The Concept of the Vanguard 1

Recently a reader of Attack the System wrote:

Keith Preston, in his Liberty and Populism: Building an Effective Resistance Movement in North America, writes of “anarchist” “city-states”, “anarcho-papis[m]“, and “anarcho-monarchis[m]“! In the same essay he writes that most anarchists favor the “town meeting” approach of “direct democracy”. To decide what? Whose fate???! It makes me nervous to think it might ever be mine.

Is the system or systems, method or methods, advocated by anarchists truly any better, any more supportive of individual freedom, than libertarian minarchy, or are there patterns of, and tendencies toward, oppression, injustice, AND AGGRESSION, that are camouflaged by abstruse, academic, anarchist theories, and bold and heroic slogans? Is the anarchist “intellectual class” or “vanguard” Keith Preston calls for in the aforementioned work, our wise and learned advisor, or latter-day Napoleans, leading us trusting lumpen-proletariat, anarcho-foot-soldiers to our brave new Animal Farm?

To many anarchists, the word “vanguard” is a cuss word because of its association with the traditional Leninist concept of a “vanguard party” that seizes power for the purpose of setting up a totalitarian state, military dictatorship, command economy and rule by a bureaucratic elite.  I recall when in 1998 I told some anarchist associates the name of my latest project, American Revolutionary Vanguard, one of them replied in horror, “That sounds Communist!!” Today, the memory of an anarchist calling me a “communist” is somewhat amusing, given that the mainstream of the “anarchist” movement persistently labels me a “fascist.”

The title “American Revolutionary Vanguard” was suggested to me by an associate who was an NRA/survivalist/militia type. Having been both a traditional anarcho-syndicalist and a participant in the right-wing patriot movement of the 1990s, I was plotting the formation of a new movement that would synthesize left-wing anarchism and right-wing populism into a new “left-anarcho-libertarian populist nationalism” that would counter both the political correctness of the left and the jingoism of the right. I wanted a name for the project that would identify itself with both the populist tradition of the American Revolution and represent a casting off the conventional left/right labels. I recalled having once heard of a neo-nazi group in the Portland area called “National Socialist Vanguard” and being amused by the name, given the association of the term “vanguard” with Communism, and the bitter rivalry between Communism and Nazism. My associate suggested the title “American Revolutionary Vanguard.” It was perfect.

As for the reader’s questions:

Keith Preston…writes of “anarchist” “city-states”, “anarcho-papis[m]“, and “anarcho-monarchis[m]“

These are tendencies that already exist, not anything that I personally invented. See here, for a piece by anarcho-city-statist Murray Bookchin, here for an anarcho-papist, and here for a discussion of anarcho-monarchism. What I have argued for in the past is a decentralized political system that allows for many different kinds of anarchist tendencies, and as well related ideologies and even non-anarchists, to form their own intentional communities or intentional states organized according to their preferred set of principles or ways of life.

In the same essay he writes that most anarchists favor the “town meeting” approach of “direct democracy”.

Indeed they do.  

To decide what? Whose fate???! It makes me nervous to think it might ever be mine.

Frankly, this is a concern that I share, which is why I’ve long been critical of those who deify democracy as some noble end unto itself.  In fact, most serious anarchist thinkers since Proudhon have been highly critical of the unchallenged acceptance of democracy. The pioneer feminist-anarchist Emma Goldman even expressed skepticism of woman suffrage, believing that middle-class liberal and socialist women would use the vote to expand the state, particularly in the area of “victimless crimes” that libertarians are so opposed to. The role of the newly instituted female vote in bringing about alcohol Prohibition would seem to vindicate her. Speaking only for myself, I place a much higher value on limited government that on popular government, on civil liberty than on voting rights, and on local sovereignty over mass democracy.

Is the system or systems, method or methods, advocated by anarchists truly any better, any more supportive of individual freedom, than libertarian minarchy, or are there patterns of, and tendencies toward, oppression, injustice, AND AGGRESSION, that are camouflaged by abstruse, academic, anarchist theories, and bold and heroic slogans?

I don’t know that the debate between anarchists and minarchists is as important as some make it out to be, given that most proposals for an anarchist system look remarkably like some alternative form of state. As Bob Black says:

The trouble with anarchists is that they think they have agreed on what they all oppose — the state — whereas all they have agreed on is what to call it. You could make a good case that the greatest anarchists were nothing of the sort. Godwin wanted the state to wither away, but gradually, and not before the progress of enlightenment prepared people to do without it. Which seems to legitimate really existing statism and culminate in the banality that if things were different they would not be the same. Proudhon, who served in the French national legislature, in the end arrived at a theory of “federalism” which is nothing but the devolution of most state power on local governments. Kropotkin’s free communes may not be nation-states but they sure sound like city-states. Certainly no historian would regard as anything but ludicrous Kropotkin’s claim that medieval cities were anarchist.

If some of the greatest anarchists, upon inspection, appear to fall somewhat short of consistency on even the defining principle of anarchism itself — the abolition of the state — it is not too surprising if some of the lesser lights are likewise dim bulbs. The One Big Union of the syndicalists, who also uphold the duty to work, is one big state to everybody else, and totalitarian to boot. Some “anarcha”-feminists are book-burners. Dean Murray Bookchin espouses third-party politics and municipal statism, eerily parallel to the borderline fascist militia/Posse Comitatus movement which would abolish all government above the county level. And Bakunin’s “invisible government” of anarchist militants is, at best, a poor choice of words, especially on the lips of a Freemason.

My own concept of a “vanguard” is rooted in Bakunin’s idea of “principled militants”, that is, hard-core revolutionaries who assume the natural leadership roles in larger radical organizations, because of their greater level of experience, knowledge, commitment, talent, etc., and nothing more. This idea has nothing to do with particular ideological objectives as much as it is rooted in a recognition of how human organizations actually work and an application of the principles of social science and social psychology.

Is the anarchist “intellectual class” or “vanguard” Keith Preston calls for in the aforementioned work, our wise and learned advisor, or latter-day Napoleans, leading us trusting lumpen-proletariat, anarcho-foot-soldiers to our brave new Animal Farm?

Well, here’s an example of what such a “vanguard” might actually do. Some might engage in secessionist or decentralist political campaigns of the Norman Mailer variety. Others might work to unite separatist groups, as Kirkpatrick Sale is now doing. Still others might be journalists or writers who serve as the radical movement’s theoretical or propagandistic arm. Some might have leadership positions in large anti-government organizations or coalitions. One of the best descriptions I ever encountered of this concept of a “vanguard” was from an African-American anarchist by the name of Mark Gillespie:

As mediators and vision-holders, we can help each group to see that uniting for the common goal of freedom, trumps their own agendas. After all, once the government is gone, no one will care if you set up an all-black, all-white, all-Jew, all-Muslim, all-socialist, all-capitalist community. We should pick up the torch of unity and educate people into respecting the diverse views of others. I may not like what you’re doing, saying, being, etc, but I will defend to the death, your right to do, say or be it.

Because we anarchists reject statism does not mean that we should reject leadership and organization altogether. In fact, doing so is dangerous because it will lead to power vacuums that can easily be filled by our enemies.

Updated News Digest June 7, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“We can tolerate intolerance and we can tolerate intolerance of intolerance.”  -TGGP

“Avrich does not shy away from controversy in his books, treating the anarchist acts of violence honestly and in the context of the time. He does not condone the violence of Berkman, but says he still admires his decision, considering how brutal Frick acted toward striking workers. But Avrich does not have the same patience for some contemporary anarchists, who choose to destroy property and who, he says, come mainly from educated and middle-class backgrounds. “I’m not so crazy about anarchists these days,” he says. Anarchism means that you leave other people alone and you don’t force people to do anything.” He says he is sad that the old-timers are not around to guide the resurgent movement. “They were nicer people –much nicer people.”    

                                  -Susan Phillips on the late anarchist historian, Paul Avrich

“We have lost the battle for our country. This does not necessarily mean we have lost the war. There is a chance—however remote—that we can overturn the existing order of things. All we must do is genuinely want to be a free people again, living in an independent country. On this definition, our allies can be everywhere. They can have nipple rings or green hair. They can be homosexuals or transsexuals or drug users. They can want to live in racially exclusive enclaves. They can be Catholics or Moslems or atheists. Whoever wants to be left alone in his own life, and whoever wants this country to be governed from within this country, is a conservative for the present century. Whoever will raise a finger towards this object I will count among my friends.”

                                                                                                         -Dr. Sean Gabb

 

On Revolutionary Discipline by Nestor Makhno

As the Dollar Falls Off the Cliff… by Paul Craig Roberts

The Empire’s Aggressions by Karen Kwiatkowski

U.S. Inflation to Approach Zimbabwe Level  by Chen Shiyin and Bernard Lo

World War Two Was an Unnecessary War by Laurence Vance

Frail, Cowardly Winston Saved Us by Robert Harris

Don’t Commit Acts of War Against North Korea by Eric Margolis

Stop Letting Cheney Frame the Torture Debate by William S. Lind

Obama’s Speech by Paul Craig Roberts

War With Iran: Has It Already Begun? by Justin Raimondo

Obama: Low Words, High Truths by Alexander Cockburn

Essay on Kropotkin and Qadhafi by Said Gafourov

The War Party Returns by Justin Raimondo

Is the GOP Dead? discussion with Jack Hunter, Richard Spencer and James Antle

Obama in Cairo: Words, Words, Words by Justin Raimondo

Is Peak Oil the Solution to Global Warming? by Kevin Carson

The New Totalitarianism by Larry Gambone

The Iranian “Threat” by William Blum

The Silencing of Political Prisoners Will Potter interviewed by Scott Horton

Homeless Under Attack in L.A. by Christopher Goffard and Corina Knoll

Neocons for Ahmadinejad by Daniel Luban

Armed and Free by Charley Reese

Pot Home Invasions: Bud and Blow Torches by Tim Stelloh

The Health Plan’s Devilish Principles by Murray Rothbard

The Future of Israel and the Decline of the American Empire by Arno J. Mayer

The Netherlands is Closing Prisons

War Is Sin by Chris Hedges

Roger Waters vs Zionism

Fail, Fail, Fail, Fail  by Lew Rockwell

Life in Gaza by Jordan Flaherty

Why I Chose Streets Over Shelter by Shannon Moriarty

Is Interracial Marriage Legal? by Gavin McInnes

Yea, I’m Declared a Commie Again by Francois Tremblay

Is America Unconservative? by E. Christian Kopff

PIG Goes on Trial for Murder

But You Didn’t Even Give Obama’s Perestroika a Chance! from Social Memory Complex

America’s Descent Into Marxism by Stanislav Mishin

The Myth of the Rule of Law by John Hasnas

What Do White Nationalists Want? by Jared Taylor

Public Education’s Role in Sprawl and Exclusion by Murray Rothbard

The Quota Queen by Pat Buchanan

The Fiscal Crisis of the State from Stumbling and Mumbling

Race, Christianity and Anarcho-Capitalism by Paul Gottfried

PC Thugs Go to Court  by Harrison Bergeron 2

Liberals and Illiberals by Grant Havers

Putting Manners on the Police from Infoshop.Org

Did George Tiller Deserve to Die? by Richard Spencer

Obama and Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal by Gideon Spiro

White Nationalism and White People by Richard Spencer

U.S.-Cuba Policy: Still Stuck in the Past by Roger Burbach

The Trouble With Sonia by Jack Hunter

The Sotomayor Scandal: What Does It Mean for America? by Steve Sailer

Nixon’s Revenge by TGGP

The Economic Impact of Immigration by Peter Brimelow

Defending the Undefendable: Michael Vick by Todd Steinberg

The Gun Industry is Booming-Thank God! by Louis Navellier

Agriculture is the Future by Gary Whit

Yet Another Reason to Secede by Stewart Doan

Whence the Terror Hysteria? Follow the Money by Philip Giraldi

At War with the U.S. Drug War by Jeremy Hainworth

Empire of Dread by Alan Bock

Reagan Did What? by William Anderson

Obama Must Wholly Reject Bush’s Dictator Policies by Matt Taibbi

Governments Are the Villians by Robert Higgs

Loving Freedom While Destroying It by Jacob Hornberger

Zoning: This Ain’t No Roadside Picnic by Ray Mangum

The U.S. Fascist Revolution by Fred Reed

Most Arabs Know Obama’s Speech Will Make Little Difference by Robert Fisk

The Rape of Gaza by Roane Carey

Israel Lobby Challenged Isaac Luria interviewed by Scott Horton

Exploding Debt Threatens America by John Taylor

Muslim Attitudes Towards Polygyny by Country by TGGP

The Sociology of Conspiracy Theories by Ray Mangum

Who is an Anti-Semite? by Tom Sunic

Jewish and Black Attitudes Towards Intermarriage by TGGP

Breaking Bibi by Pat Buchanan

Papers of the Libertarian Left, #1 by Chris Lempa

Why the Chinese Laughed at Geithner by Paul Craig Roberts

Triumph of Killdozer by Francois Tremblay

The American Conservative Movement’s Missing Second Act by Peter Brimelow

Lincoln as Hitler by Jack Hunter

Report from Squatting Festival in Sweden

The 10th Amendment Movement Spreads by Kevin R.C. Gutzman

Tangled Threads of Revolution by James Pendlebury

Leftist Tit for Tat by Grant Havers

The Evolving Non-Major Parties: Schiff Challenges Libertarians to Change by Patroon

Leftwing America by Kevin R.C. Gutzman

America First, Of Course! by Tom Piatak

Who Will Tell the People? by Karen De Coster

Obama Vs Osama by Ivan Eland

U.S. Admits But Still Defends Afghan Civilian Slaughter by Jeremy Scahill

Laurence Vance on Christianity and War

Another Club Gitmo Guest Kills Himself by Glenn Greenwald

Obama, Like Bush, Just Doesn’t Get It by Jacob Hornberger

Obama Lies Revealed by Thomas Eddlem

Pull Out of the War on Terror by Jonathan Clarke and Amy Zalman

It’s the End of the Economic World as we Know It! Gerald Celente interviewed by Terry Easton

The Truth About Tiananmen Square by Justin Raimondo

Wrongfully Convicted Man Freed by Wendy McElroy

A Former President’s Genocidal Son by William Norman Grigg

Use a Cell Phone in School, Get Electro-Shocked by the PIGS by William Norman Grigg

PIG Attacks Elderly Woman by Kerri Bellacosa

Random Subversive Thoughts by Ray Mangum

Obama as a Modern Pharaoh by Kevin MacDonald

Indigenous Protestors Murdered by Peruvian PIGS 

Christianity and War by Laurence Vance interviewed by Scott Horton

“Keith Preston, You’re on Notice!” (scroll down)-thanks, Francois!

Property and Freedom Society Conference in Bodrum, Turkey Reply

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Property and Freedom Society held its annual conference in Bodrum, Turkey on May 21-25. The Property and Freedom Society is arguably the most radical gathering of anti-state scholars and intellectuals anywhere in the world, as an examination of their program will indicate. Dr. Hoppe’s introductory remarks are currently available here. The text of a paper presented by Dr. Sean Gabb of the U.K.’s Libertarian Alliance is also available. If any Attack the System readers were present at this conference and wish to submit a review, summary or critique of the event, please contact me here .

Is Something Really Wrong with Kansas? 4

ABSTRACT: The widely believed claim that many voters in American elections are voting against their economic interests (“lower income Republicans versus affluent Democrats”) in favor of their social or cultural values is not supportable by the data concerning class voting patterns. American voters are polarized on both a class and cultural basis. Economic polarization takes place on a national level, and cuts across regional and local boundaries, with rich Americans overwhelmingly voting for the Republicans and poor Americans leaning strongly towards the Democrats. Cultural polarization represents intra-class conflict within the middle class, primarily the upper middle class, with affluent people in wealthier states voting for the Democrats and persons with a comparable class position in the poorer states voting Republican. Furthermore, the “red-state/blue-state” electoral map represents conflict not between states per se as much as conflict between ideologically polarized Congressional districts, local communities, counties and neighborhoods.

 

In recent years a stereotype has emerged in American politics. The picture

presented by much of the media is one of lower income persons voting Republican and

upper income persons voting Democratic. In other words, many people have started

voting against their own economic interests in favor of their cultural values, with upper

income, urban, educated, cosmopolitan elites voting for liberal social policies, and lower

income, rural, religious voters favoring conservative policies. This image is often

depicted on electoral maps as the “red state/blue state” divide with the socially

conservative red state poor and working class pitted against affluent but socially liberal

residents of the blue states.  This picture is widely accepted, but is it true? Is it an

accurate depiction of the class and cultural divisions among voters? The evidence

indicates that it is not. The available data shows that the voting patterns of the poor are

reliably Democratic. Instead, the red state/blue state divide is symptomatic of cultural

conflict among middle to upper-middle income persons, and of intra-class conflict

among the affluent or wealthy.

 

A leading and perhaps most well-known proponent of the “poor conservatives

versus rich liberals” thesis is Thomas Frank, who outlined his views in the popularized

work What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.

Frank provides a straightforward summary of his views:

 

If you earn over $300,000 a year, you owe a great deal to this derangement.

Raise a glass sometime to those indigent High Plains Republicans as you contemplate your good fortune: It is thanks to their self-denying votes that

you are no longer burdened by the estate tax, or troublesome labor unions,

or meddling banking regulators. Thanks to the allegiance of these sons and daughters of toil, you have escaped what your affluent forebears used to call “confiscatory” income tax levels. It is thanks to them that you were able to

buy two Rolexes this year instead of one and get that Segway with the special gold trim. (Frank, 2004, p. 2)

 

According to Frank, Republicans have been able to successfully appeal to the social

conservatism of blue collar workers and the rural poor on cultural controversies like

abortion, gay rights, immigration, the role of religion in public life, gun control and

affirmative action. Frank sees this as a “bait and switch” tactic on the part of the

Republican Party, whereby working class voters are pushed to vote according to their

cultural values, and are then given economic policies that are harmful to their own

interests. Frank describes what he regards as the consequences of this arrangement:

 

Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to

make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw

those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation.

Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism;

receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before

in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.(Frank, 2004, p. 7)

 

Liberals who agree with Frank’s analysis will argue that working class Republican voters

are under the grip of what the Marxists call “false consciousness,” meaning such voters

are distracted by what the Left would consider to be religious superstition, irrational

prejudices like racism or homophobia or conservative economic propaganda generated by

corporate-funded think tanks and media outlets. Allegedly, such distractions prevent

working people from perceiving and voting for their rational economic self-interest.

 

Even some conservatives will agree with Frank’s general thesis, but from a polar

opposite perspective. These conservatives will argue working class Republicans really do

perceive their economic interests accurately, and that it is perfectly legitimate for workers

to desire tax cuts in order to increase their take-home pay and deregulatory policies that

ostensibly accelerate economic growth and therefore job creation and rising living

standards. (Gelman, Park, Shor, Bafumi, Cortina, 2008, p. 16) An even more extreme

argument is offered by the neoconservative commentator David Brooks, who suggests

that because the red state/blue divide appears to be driven more by cultural and social

issues than by class or economic ones, that perhaps the idea of “class,” which he derides

as “Marxist” in nature, is not applicable to American society at all.  Brooks sees

Americans divided on the basis of cliques rather than classes, with these cliques being

comparable to the various teenage subcultures one might find at a high school, such as

“nerds, jocks, punks, bikers, techies, druggies, God Squadders,” etc. (Brooks, 2001)

 

The methodology utilized by commentators like Frank and Brooks is

problematical. Frank relies very heavily on anecdotal evidence gathered from his

experiences with Republican-leaning, working-class Kansas communities of the kind that

he grew up around. He provides examples like a friend’s father, a man with liberal

economic views but whose Catholic religious beliefs led him to the pro-life Republicans. (Frank, 2001, p. 4) Much of Frank’s work includes sweeping political, cultural and historical analysis with very little in raw statistical data provided as supporting evidence.  Likewise, many of Brooks’ arguments are anecdotal in nature, relying on his personal experiences of living in an upper class liberal community and his ventures into conservative working class towns and conversing with the locals.

 

 

What Does the Data Show?

 

The most comprehensive and up to date analysis of the available data concerning

voting patterns in relation to class position, income, occupation and cultural background

is provided by Andrew Gelman, David Park, Boris Shar, Joseph Bafumi and Jeronimo

Cortina. This group of scholars published their research in 2008 under the title Red State,

Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote The Way They Do. Contra Frank,

these researchers found that the image of “working class conservatives versus affluent

liberals” is a false one, arguing instead that “lower-income Americans don’t, in general,

vote Republican-and, where they do, richer voters go Republican even more so.” With

regards to Kansas, for instance, that particular state has leaned Republican by ten percent

greater than the national average for sixty years, and the real source of Republican

strength in Kansas is the middle to upper classes. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 14-15)

 

Political scientist Larry Bartels argues that it is only in the South that the trend of

whites without college education voting Republican has emerged.(Bartels, 2006) Even

so, Gelman, Park, et.al. found that in the 2004 presidential election the “poor vote” went

to Democratic candidate John Kerry in all of the Southern states except Texas!(Gelman, 2008) Bartels maintains that there is no identifiable pattern of white working class voters

favoring cultural issues over economic ones. Jeffrey Stonecash argues that “the last 40

years shows a growing class division in American politics, with less affluent whites more

supportive of Democrats now than 20-30 years ago. Indeed, even in Kansas less affluent

legislative districts are much more supportive of Democrats than affluent

districts.”(Stonecrash, 2005)

 

The evidence indicates that the rich are overwhelmingly Republican in their

voting preferences. Republican candidate George W. Bush only won thirty-six percent of

the vote from those earning less than $15,000 annually in the 2004 election. Among those

earning over $200,00 Bush obtained sixty-two percent of the vote. (Gelman, 2008, p. 9)

As mentioned, Bush’s home state of Texas was the only southern state where Bush won

the “poor people” vote in the 2004 election. Yet even in Texas there was a significant

class division in voting patterns. In Zavala County, the poorest Texas locality, Bush won

twenty-five percent of the vote. However, in the wealthiest Texas community, Collin

County, Bush won seventy-one percent of the vote. The capital city of Austin is located

in Travis County, where the mean income of $45,000 is solidly middle class, and where

Bush received fifty-three percent of the vote. (Gelman, 2008, p. 12)

 

Voting patterns indicate that poor voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, as are

racial minorities. This is not to say that there are no significant cultural differences

among the poor. After all, “the poor” can include everything from rural Alabama whites

who belong to the Ku Klux Klan to black street gang members in the inner city areas. Yet

there is no evidence that such differences play significant roles in American electoral

politics. Many poor people do not vote at all. Those who do are, by a wide margin,

consistently Democratic-leaning.  The growing gap between socio-economic groups

that has escalated over the past thirty years has been widely documented, but this

growing divide between rich and poor is not the source of the red state/blue state divide.

