sense that it sounded like a barrage of buzzwords and catchphrases (kind of like reciting the Apostles’ Creed in church). The point the guy being interviewed seemed to be making was “We should use grassroots direct action rather than electoral politics to A) get more free ice cream days and B ) oppose things leftists don’t like.” For instance, at one point he actually praises Nixon for creating the EPA and OSHA (“More centralized state bureaucracies! Yay! Vivia de Anarchia!”). He seems to be mostly regurgitating what David Graeber called “small ‘a’ anarchism” or “social movement anarchism.” In fact, he sounds a lot like what my anarchist friends and I would have been talking about 25-30 years ago.
I don’t think his point of view is “wrong” in the same sense that I don’t necessarily think Alexander Reid Ross’ “anarcho-MSNBC” perspective is “wrong” in the sense that it’s fine to have an anarchist tendency that’s merely about opposing Trump, the “far right” or official enemies of the US like Russia or Syria like Reid-Ross’ crowd, and it’s not “wrong” to have anarchist tendencies that are just about “social movement left-activism” like these “DSA anarchists” or whatever they are. But I view anarchist philosophy and politics as much bigger than all that.
A review of Disaster Fitness: Make Your Demons Do the Work, by Ann Sterzinger and Ann Hedonia.
By Keith Preston
I confess to having never been a fan of so-called “self-help” books. Mostly, these kinds of works have always struck me as having goofy titles and charlatans for authors, and nothing of any real value. Some years ago, I was involved with a company where my division head used to hand out copies of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, a quasi-Christian work written in 1952, for Christ’s sake (no pun intended). It was a book my supervisor seemed to think was vitally important for his staff members to read. The same guy used to hand out copies of books by Joel Osteen (WTF?). Most self-help books are based to some degree on the model that Peale made a fortune from in the mid-twentieth century. Just throw out a lot of cheery-sounding sloganeering, combined with some quasi-Christian or quasi-Buddhist or hippie New Age nonsense, plus some basic common sense ideas that everyone over the age of fifteen ought to be able to figure out anyway. Do all this while claiming to possess some special path to financial success, spiritual enlightenment, and good health, and you’ve got an instant best-seller so long as you’re willing to pay for advertising space in the National Enquirer.
One of the reasons that anarchism has become a popular political perspective is because in many contexts (for instance mass mobilizations or broad direct action campaigns) we seem open, friendly, and nonsectarian. This is in great contrast to visible (and visibly) Marxist or Leftist organizations, which either seem like newspaper-selling robots or ancient thorny creatures entirely out of touch with the ambivalence of the modern political atmosphere. Anarchists seem to get that ambivalence and contest it with hope and enthusiasm rather than finger-wagging.
The public face of anarchism tends towards approachability and youth: kids being pepper-sprayed, the general assemblies of the occupy movement, and drum circles. These are the images of the past five years that stand in contrast to the image of anarchists as athletic black clad window breakers. Both are true (or as true as an image can be) and both demonstrate why a criticism of anarchists continues to be that (even at our best) we are politically naïve.
Of course very few window breakers believe that breaking windows means much beyond the scope of an insurance form or a janitorial task, but that is beside the point. What matters is that the politics of no demands makes the impossible task of intelligent political discourse in America even more complicated (by assuming that discourse is a Pyhrric act). To put the issue differently, the dialectical binary of both engaging in the social, dialogic, compromising act of public politics while asserting that there is no request of those-in-power worth stating or compromising on isn’t possible. It is cake-and-eat-it thinking that is exactly why Anarchists must do what Anarchist must do.
This rejection of how the game is played while participating in it hasn’t shown itself to be a long term strategy– impossible never is. For lessons on playing the game we have to turn to the winners of politics and revolution: neoliberalists, sure, but also statist Marxists, reactionaries (from racist populists to nationalist Know Nothings or their descendants in the Tea Party), and what remnants exist of the old and new Left. Just to make the point crystal clear I’ll restate it. On the one hand you have the ridiculous non- or even anti-strategy of anarchist political theater that cannot achieve the impossible goal of everything for everybody forever. On the other hand you have realpolitik: the pragmatic application of power in the political sphere. This simplistic dualism is why most intelligent people abandon politics altogether and retreat to NIMBYism (at best) or the quiet solitude of screaming at a television screen as the only expression of engagement with the outside world.
In this light, a discussion about maoism might seem outrageous and it is! Maoism isn’t a relevant political tendency or movement in America. It isn’t leading guerrilla forces in the hills, it has no leaders-in-waiting just outside the border (unless you count Avakian which you should in no way do), but it isn’t further from the mainstream of American political thought than Anarchism is (anarchist big tent populists to the contrary) and is arguably much closer (in an often cited example, the mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, is a former Maoist). More pointedly, Maoism and Anarchism have been cross-pollinating for decades. Our task here is to shine a light on that history and challenge what benefits anarchists have garnered from this little-discussed pollination.
The meme below was recently posted on Facebook with the following comments by a proponent of “anarcho-coalitionism”:
#AnarchoCoalitionism is militant panarchy. It’s the only way forward. The elites LIKE the masses fighting amongst each other, and that doesn’t change, no matter how “woke” you are. You are not an island, and neither am I. Wanna win? Be #AnarchoCoalitionist.
Shake some hands. Find some agreements. You don’t have to compromise to move forward. But working with many you called “enemies” is going to be a first step.
And to anyone who sees this, feel free to use the banner pic.
They call it a banner for a reason, and the more people flying it, the more obvious it will be that we are coming, we are many, and we are not going away.