 

The evidence supports the conclusion that the red state/blue state divide has its

roots in cultural conflict within middle to upper-middle income groups. As Gelman

summarizes:

 

There is still a rich-poor divide in voting, in popular perceptions of the

Democrats and Republicans, and in the parties’ economic policies. But

voting patterns have been changing, and the red-blue map captures some of

this. The economic battles have not gone away, but they intersect with cultural issues in a new way. In low-income states such as Mississippi and Alabama, richer people were far more likely to vote (Republican)…But in richer states

such as New York and California, income is not a strong predictor of individual votes. (Gelman, 2008, p. 17)

 

In the poor states, the pattern of wealthy people voting Republican and poor people

voting Democratic is very reliable. In states where the mean income is more in the

middle, the pattern begins to blur somewhat, and in the wealthiest states, income is not a

determining factor in voting patterns. While the middle to upper classes in wealthier

states are just as likely to favor the Democrats as poor people, the same socio-economic

groups in the poor states are more likely to favor the Republicans. To break it down

further on a regional basis, Democrats only win the “rich vote” in the most liberal

states. For instance, in the 2004 election the Democrats won the vote of those with an

income of over $200,000 annually in only four states: California, Connecticut,

Massachusetts, and New York. Middle class support for the Democratic Party is the

strongest in the Northeast, parts of the upper Midwest/Great Lakes region, and on the

West Coast.  To break it down to the level of local communities, affluent to wealthy

urban people tend to lean towards the Democrats, even though the majority of affluent

people are Republicans. The wealthiest states are also those which are the most

urbanized. (Gelman, 2008, p. 19-20)

 

A key question that arises from these observations concerns the matter of why

voting patterns are more divided on the basis of income in poor states. These patterns are

relatively new. For instance, in the 1976 presidential election, the Democrat Jimmy

Carter won the South, and the Republican Gerald Ford won California, New Jersey and

parts of New England. In the 1976 election, the level of correlation between the wealth of

a state and partisan sympathies was relatively small. Why do affluent people in poor

states hold such greater differences in their political allegiances than poor people when

compared to affluent people in wealthier states? Gelman and associates offer four

primary explanations:

 

  1. Division between races is the most evident in poor states in the South. This racial division overlaps with a class division. Because of the relationship between race and class position, economic policies such as social welfare programs that involve transfer payments from rich or affluent persons to the poor are seen as race-based entitlements for African-Americans.

 

  1. Wealthier people in the poor states attend church more regularly or frequently than poor people, and are also more likely to belong to conservative religious denominations than persons with comparable levels of wealth in richer states.

 

  1. Geography and history. The wealthier states have a much larger number of unionized workers, more large cities, and stronger immigrant communities, thereby creating a more liberal political and cultural atmosphere in these states. A direct correlation exists between cosmopolitanism and Democratic voting patterns.

 

  1. Middle to upper income persons have greater freedom and ability to choose where they will live and whom they will associate with. For instance, affluent persons with liberal social or cultural views tend to migrate towards urban enclaves such as Portland, Seattle, Madison, Minneapolis, San Francisco or Montgomery County, Maryland where such views are most prevalent. (Gelman, 2008, p. 22)

 

Political polarization in the United States occurs on two levels, the economic and the

cultural. A divide exists not only between rich and poor, but between affluent Americans

holding different cultural values.  Analysts differ as to the causes of this polarization.

Political scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal attempt to

explain contemporary American political polarization as an outgrowth of growing income

inequality.  Between the 1920s and the mid-1970s, patterns of wealth distribution in the

United States were comparable to those of other nations with relatively similar levels of

economic, industrial and technological development. However, economic inequality has

grown immensely in the United States in the last thirty-five years, and at a much greater

rate than what can be found in other comparable nations. McCarty, Poole and Rosenthal

also point out that this wealth gap has appeared within the individual American states,

and not among them. The growth of wealth inequality has transpired on a class rather

than sectional basis. (McCarty, Poole, Rosenthal, 2008)

 

Since the mid-1970s, many of the more underdeveloped areas of

the U.S. have improved their economic standing. Wealthy people in wealthy states have

been have been getting rich at a quicker pace, while poor people in poor states have been

rising out of poverty at a quicker pace. This is no doubt attributable to a variety of causes,

including the growth of the industrial base of the so-called Sunbelt, the effects of tax cuts

and deregulation policies implemented by several administrations, and the expansion of

the welfare state as a barrier to total poverty. Economic inequality has also grown in

Democratic states and decreased in Republican ones. Concerning economic policies that

primarily affect individuals, Republicans will generally favor the affluent while

Democrats will favor the low-income. However, Gelman and associates point out that

there is deviation from this pattern when it comes to policies that affect regions, states or

local communities. In some instances, Democrats will favor more affluent communities

while Republicans will favor poor localities. Gelman observes that “one might see certain

policy areas where Democratic officeholders, as friends of the rich areas, become friends

of the rich people, for example, in supporting the federal tax deduction for state income

tax (which benefits taxpayers, especially upper-income taxpayers, in New York and

California).” (Gelman, 2008, pp. 61-62) Also, interstate social transfer payments are

greater from Democratic states to Republican states rather than vice versa. The richest ten

states receive only eighty cents in federal spending for every dollar paid in taxes while

the poorest ten states receive $1.60. (Gelman, 2008, p. 62) The evidence indicates that

while economic inequality is indeed growing, this expanding class divide is not expressed

in regional divisions and cannot explain the conventional “red state/blue state” political

polarization.

 

 

The Voting Patterns

 

It has been mentioned that in the 2004 presidential election, the “rich people vote”

(persons earning more than $200,000 a year) went overwhelmingly for the Republicans,

with the votes of this group going to the Democrats in only four states. In the same

election, the Democrats won the middle income vote (between $15,000 and $200,000) in

California, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and all of the northeastern

states from Maryland upward. The Republicans won the “poor people” vote (less than

$15,000) only in Bush’s home state of Texas, Indiana, and the sparsely populated western

states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and the Dakotas.

 

It is much more striking to observe the voting patterns with regards to church

attendance. In the 2004 election the Republicans won the votes of those who attend

church at least once a week in forty-eight of the fifty states! The Democrats won the votes

of regular churchgoers only in Maryland and Massachusetts. Among semi-regular

churchgoers, the Democrats won fourteen states: California, Minnesota, Wisconsin,

Illinois, Arkansas, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New

Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The Republicans won the

votes of non-churchgoers only in ten states: Texas, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Kentucky,

Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

 

According to the World Values Survey, the United States is unique in that it is the

only one of the world’s wealthier nations with a high level of religiosity. (Inglehart,

2005)) Some observers attribute this to the fact that many Americans are descended from

immigrants who were often from the poorest and most religious sectors of the countries

from where they came. The comparatively high level of economic inequality in the U.S.

makes the nation more likely to display characteristics more common to poor countries

like a greater amount of religious practice or belief. Still another explanation is America’s

tradition of separation of church and state. The lack of an established national church

opens up the “religion market” to competition among a wide variety of denominations

and sects that must rely on the voluntary participation and contributions of adherents in

order to remain active. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 76-77)

 

It would certainly appear on the surface that the “red/blue divide” simply reflects

the polarization between the religious and the non-religious and that this polarization is

played out in terms of party loyalty and voting patterns.  The reputation of the Republican

Party as the “Party of God” is a relatively new phenomenon. The identifiable pattern of

religious people voting Republican by a significant margin did not appear until the 1992

presidential election when the incumbent George H. W. Bush obtained twenty percent

greater support among those who church attendance was consistent than among those

who were not regular church goers. (Gelman, 2008, p. 84) While Ronald Reagan

received the enthusiastic support of the newly organized “religious right” in the 1980 and

1984 elections, the data shows that the impact of the religious vote in those two elections

was actually less significant that it had been in the election between Gerald Ford and

Jimmy Carter in 1976 (Gelman, 2008, p. 86)

 

The overall level of religiosity in the United States has decreased significantly

since the early 1960s. The number of people who say they never or rarely attend church

when responding to surveys has grown from only a few percent of Americans in 1960 to

twenty-five to forty percent, with the variation being dependent on such factors as

geography, class position and income levels. Additionally, American society has become

more liberal with regards to a wide variety of issues including race relations, gender

roles, sexuality, and abortion. This social liberalization has coincided with an increased

secularization of public educational institutions. Even some religious denominations have

followed the wider trend of liberalization by, for instance, accepting women and gays

into the ranks of the clergy. Not surprisingly, this process of greater liberalization and

secularization of society at large and greater liberalization within religious institutions

themselves has produced a conservative backlash. Religious conservatives have become

more politically active since the 1970s, and some religious people with more traditional

views have sought out more conservative denominations in response to the increased

liberalism of their former denomination. All of this is well-known.  It is also well-known

that the “red states” tend on average to possess more devoutly religious people that the

“blue states.”

 

However, there are problems with interpreting the “red/blue” conflict as purely

religious in nature, though it may be tempting to do so from a surface look at the data.

Class and geography are also important parts of the wider picture. For instance, lower-

income people are much more likely to claim the importance of religion to their own

lives, attend church, pray or engage in other religious practices regularly, or to describe

themselves as “born-again” Christians.  The class division between the religious and the

non-religious is also greatest outside the “Bible Belt” of the southern states. These are

fairly predictable statistics.  What is more interesting is to observe the relationship

between income levels and church attendance within individual states. In the poor states,

the higher one’s income, the likelihood of regular church attendance increases. In the

richer states, the higher one’s income, the less likely one will be to attend church

regularly. In other words, in poor “red” states, more affluent people are more likely to

attend church than poor people, but in the wealthier “blue” states it is the other way

around. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 83-84)

 

With regards to denominational affiliation, mainline Protestants have traditionally

tended to vote Republican, but these have started to move away from consistent support

for the Republicans as the party’s conservative wing has become dominant and the older

Rockefeller-Eisenhower Republicans have been eclipsed. Catholics have traditionally

supported the Democratic Party, but the Catholic vote has been less consistently

Democratic as the party has become more liberal on social questions such as abortion and

gay rights. Prior to the 1980s, “evangelical,” conservative, or fundamentalist Protestants

were primarily a Democratic constituency. Yet the evangelical vote has shifted by a wide

margin to the Republicans since the liberalization of the Democratic Party and the advent

of the “religious right.” (Gelman, 2008, p. 86)

 

 

What Does the Data Mean?

 

The red state/blue state divide and the division between religious and non-

religious voters did not appear until 1992.  As Gelman, et.al. explain:

 

Part of the story is Bill Clinton, who repelled many religious conservatives

who saw a connection between his adulterous lifestyle and his support for

liberal social causes. (Reagan had been divorced, but that was long in the past, and he sided with the Religious Right on many issues.) There was also the growing strength of the evangelical movement as followers of Pat Robertson

and other gained influence in state Republican parties…On the other side, Democrats became more committed to liberal positions on abortion and gay rights…With the closer alignment of moral issues to the political parties, voters have sorted themselves on these attitudes. (Gelman, 2008, p. 87-88)

 

 

Within this political framework and alignment of political parties with particular social

causes and sets of cultural values, a voter who is both affluent and religious will

unsurprisingly vote for the Republicans. A voter who is poor and religious could vote

either Democratic or Republican. The data also shows that wealthy, non-religious people

are about evenly divided between the two parties. In other words, support for the

Republicans comes primarily from middle to upper class people who are also religious.

Support for the Democrats comes from the non-religious and lower-class religious

people. Contra the Marxist view of religion as the “opium of the masses” whereby the

working classes are distracted from pursuing their material interests because of religious

or cultural values or biases, the evidence indicates that it is the affluent whose politics

are most influenced by their cultural norms. Gelman, Park, Shor, Bafumi and Cortina

offer this assessment of their research:

 

Voters consider cultural issues to be more important as they become

more financially secure. From this perspective it makes perfect sense

that politics is more about economics in poor states  and more about

culture in rich states. And it also makes sense that, among low-income

voters, political attitudes are not much different in red or blue states,

whereas the cultural divide of the two Americas looms larger at high

incomes. For predicting your vote, we suspect that it’s not so important

whether you buy life’s necessities at Wal-Mart or the corner grocery, but

that it might be more telling if you spend your extra income on auto-racing

tickets or on a daily gourmet coffee. We can understand differences between

red and blue America in terms of cultural values of upper-middle-class and

rich voters. Religious attendance is associated with Republican vote most

strongly among high income residents of all states. This does not mean that

lower-income Americans all vote the same way-far from it-but the differences

in how they vote appear to depend less on religious values. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 89-92)

 

As an illustration, the data from the 2004 election demonstrates that the relationship

between income and church attendance was a predictable indicator of how one would

vote in heavily Democratic states, heavily Republican states and “battleground” states

alike. In all three types of states, high income persons who attend church were likely to

vote Republican, while in strongly Democratic states there was no demonstrable

relationship between income and voting patterns.

 

 

Why Is the South Different?

 

The Southern states present two distinct anomalies. The first of these is Bartels

observation that it is only in the South that the phenomenon of white voters lacking

college education voting Republican emerges. (Bartels, 2006) Even so, it has been

established that lower-income voters in the South overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

What makes the South distinct is the proportionately high number of blue-collar whites

who vote Republican, generally lower-middle class persons with annual earnings in the

$20,000-$40,000 range. Even more interesting is that prior to the civil rights revolution of

the 1960s and 1970s, the Democratic Party was so deeply entrenched and

institutionalized in the South that the Southern states essentially comprised a one-party

region. Indeed, the South was known as the “Solid South” in national electoral politics

because the region’s Democratic loyalties were so predictable. It was not until the

passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the subsequent Voting Rights Act that white

voters in the South began to drift towards the Republicans. These pieces of legislation

had been passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by the

Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson. (Lamis, 2005)

 

This explains the shift of the South to the Republicans generally but what about

working class whites in the South? It was this class of whites that proved to be the most

resistant to civil rights in the South. Upper-income whites were more accommodating to

the institutionalization of civil rights, as it was these whites who stood to gain the most

from the economic transformation of the South during the postwar era from a

predominately agricultural society to a modern industrial society, which necessitated at

least some degree of social modernization as well. Furthermore, upper-income whites

were more able to insulate themselves from the perceived “negative” effects of civil

rights, such as racially integrated public spaces and institutions (schools, parks, pools,

golf courses, theaters, etc.) Many of these whites simply formed private schools and

recreational associations for themselves that remained de facto segregated, and often

resided in neighborhoods where the price of housing was cost prohibitive for blacks. In

other words, upper class whites could enjoy the economic and political benefits of public

desegregation while essentially retaining segregation for themselves on a private basis.

 

This was not true of the white working class. Urban working class whites

whose resistance to desegregation failed would then relocate to racially homogenous

white neighborhoods in suburban areas outside of cities. Hence, the well-known pattern

of “white flight.” These patterns of a shift from public segregation to private segregation

by upper-income whites and white flight by working class whites tended to push

Southern whites in general towards fiscal conservatism. Simply put, these whites

did not want to pay taxes to support public institutions and facilities that they regarded as

having been “handed over” to blacks. (Kruse, 2005) Consequently, fiscal and economic

conservatives associated with the Republican Party in the Northern states began to regard

de jure or de facto “racial conservatives” in the South as their natural allies and the two

forces began to bend towards one another. (Lewis, 2006) Over time, the openly racial

dimension of this phenomenon would fade into a middle-class oriented fiscal

conservatism that emphasized “color blindness.” It would be an overstatement to claim

that contemporary working class Southern whites who vote Republican in the name of

fiscal and economic conservatism are simply closet racists who hide their real views

behind something more socially acceptable. Indeed, many of them may well be unaware

of the origins of this particular brand of conservatism, and some of these contemporary

Southern white conservative Republicans are transplanted Northerners (or their

descendents) who had little or no personal exposure to the old system of segregation, but

the roots of contemporary Southern white working class political conservatism in

resistance to civil rights is a demonstrable fact. (Lassiter, 2004; Hall, 2005)

 

The other anomaly to be found in the South is the greater attachment of upper-

income persons to organized religion over lower-income persons. This phenomenon

defies the usual pattern not only in the United States, but world wide. In most societies,

the higher one’s class position, the less likely one will be to practice formal religion. The

American South reverses this pattern. Thus far, it does not appear that enough research

has been done on this situation to make a thorough understanding of its origins or causes

available. One possibility may be the fact that the South was for all practical purposes a

feudal society with a rigid racial caste system and a primarily agrarian economy until the

post-World War Two era. The use of religion as a means of social control by the

traditional Southern white ruling class is well-known. For instance, each of the major

U.S. Protestant denominations split into northern and southern factions over the issue of

slavery prior to the Civil War. Hence, the existence of such contemporary denominations

as the Southern Baptists and Southern Methodists. White fundamentalist preachers were

often defenders of the segregationist status quo during the civil rights era as well.

 

If indeed religion was used as a force for social control, it is understandable that a

tradition of greater than usual attachment to religious institutions would develop among

privileged Southern whites. Likewise, it would certainly be understandable that lower-

class persons would experience greater alienation from religious institutions in such a

situation, leading to an inversion of the usual norm where it is the lower classes that are

more religiously devout than the upper classes. Similar situations have emerged in other

nations. For instance, the radical labor and peasant movements in Spain during the pre-

Franco years included many otherwise culturally conservative persons who developed a

militant anti-clericalism in response to the role of the Catholic Church in Spain as

accomplices to a highly oppressive ruling class. (Bookchin, 2001)

 

The American South displays characteristics concerning the relationship between

personal religiosity, class position and political affiliation that are in some ways similar to

what is often found in Latin American countries. The American South is also more

similar in its history to Latin America than other regions of North America. Both the

South and most of Latin America have a feudal or quasi-feudal past as agrarian societies

with a rigid class structure with organized religious institutions being very much on the

side of the ruling class. In Latin America, the lower-classes tend to be very religious on a

personal level, while formal displays of religious piety through such things as regular

church attendance are more common to the middle classes. The upper layers of the

Church hierarchy in Latin America tend to be very conservative. Voting patterns

in Latin American countries are such that the lower classes typically vote for the Left,

while the middle classes will vote for the center-right Christian Democratic parties, and

the upper classes will vote for the “hard Right.” (Yglesias, 2007) This fairly closely

mirrors class voting patterns in the southern states in the U.S.  It is also true that

evangelical religion in Latin America takes on different forms depending on the class

position of the participants. Middle to upper class Latin American evangelicals will often

espouse social or political views similar to those of the U.S. “Religious Right.” The

Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt was an example of this. On the other hand, lower class

evangelicalism in Latin America tends to take on a “social gospel” flavor much like

African-American religion in America or past expressions of left-wing evangelicalism

that emerged in American populism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth

century. (Freston, 2008) The American South and Latin America are similar to one

another in unique ways in that both regions have both a fairly recent quasi-feudal,

agrarian past and democratic governments. This would set both regions apart from the

rest of North America, Europe, Asia, Africa or the Middle East. There appears to be

unique and similar dynamics working in both regions that give these two regions

characteristics that are difficult to find elsewhere.

 

 

The Big Sort

 

Still another factor affecting voting patterns in American elections is what author

Bill Bishop has called “The Big Sort.” This is a phenomenon where persons with the

financial means of doing so will relocate to a neighborhood, community or even a state

that is more compatible with their cultural interests. This creates a system of cultural self-

segregation among middle to upper income Americans.(Bishop, 2008) To demonstrate

his argument, Bishop acknowledges that in the 1976 Ford-Carter election, the number of

counties in the United States where either candidate won by a landslide (a margin of

twenty percentage points or greater) was significantly fewer in number than the number

of counties where victory was determined by a landslide in the Bush-Kerry election of

  1. Bishop also describes his experience of living in a liberal enclave in the Austin,

Texas area:

 

My wife and I…didn’t intend to move into a community filled with

Democrats, but that’s what we did-effortlessly and without a trace of understanding about what we were doing…In 2000, George W. Bush…

took sixty percent of the state’s vote. But in our patch of Austin, Bush came

in third, behind both Al Gore and Ralph Nader. Four years later, eight out of

ten of our neighbors voted for John Kerry. (Bishop, 2008, p. 1)

 

Like other observers of these issues, Bishop traces the beginnings of the “big sort” to the

cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the subsequent backlash from social

conservatives and religious traditionalists. However, Bishop maintains that the sorting

process really did not begin to manifest itself until the 1990s. During that decade, the

baby boom generation, the first to be heavily influenced by the 1960s-era “cultural

revolution,” entered middle age. The economic expansion of the 1990s and the growth of

the educated population converged to create a situation where large numbers of persons

existed who possessed a combination of affluence, education and a relatively liberal

social outlook. Consequently, both middle aged baby boomers and their younger,

“Generation X” cohorts began to congregate in urban centers “where they would not be

bound by old ideas or tight social ties.” (Bishop, 2008, p. 144)

 

It is also important to recognize that the “big sort” occurs primarily at the level of

local communities, and sometimes individual neighborhoods, rather than at the state

level.  John Tierney observes that in the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush

received the smallest numbers of votes in the states of Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode

Island, Massachusetts, New York and Hawaii. However, all of these states had

Republican governors at the time. Tierney believes such patterns indicate that the “red

state/blue state” divide is a myth, and that most Americans are centrists. (Tierney, 2005)

Jonathan Kandel observes that in the 2000 election, there were only five red states

(Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Nebraska and Idaho) and one blue state (Rhode Island)

where the candidate of either party won by more than sixty percent. Kandel also observes

that of the eleven states that passed initiatives prohibiting same-sex marriage in 2004, two

of these states (Oregon and Michigan) went for the Democrats in the presidential

election, and many others were competitive in that neither party won the presidency by

more than sixty percent. (Kandel, 2006)

 

Bruce Oppenheimer argues that the division between red and blue states

represents divisions between Congressional districts rather than states, and he attributes

this to partisan redistricting, which groups together voters with similar views and partisan

sympathies and has the effect of creating “safe” districts for incumbents or their parties.

(Oppenheimer, 2005) Yet the most compelling evidence is that offered by Bishop.

According to Bishop, in 1976 only twenty-six percent of Americans lived in what he calls

“landslide counties” where the presidential vote is determined by more than a sixty

percent total for the winner. By 1992, the year that Gelman and associates consider to be

the starting point for the “red/blue” divide, thirty-eight percent of voters resided in

landslide counties. That percentage increased with each subsequent presidential election,

and by 2004, forty-eight percent of Americans were living in landslide counties. (Bishop, 2008, pp. 9-10)

 

 

 

The 2008 Presidential Election

 

Bishop has updated his research to include the 2008 presidential election.  In

2008, the number of Americans living in landslide counties was the same as in 2004:

forty-eight percent. This division has tilted strongly towards the Democrats. In 2004, 94

million lived in Democratic landslide counties, while in 2008 it was only 64 million. In

2008, 53 million Americans were in Republican landslide counties, while in 2004 it had

been 83 million. Among states, the average winning margin was seventeen percent, as

opposed to sixteen percent in 2004, fifteen percent in 2000, and ten percent in 1976. The

number of landslide states increased to thirty-six from twenty-nine in 2004. The number

of states where the election was decided by five or less percentage points was down to

seven, from eleven in 2004. Barack Obama won forty-three percent of the rural vote, up

from Kerry’s forty percent in 2004, and fifty-seven percent of the urban vote, up from

Kerry’s fifty-one percent.  Bishop attributes Obama’s greater vote totals in rural America

over Kerry to the success of his strategy of targeting college towns within rural areas.

Also, the 2008 election demonstrated strong divisions among racial and ethnic groups. In

those counties where Obama won by a landslide, only 1.3 whites can be found for every

minority. Yet in McCain-landslide counties, there are five whites for every minority. (Bishop, 2008)

 

 

The Future

 

The most striking feature of the 2008 election is the fact that while the number of

landslide counties remained the same, on a partisan basis the number of persons living in

a landslide county increased by a third for Democrats and decreased by about the

same amount for Republicans. Bishop attributes this to a higher out-migration rate among

Democrats, who relocate to traditionally “red” areas but bring “blue” values with them,

and consequently influence voting patterns in their new localities accordingly. (Bishop, 2008) However, such a shift in a four year period might also be attributed to much more far reaching demographic, cultural and generational change. In 1997, the conservative writer Peter Brimelow made this prediction:

 

The Republican hour is rapidly drawing to a close. Not because the (Republican base) of the West and the South, of the middle class and urban blue-collar voters, is breaking up in the traditional manner. Instead, it is being drowned—as a direct result of the 1965 Immigration Act…Nine-tenths of the immigrant influx is from groups with significant—sometimes overwhelming—Democratic propensities. After thirty years, their numbers are reaching critical mass. And there is no end in sight.

To estimate the future impact of Immigration, we took the 1988 presidential race, in which George Bush beat Michael Dukakis with 53 per cent of the vote. This figure happens also to be the average vote received by the Republicans in presidential elections since 1968—the largest advantage won by any party over any six elections in American history. And it is the vote received by Republicans in 1994, when they took control of the Senate and House. It can reasonably be regarded as the Republican high-water mark.

Then we lowered this high-water mark by accounting for the shifting ethnic balance that the Census projects will result from immigration, assuming that the ethnic groups continued to vote as they did in 1988. The results are startling…Even if the Republicans can again win their 1988 level of support in each ethnic group—which they have miserably failed to do against Bill Clinton—they have at most two presidential cycles left. Then they go inexorably into minority status, beginning in 2008. (Brimelow, 1997)

 

 

Subsequent events since the publication of Brimelow’s article in 1997 would seem to

vindicate his prognosis. Another work making a similar prediction was published by two

writers associated with The New Republic in 2002. In their The Emerging Democratic

Majority, authors John P. Judis and Ruy Teixeira predicted the rise of a new electoral

majority rooted in educated urban professionals, racial and ethnic minorities, feminists

and educated working women, college students, environmentalists, secularists, gays and

lesbians. Judis and Teixeira refer to this phenomenon as “George McGovern’s Revenge”

as these were largely the groups that comprised the 1972 McGovern coalition that lost in

a landslide to President Nixon.

 

However, there is another constituent group among Judis and Teixeira’s predicted

Democratic majority: the white working class. Observing how the Democratic Party lost

substantial numbers of blue collar white voters during the post-civil rights era over race

issues, foreign policy, crime, the rise of the counterculture and the conservative religious

backlash, gun control and the economic downturn of the 1970s, Judis and Teixeira argued

that these voters began to return to the Democrats because of the recession that occurred

in the early 1990s during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. In other

words, blue collar whites were returning to the Democrats at precisely the same time as

the emergence of the red state/blue state electoral divide. President Reagan won the votes

of unionized white workers in 1980 and 1984. George H. W. Bush lost these voters by

four percentage points in 1988. Clinton won the white unionized worker vote by an

average of twenty-three percentage points in 1992 and 1996. Yet, it is during these years

that the current electoral divide emerges, so clearly the conventional view offered by

Thomas Frank and others of “working class Republicans versus upper class Democrats”

is false and likely rooted in outdated stereotypes left over from the Nixon and Reagan

eras.  Indeed, Judis and Teixeira point out that the composition of the “white working

class” has changed significantly, with nearly fifty percent of white workers being women

by 2000, and a significant number of younger, urban white workers with relatively liberal

views on social issues like abortion, the environment or gay rights. Like Brimelow, Judis

and Teixeira predicted that 2008 would be the year that the new Democratic majority

eventually became dominant. (Judis and Teixeira, 2002, p. 14, 37-66)

 

Gelman and associates demonstrate rather clearly that the primary driving force

in the red state/blue state “culture war” is religion. The primary indicator of whether a

middle class person will vote Democratic or Republican is whether they attend church

regularly or not. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, nearly all

American religious denominations have lost members over the last twenty years.

Catholics and Baptists, the two largest denominations, lost one and four percent of their

membership, respectively. The number of people claiming the generic label of

“Christian” has dropped by half a percentage point. Mainline Protestant denominations

have lost nearly a third of their membership since 1990. Persons claiming no religion at

all and persons with agnostic views of religion have both doubled in the past twenty

years, and collectively, skeptics, atheists, agnostics and other unbelievers are the single

largest religious group in the U.S. at twenty percent, except for Catholics with twenty-

five percent.

 

Adherents of the Jewish religion have decreased by one third. Fringe

Protestant denominations like the Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses or

Seventh Day Adventists have either remained the same numerically or increased slightly,

but these are still very small when compared to American society as a whole. The only

religions that have experienced real growth in the past twenty years have been those from

outside traditional American culture. The number of U.S. Muslims and adherents of

“Eastern” religions like Buddhism or Hinduism have doubled, largely due to

immigration, and adherents of so-called “new age” spiritualities, neo-paganism, and

Wicca have grown by one third. (Grossman, 2009)

 

 

Summary and Conclusion

 

It has been demonstrated that the popular view of the red-state/blue-state “culture

war” divide as one pitting working class conservatives against affluent liberals is false.

This view is rooted in archaic stereotypes that have not been especially relevant to U.S.

electoral politics since the “red-state/blue-state” dichotomy has emerged. Specifically, the

defection of white working class voters to the Republicans in the 1970s and 1980s has

since reversed itself. The only region of the United States where the blue collar class

votes Republican in any significant numbers is in the South, and this is due to that

region’s unique history in matters of race, religion and economics. The present-day red-

state/blue-state divide first begins to appear on the electoral map in the 1992 presidential

election, precisely the time that blue collar whites were returning to the Democrats.

 

Nor is this divide a matter of “rich versus poor.” The United States is indeed

polarized along class lines, but this economic polarization takes places on a national

rather than sectional basis. As the overall pattern of wealth and income distribution in the

U.S. has become more uneven in recent decades, support for the Democratic Party among

working class voters has actually increased. Instead, the “red/blue” conflict represents an

intra-class conflict within the middle class, primarily the upper middle class, with middle

class voters in wealthy states being more culturally liberal than their counterparts in

poorer states. The driving force behind this middle class culture war is religion, with

church attendance being the primary indication of how a middle class person will vote.

Geographically, this cultural polarization transpires more at the local community level

rather than at the state level, pitting rural versus urban areas and conservative

neighborhoods against liberal ones, though differences among states are not insignificant.

 

The most compelling piece of evidence to support the argument that the

“red/blue” conflict represents an intra-class divide within the affluent middle-class is the

fact that electoral maps show that the “poor vote” overwhelmingly goes to Democrats

while the “rich vote” overwhelmingly goes to Republicans, and the middle-class vote

breaks down geographically on the standard “red/blue” pattern. This divide plays out on a

geographical basis to the degree that it does because of the effects of Bill Bishop’s “Big

Sort” whereby middle class persons possess the means of self-segregation along cultural,

religious and ideological lines, and this system of self-segregation occurs primarily on a

local rather than state level. The evidence to support this localized geographical divide

consists primarily of the wide margins by which a political party will often win in a

specific locality. In each of the last two presidential elections, one of the parties beat the

other by a margin of more than twenty percentage points in forty-eight percent of all

American counties. The gaps at the state level tend to be smaller. In the 2008 election, the

overall pattern of “red/blue” division among middle and upper-middle income voters

continued. The number of “blue” states increased, while the number of counties

exhibiting an electoral polarization wider than twenty percentage points remained the

same. This is apparently due to two principal factors: a greater out-migration rate from

blue areas to red areas rather than vice versa, and demographic, cultural and generational

change that indicates the population groups that are inclined to vote Republican are

shrinking, while those inclined to vote Democratic are increasing.

 

Furthermore, it can be predicted with relative safety that, barring completely

unforeseen circumstances, the “liberal” side will be the winning side in the “culture war”

and the Democratic Party will likely be the dominant party in U.S. politics for the

foreseeable future. This is due to a combination of the aforementioned generational,

cultural and demographic changes, large scale immigration, economic downturn, an

increased number of educated urban professionals, changing gender roles that include

expanding roles for women, and declining interest in traditional religious beliefs,

practices or denominational affiliation.  This does not mean that “social conservatives” or

the Republican Party will disappear, far from it, but it does mean that the political Right

is less likely to be as influential in the foreseeable future as it has been in the recent past.

 

 

Bibliography:

 

 

Abramowitz, Alan and Kyle L. Saunders (2005). Why We Can’t We All Just Get

Along?: The Reality of a Polarized America. The Forum, Berkeley Electronic Press.

 

Bartels, Larry M. (2008). Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded

     Age. Princeton University Press.

 

Bartels, Larry M. (2006). “What’s the Matter with What’s the Matter with Kansas?”

Journal of Political Science Quarterly, 2006, 1, 201-226.

 

Bill Bishop, (2008). No, We Didn’t: America Hasn’t Changed As Much as Tuesday’s

Results Would Indicate. Salon, November 10, 2008.

 

Bishop, Bill and Robert G. Cushing (2008). The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-

     Minded America is Tearing Us Apart. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin

Company.

 

Bookchin, Murray (2001). The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936.

London: AK Press.

 

Brimelow, Peter and Edward S. Rubenstein (1997). Electing a New People. National

     Review, June 16, 1997.

 

Brooks, David (2001). One Nation, Slightly Divisible. The Atlantic Monthly, December

2001.

 

Fiorina, Morris P. with Samuel J. Abrams and Jeremy C. Pope. (2004). Culture War? The

     Myth of a Polarized America. Longman.

 

Florida, Richard (2002). The Rise of the Creative Class, And How It’s Transforming

     Work, Leisure and Everyday Life. Basic Books.

 

Frank, Thomas (2004). What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the

     Heart of America. New York: Metropolitan Books.

 

Freston, Paul (2008). Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Latin America. Oxford

University Press.

 

Gelman, Andrew and David Park, Boris Shor, Joseph Bafumi, Jeronimo Cortina (2008).

Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton

University Press.

 

Grossman, Cathy Lynn (2009). Most Religious Groups in USA Have Lost Ground,

Survey Finds. USA Today, March 17, 2009.

 

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd (2005). The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of

the Past. Journal of American History 91: 1233-1263

 

Hunter, James Davison (2005). Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. Making

     Sense of the Battles Over the Family, Art, Education, Law and Politics. Second

Edition. Basic Books.

 

Inglehart, Ronald and Pippa Norris (2005). Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics

     Worldwide. Cambridge University Press.

 

Judis, John and Ruy Teixeira (2002). The Emerging Democratic Majority. New York:

Scribner.

 

Kandel, Jonathan (2006). The Myth of the Red State/Blue State Divide. Archived at http://www.politicsandgovernment.ilstu.edu/downloads/icsps_papers/2006/JonathanKandel1.pdf.

 

Kimball, David C. and Cassie A. Gross (2005). “The Growing Polarization of American

Voters,” Presented at The State of the Parties: 2004 and Beyond conference, Akron,

OH, October 6, 2005.

 

Kruse, Kevin M. (2005, July). The Politics of Race and Public Space: Desegregation,

Privatization, and the Tax Revolt in Atlanta. Journal of Urban History: 610-633

 

Lamis, Alexander (2005). The Emergence of a Two-Party System: Southern Politics in

the Twentieth Century. The American South in the Twentieth Century. Athens:

University of Georgia Press.

 

Lassiter, Matthew D. (2004). The Suburban Origins of “Color-Blind” Conservatism:

      Middle-Class Consciousness in the Charlotte Busing Crisis. Journal of Urban History

      30: 549-582

 

Lewis, George (2006, February). Virginia’s Northern Strategy: Southern Segregationists

and the Route to National Conservatism.  Journal of Southern History, 72:111-146.

 

McCarty, Nolan with Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal (2006). Polarized America: The

      Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. Boston: MIT Press.

 

Oppenheimer, Bruce (2005). Deep Red and Blue Congressional Districts: The Causes

and Consequences of Declining Party Competitiveness. In Larry Dodd (Ed.), Congress

      Reconsidered, 8th edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

 

Stonecash, Jeffrey (2005). Scaring the Democrats: What’s the Matter with Thomas

Frank’s Argument? The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary

     Politics, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2005.

 

Tierney, John. (2004). A Nation Divided? Who Says?. The Nation: On Message, June 13,

  1. Sec. 4, Col. 1.

 

Yglesias, Matthew (2007). Religion and Income. The Atlantic. November 11, 2007.

 

 

 

 

Updated News Digest May 31, 2009 1

Quote of the Week:

“An intellectual is someone who has discovered something more interesting than sex.”

“That all men are equal is a proposition which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent.”

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

                                                                                         -Aldous Huxley

The Struggle Against the State by Nestor Makhno

The Empire and Its Ideology by Hans Hermann Hoppe

What Is the Ruling Class? by Sean Gabb

Who Will Stand Up to America and Israel? by Paul Craig Roberts

Obama’s Democratic Authoritarianism by Justin Raimondo

Where Would We Be Without Our Prison-Industrial Complex? by TGGP

Back Into the Cold: Conservative Russia/Revolutionary America by Mark Hackard

Americans Succumb to the Dark Side by Paul Craig Roberts

The Populist Patriotism of Gore Vidal by Bill Kauffman

Who is Oswald Spengler? Austin Bramwell

Military Commissions, Round Three by Joanne Mariner

“Empathy” and International Affairs by Stephen M. Walt

A New Low in Political Correctness? by Sarah Netter

End Medical Slavery by Bill Sardi

The Subconscious Modernism of Graffiti Removal by Ean Frick

Libertarians Against Sprawl by Kevin Carson

Doublespeak on North Korea by Paul Craig Roberts

Is North Korea About to Blow Up the World? No, but lets’s not push by Justin Raimondo

How to Start Your Own Country from The Futurist

Can China Save the World from Depression? by Walden Bello

Jewish Anarcho-Nationalism? from State of Exile

It’s Official: Racism Causes Weight Gain by Harrison Bergeron 2

The Trouble with Prison by Kenneth Hartman

Enriching Our Lives? from Conservative Times

“War on Pot” Overrides “Support Our Troops” by Fred Gardner

The Worst Companies in the World  by Francois Tremblay

America’s Wise Latina Lady by Richard Spencer

How Lew Rockwell Took Over the Libertarian Movement by Gary North

Cheney Made Us Less Safe by Jack Hunter

Muslims Are Good Folks by Charley Reese

Housing: The Bubble Hasn’t Burst (Yet) by Peter Schiff

Middle American Anti-Imperialism by George Leef

The Cheney Doctrine by Pat Buchanan

Colleges Eyes 3-Year Degree Programs by Valerie Strauss

Torture at the Crossroads: Which Way America? by Ron Paul

Setting a Higher Standard for Making a War by Philip Giraldi

The Tamil Tigers Have Been Defeated by Eric Margolis

Gerald Celente on the Economic Apocalypse

When It Rains, It Pours by Charles Pena

MoveOn Remains Silent on War by Tom Hayden

Obama: Preventive Detention is My Policy by Thomas Eddlem

More on That “Bogus” Terrorist Plot in New York by Robert Dreyfuss

Is Israel Planning to Provoke Iran? by Tony Karon

Was Rape an Enhanced Interrogation Technique? by Jacob Hornberger

Downsize the Imperial Presidency by Gene Healy

The Great But Unacknowledged Wisdom of Doing Nothing by Arthur Silber

Feingold’s Constitutional Objection to “Prolonged Detention” by John Nichols

Obama in Netanyahu’s Web by Roger Cohen

Suburban Survivalists by Gillian Flaccus

Another Reason to Secede by Lori Montgomery

Life in Vichy America by Bill Buppert

Christiania Loses Court Challenge

Support Your Local “Domestic Warrior-Heroes by William Norman Grigg

Nationalists Without a Nation by Justin Raimondo

Canadian Anarchist Book Fair Targeted by PIGS 

Big Man Obama and His Diversity Princess by Ilana Mercer

Soviet America?  by Stanislav Mishin

Mark Levin Sucks by Jack Hunter

Sotomayer and the Last of the WASPS by Alexander Cockburn

There is No Authentic American Right by Kevin R.C. Gutzman

Iraq: The Mother of All Corruption Scandals by Patrick Cockburn

The Snitch Faces Human Nature by Razib Khan

When Workers Rights Go Unenforced by David Macaray

A Redneck View of Obamarama by Joe Bageant

Defending Israeli War Crimes by Stephen Zunes

First, Muslims; Next, Maybe You by Steven Greenhut

The Death of Corruption by John Pilger

The End of American Exceptionalism by Eric Black

Becoming Barbarians by Rod Dreher

The Political Theory of Carl Schmitt 2

By Keith Preston

 

Discussion:

 

Carl Schmitt

The Crisis of Parliamentary Liberalism 

The Concept of the Political

The Weimar Republic Sourcebook (p. 331, 334-337, 342-345)

 

          The editors of The Weimar Republic Sourcebook attempt to summarize the political thought of Carl Schmitt and interpret his writings on political and legal theory on the basis of his later association with Nazism between 1933 and 1936. Schmitt is described as having “attempted to drive a wedge between liberalism and democracy and undercut the assumption that rational discourse and legal formalism could be the basis of political legitimacy.”(Sourcebook, p. 331) His contributions to political theory are characterized as advancing the view that “genuine politics was irreducible to socio-economic conflicts and unconstrained by normative considerations”. The essence of politics is a battle to the death “between friend and foe.” The editors recognize distinctions between the thought of Schmitt and that of right-wing revolutionaries of Weimar, but assert that his ideas “certainly provided no obstacle to Schmitt’s opportunistic embrace of Nazism.”

 

          As ostensible support for this interpretation of Schmitt, the editors provide excerpts from two of Schmitt’s works. The first excerpt is from the preface to the second edition of Schmitt’s The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, a work first published in 1923 with the preface having been written for the 1926 edition. In this excerpt, Schmitt describes the dysfunctional workings of the Weimar parliamentary system. He regards this dysfunction as symptomatic of the inadequacies of the classical liberal theory of government. According to this theory as Schmitt interprets it, the affairs of states are to be conducted on the basis of open discussion between proponents of competing ideas as a kind of empirical process. Schmitt contrasts this idealized view of parliamentarianism with the realities of its actual practice, such as cynical appeals by politicians to narrow self-interests on the part of constituents, bickering among narrow partisan forces, the use of propaganda and symbolism rather than rational discourse as a means of influencing public opinion, the binding of parliamentarians by party discipline, decisions made by means of backroom deals, rule by committee and so forth.

 

          Schmitt recognizes a fundamental distinction between liberalism, or “parliamentarism”, and democracy. Liberal theory advances the concept of a state where all retain equal political rights. Schmitt contrasts this with actual democratic practice as it has existed historically. Historic democracy rests on an “equality of equals”, for instance, those holding a particular social position (as in ancient Greece), subscribing to particular religious beliefs or belonging to a specific national entity. Schmitt observes that democratic states have traditionally included a great deal of political and social inequality, from slavery to religious exclusionism to a stratified class hierarchy. Even modern democracies ostensibly organized on the principle of universal suffrage do not extend such democratic rights to residents of their colonial possessions. Beyond this level, states, even officially “democratic” ones, distinguish between their own citizens and those of other states. At a fundamental level, there is an innate tension between liberalism and democracy. Liberalism is individualistic, whereas democracy sanctions the “general will” as the principle of political legitimacy. However, a consistent or coherent “general will” necessitates a level of homogeneity that by its very nature goes against the individualistic ethos of liberalism. This is the source of the “crisis of parliamentarism” that Schmitt suggests. According to the democratic theory rooted in the ideas of Jean Jacques Rosseau, a legitimate state must reflect the “general will”, but no general will can be discerned in a regime that simultaneously espouses liberalism. Lacking the homogeneity necessary for a democratic “general will”, the state becomes fragmented into competing interests. Indeed, a liberal parliamentary state can actually act against the “peoples’ will” and become undemocratic. By this same principle, anti-liberal states such as those organized according to the principles of fascism or bolshevism can be democratic in so far as they reflect the “general will.”

 

            The second excerpt included by the editors is drawn from Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, published in 1927. According to Schmitt, the irreducible minimum on which human political life is based is the friend/enemy distinction. This friend/enemy distinction is to politics what the good/evil dichotomy is to morality, beautiful/ugly to aesthetics, profitable/unprofitable to economics, and so forth. These categories need not be inclusive of one another. For instance, a political enemy need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly. What is significant is that the enemy is the “other” and therefore a source of possible conflict. The friend/enemy distinction is not dependent on the specific nature of the “enemy”. It is merely enough that the enemy is a threat. The political enemy is also distinctive from personal enemies. Whatever one’s personal thoughts about the political enemy, it remains true that the enemy is hostile to the collective to which one belongs. The first purpose of the state is to maintain its own existence as an organized  collective prepared if necessary to do battle to the death with other organized collectives that pose an existential threat. This is the essential core of what is meant by the “political”. Organized collectives within a particular state can also engage in such conflicts (i.e., civil war). Internal conflicts within a collective can threaten the survival of the collective as a whole. As long as existential threats to a collective remain, the friend/enemy concept that Schmitt considers to be the heart of politics will remain valid.