I responded with the following comments:
I’ve been thinking and writing about these kinds of ideas for years. I think the first problem is that there are too few anarchists at present for anarchism to exercise any real impact on the wider society, so anarchists tend to spend a lot of time in their own ideological enclaves fighting with each other. A second problem is that many anarchists of the hyphenated varieties are essentially the hyphens first and anarchists second. So the first goal probably needs to be to grow the number of anarchists of whatever kind, period.
A reader on Facebook offers the following comments, and asks the following questions.
I’m not so sure how realistic sustained statelessness is without severe technological regression and economic collapse, but the obvious answer is that the vast majority of people would rather bask in the lazy comforts of delegated responsibility than take on the burdens and risks of freedom. The mantle of anarchism is often taken up as an immature pose that is rationalized after the fact, usually quite badly, before being discarded with age for whatever underlying tribal affiliation existed in the first place. It’s a knee-jerk rebellion against constraints on the self, for good or ill, and a justification for engaging in unreasonable or criminal behaviors whose motives are ultimately more personal than political.
This statement originally appeared on Facebook. I am re-posting it here along with my original comments in response.
Here is my response:
A recent interview with Andrey R. Bens.
Kudos to Chris Hedges. This is as good an analysis as I would ever expect from someone on the Left. This is a fairly straightforward Marxist analysis within a social democratic ideological framework. But he knows who the real enemy is.
By Chris Hedges
One thing about European New Right philosophy that I think is right is that America is a completely separate culture and civilization from Europe even if it is a derivative in many ways. Interestingly, North American New Righters try to be more European culturally and intellectually even if many of them are Americans by birth and citizenship. That said, as the demographic change continues and whites become just another minority I don’t see how white nationalists will not become even weirder to most Americans or not be a right wing version of the creepy cross dressing homo plastic surgery freaks of leftist identity politics groups with their own bizarre subcultures and idiosyncrasies. I am just not convinced that a high brow, intellectual, racialist counter culture is going to achieve intellectual hegemony in US cultural institutions and then trickle down from the Alternative Bourgeoisie to the white masses to forma zee Eudapean Amedikin Etno Homozexuelle State.
It’s true that the Alt-Right is growing but the only reason it’s growing is because it provides more social space for non threatening preppies, dandies, stuck up snobs, and closeted homosexuals who have the same west coast values and lifestyles as most yuppie square professionals on the Left (wining and dining at fancy restaurants, driving a nice car, parking, lunch and dinner, having a dog sitter, living in an upscale apartment with a loft in a “good neighborhood,” etc.) except that they hate blacks and dirty Mexicans so they get off on identifying as Euro Mysterion to scare a few democrats who don’t know any better.
One thing you’ll notice about the Alt-Right is that there’s not a whole lot of discussion of actual strategy in their circles. I think one of the reasons the ENR has never been able to extend its influence outside dissident intellectual circles in Europe is because its high brow intellectuals have no conception of practical politics. They’ve never been able to agree among themselves on anything other than their homosexuality to be able to actually work out any practical plan of what a WN / ENR / Alt-Right society would actually look like (form of government, economic system, legal definition of rights and responsibilities, foreign policy, handling of gay marriage and other inter-white irreconcilable cultural conflicts, etc.) or how any of it would really be achieved or implemented.
The Alt-Right was interesting when it was bringing the ideas of real thinkers like Dugin and Benoist to an American audience, and promoting bad motherfuckers like Jack Donovan who has since broken with the Alt-Right. Richard Spencer’s leadership has been terrible. He’s more or less become the new David Duke. Whether that was his intention or not is beside the point. He did nothing to prevent it. Matt Parrott, who used to produce the ATS podcast on VOR and CC, has become a self-parody along with his son-in-law, Matt Heimbach. Those guys have become the new Tom Metzger or something. The Right Stuff guys like Mike Enoch have gone off the deep end as well.
It’s a shit show.
Kind of anti-SJW SJWs.
This is why the Alt-Right and the New American Right will never become anything more than a fetish for a small minority of weird intellectuals just like the symphony or the opera. Practical strategy, armed resistance, and all the other stuff that actually matters beyond the level of a small group of ineffectual intellectuals aiming to develop the white counter-culture through art, literature, and philosophy is a no-go. It’s the same with conspiracy kids, the libertarians, and most anarchists of course, which is why most of our work at ATS has been about addressing these questions. We certainly don’t have it all figured it out but we know the tradition of secession resonates well with Americans, and we know pan-anarchy would enable a number of white republics or white socialist states. Conspiracy theorists can have their UFO tents. Anarchists can have all their varying hyphenated communities. And white nationalists can have many different kinds of homosexual cities. Aristotle noted that the great cities of classical civilization possessed over 150 different constitutions among them. One big homosexual state is just not necessary and let’s be real, it’s not going to happen. So why not aim to break up the central state and scatter throughout the continent?
I don’t think whites have much of a future in modern American political culture and I agree that it’s a problem but I don’t think a white rights movement is the way to go. If that’s what you’re going for, cool, but I’ll be hanging with the anarchists agitating for secession while you guys reread Ezra Pound Part 9 Million behind the symphony set on Sundays.
Jakub Jankowski speaks about the metapolitics of libertarianism and identitarianism in the UK and elsewhere.
San Fransisco California Aug 11, 2017 Lotta Moberg Researcher, Various
San Fransisco California Aug 11, 2017 Dale Brown Founder, DTMC
Mark Frazier, founder of OpenWorld.com, speaks about the best methods of spreading startup societies.
Startup Societies Summit San Francisco, California Aug 11, 2017 Galia Benartzi Co-Founder, Bancor
How can a struggling country break out of poverty if it’s trapped in a system of bad rules? Economist Paul Romer unveils a bold idea: “charter cities,” city-scale administrative zones governed by a coalition of nations.