 

           An implicit view of the ideas of Carl Schmitt can be distinguished from the editors’ introductory comments and selective quotations from these two works. Is Schmitt attempting to “drive a wedge” between liberalism and democracy thereby undermining the Weimar regime’s claims to legitimacy and pave the way for a more overtly authoritarian system? Is Schmitt arguing for a more exclusionary form of the state, for instance one that might practice exclusivity on ethnic or national grounds? Is Schmitt attempting to sanction the use of war as a mere political instrument, independent of any normative considerations, perhaps even as an ideal unto itself? If the answer to any of these questions is an affirmative one, then one might be able to plausibly argue that Schmitt is indeed creating a kind of intellectual framework that could later be used to justify at least some of the ideas of Nazism and even lead to an embrace of Nazism by Schmitt himself.

 

          It would appear that the expression “context is everything” becomes a quite relevant when examining the work of Carl Schmitt. It is clear enough that the excerpts from Schmitt included in the The Weimar Republic Sourcebook have been chosen rather selectively. As a glaring example, this important passage from second edition’s preface from The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy has been deleted:

 

“That the parliamentary enterprise today is the lesser evil, that it will continue to be preferable to Bolshevism and dictatorship, that it would have unforseeable consequences were it to be discarded, that it is ‘socially and technically’ a very practical thing-all these are interesting and in part also correct observations. But they do not constitute the intellectual foundations of a specifically intended institution. Parliamentarism exists today as a method of government and a political system. Just as everything else that exists and functions tolerably, it is useful-no more and no less. It counts for a great deal that even today it functions better than other untried methods, and that a minimum of order that is today actually at hand would be endangered by frivolous experiments. Every reasonable person would concede such arguments. But they do not carry weight in an argument about principles. Certainly no one would be so un-demanding that he regarded an intellectual foundation or a moral truth as proven by the question, What else?” (Schmitt, Crisis, pp. 2-3)

 

          This passage, conspicuously absent from the Sourcebook excerpt, indicates that Schmitt is in fact wary of the idea of undermining the authority of the Republic for it’s own sake or for the sake of implementing a revolutionary regime. Schmitt is clearly a “conservative” in the tradition of Hobbes, one who values order and stability above all else, and also Burke, expressing a preference for the established, the familiar, the traditional, and the practical, and an aversion to extremism, fanaticism, utopianism,  and upheaval for the sake of exotic ideological inclinations. Clearly, it would be rather difficult to reconcile such an outlook with the political millenarianism of either Marxism or National Socialism. The “crisis of parliamentary democracy” that Schmitt is addressing is a crisis of legitimacy. On what political or ethical principles does a liberal democratic state of the type Weimar purports to be claim and establish its own legitimacy? This is an immensely important question, given the gulf between liberal theory and parliamentary democracy as it is actually being practiced in Weimar, the conflicts between liberal practice and democratic theories of legitimacy as they have previously been laid out by Rosseau and others and, perhaps most importantly, the challenges to liberalism and claims to “democratic” legitimacy being made by proponents of totalitarian ideologies from both the Left and Right.

 

          The introduction to the first edition and first chapter of Crisis contain a frank discussion of both the intellectual as well as practical problems associated with the practice of “democracy”. Schmitt observes how democracy, broadly defined, has triumphed over older systems, such as monarchy, aristocracy or theocracy in favor of the principle of “popular sovereignty”. However, the advent of democracy has also undermined older theories on the foundations of political legitimacy, such as those rooted in religion (“divine right of kings”), dynastic lineages or mere appeals to tradition. Further, the triumphs of both liberalism and democracy have brought into fuller view the innate conflicts between the two. There is also the additional matter of the gap between the practice of politics (such as parliamentary procedures) and the ends of politics (such as the “will of the people”). Schmitt observes how parliamentarism as a procedural methodology  has a wide assortment of critics, including those representing the forces of reaction (royalists and clerics, for instance) and radicalism (from Marxists to anarchists). Schmitt also points out that he is by no means the first thinker to point out these issues, citing Mosca, Jacob Burckhardt, Belloc, Chesterton, and Michels, among others.

 

          A fundamental question that concerns Schmitt is the matter of what the democratic “will of the people” actually means, observing that an ostensibly democratic state could adopt virtually any set of policy positions, “whether militarist or pacifist, absolutist or liberal, centralized or decentralized, progressive or reactionary, and again at different times without ceasing to be a democracy.” (Schmitt, Crisis, p. 25) He also raises the question of the fate of democracy in a society where “the people” cease to favor democracy. Can democracy be formally renounced in the name of democracy? For instance, can “the people” embrace Bolshevism or a fascist dictatorship as an expression of their democratic “general will”? The flip side of this question asks whether a political class committed in theory to democracy can act undemocratically (against “the will of the people”) if the people display an insufficient level of education in the ways of democracy. How is the will of the people to be identified in the first place? Is it not possible for rulers to construct a “will of the people” of their own through the use of propaganda? For Schmitt, these questions are not simply a matter of intellectual hair-splitting but are of vital importance in a weak, politically paralyzed democratic state where the committment of significant sectors of both the political class and the public at large to the preservation of democracy is questionable, and where the overthrow of democracy by proponents of other ideologies is a very real possibility.

 

          Schmitt examines the claims of parliamentarism to democratic legitimacy. He describes the liberal ideology that underlies parliamentarism as follows:

 

“It is essential that liberalism be understood as a consistent, comprehensive metaphysical system. Normally one only discusses the economic line of reasoning that social harmony and the maximization of wealth follow from the free economic competition of individuals…But all this is only an application of a general liberal principle…: That truth can be found through an unrestrained clash of opinion and that competition will produce harmony.” (Schmitt, Crisis, p. 35)

 

For Schmitt, this view reduces truth to “a mere function of the eternal competition of opinions.” After pointing out the startling contrast between the theory and practice of liberalism, Schmitt suggests that liberal parliamentarian claims to legitimacy are rather weak and examines the claims of rival ideologies. Marxism replaces the liberal emphasis on the competition between opinions with a focus on competition between economic classes and, more generally, differing modes of production that rise and fall as history unfolds. Marxism is the inverse of liberalism, in that it replaces the intellectual with the material. The competition of economic classes is also much more intensified than the competition between opinions and commercial interests under liberalism. The Marxist class struggle is violent and bloody. Belief in parliamentary debate is replaced with belief in “direct action”. Drawing from the same rationalist intellectual tradition as the radical democrats, Marxism rejects parliamentarism as sham covering the dictatorship of a particular class, i.e., the bourgeoise. True democracy is achieved through the reversal of class relations under a proletarian state that rules in the interest of the laboring majority. Such a state need not utilize formal democratic procedures, but may exist as an “educational dictatorship” that functions to enlighten the proletariat regarding its true class interests. Schmitt then contrasts the rationalism of both liberalism and Marxism with irrationalism. Central to irrationalism is the idea of a political myth, comparable to the religious mythology of previous belief systems, and originally developed by the radical left-wing but having since been appropriated by revolutionary nationalists. It is myth that motivates people to action, whether individually or collectively. It matters less whether a particular myth is true than if people are inspired by it.

 

          It is clear enough that Schmitt’s criticisms of liberalism are intended not so much as an effort to undermine democratic legitimacy as much as an effort to confront the weaknesses of the intellectual foundations of liberal democracy with candor and intellectual rigor, not necessarily to undermine liberal democracy, but out of recognition of the need for strong and decisive political authority capable of acting in the interests of the nation during perilous times. Schmitt remarks:

 

“If democratic identity is taken seriously, then in an emergency no other constitutional institution can withstand the sole criterion of the peoples’ will, however it is expressed.” (Sourcebook, p.337)

 

          In other words, the state must first act to preserve itself and the general welfare and well-being of the people at large. If necessary, the state may override narrow partisan interests, parliamentary procedure or, presumably, routine electoral processes. Such actions by political leadership may be illiberal, but not necessarily undemocratic, as the democratic general will does not include national suicide. Schmitt outlines this theory of the survival of the state as the first priority of politics in The Concept of the Political. The essence of the “political” is the existence of organized collectives prepared to meet existential threats to themselves with lethal force if necessary. The “political” is different from the moral, the aesthetic, the economic or the religious as it involves first and foremost the possibility of groups of human beings killing other human beings. This does not mean that war is necessarily “good” or something to be desired or agitated for. Indeed, it may sometimes be in the political interests of a state to avoid war. However, any state that wishes to survive must be prepared to meet challenges to its existence, whether from conquest or domination by external forces or revolution and chaos from internal forces. Additionally, a state must be capable of recognizing its own interests and assume sole responsibility for doing so. A state that cannot identify its enemies and counter enemy forces effectively is threatened existentially.

 

          Schmitt’s political ideas are more easily understood in the context of Weimar’s political situation. He is considering the position of a defeated and demoralized Germany, unable to defend itself against external threats, and threatened internally by weak, chaotic and unpopular political leadership, economic hardship, political and ideological polarization and growing revolutionary movements, sometimes exhibiting terrorist or fanatical characteristics. Schmitt regards Germany as desperately in need of some sort of foundation for the establishment of a recognized, legitimate political authority capable of upholding the interests and advancing the well-being of the nation in the face of foreign enemies and above domestic factional interests. This view is far removed from the Nazi ideas of revolution, crude racial determinism, the cult of the leader and war as a value unto itself. Schmitt is clearly a much different thinker than the adherents of the quasi-mystical nationalism common to the radical right-wing of the era. Weimar’s failure was due in part to the failure of political leadership to effectively address the questions raised by Schmitt.

 

Ernst Junger: The Resolute Life of an Anarch 10

by Keith Preston

Perhaps the most interesting, poignant and, possibly, threatening  type of writer and thinker is the one who not only defies conventional categorizations of thought but also offers a deeply penetrating critique of those illusions many hold to be the most sacred. Ernst Junger (1895-1998), who first came to literary prominence during Germany’s Weimar era as a diarist of the experiences of a front line stormtrooper during the Great War, is one such writer. Both the controversial nature of his writing and its staying power are demonstrated by the fact that he remains one of the most important yet widely disliked literary and cultural figures of twentieth century Germany. As recently as 1993, when Junger would have been ninety-eight years of age, he was the subject of an intensely hostile exchange in the “New York Review of Books” between an admirer and a detractor of his work.(1) On the occasion of his one hundreth birthday in 1995, Junger was the subject of a scathing, derisive musical performed in East Berlin. Yet Junger was also the recipient of Germany’s most prestigious literary awards, the Goethe Prize and the Schiller Memorial Prize. Junger, who converted to Catholicism at the age of 101, received a commendation from Pope John Paul II and was an honored guest of French President Francois Mitterand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the Franco-German reconciliation ceremony at Verdun in 1984. Though he was an exceptional achiever during virtually every stage of his extraordinarily long life, it was his work during the Weimar period that not only secured for a Junger a presence in German cultural and political history, but also became the standard by which much of his later work was evaluated and by which his reputation was, and still is, debated. (2)

 

Ernst Junger was born on March 29, 1895 in Heidelberg, but was raised in Hanover. His father, also named Ernst, was an academically trained chemist who became wealthy as the owner of a pharmaceutical manufacturing business, finding himself successful enough to essentially retire while he was still in his forties. Though raised as an evangelical Protestant, Junger’s father did not believe in any formal religion, nor did his mother, Karoline, an educated middle class German woman whose interests included Germany’s rich literary tradition and the cause of women’s emancipation. His parents’ politics seem to have been liberal, though not radical, in the manner not uncommon to the rising bourgeoise of Germany’s upper middle class during the pre-war period. It was in this affluent, secure bourgeoise environment that Ernst Junger grew up. Indeed, many of Junger’s later activities and professed beliefs are easily understood as a revolt against the comfort and safety of his upbringing. As a child, he was an avid reader of the tales of adventurers and soldiers, but a poor academic student who did not adjust well to the regimented Prussian educational system. Junger’s instructors consistently complained of his inattentiveness. As an adolescent, he became involved with the Wandervogel, roughly the German equivalent of the Boy Scouts.(3)

 

          It was while attending a boarding school near his parents’ home in 1913, at the age of seventeen, that Junger first demonstrated his first propensity for what might be called an “adventurist” way of life. With only six months left before graduation, Junger left school, leaving no word to his family as to his destination. Using money given to him for school-related fees and expenses to buy a firearm and a railroad ticket to Verdun,  Junger subsequently enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, an elite military unit of the French armed forces that accepted enlistees of any nationality and had a reputation for attracting fugitives, criminals and career mercenaries. Junger had no intention of staying with the Legion. He only wanted to be posted to Africa, as he eventually was. Junger then deserted, only to be captured and sentenced to jail. Eventually his father found a capable lawyer for his wayward son and secured his release. Junger then returned to his studies and underwent a belated high school graduation. However, it was only a very short time later that Junger was back in uniform. (4)

 

Warrior and War Diarist

 

Ernst Junger immediately volunteered for military service when he heard the news that Germany was at war in the summer of 1914. After two months of training, Junger was assigned to a reserve unit stationed at Champagne. He was afraid the war would end before he had the opportunity to see any action. This attitude was not uncommon among many recruits or conscripts who fought in the war for their respective states. The question immediately arises at to why so many young people would wish to look into the face of death with such enthusiasm. Perhaps they really did not understand the horrors that awaited them. In Junger’s case, his rebellion against the security and luxury of his bourgeoise upbringing had already been ably demonstrated by his excursion with the French Foreign Legion. Because of his high school education, something that soldiers of more proletarian origins lacked, Junger was selected to train to become an officer. Shortly before beginning his officer’s training, Junger was exposed to combat for the first time. From the start, he carried pocket-sized notebooks with him and recorded his observations on the front lines. His writings while at the front exhibit a distinctive tone of detachment, as though he is simply an observer watching while the enemy fires at others. In the middle part of 1915, Junger suffered his first war wound, a bullet graze to the thigh that required only two weeks of recovery time. Afterwards, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.(5)

 

At age twenty-one, Junger was the leader of a reconnaissance team at the Somme whose purpose was to go out at night and search for British landmines. Early on, he acquired the reputation of a brave soldier who lacked the preoccupation with his own safety common to most of the fighting men. The introduction of steel artifacts into the war, tanks for the British side and steel helmets for the Germans, made a deep impression on Junger. Wounded three times at the Somme, Junger was awarded the Iron Medal First Class. Upon recovery, he returned to the front lines. A combat daredevil, he once held out against a much larger British force with only twenty men. After being transferred to fight the French at Flanders, he lost ten of his fourteen men and was wounded in the left hand by a blast from French shelling. After being harshly criticized by a superior officer for the number of men lost on that particular mission, Junger began to develop a contempt for the military hierarchy whom he regarded as having achieved their status as a result of their class position, frequently lacking combat experience of their own. In late 1917, having already experienced nearly three full years of combat, Junger was wounded for the fifth time during a surprise assault by the British. He was grazed in the head by a bullet, acquiring two holes in his helmet in the process. His performance in this battle won him the Knights Cross of the Hohenzollerns. In March 1918, Junger participated in another fierce battle with the British, losing 87 of his 150 men. (6)

 

            Nothing impressed Junger more than personal bravery and endurance on the part of soldiers. He once “fell to the ground in tears” at the sight of a young recruit who had only days earlier been unable to carry an ammunition case by himself suddenly being able to carry two cases of missles after surviving an attack of British shells. A recurring theme in Junger’s writings on his war experiences is the way in which war brings out the most savage human impulses. Essentially, human beings are given full license to engage in behavior that would be considered criminal during peacetime. He wrote casually about burning occupied towns during the course of retreat or a shift of position. However, Junger also demonstrated a capacity for merciful behavior during his combat efforts. He refrained from shooting a cornered British soldier after the foe displayed a portrait of his family to Junger. He was wounded yet again in August of 1918. Having been shot in the chest and directly through a lung, this was his most serious wound yet. After being hit, he still managed to shoot dead yet another British officer. As Junger was being carried off the battlefield on a stretcher, one of the stretcher carriers was killed by a British bullet. Another German soldier attempted to carry Junger on his back, but the soldier was shot dead himself and Junger fell to the ground. Finally, a medic recovered him and pulled him out of harm’s way. This episode would be the end of his battle experiences during the Great War.(7)

 

In Storms of Steel

 

Junger’s keeping of his wartime diaries paid off quite well in the long run. They were to become the basis of his first and most famous book, In Storms of Steel, published in 1920. The title was given to the book by Junger himself, having found the phrase in an old Icelandic saga. It was at the suggestion of his father that Junger first sought to have his wartime memoirs published. Initially, he found no takers, antiwar sentiment being extremely high in Germany at the time, until his father at last arranged to have the work published privately. In Storms of Steel differs considerably from similar works published by war veterans during the same era, such as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and John Dos Passos’ Three Soldiers. Junger’s book reflects none of the disillusionment with war by those experienced in its horrors of the kind found in these other works. Instead, Junger depicted warfare as an adventure in which the soldier faced the highest possible challenge, a battle to the death with a mortal enemy. Though Junger certainly considered himself to be a patriot and, under the influence of Maurice Barres (8), eventually became a strident German nationalist, his depiction of military combat as an idyllic setting where human wills face the supreme test rose far above ordinary nationalist sentiments. Junger’s warrior ideal was not merely the patriot fighting out of a profound sense of loyalty to his country  nor the stereotype of the dutiful soldier whose sense of honor and obedience compels him to follow the orders of his superiors in a headlong march towards death. Nor was the warrior prototype exalted by Junger necessarily an idealist fighting for some alleged greater good such as a political ideal or religious devotion. Instead, war itself is the ideal for Junger. On this question, he was profoundly influenced by Nietzsche, whose dictum “a good war justifies any cause”, provides an apt characterization of Junger’s depiction of the life (and death) of the combat soldier. (9)

 

This aspect of Junger’s outlook is illustrated quite well by the ending he chose to give to the first edition of In Storms of Steel. Although the second edition (published in 1926) ends with the nationalist rallying cry, “Germany lives and shall never go under!”, a sentiment that was deleted for the third edition published in 1934 at the onset of the Nazi era, the original edition ends simply with Junger in the hospital after being wounded for the final time and receiving word that he has received yet another commendation for his valor as a combat soldier. There is no mention of Germany’s defeat a few months later. Nationalism aside, the book is clearly about Junger, not about Germany, and Junger’s depiction of the war simultaneously displays an extraordinary level detachment for someone who lived in the face of death for four years and a highly personalized account of the war where battle is first and foremost about the assertion of one’s own “will to power” with cliched patriotic pieties being of secondary concern.

 

Indeed, Junger goes so far as to say there were winners and losers on both sides of the war. The true winners were not those who fought in a particular army or for a particular country, but who rose to the challenge placed before them and essentially achieved what Junger regarded as a higher state of enlightenment. He believed the war had revealed certain fundamental truths about the human condition. First, the illusions of the old bourgeoise order concerning peace, progress and prosperity had been inalterably shattered. This was not an uncommon sentiment during that time, but it is a revelation that Junger seems to revel in while others found it to be overwhelmingly devastating. Indeed, the lifelong champion of Enlightenment liberalism, Bertrand Russell, whose life was almost as long as Junger’s and who observed many of the same events from a much different philosophical perspective, once remarked that no one who had been born before 1914 knew what it was like to be truly happy.(10) A second observation advanced by Junger had to do with the role of technology in transforming the nature of war, not only in a purely mechanical sense, but on a much greater existential level. Before, man had commanded weaponry in the course of combat. Now weaponry of the kind made possible by modern technology and industrial civilization essentially commanded man. The machines did the fighting. Man simply resisted this external domination. Lastly, the supremacy of might and the ruthless nature of human existence had been demonstrated. Nietzsche was right. The tragic, Darwinian nature of the human condition had been revealed as an irrevocable law.

 

In Storms of Steel was only the first of several works based on his experiences as a combat officer that were produced by Junger during the 1920s. Copse 125 described a battle between two small groups of combatants. In this work, Junger continued to explore the philosophical themes present in his first work. The type of technologically driven warfare that emerged during the Great War is characterized as reducing men to automatons driven by airplanes, tanks and machine guns. Once again, jingoistic nationalism is downplayed as a contributing factor to the essence of combat soldier’s spirit. Another work of Junger’s from the early 1920s, Battle as Inner Experience, explored the psychology of war. Junger suggested that civilization itself was but a mere mask for the “primordial” nature of humanity that once again reveals itself during war. Indeed, war had the effect of elevating humanity to a higher level. The warrior becomes a kind of god-like animal, divine in his superhuman qualities, but animalistic in his bloodlust. The perpetual threat of imminent death is a kind of intoxicant. Life is at its finest when death is closest. Junger described war as a struggle for a cause that overshadows the respective political or cultural ideals of the combatants. This overarching cause is courage. The fighter is honor bound to respect the courage of his mortal enemy. Drawing on the philosophy of Nietzsche, Junger argued that the war had produced a “new race” that had replaced the old pieties, such as those drawn from religion, with a new recognition of the primacy of the “will to power”.(11)

 

Conservative Revolutionary

 

Junger’s writings about the war quickly earned him the status of a celebrity during the Weimar period. Battle as Inner Experience contained the prescient suggestion that the young men who had experienced the greatest war the world had yet to see at that point could never be successfully re-integrated into the old bougeoise order from which they came. For these fighters, the war had been a spiritual experience. Having endured so much only to see their side lose on such seemingly humiliating terms, the veterans of the war were aliens to the rationalistic, anti-militarist, liberal republic that emerged in 1918 at the close of the war. Junger was at his parents’ home recovering from war wounds during the time of the attempted coup by the leftist workers’ and soldiers’ councils and subsequent suppression of these by the Freikorps. He experimented with psychoactive drugs such as cocaine and opium during this time, something that he would continue to do much later in life. Upon recovery, he went back into active duty in the much diminished Germany army. Junger’s earliest works, such as In Storms of Steel, were published during this time and he also wrote for military journals on the more technical and specialized aspects of combat and military technology. Interestingly, Junger attributed Germany’s defeat in the war simply to poor leadership, both military and civilian, and rejected the “stab in the back” legend that consoled less keen veterans.

 

After leaving the army in 1923, Junger continued to write, producing a novella about a soldier during the war titled Sturm, and also began to study the philosophy of Oswald Spengler. His first work as a philosopher of nationalism appeared the Nazi paper Volkischer Beobachter in September, 1923.

Critiquing the failed Marxist revolution of 1918, Junger argued that the leftist coup failed because of its lacking of fresh ideas. It was simply a regurgitation of the egalitarian outllook of the French Revolution. The revolutionary left appealed only to the material wants of the Germany people in Junger’s views. A successful revolution would have to be much more than that. It would have to appeal to their spiritual or “folkish” instincts as well. Over the next few years Junger studied the natural sciences at the University of Leipzig and in 1925, at age thirty, he married nineteen-year-old Gretha von Jeinsen. Around this time, he also became a full-time political  writer. Junger was hostile to Weimar democracy and its commercial bourgeiose society. His emerging political ideal was one of an elite warrior caste that stood above petty partisan politics and the middle class obsession with material acquisition. Junger became involved with the the Stahlhelm, a right-wing veterans group, and was a contributer to its paper, Die Standardite. He associated himself with the younger, more militant members of the organization who favored an uncompromised nationalist revolution and eschewed the parliamentary system. Junger’s weekly column in Die Standardite disseminated his nationalist ideology to his less educated readers. Junger’s views at this point were a mixture of Spengler, Social Darwinism, the traditionalist philosophy of the French rightist Maurice Barres, opposition to the internationalism of the left that had seemingly been discredited by the events of 1914, irrationalism and anti-parliamentarianism. He took a favorable view of the working class and praised the Nazis’ efforts to win proletarian sympathies. Junger also argued that a nationalist outlook need not be attached to one particular form of government, even suggesting that a liberal monarchy would be inferior to a nationalist republic.(12)

 

In an essay for Die Standardite titled “The Machine”, Junger argued that the principal struggle was not between social classes or political parties but between man and technology. He was not anti-technological in a Luddite sense, but regarded the technological apparatus of modernity to have achieved a position of superiority over mankind which needed to be reversed. He was concerned that the mechanized efficiency of modern life produced a corrosive effect on the human spirit. Junger considered the Nazis’ glorification of peasant life to be antiquated. Ever the realist, he believed the world of the rural people to be in a state of irreversible decline. Instead, Junger espoused a “metropolitan nationalism” centered on the urban working class. Nationalism was the antidote to the anti-particularist materialism of the Marxists who, in Junger’s views, simply mirrored the liberals in their efforts to reduce the individual to a component of a mechanized mass society. The humanitarian rhetoric of the left Junger dismissed as the hypocritical cant of power-seekers feigning benevolence. He began to pin his hopes for a nationalist revolution on the younger veterans who comprised much of the urban working class.

 

In 1926, Junger became editor of Arminius, which also featured the writings of Nazi leaders like Alfred Rosenberg and Joseph Goebbels. In 1927, he contributed his final article to the Nazi paper, calling for a new definition of the “worker”, one not rooted in Marxist ideology but the idea of the worker as a civilian counterpart to the soldier who struggles fervently for the nationalist ideal. Junger and  Hitler had exchanged copies of their respective writings and a scheduled meeting between the two was canceled due to a change in Hitler’s itinerary. Junger respected Hitler’s abilities as an orator, but came to feel he lacked the ability to become a true leader. He also found Nazi ideology to be intellectually shallow, many of the Nazi movement’s leaders to be talentless and was displeased by the vulgarity,  crassly opportunistic and overly theatrical aspects of Nazi public rallies. Always an elitist, Junger considered the Nazis’ pandering the common people to be debased. As he became more skeptical of the Nazis, Junger began writing for a wider circle of readers beyond that of the militant nationalist right-wing. His works began to appear in the Jewish liberal Leopold Schwarzchild’s Das Tagebuch and the “national-bolshevik” Ernst Niekisch’s Widerstand.

 

Junger began to assemble around himself an elite corps of bohemian, eccentric intellectuals who would meet regularly on Friday evenings. This group included some of the most interesting personalities of the Weimar period. Among them were the Freikorps veteran Ernst von Salomon, Otto von Strasser, who with his brother Gregor led a leftist anti-Hitler faction of the Nazi movement, the national-bolshevik Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam who had figured prominently in the early phase of the failed leftist revolution of 1918, the American writer Thomas Wolfe and the expressionist writer Arnolt Bronnen. Many among this group espoused a type of revolutionary socialism based on nationalism rather than class, disdaining the Nazis’ opportunistic outreach efforts to the middle class. Some, like Niekisch, favored an alliance between Germany and Soviet Russia against the liberal-capitalist powers of the West. Occasionally, Joseph Goebbels would turn up at these meetings hoping to convert the group, particularly Junger himself, whose war writings he had admired, to the Nazi cause. These efforts by the Nazi propaganda master proved unsuccessful. Junger regarded Goebbels as a shallow ideologue who spoke in platitudes even in private conversation.(13)

 

The final break between Ernst Junger and the NSDAP occurred in September 1929. Junger published an article in Schwarzchild’s Tagebuch attacking and ridiculing the Nazis as sell outs for having reinvented themselves as a parliamentary party. He also dismissed their racism and anti-Semitism as ridiculous, stating that according to the Nazis a nationalist is simply someone who “eats three Jews for breakfast.” He condemned the Nazis for pandering to the liberal middle class and reactionary traditional conservatives “with lengthy tirades against the decline in morals, against abortion, strikes, lockouts, and the reduction of police and military forces.” Goebbels responded by attacking Junger in the Nazi press, accusing him being motivated by personal literary ambition, and insisting this had caused him “to vilify the national socialist movement, probably so as to make himself popular in his new kosher surroundings” and dismissing Junger’s attacks by proclaiming the Nazis did not “debate with renegades who abuse us in the smutty press of Jewish traitors.”(14)

 

Junger on the Jewish Question

 

Junger held complicated views on the question of German Jews. He considered anti-Semitism of the type espoused by Hitler to be crude and reactionary. Yet his own version of nationalism required a level of homogeneity that was difficult to reconcile with the subnational status of Germany Jewry. Junger suggested that Jews should assimilate and pledge their loyalty to Germany once and for all. Yet he expressed admiration for Orthodox Judaism and indifference to Zionism. Junger maintained personal friendships with Jews and wrote for a Jewish owned publication. During this time his Jewish publisher Schwarzchild published an article examining Junger’s views on the Jews of Germany. Schwarzchild insisted that Junger was nothing like his Nazi rivals on the far right. Junger’s nationalism was based on an aristocratic warrior ethos, while Hitler’s was more comparable to the criminal underworld. Hitler’s men were “plebian alley scum”. However, Schwarzchild also characterized Junger’s rendition of nationalism as motivated by little more than a fervent rejection of bourgeoise society and lacking in attention to political realities and serious economic questions.(15)

 

The Worker

 

Other than In Storms of Steel, Junger’s The Worker: Mastery and Form was his most influential work from the Weimar era. Junger would later distance himself from this work, published in 1932, and it was reprinted in the 1950s only after Junger was prompted to do so by Martin Heidegger.

In The Worker, Junger outlines his vision of a future state ordered as a technocracy based on workers and soldiers led by a warrior elite. Workers are no longer simply components of an industrial machine, whether capitalist or communist, but have become a kind of civilian-soldier operating as an economic warrior. Just as the soldier glories in his accomplishments in battle, so does the worker glory in the achievements expressed through his work. Junger predicted that continued technological advancements would render the worker/capitalist dichotomy obsolete. He also incorporated the political philosophy of his friend Carl Schmitt into his worldview. As Schmitt saw international relations as a Hobbesian battle between rival powers, Junger believed each state would eventually adopt a system not unlike what he described in The Worker. Each state would maintain its own technocratic order with the workers and soldiers of each country playing essentially the same role on behalf of their respective nations. International affairs would be a crucible where the will to power of the different nations would be tested.

Junger’s vision contains a certain amount prescience. The general trend in politics at the time was a movement towards the kind of technocratic state Junger described. These took on many varied forms including German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Soviet Communism, the growing welfare states of Western Europe and America’s New Deal. Coming on the eve of World War Two, Junger’s prediction of a global Hobbesian struggle between national collectives possessing previously unimagined levels of technological sophistication also seems rather prophetic. Junger once again attacked the bourgeoise as anachronistic. Its values of material luxury and safety he regarded as unfit for the violent world of the future. (16)

 

The National Socialist Era

 

By the time Hitler took power in 1933, Junger’s war writings had become commonly used in high schools and universities as examples of wartime literature, and Junger enjoyed success within the context of German popular culture as well. Excerpts of Junger’s works were featured in military journals. The Nazis tried to coopt his semi-celebrity status, but he was uncooperative. Junger was appointed to the Nazified German Academcy of Poetry, but declined the position. When the Nazi Party’s paper published some of his work in 1934, Junger wrote a letter of protest. The Nazi regime, despite its best efforts to capitalize on his reputation, viewed Junger with suspicioun. His past association with the national-bolshevik Ersnt Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam and the anti-Hitler Nazi Otto von Strasser, all of whom were either eventually killed or exiled by the Third Reich, led the Nazis to regard Junger as a potential subversive. On several occasions, Junger received visits from the Gestapo in search of some of his former friends. During the early years of the Nazi regime, Junger was in the fortunate position of being able to economically afford travel outside of Germany. He journeyed to Norway, Brazil, Greece and Morocco during this time, and published several works based on his travels.(17)

 

Junger’s most significant work from the Nazi period is the novel On the Marble Cliffs. The book is an allegorical attack on the Hitler regime. It was written in 1939, the same year that Junger reentered the German army. The book describes a mysterious villian that threatens a community, a sinister warlord called the “Head Ranger”. This character is never featured in the plot of the novel, but maintains a forboding presence that is universal (much like “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s 1984). Another character in the novel, “Braquemart”, is described as having physical characteristics remarkably similar to those of Goebbels. The book sold fourteen thousand copies during its first two weeks in publication. Swiss reviewers immediately recognized the allegorical references to the Nazi state in the novel. The Nazi Party’s organ, Volkische Beobachter, stated that Ernst Jünger was flirting with a bullet to the head. Goebbels urged Hitler to ban the book, but Hitler refused, probably not wanting to show his hand. Indeed, Hitler gave orders that Junger not be harmed.(18)

         

Junger was stationed in France for most of the Second World War. Once again, he kept diaries of the experience. Once again, he expressed concern that he might not get to see any action before the war was over. While Junger did not have the opportunity to experience the level of danger and daredevil heroics he had during the Great War, he did receive yet another medal, the Iron Cross, for retrieving the body of a dead corporal while under heavy fire. Junger also published some of his war diaries during this time. However, the German government took a dim view of these, viewing them as too sympathetic to the occupied French. Junger’s duties included censorship of the mail coming into France from German civilians. He took a rather liberal approach to this responsibility and simply disposed of incriminating documents rather than turning them over for investigation. In doing so, he probably saved lives. He also encountered members of France’s literary and cultural elite, among them the actor Louis Ferdinand Celine, a raving anti-Semite and pro-Vichyite who suggested Hitler’s harsh measures against the Jews had not been heavy handed enough. As rumors of the Nazi extermination programs began to spread,  Junger wrote in his diary that the mechanization of the human spirit of the type he had written about in the past had apparently generated a higher level of human depravity. When he saw three young French-Jewish girls wearing the yellow stars required by the Nazis, he wrote that he felt embarrassed to be in the Nazi army. In July of 1942, Junger observed the mass arrest of French Jews, the beginning of implementation of the “Final Solution”. He described the scene as follows:

 

“Parents were first separated from their children, so there was wailing to be heard in the streets. At no moment may I forget that I am surrounded by the unfortunate, by those suffering to the very depths, else what sort of person, what sort of officer would I be? The uniform obliges one to grant protection wherever it goes. Of course one has the impression that one must also, like Don Quixote, take on millions.”(19)

         

An entry into Junger’s diary from October 16, 1943 suggests that an unnamed army officer had told  Junger about the use of crematoria and poison gas to murder Jews en masse. Rumors of plots against Hitler circulated among the officers with whom Junger maintained contact. His son, Ernstl, was arrested after an informant claimed he had spoken critically of Hitler. Ernstl Junger was imprisoned for three months, then placed in a penal battalion where he was killed in action in Italy. On July 20, 1944 an unsuccessful assassination attempt was carried out against Hitler. It is still disputed as to whether or not Junger knew of the plot or had a role in its planning. Among those arrested for their role in the attemt on Hitler’s life were members of Junger’s immediate circle of associates and superior officers within the German army. Junger was dishonorably discharged shortly afterward.(20)

 

Following the close of the Second World War, Junger came under suspicion from the Allied occupational authorities because of his far right-wing nationalist and militarist past. He refused to cooperate with the Allies De-Nazification programs and was barred from publishing for four years. He would go on to live another half century, producing many more literary works, becoming a close friend of Albert Hoffman, the inventor of the hallucinogen LSD, with which he experimented. In a 1977 novel, Eumeswil, he took his tendency towards viewing the world around him with detachment to a newer, more clearly articulated level with his invention of the concept of the “Anarch”. This idea, heavily influenced by the writings of the early nineteenth century German philosopher Max Stirner, championed the solitary individual who remains true to himself within the context of whatever external circumstances happen to be present. Some sample quotations from this work illustrate the philosophy and worldview of the elderly Junger quite well:

 

“For the anarch, if he remains free of being ruled, whether by sovereign or society, this does not mean he refuses to serve in any way. In general, he serves no worse than anyone else, and sometimes even better, if he likes the game. He only holds back from the pledge, the sacrifice, the ultimate devotion … I serve in the Casbah; if, while doing this, I die for the Condor, it would be an accident, perhaps even an obliging gesture, but nothing more.”

 

“The egalitarian mania of demagogues is even more dangerous than the brutality of men in gallooned coats. For the anarch, this remains theoretical, because he avoids both sides. Anyone who has been oppressed can get back on his feet if the oppression did not cost him his life. A man who has been equalized is physically and morally ruined. Anyone who is different is not equal; that is one of the reasons why the Jews are so often targeted.”

 

“The anarch, recognizing no government, but not indulging in paradisal dreams as the anarchist does, is, for that very reason, a neutral observer.”

 

“Opposition is collaboration.”

 

“A basic theme for the anarch is how man, left to his own devices, can defy superior force – whether state, society or the elements – by making use of their rules without submitting to them.”

 

“… malcontents… prowl through the institutions eternally dissatisfied, always disappointed. Connected with this is their love of cellars and rooftops, exile and prisons, and also banishment, on which they actually pride themselves. When the structure finally caves in they are the first to be killed in the collapse. Why do they not know that the world remains inalterable in change? Because they never find their way down to its real depth, their own. That is the sole place of essence, safety. And so they do themselves in.”

 

“The anarch may not be spared prisons – as one fluke of existence among others. He will then find the fault in himself.”

 

“We are touching one a … distinction between anarch and anarchist; the relation to authority, to legislative power. The anarchist is their mortal enemy, while the anarch refuses to acknowledge them. He seeks neither to gain hold of them, nor to topple them, nor to alter them – their impact bypasses him. He must resign himself only to the whirlwinds they generate.”

 

“The anarch is no individualist, either. He wishes to present himself neither as a Great Man nor as a Free Spirit. His own measure is enough for him; freedom is not his goal; it is his property. He does not come on as foe or reformer: one can get along nicely with him in shacks or in palaces. Life is too short and too beautiful to sacrifice for ideas, although contamination is not always avoidable. But hats off to the martyrs.”

 

“We can expect as little from society as from the state. Salvation lies in the individual.” (21)

 

Notes:

 

1. Ian Buruma, “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993. Hilary Barr, “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

 

2. Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 1-7. Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974, preface.

 

3. Nevin, pp. 9-26. Loose, p. 21

 

4. Loose, p. 22. Nevin, pp. 27-37.

 

5. Nevin. p. 49.

 

6. Ibid., p. 57

 

7. Ibid., p. 61

 

8. Maurice Barrès (September 22, 1862 December 4, 1923) was a French novelist, journalist, an anti-semite, nationalist politician and agitator. Leaning towards the far-left in his youth as a Boulangist deputy, he progressively developed a theory close to Romantic nationalism and shifted to the right during the Dreyfus Affair, leading the Anti-Dreyfusards alongside Charles Maurras. In 1906, he was elected both to the Académie française and as deputy of the Seine department, and until his death he sat with the conservative Entente républicaine démocratique. A strong supporter of the Union sacrée(Holy Union) during World War I, Barrès remained a major influence of generations of French writers, as well as of monarchists, although he was not a monarchist himself. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Barr%C3%A8s

 

9. Nevin, pp. 58, 71, 97.

 

10. Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

 

11. Nevin, pp. 122, 125, 134, 136, 140, 173.

 

12. Ibid., pp. 75-91.

 

13. Ibid., p. 107.

 

14. Ibid., p. 108.

 

15. Ibid., pp. 109-111.

 

16. Ibid., pp. 114-140.

 

17. Ibid., p. 145.

 

18. Ibid., p. 162.

 

19. Ibid., p. 189.

 

20. Ibid., p. 209.

 

21. Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marion Publishers, 1980, 1993.

 

Bibliography

 

Barr, Hilary. “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

 

Braun, Abdalbarr. “Warrior, Waldgaenger, Anarch: An Essay on Ernst Junger’s Concept of the Sovereign Individual”. Archived at http://www.fluxeuropa.com/juenger-anarch.htm

 

Buruma, Ian. “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993.

 

Hofmann, Albert. LSD: My Problem Child, Chapter Seven, “Radiance From Ernst Junger”. Archived at http://www.flashback.se/archive/my_problem_child/chapter7.html

 

Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974.

 

Hervier, Julien. The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1986.

 

Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1980, 1993.

 

Junger, Ernst. In Storms of Steel. New York: Penguin Books, 1920, 1963, 2003.

 

Junger, Ernst. On the Marble Cliffs. New York: Duenewald Printing Corporation, 1947.

 

Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germnay: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996.

 

Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

 

Stern, J. P. Ernst Junger. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.

 

Zavrel, Consul B. John. “Ernst Junger is Still Working at 102”. Archived at http://www.meaus.com/Ernst%20Junger%20at%20102.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated News Digest May 24, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“The exception is more interesting than the rule. The rule proves nothing; the exception proves everything: It confirms not only the rule but also its existence, which derives only from the exception. In the exception the power of real life breaks through the crust of a mechanism that has become torpid by repetition.”

                                                                                                   -Carl Schmitt

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                                                                                                  -George Bernard Shaw

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 The Decline and Fall of the Globalist Empire by Joe Schembrie

Obama, Accessory After the Fact by Glenn Greenwald

We Are the “Enemy of the State” by Mike Gaddy

The Coercive Education Industry by Myron Weber

How the Tamil Tigers Were Beaten

When a Cop is Charged with Assault by William Norman Grigg

Former South African Deputy President Pisses Off Gays

Supporting Police Abuse by Bill Anderson

Texas Builds Border Wall to Keep Out Unwanted Americans 

Woman Handcuffed for Not Holding Escalator Handrail by Karen De Coster

Jesse Ventura on the Lying Torturing U.S. Government 

Economists and the Zimbabwe Solution by Bill Anderson

Same Old Boss, But Talks Pretty from Social Memory Complex

The State is Still the Main Evil from Free Association

Did Bibi Box Obama In? by Pat Buchanan

Remember the Victims of the Therapeutic State from Free Association

Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney by Paul Craig Roberts

Neocons Happy with Obama from Free Association

Race Difference, Immigration, and the Twilight of the European Peoples by Richard Lynn

Just Say No to Government by Jack Hunter

Workers Shut Down Wal-Mart Warehouse from Dead End

10th Division by Ilana Mercer

Ron Paul is Under Lindsey Graham’s Skin by Patroon

White Like Us by Richard Spencer

Women and Immigration  by TGGP

Is Waterboarding Torture? by Jack Hunter

Russia Rejects the U.S. Dollar 

Thoughts on White Nationalism by Dylan Hales

Radicals Battle PIGS in Greece

Celebrity Worship   by Taki Theodoracopulos

Kudos to Clinton and Canada by TGGP

An Empire of Desire by Mark Hackard

Weimar Hyperinflation: Could It Happen Again? by Ellen Brown

Obama’s Animal Farm by James Petras

Barack Obama and Black Power by Malik Zulu Shabazz

The New Bubble is the Biggest Ever by Gerald Celente

The Successor to the Dollar by Jim Rogers

Modern Survivalism  by Jack Spirko

Blowing Smoke on Gitmo by Ivan Eland

A New Libertarian Classic by Jeffrey Tucker

The Virtues of Gorbachevism by Eduoard Husson

An Introduction to Revisionism by Jeff Riggenback interviewed by Scott Horton

Cheney: Support for Israel Feeds Terrorism by Ray McGovern

The Empire is Bankrupting America by Jacob Hornberger

War President: They’re All War Presidents by Glenn Greenwald

Facts and Myths About Obama’s Preventive Detention Proposal by Glenn Greenwald

Choose the Right Gun by Charley Reese

How Long Does It Take? by Alexander Cockburn

The Morality of Torture by Laurence Vance

Obama, Torture and John Walker Lindh by Michael Teitelman

No More Commie or Fascist Highways by Walter Block

King Abdullah’s 57-State Solution by Rannie Amiri

Bartering is Booming by Kevin Simpson

Obama to Honor Confederate Dead by Lew Rockwell

PIG Assaults and Maims Innocent Man  

PIG Causes Deadly Crash While Driving 109 Miles an Hour

Updated News Digest May 17, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always civilized and tolerant.”

                                                                                              H. L. Mencken

Why is the US making itself impotent fighting wars that have nothing whatsoever to do with is security, wars that are, in fact, threatening its security?  The answer is that the military/security lobby, the financial gangsters, and AIPAC rule.  The American people be damned.”

                                                                                            -Paul Craig Roberts

Secede! Bill Buppert interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Did Somebody Say Secession? by Jack Hunter

How Dare Anyone Question the Fed? by Thomas Woods

Who Rules America? by Paul Craig Roberts

It is Getting Very Serious Now by Chuck Baldwin

Do You Feel Safer Now? from No Third Solution

Intellectual Property: A Libertarian Critique by Kevin Carson

The Great American Bank Robbery (of US) by Thomas N. Naylor

Twelve Axioms of American Foreign Policy Towards Israel by Thomas N. Naylor

The New Neocons  by Justin Raimondo

Hillary and the Sleeping Dragon by William S. Lind

A Practical Path to Secession by Bill Buppert

King of the Hate Business by Alexander Cockburn

Local Barter Clubs Proliferating by Hazel Henderson

Money Talks  by Tomislav Sunic

Workers Power and the Ultra-Right by Ean Frick

Apostle of Catastrophe Kirkpatrick Sale interviewed by Derek Turner

Pentagon Gluttons by Charles Pena

Pelosi the Ennabler by Robert Scheer

The Inside Fight Over Torture by Nick Baumann

New General, Same War by Robert Dreyfuss

10th Amendment Showdown by John Bowman

Obama’s Latest Effort to Conceal Evidence of Bush Era Crimes by Glenn Greenwald

Saving Israel from Itself by John J. Mearsheimer

The Hidden Hand of Dick Cheney by Juan Cole

Torture Cannot Be Justified to Save Lives by Klint Alexander

Surprise! by Harrison Bergeron 2

On Cops and Gangs by Manuel Lora

The Cure for Layoffs: Fire the Boss! by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis

PIGS Kill Teenager Over Expired License Tags 

Employees Occupy Their Company in Rochester 

Where Were All of the Business Schools When Wall Street Needed Them Most? by Thomas N. Naylor

PIGS Attack Stuffed Animal with Taser 

The Shell Game of Democracy by Ray Mangum

Judicial Restraint by TGGP

Wanted: A Fighting Party by Pat Buchanan

Savage Nation by Derek Turner

Remembering the Great Screaming Lord Sutch by Ray Mangum (check it out!

Bull Markets in the Cocaine Game by Mark Easton

The U.S. Descends Deeper into the Third World 

PETA Founder Comes Up With Another Howler by Francois Tremblay

The Fascist Federation vs Free-Market Aliens by John Bowman

The Rule of the “Experts” by Justin Raimondo

Saigon Again? by Philip Giraldi

What a Horrible Weapon the Taser is… (especially in the hands of the PIGS) by William Norman Grigg

We Face Economic Destruction by Murray Rothbard

Understanding the Long War by Tom Hayden

Saberi’s Plight and American Media Propaganda by Glenn Greenwald

It’s Time to End the Cold War by James Bissett

Obama’s Empire by Sheldon Richman

The Case Against World Currency Schemes by David Gordon

Obama Can’t Fix the Military Commissions by Denny LeBoeuf

Becoming What We Seek to Destroy by Chris Hedges

The Bubble to End All Bubbles by Gerald Celente

Bill Would Turn Bloggers Into Felons by John Cox

Mohawks March on Canadian Border by Michael Peeling

The Bomb Iran Faction by Gary Leupp

Obama Chooses a Reliable Dictatorship by Wajahat Ali

Why Isn’t Obama Turning to Credit Unions? by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Pseudo-Science and Wrongful Convictions in the War on Drugs by John Kelly

Who Killed 120 Civilians? by Patrick Cockburn

New York Governor Does the Right Thing by Anthony Papa

Jon Stewart and Truman, the War Criminal by Paul Krassner

Savage Nation by Derek Turner

A Hypocrisy That Can Win by Richard Spencer

Ron Paul Republicans by Jack Hunter

Social Solidarity is Overrated by Richard Spencer

The Economics of the Meltdown interview with Tom Woods

Michael Savage is Our Business by Marcus Epstein

Star Trek and Humanity by Razib Khan

Glen Beck Discusses Anarchy with Penn Jillette hat tip to Francois Tremblay

Bakunin on Order hat tip to Brad Spangler

 Where Russia Went Wrong by Michael Hudson

The Limits of Liberalism by Lance Selfa

Obama Channels Cheney by Dave Lindorff

Obama and Latin America: No Light, All Tunnell by Robert Sandels

The Banker Boys Are Alright: Time to End the Bailouts by Dean Baker

It’s Time for Another Stock Market Correction interview with Jim Rogers

A Sucker’s Rally by Gary North

The Bitterly Clinging Obama by Vin Suprynowicz

Death of a Civilization by Dave Deming

Four Traits of the Really Successful Investors by Chris Clancy

1984: The Book That Killed George Orwell by Robert McCrum

Christians for Torture by Laurence Vance

U.S. Out of Pakistan and Afghanistan by Ron Paul

The Social Benefits of Saving by Hans Hermann Hoppe

Gangbangers in Blue by William Norman Grigg

Jesse Ventura Wants Cheney on a Waterboard from Larry King Live

Support Your Local Police? by Laurence Vance

Tax Revolt in California by Gary North

What Did Nancy Know? by Justin Raimondo

Twenty Years After the Fall by Eduoard Husson

The Politics of Excusing Torture in the Name of National Security by John Dean

Obama Administration Statements on Iranian Nukes Not Backed by Intelligence by Jeremy Hammond

The Sematics of Torture by John McQuaid

Obama: A Careerist, Not an Ideologue by Pat Buchanan

National Bankruptcy by Peter Schiff

Child Abusers in Uniform? from No Third Solution

The Tragedy of Classical Liberalism by Gus diZerega

For Reproductive Anarchy by Roderick Long

Anarcho-Communists for Private Property? by Roderick Long

Film Crew Arrested for Filming PIG from Rad Geek

How the Left Killed Hollywood Drama by S.T. Karnick

Is College Worth It? by Tom Piatak

You Can’t Do This on Television or Can You? by Dylan Hales

Cultural Continuity and Revolution 

Neo-Slavery Re-Emerging as a Business Strategy by Brenda Walker

Obama Picks Up Where Bush Left Off by Mike Whitney

A Real History of Rupert Murdoch by Bruce Page

The Black Shirts of Guantanamo by Jeremy Scahill

Vaginas from Outer Space! by Kim Nicolini

PIGS Assault Pastor

Can Star Trek‘s Non-Violent Utopia Happen?

A Special Kind of Feminist

You’ve Got to See This One to Believe It

Updated News Digest May 10, 2009 1

Quote of the Week:

“There’s the populist wing of the libertarian movement, and then there’s the Washington crowd that’s still trying to sell libertarianism, or their version of it, to elites. These people want to go along and get along. As long as they can abort their babies and sodomize each other and take as many drugs as they want to, they are happy. They don’t care who is being killed in Iraq and how many Iraqis are dying. That’s their hierarchy of values.”

                                                                                                          -Justin Raimondo

Joke of the Week:

“Watching Keith Preston shows me beyond the shadow of the doubt that life isn’t worth living as a cold manipulator.”

                                                                                              -Anonymous Lunatic

The Tyranny of Tolerance by Hal G.P. Colebatch

Soft Totalitarianism by Thomas Jackson

“Hate Crimes” Prevention Bill Will Suppress Speech by Paul Craig Roberts

The Left Attacks the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle by Matthew Yglesias

Torture and Mr. Obama by William Blum

Obama’s War Budget by Jeff Leys

The Marijuana Dilemma: Free Market Decriminalization vs Bureaucratic Legalization by Daniel Flynn

When Norman Mailer Ran for Mayor of NYC by John Buffalo Mailer

Obama’s Afghan-Ignorant Policy by Michael Scheuer

Ignore AIPAC at America’s Peril by Philip Giraldi

The Great Depression of 2009 by Gerald Celente

Exempting Israel From Criticism by Paul Craig Roberts

Is Obama Taking on the Israel Lobby? by Justin Raimondo

Obama Must Break from Past Israel Policy by Jonathan Steele

National-Anarchists Smash Shop Windows in San Francisco by BANA

Dead Souls by Alexander Cockburn

Jailed for Caring by Neve Gordon

Why the Left Hates Decentralization by Thomas Woods

The Case for All-Black Schools by Jeff Severns Guntzel

Andrej Grubacic on Anarchism for the 21st Century 

“They Had Swords”: Anarchist Mayhem in San Francisco 

Anarchist Common Action General Assembly Meets in the Pacific Northwest 

IWW Starbucks’ Workers Organizing Efforts Extend to Chile 

American Exceptionalism (And Why American Extremists Tend to Be Anarchists Rather Than Communists and Fascists) by Seymour Martin Lipset

Bush POWs Treated Worse Than Americans Captured by the Chinese by Glenn Greenwald

Afghans to Obama: Get Out, Take Karzai With You by Patrick Cockburn

The Torturer’s Apprentice by Richard Neville

To Power a Nation: Nuclear Bombs or Sunshine? by Manuel Garcia, Jr.

Pork and Baloney: Obama’s Defense Budget by Winslow T. Wheeler

Pakistan in Crisis by Deepak Tripathi

Stanford Alumni Call for Investigation of Condoleeza Rice by Marjorie Cohn

Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown? 

The AIPAC Spy Case by James G. Abourezk

Afghan Ayatollahs Push Marital Rape Law by Patrick Cockburn

Dropping the AIPAC Spy Case by Gary Leupp

Economy on the Ropes by Mike Whitney

Is the GOP Finished Yet? by Pat Buchanan

The Mexican Flu by Jack Hunter

I Committed Treason Last Week by Kevin D. Annett

Remembering Isabel Paterson by Stephen Cox

The Case Against the State from LiberaLaw

“Communism” vs Communism by Milan Valach

We Are Brainwashed to Believe We Are in a Classless Society by Francois Tremblay

Doing Tax Resistance from the Picket Line

Dialectical Anarchism by Roderick Long

Against Rothbard and Keynes, for Marx by TGGP

The Copyright Nazis’ Latest Venue: Newspapers by Kevin Carson

Liberty Creates Order by Sheldon Richman

The Ruling Class Nature of the Federal Reserve by Sheldon Richman

Moral Nihilism and Existentialism from Back to the Drawing Board

Victim of Amerika  by William Norman Grigg

Want to Get Out of Debt? 

Hero of Gun Rights by Jeff Snyder

Texas Highway Robbery-by the Cops!! by Gary Tuchman and Katherine Wojtecki

Armed Student Saves Lives 

The Taliban Are Coming! The Taliban Are Coming! by Eric Margolis

The Federal Government is Increasingly Totalitarian by Mark Crovelli

Survivalism: It’s Just Common Sense by Tim Elliot

Money Must Not Be State Provided by Mike Rozeff

Waterboard an A-rab for Jesus by Laurence Vance

Ron Paul, Surveillance and the GOP by James Bovard

“Democracy at Gunpoint” Strategy Guarantees Defeat by William Pfaff

A Nation of Men, Not Laws by Nat Hentoff

A Vietnam Warning  by Robert Dreyfuss

At What Point is a Traitor a Patriot? by Bill Buppert

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republicans

Jon Stewart: Wimp, Wuss and Moral Coward by Justin Raimondo

Congressional Retards Call for a Ban on “Indecent” Viagra Commercials by Butler Shaffer (and the proper response)

AIPAC Stooge Jane Harman: Fuck That Bitch article by Glenn Greenwald

How to Survive the Depression and Worse Jack Spirko interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Student Loan Debt: The Next Big Crash?

U.S. Policy Breeds Revolution in Pakistan Eric Margolis interviewed by Scott Horton

How Israel Avoids a Palestinian State by David Bromwich

Nukes and National Independence: The French Example by Edouard Husson

A Conspiracy to Prevent Torture Prosecutions? by Thomas R. Eddlem

Taking Liberties With the “Justice” System by Andy Worthington

Another Cheney Cover-Up? by David Corn

The New Face of the Senate? 

French Mutualism Beyond Proudhon  by Shawn Wilbur

How Good People Turn Evil, and Why the State is the Problem by Francois Tremblay

The Forces of the American Occupation (of America) from Rad Geek

From a Slave to His Former Master, in 1865  from Roderick Long

Can Christians Serve in the New World Army? by Chuck Baldwin

The New Racism by Pat Buchanan

Casualties of Obama’s War by Patroon

Stuff White People Like by Robert Weissberg

Can Local Government Work for the Poor? from IFPRI Forum

Another Federalist of the Left? from The Volokh Conspiracy

The End of Arrogance: Decentralization and Anarchist Organizing by the Curious George Brigade

Bush is a Felonious Torturer by Judge Andrew Napolitano

Should a Christian Join the Military? by Laurence Vance

Empire Contributed to Economic Crisis by Ivan Eland

Rangoon’s Renaissance by Doug Bandow

Obama Readies Troops as Afghans Die by Jeremy Scahill

Give Up Your Empire or Live Under It Jacob Hornberger interviewed by Scott Horton

Why We Fight: U.S. Troops Die for Rapists by Ted Rall

Taking Up Where Clinton-Gore Left Off by Gordon Prather

The President and His Troublesome Allies by Tony Karon

U.S. Foreign Policy Caused the Taliban Problem by Jacob Hornberger

The Torture BITCH by Justin Raimondo

Happy Days  by Peter Schiff

A Woman Dumber Than John McCain? by Ilana Mercer

Fuck the PIGS from Rad Geek

A Full Court Press for Pakistan War by Chris Floyd

Marilyn Chambers, R.I.P. by Warren Hinckle

In Praise of Revolutions  by Serge Halimi

Hilary and Latin America by Mark Weisbrot

Recessions and Labor Unions by David Macaray

Mothers and War by Ron Jacobs

A Break from the Past in the Drug War? by Kevin Zeese

Party of Rush by Robert Fantina

A Hymn to Political Incorrectness (and another one!)

Reflections on Urban Sociology by Chris Rock

Updated News Digest May 3, 2008 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“In spite of the unceasing efforts made by men in power to conceal this and to ascribe a different meaning to power, power is the application of a rope, a chain by which a person will be bound and dragged along, or of a whip, with which he will be flogged, or of a knife, or an ax with which they will cut off his hands, feet, ears, head—an application of these means or the threat they will be used. Thus it was in the time of Nero and of Ghenghis Khan and thus it is even now, in the most liberal of governments.”

                                                                                                              -Leo Tolstoy

 

“”One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words socialism and communism draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, Nature-cure quack, pacifist and feminist in England… “We have reached a stage when the very word socialism calls up, on the one hand, a picture of airplanes, tractors and huge glittering factories of glass and concrete; on the other, a picture of vegetarians with wilting beards, of Bolshevik commissars (half gangster, half gramophone), or earnest ladies in sandals, shock-headed Marxists chewing polysyllables, escaped Quakers, birth control fanatics, and Labour Party backstairs-crawlers. “If only the sandals and pistachio-colored shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotaler and creeping Jesus sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his yoga exercises quietly. As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.”

                                                                                                     -George Orwell

The Drug War: A Bonanza for the Enemies of Freedom by Kevin Carson

Prosecute ‘Em by Jack Hunter

New Issue of Synthesis

What Happened to the Peace Movement? Scott Horton interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Farewell, US Hegemony by Andrew Bacevich and Tom Engelhardt

America’s Shame by Eric Margolis

Is the State Necessary? by Kirkpatrick Sale

National-Anarchist Portraits: Andrew Yeoman

Taking Secession Seriously-At Last by Kirkpatrick Sale

H.L. Mencken Speaks Wow!!

Shrink the State: A Leftist Aim by Chris Dillow

Secession Is Our Future by Cliff Thies

Let a Thousand Nations Bloom from Free Guptastan

Revisionism: A New, Angry Look at the American Past from TIME, 1970

Why We Fight the Power by Roderick Long

Neocons on the Danube by Paul Gottfried

Credit Card Deform by Sheldon Richman

Don’t Know Much About Capitalism by Thomas Woods

African Anarchism in Zimbabwe by Larry Gambone

Is GDP Decreasing? by Francois Tremblay

Outside the Gates: Turkey and Europe by Mark Hackard

Debt as a Way of Life by Richard Spencer

The Taliban’s Road to Kabul by Patrick Cockburn

Death at Work in American by Joann Wypijewski

Zionist Lobby Targets Another Tenured Professor by Doug Henwood

The Nuremberg Truth and Reconciliation Committee by Jeremy Scahill

Will Iceland Be Handed Over to a New Gang of Kleptocrats? by Michael Hudson

Israeli Fascism by Uri Avnery

Why the U.S. Still Hates Cuba by Frederico Fuentes

Obama’s Sins of Omission by Andrew J. Bacevich

The Secessionist Option: Why Now? by Ian Baldwin

George Washington on Entangling Alliances 

James Madison on War 

Most Women Oppose Preferences in Hiring Blacks by TGGP

Unsubstantiated Blanket Statements by Ean Frick

“Get Your Hands Off My Country” 

Military Moronity by William S. Lind

The Secessionist Bookshelf by Bill Buppert

Anarchy and the Law of the Somalis by Dick Clark

The Fed Has Wounded You Gerald Celente interviewed by Lew Rockwell

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? by Charles Pena

The Case for Prosecuting Bush by David Henderson

Some Might Call It Treason by Philip Giraldi

Calamity Jane by Justin Raimondo

The U.S. is Addicted to Imperialism Eric Margolis interviewed by Scott Horton

Get Out of Iraq George McGovern interviewed by Scott Horton

The U.S. Should Cut Military Spending by One Half by Benjamin Friedman

We Are All Torturers in America by Naomi Wolf

The Greatest Gay Rights Song Ever Written -here’s the lyrics

Secession: The True Bioregional Way by Kirkpatrick Sale

The Ten Core Values of Survivalism 

The Greatest American President of All by Thomas Woods

Is is Time to Bring Back the Lone Star Republic? by Kelse Moen

Is a Hyperinflationary Depression Ahead? John Williams interviewed by Howard Ruff

The Rich Capitalist Who Co-Founded Communism by Robert Service

The Lobby Wants War by Justin Raimondo

Obama Looks Unimpressive on Civil Liberties After 100 Days by J.D. Tuccille

The Dark Core of the Empire by Jacob Hornberger

Tortured by the Past by Frank Snepp

The Obama-Netanyahu Showdown by Robert Parry

What This Country Needs is a Good Pirated Version of Kindle E-Books by Kevin Carson

Really Small Firm Size by Shawn Wilbur

Help Arthur Silber

Fair Taxers-Friends or Foes? by Dylan Hales

Obama and “Two States” by Ellen Cantarow

The McCarthyism That Horowitz Built by Dana Cloud

The Cocaine Powder/Crack Sentencing Disparity by Jasmine Tyler and Anthony Papa

Obama Disses Tea Partyers by Red Phillips

The Flu Hysteria Agency by Bill Anderson

The Evil of Eminent Domain by David T. Beito

Secede, Georgia! 

Is Neocon Foreign Policy Finished? by Ivan Eland

Dictatorial Powers Unchallenged by Andy Worthington

Bibi’s Holocaust-or Ours? by Gordon Prather

Freedom of Expression, Dissenting Historians and the Holocaust Revisionists by David Botsford

Thought Police Muscle Up in Britain by Hal G.P. Colebatch

Why Many Chinese Don’t Want Freedom by Richard Bernstein

Economic Policy and Growth by TGGP

Jon Stewart the Hypocrite by Francois Tremblay

May Day 2009 by Rad Geek

The Shadow of the Panther by Hugh Pearson

Remembering Gustave Landauer-He Was Killed 90 Years Ago Today 

Strictly Personal  by Chuck Baldwin

The Road to Weimar America by Robert Stacy McCain

“Do You Take This Pony?” by Evan McLaren

Thoroughly Modern Marxism by Richard Spencer

Is the GOP Too Conservative? by Jack Hunter

The Swine Are Loose by Ilana Mercer

Technofascism, Not Socialism by Thomas Naylor

Dissing the Declaration by Harrison Bergeron 2

Kabul’s New Elite by Patrick Cockburn

The Israel Boycott is Biting by Nadia Hijab

Updated News Digest April 26, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“Yes, something very ugly has surfaced in contemporary American liberalism, as evidenced by the irrational and sometimes infantile abuse directed toward anyone who strays from a strict party line. Liberalism, like second-wave feminism, seems to have become a new religion for those who profess contempt for religion. It has been reduced to an elitist set of rhetorical formulas, which posit the working class as passive, mindless victims in desperate need of salvation by the state. Individual rights and free expression, which used to be liberal values, are being gradually subsumed to worship of government power. . . . For the past 25 years, liberalism has gradually sunk into a soft, soggy, white upper-middle-class style that I often find preposterous and repellent. The nut cases on the right are on the uneducated fringe, but on the left they sport Ivy League degrees. I’m not kidding — there are some real fruitcakes out there, and some of them are writing for major magazines. It’s a comfortable, urban, messianic liberalism befogged by psychiatric pharmaceuticals.”

                                                                                                    -Camille Paglia

We Live in a Fascist State Gerald Celente interviewed by Russia Today

Putting the Bush Years on Trial by Alexander Cockburn

If Obama Were Not a Pawn of Wall Street and Corporate America by Thomas Naylor

Sovereignty Resolutions, Nullification and Tea Parties: Much Ado About Nothing by Thomas Naylor

The Tea Parties: A Step in the Right Direction? Richard Spencer and Jack Hunter

Secede and Survive: Prepare to be Overwhelmed by Secession by Carol Moore

Go to CNN and Vote on Secession (looks like the poll has closed)

Conservatives Are Evil by Ryan McMaken

Libertarianism vs “Libertarianism by Justin Raimondo

If Only Libertarians Had Cards, So They Could Be Taken Away by TGGP

Bay Area National Anarchists Participate in Cystic Fibrosis Walkathon (good work, comrades! good outreach and a good cause!)

Just How Big a Disaster is the American Military by Bill Lind

Why the State is Our Enemy Robert Higgs interviewed on C-Span

Does the New Class Oppress Traditional Religious Communities? by David R. Hodge

The National-Anarchist Litmus Test by Keith Preston

Too Small to Fail: The Wilhelm Roepke Solution to Our Economic Woes by Dermot Quinn

Secession, the Fed and Tomorrow Ron Paul interviewed by Lew Rockwell

War Socialism and National Bankruptcy by David Gordon

The Amazing Catholic Bullshit Generator by John Zmirak

PIGS Ambush Citizen in Milwaukee by William Norman Grigg

The Apologist by Pat Buchanan

A Storm in a Cup of Tea by Jack Hunter

The Real Tea Parties by Ilana Mercer

First They Came for the Fatties by Richard Spencer

On Nation and Nationalism by Matthew Roberts

The War on Family Farms by Richard Spencer

The Thin and Thick, the There and the Here by Razib Khan

Are Hierarchies Rational? by Francois Tremblay

Missing the Point on Secession by Rad Geek

A Match Made in Hell by Roderick Long

Government Spending is No Cure for Recession by Sheldon Richman

The Real Debate on Foreign Policy: Intervention vs Non-Intervention by Sheldon Richman

Dangerous Men in Uniform by Rad Geek

Tea and Sympathy by Roderick Long

Legal Purgatory and John Demjanjuk by Binoy Kampmark

Ten Years After Columbine: The Tragedy of Youth Continues by Henry A. Giroux

Drug War Persecution Continues by Fred Gardner

The American Empire Foreclosed? by Marc Engler

The FARC Can’t Dance by Belen Fernandez

Norman Finkelstein with Martin Indyk on Gaza 

Survivalists: Regular People Get Ready for the Worst 

Ex-President of Colombia Says America Should Decriminalize Drugs 

The Ultimate Reaping of What One Sows: The Reich-Wing Edition by Glenn Greenwald

The Republic Strikes Back by Bill Kauffman

Against All Flags by Jesse Walker

Bush’s Torturers by Justin Raimondo

When Torture Isn’t “Torture” by Thomas R. Eddlem

Reading the Case of Roxana Saberi by Henry Newman

Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home from Global Business

The Dark Side of Dubai by Johann Hari

Murdering Police Scum 

The Europe Syndrome and The Last Man 

A Federalism Amendment to the Constitution? by Randy Barnett

End the Cuban Embargo! by Sheldon Richman

Keynesian Conservatives by Sheldon Richman

Direct Action Gets the Goods: Syndicalist Action Against Starbucks by Rad Geek

U.S. Militant Workers Union Formed: Workers Unite Beyond Left and Right! 

A Nation of Helpless Idiots by Karen De Coster

Fuck Single Mothers by Gavin McInnes

The Soul of Booker T. Washington by Dylan Hales

The Ghosts of Earth Day’s Past by Dylan Hales

Get In Touch With Your Inner Bigot by Robert Stacy McCain

Obama Plays Hamlet on Torture by Ray McGovern

The Torture Commission Trap by Michael Ratner

Deconstructing the Taliban by Fawzia Afzal-Khan

Torture, War and the Imperial Project by Chris Floyd

Unemployment Across the USA by Chris Wilson

Obama’s Afghan Plan: Fracturing the Antiwar Movement by Vijay Prashad

The Tyranny of Bad Economics by Dean Baker

White Privilege in the Americas by Aisha Brown and Dedrick Muhammed

A Reflection on the “Left” and My Arrest by Joaquin Cienfuegos

PC Gestapo Disrupts Meeting at UNC 

Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Defending His Home Against PIGS 

Man Arrested for Murder for Defending Property Against Masked Criminal 

Obama the Bubble Pricker by Tom Woods

Don’t Criticize the Somali Pirates by John Higgins

Why is there a Totalitarian Drug War? by Jacob Hornberger

Banning Black Cars: The Latest Eco-Insanity by L.K. Samuels

The American Police State vs Little Boys by Paul Craig Roberts

The Servants of the Reptilian State by William Norman Grigg

Economic Survivalists by Judy Keen

Harmanic Convergence  by Justin Raimondo

The Cuban Embargo is a Proven Failure by Michael Kinsley

Of Course It Was Torture by Gene Healy

The Obedience Circuit  by Francois Tremblay

Rather Than Say This Myself from Back to the Drawing Board

Torture by Sheldon Richman

Paul Krugman is Right About Something from Back to the Drawing Board

In Counting There Is Strength by Rad Geek

Don’t You Wish It Really Could Be This Way? from Back to the Drawing Board

Educrat PIGS Molest Little Girls by Rad Geek

Obama Positioning for Back Door Gun Control by Chuck Baldwin

Immigration Hitting American Workers Hard by Peter Brimelow and Edward S. Rubenstein

Is Sean Hannity Now Cool? No!! by Jack Hunter

Religion and Politics by Razib Khan

Free John Walker Lindh by Dave Lindorff

Are Democrats Afraid of Investigating Torture? by Jeremy Scahill

A Housing Crash Update by Mike Whitney

Obama and the Housing Crisis by Anthony DiMaggio

The Debt Looters by Greg Moses

Blowback in Pakistan by Stonewall

Marijuana Advocates See Tipping Point by Brian Montopoli

Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement a review

TV Military Analysts Are Paid Pentagon Shills  by Glenn Greenwald

The Crime That Cannot Be Wiped Away by Laurence Vance

Never Trust a Commie or a Conservative by Jeffrey Tucker

Our Economic Future Peter Schiff interviewed by Lew Rockwell

The Shamelessness of Jane Harman by Justin Raimondo

Newt’s Sword of Damocles by Gordon Prather

How to Deal with North Korea Doug Bandow interviewed by Scott Horton

On Somali Piracy Jesse Walker interviewed by Scott Horton

Obama’s Foreign Policy Ron Paul interviewed by Scott Horton

Obama’s First 100 Days: Give Him a “D” by Ivan Eland

Soldier Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture by Greg Mitchell

ATS Book Review: Ken MacLeod's "The Execution Channel" Reply

by Peter Bjorn Perls

Ken MacLeod is one of the better Science Fiction authors of this day. He is best known, I think, for his “Fall Revolution” quarilogy consisting of the books The Star Fraction, The Sky Road, The Stone Canal and The Cassini Division, which were released between 1995 and 1999, in which he manages to produce a fantastically fresh blend of science fiction and  political exploration, with an unexpected quality: It does not preach ideology. (I will review his other works at a later time).
Political science fiction is the staple of MacLeod, and The Execution Channel continues on that path. In this, the book does not take place in 2040 and onwards, but quite a bit closer to our current point in time. Even though no “present day” dates are mentioned, by my reckoning it takes place just before 2020.
The setting is an Earth where the War on Terror rages on with no end in sight, this time, the Coalition peace keepers moved North from Afghanistan into central Asia on the nexus between several factions and states: Tien Shan, squeezed between Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Closer to home, with the pace of technological progress continuing apace (and i might add, a continually deteriorating degree of accountability of the powers that be), the fact of life circa 2020 in England, and presumably much of the world, is video surveillance of all roads and street corners, and mobile phones being so cheap that they have reached the point of disposability (paid for with Euros), but society still seems dominated by use of automotive transportation and the associated fossil fuel use. The US has an increased presence in Britain, it seems, though mostly confined to the military bases around the country. Everything else is much the same, even the cultural/religious/racial tensions in the ghettos, (in the UK, notably Bradford), and Google is still the centerpiece in people’s life on the internet.
Where the world differs from What We Know is that the Cold War is back of sorts: Russia and China are both rising back to superpower status, and they are anti-Western with a vengeance. The latter has aligned itself with North Korea, the former with… France.
The wellspring of the difference between this world and the one we know, is (Ken really chose his ideas tongue-in-cheek!) the contested US Election of 2000. Yes, G.W. Bush never made it to office – Al Gore did. In 2001 when Al is at work, a memo lands on his desk, stating that Al Queda intends to strike the US, so he goes into action and launches a volley of cruise missiles at Afghanistan. The result is lots of civilian casualties, and a popular backlash which in the story is what galvanizes the AQ to perform the 9/11 attacks. All which this goes on with Gore becoming a Democratic War President, Bush is relegated to authoring a book about the foolishness of US military adventures in foreign countries. With this digression I’m pointing out that MacLeod has a talent for making political satire from juxtapositions and keen observations of facts of history and ideology that will make you laugh out loudly. With the repeated pokes at vocal political groups (particularly those that tend to whine loudly), MacLeod uses both wit and sarcasm to full effect.
The core of the dramatis personae is the Travis family: The son Alec in the peacekeeping forces in Central Asia, the daughter Roisin who is a peacenik that as the novel takes off, has spent the last 6 months in a peace protest camp outside a Scottish air force base (RAF Leuchars, north of Edinburgh), and the father, James, is a government software contractor with ties to foreign intelligence agencies. The barrel of blackpowder couldn’t be more obvious!
What happens on what is later termed the 5/5 attack (the morning the 5th of May, 2000-something), is that the Leuchars base is hit by a low yield nuclear weapon. Roisin is tipped off of this by her brother (who despite being separated from his family by thousands of kilometers is still tied into the story) flees with the fellow peace protesters, and then it all starts: Britain is struck by a volley of bombings on important infrastructure points, and from there on, the ball rolls; international tension, since the reasoning goes that it’s one of the other nuclear powers that did it, and domestic chaos as the state comes down on everyone who gets out of line, at the same time as popular suspicion Al Queda intervention results in attacks on Muslims all over Britain. Yep, MacLeod certainly knows what contemporary strings to play.
The two dark horses of the story are: First, that the governments of the world use farfetched conspiracy theories to distract political dissenters toward unproductive pursuits (namely UFO scheming instead of aiming for the unaccountable political powers, which is MacLeod’s stab at the conspiracy buffs), second, that these governments also run secret detention centers around the world (which is already commonplace knowledge) where brutal executions take place, and somehow footage from these executions make it to the public on a broadcast channel that gives the book its title: The Execution Channel. In MacLeod’s world, you don’t have to go to 4chan.org anymore for your filth and atrocities, it’s right on your TV set!
Now, closing on the verdict of the book. Is it any good? My answer is that that It Depends.
I got it in the mail yesterday morning, and after having performed the chores of the day, I started reading it in the late afternoon. In doing so, I surprised myself by doing something I haven’t done, by my count, in 13 years: I read a book cover-to-cover in under a day, more specifically in under 13 hours, including dinner, two bathroom breaks, a shower, checking my email once, and a 15 minute rest. The book is a page-turner is the real sense of the word, and even though it is not that long (some 360 pages), the feat of blazing through it makes me wonder, writing this.
The book IS good, very much so. The blend of science fiction and fringe politics with a plausible near-future descent into dystopia is dynamite, and MacLeod knows how to execute it well. But here comes the caveat: It is the first 300 or so pages are good, whereafter the terrible happens: The story fizzes out, and plods along with late story development (decay may be a better word for it, though) of little substance, and to me it was as if MacLeod throws so much stuff into his literary blender that it becomes an uninteresting gray smudge, where only the earlier parts of the book pressures you on the back to keep on reading. I’ll have to agree completely with a number of Amazon UK reviewers: The last few (six, to be precise) pages of the book drops it all on the floor with the introduction of a non sequitur and of such silliness that it’ll make you moan loudly. (I know that I did.)
On closing the book after 4 o’clock in the morning, I got the feeling that Ken MacLeod had performed, in the terms of the British, a massive piss take on his readers. That, or he ran out of ideas at page 330, and had a ghostwriter with no feel for the story and no sense of remorse in butchering the potential of it all, finish it for him. A T.S. Elliot quote on the book ending here would be appropriate.
So, to repeat, if the book is good overall depends, on whether you tear out the last 60 pages of it before you read it, and dream up your own ending. If you do, it’s just about a 5-star read. Including the ending into the verdict, I wouldn’t even rate the book mediocre, but instead poor.
Of criticism of the story before the abysmal finish, I can offer some. For example, the title topic of the book, the Execution Channel, only has a significant presence early in the book, and after the first fourth or so, it disappears from view, only to make a single significant reappearance toward the end. I won’t go into spoilers, but suffice to say that the author wasted a  massive potential story element by not using what is drives the Execution Channel. This is unforgivable.
Second, while the portrayal of the apprehension of one of the book’s characters on Terrorism charges makes the small hairs at the back of your neck stand up, the long-run portrayal of the government agents that do this and other things, becomes far too monotonous and in the end (especially the aforementioned dreadful last 50-60 pages) they appear like robotic constructs that just keep doing what they’ve always done to finish off the story (even though the idea the some government employees are unfeeling automatons may be appropriate, but I digress…).
So. If you are already a MacLeod fan, they book is worthwhile reading, but to repeat, beware the ending. As for me, i’ll think twice about buying his books in the future. As much as I want the intensity and intricacy of his works of the 90’s to keep on coming, I’m afraid that a book like the one reviewed here signals that he has is past his peak, and do no care enough about the stories (and thus, his readers) he weave, to round it off in a graceful manner that doesn’t insult the audience.
*** END

Updated News Digest April 5, 2009 Reply

Quotes of the Week:

“I read the Social Democratic newspapers. I saw their disgusting attitude towards anything that bore even the slightest revolutionary character, and I realized that there could be no reconciliation between a revolutionary party and a party trying to earn a reputation for ‘moderation’ in the eyes of the government and the bourgeoisie.”

                                                                                 -Peter Kropotkin

States Rebellion Pending by Walter Williams

David Allan Coe: American Rebel by Will Forbis

“The FARC Think These Americans Are Pussies” by Christina Oxenberg

Tory Hacks Give Lip Service to Localism and Communitarianism by Sasha Issenberg (thanks Ean!)

911 Truths by Jack Hunter

On Loving to Hate the South by Paul Gottfried

Globomoney by Richard Spencer

Conspiracy Theories by Dylan Hales

Obama’s Attack on the Middle Class by Paul Craig Roberts

Is Notre Dame Still Catholic? by Pat Buchanan

Terror Begins At Home by Philip Jenkins

Neocon Obama Fans by Harrison Bergeron 2

Saint Wal-Mart? by Roderick Long

Patri Friedman on Seasteading (hat tip to Kevin Carson)

Open Source Health Care

Hollywood’s Democratic-Capitalist Self Censorship by Francois Tremblay

Which Politician Came Up With the Idea That Dying for Your Country is a Good Thing? by Sheldon Richman

They Really Give Nobel Prizes Away Like Candy These Days by Paul Krugman

R.I.P. Burt Blumert (1929-2009) by Wally Conger

Sheldon Richman on Arkansas Public TV 

Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday 

All Hail Tax Resistance! from The Picket Line

Lessons from the Gulag Archepelago from The Picket Line

Virginia: Human Rights Abuses at Red Onion Supermax Prison 

UK: Protests Against Capitalism and the G20 

More Reasons To Be Against Happiness by TGGP

Early Mormon Cooperative Economics (thanks Chris!)

Barack of Kabul by Eric Margolis

Explaining the Boom and the Bust by Bob Murphy

Newsweek Actually Tells the Truth for Once? by Glenn Greenwald

End the War on Drugs by Ron Paul

We’re On the Edge of the Abyss by Peter Schiff

Burt Blumert: Liberty’s Benefactors by Lew Rockwell

Here Come the Food Police by Vin Suprynowicz

Fiat Money and Inflation by Chris Clancy

Civil War by Bill Bonner

The Obamamites Go to War by Justin Raimondo

To Reduce Violence, End the Drug War by Justin Raimondo

Stop Arming Israel by Philip Giraldi

Yes, We Have No Bananastan by Jeff Huber

Another Lost War? by William S. Lind

U.S. Cries Wolf Over China? by David Isenberg

National Anarchist-Syndicalist Union 

Leftism 101 by Lawrence Jarach

Prospects for Global Depression and Unrest by John Robb

Oppose Internet Censorship from National-Anarchists Australia/New Zealand

A New Global Debt Crisis by Nicholas Dearden

The Obama Betrayal by Dave Lindorff

“We’ll Make You See Death” by Joanne Mariner

Obama’s Pakistan Gambit by Ron Jacobs

Economic Inequality: The Foundation of the Racial Divide? by Dedrick Muhammad

What Next in Afghanistan? by Patrick Cockburn

Where’s All the Money Coming From? by Ralph Nader

Obama Bombs by Ray McGovern

Syria Calling by Seymour Hersh

The New Far Right Philo-Semitism 

Is Angelina Jolie Bad for Africa? 

“I’m Having a Very Good Crisis,” says George Soros 

The New American Interviews Antiwar.Com’s Eric Garris Part I Part II

What Is the State? by Lew Rockwell

Civil Unrest, Ghost Malls and Another American Revolution Interview with Gerald Celente

The Role of Government in a Free Society Lecture by Walter Williams

Asshole PIG Resigns 

Minneapolis PIGS Plant Gun on Teen After Murdering Him 

Mexico Has a U.S. Problem, Not a Drug Problem by Fred Reed

Blessed Are the Warmakers? Laurence Vance interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Neocon Victimology by Glenn Greenwald

Why Do PIGS Kills Dogs? by J.D. Tuccille

Guns, Gold, Secession by Karen De Coster

New World Disorder by Gary North

Dead Banks Walking by Lila Rajiva

The Scam of Political Representation by Gerard Casey

The Outlook for the Dollar Peter Schiff interviewed by Eli Neusner

Collapse: The Dollar’s Destination by Mike Rozeff

It’s All A Conspiracy! by Richard Spencer, Dylan Hales and Jack Hunter

Catholics and the Left John Zmirak interviewed by Richard Spencer

The Green Revolution Saved Lives? by Kevin Carson

The New Proudhon Library from Shawn Wilbur

John Taylor Gatto: State-Controlled Consciousness from Francois Tremblay

Tax Day Protests Planned from The Picket Line

Sheldon Richman on the Financial Crisis from Social Memory Complex

Affluenza and the Economic Meltdown of America by Thomas N. Naylor

Will There Be Anarchy After the 1930s? 

Modesto Citizens Retaliate Against PIGS 

Carter Conservatism by Sean Scallon

Obama and the Ruling Class  by David Macaray

Assassination Attempt Against St. Louis Green Party Leader by Don Fitz

Surging Further Into the Afghan Abyss by Chris Floyd

Dershowitz Encounters a Worrying Future by Michael Scheuer

Mandatory National Service on the Way? James Bovard interviewed by Scott Horton

The Truth About Guantanamo Lawrence Wilkerson interviewed by Scott Horton

Repeating Vietnam War Errors in Afghanistan by Matt Steinglass

How Do We Save NATO? We Quit by Andrew Bacevich

Fake Faith and Epic Crimes by John Pilger

The Greatest Blunder in British History by Laurence Vance

New Issue of Black Oak Presents by Michael Kleen (thanks Flavio!)

Is India Headed for Hyperinflation? by Subroto Roy (thanks Peter!)

Fucking Retards (thanks Ean!)

The Forest for the Trees by Ean Frick

An Introduction to Carl Schmitt by Gary Ulmen

National Lampoon by Austin Bramwell

How I Became a Domestic Terrorist by Ilana Mercer

Let’s Play Pretend by Peter Schiff

The Real Federal Deficit  by Tim Worstall

On the Justice of Clearing Ward Churchill by Dylan Hales

Being Honest About Abe by Jack Hunter

Should We Kill the Fed? by Pat Buchanan

Homesteading Detroit: On Urban Farming by No Third Solution

An Exercise to Clear Your Mind by Francois Tremblay

Bring on the Summer of Rage! by Charlie Brooker

Defining Terms by Thomas Fleming (thanks Chris!)

Republic Magazine: Issue # 14 (thanks Flavio!)

But in Anarchy, Who Would Make the Roads? (thanks Peter!)

Coming to a Town Near You, the BANA Newstand! 

An Interview with Noam Chomsky 

Solidarity with the Students: An Open Letter from Greek Soldiers 

Veganarchists on the London Insurrection 

PIGS/Protestors Clash in Paris 

From Twin Towers to Twin Camelots by Alexander Cockburn

Homeless in Tent City, USA by Kathy Sanborn

Girding for a Depression by Morici

The War on Drugs is a War on You by Michael Boldin

Biden, Nixon and Latin America by Saul Landau

Nuclear Power Plants: Fooling with Disaster? by Sue Sturgis

Was Gaza Israel’s Waterloo? by John Goekler

The Federal Railroading of Victoria Sprouse by William Anderson and Candice Jackson

Death to D.A.R.E. by William Norman Grigg

The Humanitarian with the Printing Press by Anthony Gregory

The PIGS Are Out to Get You by Brian Cohoon

Marijuana Reduces Tumors 

Christianity is Not a Neocon Death Cult by Tom Woods

Small Town Anarchy by J.L. Bryan (thanks Folk n’ Faith!)

There Will Be Hyper Inflation  by Thorstein Polleit

The Fair Tax is a Scam by Laurence Vance

The Goldberg Syndrome by Justin Raimondo

How to Combat Mexican Drug Cartels by Ivan Eland

Obama’s Neoliberals: Selling His Afghan War by Jeremy Scahill

An Ominous Parallel by Jacob Hornberger

Obstruction of Justice by Chris Hedges

Updated News Digest March 22, 2009 3

Quotes of the Week:

“Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.” -Edmund Burke

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.”

                                                                        -Pierre Joseph Proudhon

“The State calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime.”

                                                                                      -Max Stirner

My Anarchism Problem by Bob Black

A Washington, D.C. Heretic is Punished by Eric Margolis

America’s Ivy League College: The Dumbass Factory by C. J. Maloney

Traveling in the New China by Chris Clancy

The Ides of March Got a Bad Rap by Cheryl Vanbuskirk

Et Tu, Switzerland? by Balz Bruppacher

Drunk Driving Laws Are Absurd by Mark R. Crovelli

The Drug War vs Civilization Anthony Gregory interviewed by Scott Horton

Continuity and Change by Justin Raimondo

These Secretaries Can’t Even Type by Jeff Huber

Taliban Plan Drags Obama Deeper by Gareth Porter

Obama Follows Bush on Detainees by William Fisher

Who Are the “Worst of the Worst”? by Andy Worthington

Of Patriots and Assassins by Pat Buchanan

John Stossel Takes Down Sean Hannity 

Zionism is the Problem by Ben Ehrenreich

What We Don’t Know About Iraq by Philip Bennett

How Abu Ghraib Was Politically Defused, Part One by James Bovard

Ending Our Imperial Foreign Policy by Fareed Zakaria

The More Things Change… by Srdja Trifkovic

Racist Jim Clyburn by Jack Hunter

The Domestic Costs of Empire from Richmond Left-Libertarian Alliance

San Francisco PIGS Attack Demonstrators 

Wobblies March in San Diego 

Racist Abuse of Pennsylvania Prisoners 

Shut Down IMF/World Bank Meeting 

Santa Cruz Anarchist Convergence, May 7-11 

Obama and the Empire by Bill and Kathleen Christison

Victory for the Left in El Salvador by Richard Gott

Americans Want Justice for Wall Street Crooks by Ralph Nader

Coxey’s Army Will March Again! by Stephen Fleischman

Dismantling the Killer Elite by William Norman Grigg

EU Bans “Miss” and “Mrs” As Sexist (the journey into the Cultural Marxist Twilight Zone continues)

California to Legalize Marijuana? 

What Should We Do in the Face of Private Firearms Confiscation? by Mike Gaddy

The Emerging Marxist Church by Bill Anderson

The Confiscation of Privately Owned Weapons by Tim Case

What Happened to the War? by Laurence Vance

Some Truths About Guantanamo Bay by Lawrence Wilkerson

Compulsory National Service On Its Way? 

A Great Debate on Afghanistan by Jacob Hornberger

My Life in the New Left by Kevin MacDonald

Systemic Failure by Pat Buchanan

Israel’s American Chattel by Paul Craig Roberts

Was the Bailout Itself a Scam? by Paul Craig Roberts

Launching Lifeboats Before the Ship Sinks by Paul Craig Roberts

Empire, Secession and the Left Kirkpatrick Sale interviewed by Jack Hunter and Dylan Hales

States’ Rights and the Left by Jack Hunter

A Lexicon of Conservative Bullshit by Dylan Hales

Is Capitalism Making Life Better? by Noam Chomsky (hat tip to Francois Tremblay)

Massive French Protests and Ontario Factory Occupation by Larry Gambone

Economics: The Abysmal Science by Thomas N. Naylor

Open Letter to the Antiwar Movement 

London PIGS Fear Insurrection at G-20 Meeting 

Conservatives In Name Only by Filmer

The Economy in Two Eras of Democrats by Sam Smith

Bedouin Villages Left in the Dark Ages by Jonathan Cook

Where Are We Leaving Iraqi Women? by Yifat Susskind

U.S. Human Rights Abuses in the War on Terror by Joanne Mariner

A Grand Bargain for the Culture Wars by TGGP

We’re Dropping Down an Economic Hole by Gerald Celente

The U.S. Dollar, R.I.P. by Peter Schiff

An Open Letter to Chuck Norris by Chuck Norris

The Big Takeover by Matt Taibbi

Warning from Bosnia for Iraq by Ivan Eland

Iran: A Way Forward by Philip Giraldi

Obama’s New Message to Iran  by Glenn Greenwald

Obama and the Neocon Middle East Agenda by Stephen Sniegoski

Negotiate with the Taliban, Free John Walker Lindh by Kelley Vlahos

Why It Matters That the Army Was on the Streets of Samson, Alabama by J.D. Tuccille

Chuck Norris: Revolutionary? 

Cops Cause Crime by Francois Tremblay

Canning for the Revolution by Chris Lempa

Enemies of What State? by Kevin Carson

Institutionalized Sadism by Rad Geek

Annual Anti-Police March in Montreal 

On the Edge of the Volcano by Alexander Cockburn

When Things Fall Apart by Paul Craig Roberts

Slumdogs vs Billionaires by P. Sainath

Local Currencies by John Robb

Targeting Banksters? by John Robb

Updated News Digest March 15, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“All universal moral principles are idle fancies.  All, all is theft, all is unceasing and rigorous competition in nature;…Are not laws dangerous which inhibit the passions? Compare the centuries of anarchy with those of the strongest legalism in any country you like and you will see that it is only when the laws are silent that the greatest actions appear.”

                                                                                      -Marquis De Sade

We Are All Collapsitarians Now by Kevin Kelly

The Pestilence of Fanaticism by U.S. Senator James A. Reed, 1925

Social Characteristics of Tribalism by Bay Area National Anarchists

9th Annual Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory and Research and Development from Bay Area National Anarchists

All You Need to Know About the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair 

Communism vs Agorism from No Third Solution

Randian Collective Action from theConverted

Considering Redistribution of Property from No Third Solution

Axis of the Expendable: Frum vs Limbaugh by Jack Hunter

Lyndon Baines Obama by Pat Buchanan

Conservatism: Ideology of the Old? by Razib Khan

Little Miss Zionist Gossip Queen by Adam Kharij

It’s the End of the World As We Know It by Nina Kouprianova

Did Somebody Say “Democracy”? by Kevin R. C. Gutzman

The Paleo-Punks by Dylan Hales

“The Greatest Depression” Underway from Second Vermont Republic

Too Big…Period by Ralph Nader

Stop Demonizing Iranians by Eric Margolis

Doomsday by Doug French

The Neocons Are Losing Their Grip by Glenn Greenwald

Enough with the “Diversity” by Walter Block

Sentence First, Trial Never by William Norman Grigg

Gunowners Are In Trouble by Mike Gaddy

A Victim of the State Speaks Out by Becky Akers

Signs of Progress and Danger by Justin Raimondo

Imagine An Occupied America by Ron Paul

A Convenient Scapegoat by Philip Giraldi

Enduring Blunder by Jeff Huber

Why the U.S. Under Obama Is Still a Dictatorship by Andy Worthington

Seeds Sprouting in the Rubble by Kevin Carson

Corporate Extortion from theConverted

That’s Politics for You by Sheldon Richman

Tax Revolt in Argentina from The Picket Line

The American Criminal Injustice System by Paul Craig Roberts

Decentralism or Bust Dylan Hales and Richard Spencer interviewed by Jack Hunter

Lessons From Kirkpatrick Sale by Dylan Hales

Can’t Get Enough Frum vs Limbaugh by Red Phillips

The Coming Evangelical Collapse by Dostoevsky

Bottom Feeders at the Trough  by Sharon Smith

Israeli Spying in the United States by Christopher Ketcham

Obama Caves in to the Lobby by Ray McGovern

The Doublespeak of a Discredited IMF by Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet

Prisons, Profits and the Banality of Evil by Chris Floyd

Making a Difference by Bay Area National Anarchists

The Fed Has Destroyed Your Retirement by Gary North

Home Defense in the Coming Depression Greg Perry interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Caesar Is Not God by Ryan McMaken

Do We Want the Republicans Back? by Laurence Vance

The Economics of Depression Lew Rockwell interviewed by Brian Wilson

The Drug War vs Civilization by Anthony Gregory

China: The Next Big Enemy? by Justin Raimondo

The Groundwork Has Already Been Laid for Martial Law by John Whitehead

Don’t Fear China Doug Bandow interviewed by Scott Horton

Why Is Obama Defending John Yoo? by Daphne Eviatar

Empire of Bases by Hugh Gusterson

Barack Obama, Meet Team B by Scott Ritter

The Necons Strike Back by Robert Parry

Dick Cheney’s Death Squad by Seymour Hersh

The Totalitarian Therapeutic State by Sheldon Richman

Go to Cancun With Your Virginity, Leave With 20 Kilos of Heroin 

In Defense of McCarthyism by Dylan Hales

The Parable of the Shopping Mall by Alexander Cockburn

Is This Really the End of Neoliberalism? by David Harvey

How Israel Gives Jews a Bad Name by Saul Landau

Drug War Doublespeak by Laura Carlsen

Imprisoning Immigrants for Profit by Tom Barry

Criminalizing Poverty by Chris Mobley and Leela Yellesetty

Anarchist-Communist Appeal Against NATO Summit 

San Diego IWW Demonstration for Fired Organizer 

Texas Police Exploit Black Motorists 

It’s “Racist” to Oppose Afghan War by Harrison Bergeron 2

Wrong Classical Liberal Predictions by TGGP

Individualism and Self-Defense by Mike Gaddy

A Vintage Fight Over Wine by Michael A. Lerner

The Destruction of Mexico by Guy Lawson

Crisis in Pakistan Eric Margolis interviewed by Scott Horton

Charles Freeman’s Victory by Justin Raimondo

In Memory of Rachel Corrie by Gila Svirsky

Updated News Digest March 1, 2009 1

Quote of the Week:

“Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.”

                                                                              -Friedrich Nietzsche

“Journalists and opinion makers who now deride what was revolutionary and progressive about modern capitalism (an easier life and a higher standard of living) do so as to stay ahead of the curve so they can welcome with open arms the new class war between the People (the majority of the population, those who work for a living) and the Elite (the plutocrats and oligarchs, their enablers and co-conspirators in the government, and their defenders in the MSM and upper academia) and ensure they are on the winning side. These court ‘intellectuals’ (if we can even dignify them with such a word) will speak of the very real and often underexplained and underestimated economic crisis with the same level of urgency as the entirely fictional environmental crisis, itself a secularized catastrophe fantasy designed to give these postmodern Puritans something to feel morally superior about with their lifestyle politics of Whole Foods activism and urbanite entitlement.”

                                                                                  -Ean Frick

 

On the Essentials of the High Modernist Era and the Current Crisis by Ean Frick

Maybe the Meltdown Wasn’t What You Think by Peter Brimelow

Why the U.S. Stimulus Package is Bound to Fail by David Harvey

Slumdog Success Story from Distributist Review

ACORN Initiates Civil Disobedience to Stop Foreclosures by Fernanda Santos

The PIGS Are At It Again from Rad Geek

Self-Management in Cuba, Part 3? by Larry Gambone

Choose Responsibility: Abolish the Drinking Age by from Thus Spoke Belinsky

How the Economy Was Lost by Paul Craig Roberts

American Homelessness Indicts Elite Heartlessness by Donald A. Collins

Why Merge Turkey with Europe? Why Merge Mexico with the U.S.? by Taki Theodoracopulos

How the Jews Got Their Smarts by Razib Khan

The Baptism of the State by Richard Spencer

Do You Really Want a “Conservation on Race”? by Pat Buchanan

Our Enemy, the GOP by Paul Gottfried

Get Those Shovels Ready to Dig Our Economic Graves by Bill Bonner

Weary Cogs in the Imperial Machine by Mark Crovelli

The Tax Attack on Persecuted Smokers by Philip Hensley

The Friendly Iranians by Will Hide

The Israel-Firsters Gasping, Dying Smear Tactics by Glenn Greenwald

Obama Should Follow Gorbachev’s Example by Eric Margolis

Republican National Socialism by Mike Tennant

Getting On With It in China  by Chris Clancy

Federal Repression of Secessionists? by Carol Moore

Twenty States Are Talking About Secession 

Puritannically Correct Cruelty by William Norman Grigg

The Rise of Avigdor Lieberman by Justin Raimondo

Empire at the End of Its Rope by Alan Bock

Cambodia’s Missing Accused by John Pilger

Peace or Peril by Chris Hedges

Obama’s Bananastan by Jeff Huber

Who Is Binyam Mohamed? by Andy Worthington

Don’t Let the Iran Headlines Scare You by Robert Dreyfuss

We Need a Truth Commission to Uncover Bush-Era Wrongdoing by James Cavallaro

Israel is Blind to Its Own Arab Citizens by Fareed Zakaria

Obama’s “Humane” Guantanamo is a Joke by Andy Worthington

Obama’s Embrace of Bush/Cheney “Terrorism” Policies by Glenn Greenwald

GI Resistance in Chicago 

Tax Time  from Second Vermont Republic

Is Nationalization Inevitable? by Peter Morici

The New War in Iraq by Patrick Cockburn

Going Up Against Big Coal in West Virginia by Mike Roselle

Obama Steps on the Pentagon Escalator by Franklin Spinney

How Credit Unions Survived the Crash by Ralph Nader

Kennedy and the Corporate Lobbies Craft a Health Plan by Helen Redmond

Murderous Atlanta PIGS Sentenced to Fed Time (don’t drop the soap, piggies!)

A Particular Universalism by TGGP

Affirmative Action Around the World by Thomas Sowell

Who Pulls the Strings: Zionism or Capitalism? Norman Finkelstein and James Petras debate

The New York Times is Going Under-Hooray!! by Eric Englund

Race Cowards in Academia by Walter Williams

Billions for Bankers, Nothing for Homeowners by Dave Gonigam

Understanding Environmentalism by Vin Suprynowicz

The Obamanians Are Dangerously Wrong by Lew Rockwell

Race Agitator by William Norman Grigg

The Sickening Media by Glenn Greenwald

Ron Paul vs Paul Volcker 

Will There Be Civil Unrest in the U.S.? 

The Forerunner to Obamanomics by Lew Rockwell

Gun Owners in the Age of Obama by Mike Gaddy

The Silence of the Liberals by Justin Raimondo

To Russia, With Hate by Justin Raimondo

Balancing Beijing by Doug Bandow

Start Closing Overseas Bases Now by David Vine

Beware Treating Afghanistan Like Iraq by Patrick Cockburn

What Obama’s Risking in Afghanistan by John Bruhns

Return of the War Party  by Pat Buchanan

Obamaland by Charles Glass

Affirmative Action GOP by Jack Hunter

Poverty Does Not Cause Terrorism by Austin Bramwell

The Transition to a Relocalized Manufacturing Economy by Kevin Carson

So Much for the Freedom to Protest by Francois Tremblay

South Carolina House Adopts State Sovereignty Resolution 

Alternatives to Panic: Rising from the Ashes of the Old Economy by P. B. Floyd

Teacher and Student: The New Class Struggle by Niranjan Ramakrishna

Obama’s Non-Withdrawal Withdrawal Plan by Chris Floyd

Afghanistan: Chaos Central by Chris Sands

All About Greed by Sheldon Richman

Wall Street Journal Says Limited Liability Plays a Role in Current Crisis 

The Pentagon is a Money Toilet by John Zmirak

We Should Laugh at Race-Based Jokes, Says Clint Eastwood 

PIG Assaults 15-Year-Old Girl 

It Would Be Cheaper to Fight WW2 Again by Robert Higgs

Glenn Beck is a Worthless Piece of Shit

The Economics of Empire David Henderson interviewed by Scott Horton

Drawdown Plan May Leave Combat  Brigades in Iraq by Gareth Porter

Obama’s Afghan Problem by Thomas Eddlem

Doomed to Repeat History in Afghanistan by Joseph Galloway

Starting the Second Korean War by Doug Bandow

Obama’s War on Terror by Joanne Mariner

Obama’s Iraq Plan Ain’t It by Robert Dreyfuss

Obama’s Debt Orgy by Peter Schiff

Anarchism and Radical Governments by Larry Gambone

PIGS Occupy California High School 

Is Nancy Pelosi Really Against War Crimes? by Alexander Cockburn

From Bush to Obama: Seven Years of Wartime Propaganda by Anthony DiMaggio

The Banks War on Workers by Mischa Gaus

Ruining Young Lives for Profit by Nicole Colson

National-Anarchist Beach Cleanse by Bay Area National Anarchists

Updated News Digest February 22, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“Conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. Although Americans have been attached strongly to privacy and private rights, they also have been a people conspicuous for a successful spirit of community. In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily. Some of these functions are carried out by local political bodies, others by private associations: so long as they are kept local, and are marked by the general agreement of those affected, they constitute healthy community. But when these functions pass by default or usurpation to centralized authority, then community is in serious danger.

Whatever is beneficent and prudent in modern democracy is made possible through cooperative volition. If, then, in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political direction why, real government by the consent of the governed gives way to a standardizing process hostile to freedom and human dignity. For a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed. A central administration, or a corps of select managers and civil servants, however well intentioned and well trained, cannot confer justice and prosperity and  tranquility upon a mass of men and women deprived of their old responsibilities. That experiment has been made before; and it has been disastrous. It is the performance of our duties in community that teaches us prudence and efficiency and charity.”

                                                                                     -Russell Kirk

The Feminazi War Against Liberty, Family, and All Good Things by Stephen Baskerville

Boomers-Your Financial Crisis Has Arrived by James Quinn

Help, Help, I’m Being Repressed! classic scene from a classic film

New Boss, Worse Than the Old Boss? by Lew Rockwell

The Looting Bush Family Russ Baker interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Western Aggression Against Iran by Eric Margolis

State Money vs. Private Money by Gary North

Talk Show Leninism by William Norman Grigg

Pro-Smuggling: Because I Have a Brain by Cristina C. Espina

The Nanny State by Laurence Vance

Hold Them Accountable by Justin Raimondo

Renounce Extraordinary Rendition by Philip Giraldi

“Anti-Semitic Pandemic” by Ran HaCohen

Reckoning for Bush? by William Fisher

The Draft: Just Say No by Ron Paul

Hamas Pushed to the Wall Over Cease-Fire by Mel Frykberg

Obama Defends Torturers and Wiretappers by Thomas Eddlem

Obama Embraces Bush’s Abuses by Bruce Fein

Avoiding Another Cold War by Scott Ritter

We Are All Extremists Now! by Seuman Milne

Where Will Obama Take U.S. in Afghanistan? by Alan Bock

Crisis Over Kosovo by Ian Bancroft

Israel is Trapped, and the Chance for Peace is Ever More Remote by Bruce Anderson

Crises vs. Liberty by Jacob Hornberger

Obama’s War in Iraq May Be Longer Than Bush’s War in Iraq by Thomas Ricks

Obama: The President of Special Interests by Paul Craig Roberts

The Metrics of National Decline by Pat Buchanan

Who Remembers “Guns and Butter”? by Paul Craig Roberts

Has the Schiff  Hit the Fan? by Karen De Coster

Bipartisan Generational Theft by Jack Hunter

BBC Priggery by Derek Turner

Meltdown Tom Woods and Richard Spencer interviewed by Jack Hunter

Why Pay Less? by Cristina Oxenberg

Idiocracy by Paul Gottfried

Center For a Stateless Society -Fundraiser by Brad Spangler

Entrepreneurs in Everything by Niccolo Adami

Obama’s “Civilian National Security Force” Has Been Established 

Ten Conservative Principles by Russell Kirk

British Man Fined Over Racist Abuse…of Germans 

North Idaho Polygamist Sect Draws Scrutiny 

To Alter or Abolish by David Bardallis

The Obama Deception 

The Politics of Economic Disaster 

Beating Back Modern Lincolnism by Patroon

Evolutionary Conservatism by MRob

The Oligarchs Escape Plan by Michael Hudson

The One-Dimensional Congress by Ralph Nader

Commodifying the Revolution by John Ross

Who Is a Terrorist? by Matt Svensson

Iraq Reconstruction: The Greatest Fraud in U.S. History by Patrick Cockburn

The Meltdown: Whose Fault is It? by P. Sainath

Did George Washington Smoke Pot? by Harvey Wasserman

White Recession, Black Depression by Dedrick Muhammad

Sean Hannity-Secessionist?

Hideous He-She Hag of the Week (but not all trannies are PC turdballs-don’t be prejudiced!)

The Politics of Johann Wolfgang Goethe by Hans Hermann Hoppe

“This is the Modern Underground Railroad” 

Get Out of the Euro by Gary North

Mexicans Are Dying in the U.S. Drug War by Steven Greenhut

Time Magazine is Finished! by Dave Gonigam

The Comic Opera of Democracy by William S. Lind

Where the Wild Things Are (The Soviet-Afghani War 1979-1989) by C. J. Maloney

Smuggling: Personal Free Trade by Cristina Espina

America’s Confused Cause in Central Asia by William Pfaff

Hollywood’s New Censors by John Pilger

Counter Intelligence by Philip Giraldi

It Isn’t All About Me by Justin Raimondo

Will Obama Close the School of the Americas? by Chris Steele

Peace or the Draft William Astore interviewed by Scott Horton

The Israeli Elections Jason Ditz interviewed by Scott Horton

The Super Judge Who Wants to Rule the World by Srdja Trifkovic

“We Will Behead the Infidels of Those Who Construct Negative Images of Muslims!” 

Public Schooling and Criminal Texting by Rad Geek

A Nation of Cowards? by Stonewall

Arizona Anarchist Assembly 

Sticks and Stones-New Anarchist Periodical 

The Cleanser by Norman Finkelstein

Aftermath of a Beheading by Wajahat Ali

Afghan Pitfalls by M. Shahid Alam

The Mormon Worker 

America’s Privileged Apparatchik Class by Stephanie Fitch

Self-Management in Cuba? by Larry Gambone

Spectral Analysis  by Roderick Long

Death to the New Class  from Rad Geek

Self-Management in Cuba, Part 2? by Larry Gambone

“He Was a Man of His Times” by Francois Tremblay

The Long Retreat by Pat Buchanan

From One Assault on the Constitution to Another by Paul Craig Roberts

The Status of Women vs Diversity? by Brenda Walker

A Conversation About Race by Richard Spencer

Young Americans for Liberty Jeff Frazee interviewed by Richard Spencer and Jack  Hunter

Do We Need More Race Talk? by Lila Rajiva

Castro Did Not Improve the Lives of Cubans by Humberto Fontova

Swiss Peoples Party Stands Up to U.S. Imperialism 

Soros and Volcker: Worse Than the Great Depression 

More Americans Support Marijuana Legalization Than the Stimulus Package 

Preparing for a Domestic Surge? by William Norman Grigg

“We Are Not Responsible” by Pat Buchanan

Liking Ike by Lew Rockwell

Beyond Open and Closed Borders by Laurence Vance

Obama’s Policy on Civil Liberties: Bush Lite? by Ivan Eland

Twilight in Afghanistan? by Philip Giraldi

Our Enemy, the President by Daniel McCarthy

Smearing The American Conservative by Glenn Greenwald

Don’t Bet on Obama Reining in Defense Spending by Benjamin H. Friedman

The Emerging State Sovereignty Movement by Patroon

Liberals Jump On Obama’s War Bandwagon by Justin Raimondo

The Prince of Darkness Denies Own Existence by Dana Milbank

The Lawyer’s Tale  by Alexander Cockburn

Using the Recession to Hammer Workers by David Lindorff

War Criminals Must Be Prosecuted by Marjorie Cohn

Updated News Digest February 15, 2009 Reply

Quotes of the Week:

“Nowadays the Capitalist cry is: “Nationalize what you like; municipalize all you can; turn the courts of justice into courts martial and your parliaments and corporations into boards of directors with your most popular mob orators in the chair, provided the rent, the interest, and the profits come to us as before, and the proletariat still gets nothing but its keep.”

This is the great corruption of Socialism which threatens us at present. It
calls itself Fascism in Italy, National Socialism (Nazi for short) in Germany,
New Deal in the United States, and is clever enough to remain nameless in
England; but everywhere it means the same thing: Socialist production and
Unsocialist distribution. So far, out of the frying pan into the fire.”

                – George Bernard Shaw, Everybody’s Political What’s What (1944)

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it.”

                                                                                                -H.L. Mencken

American Triumphalism: A Postmortem by Andrew Bacevich

The Two Faces of Libertarianism by Austin Bramwell

The New Neocons by Barron YoungSmith

The Ron Paul Youth: Young Americans for Liberty 

The Gist of Paul Gottfried by Thomas F. Bertonneau

Why Are American Literacy Rates So Low? by Christina Oxenberg

New New Nationalism by Pat Buchanan

Will the Surge Work? by Jack Hunter

Tony Blankley: Imperialist Scumbag Supremo by Dylan Hales

Obama’s Savior-Based Economy by Michelle Malkin

President and Congress Grovel Before the Fed by Chuck Baldwin

Ship of Fools-May You Live in Interesting Times by Paul Craig Roberts

Are We All Socialists Now? by Robert Higgs

Herbert Spencer: Social Darwinist or Libertarian Prophet?  by Peter Richards

Thank You for Not Breeding by Francois Tremblay

Death to the PIGS 

The Cases for Pessimism and Optimism by Wendy McElroy

History is Written by the Idiots by Francois Tremblay

Disrobing the System: Obama vs “Real Change” from Slingshot

Thoughts on the Crisis: What is Planned for Us and the Alternatives by Andrew N. Flood

Is the Global Economy Fixable? by Thomas N. Naylor

How Do People in Gaza Keep Going? by Kathy Kelly

A Commodity Called Misery by Joe Bageant

Seek Truth, But Prosecute Liars by Dave Lindorff

Taking the Bong by Binoy Kampmark

Conservatism is Dead by Sam Tanenhaus

R.I.P. Henry Ashby Turner by William Grimes

Australian Bush Fire Tragedy by National Anarchists of Australia/New Zealand

Police Watching “White Enclave” from AnarchoNation

Tribes on the High Seas from AnarchoNation

Andy Griffith and Civil Society by Darrin Knode

The Left, the Right and the State Lew Rockwell interviewed by Scott Horton

The Patent-Copyright Regime by Jeffrey Tucker

The Evil of Immunity for PIGS by Bill Anderson

Obama is Making You Poorer by Lew Rockwell

The Growing Army of Angry Men by Mark Crovelli

Obama’s Cure is Worse Than the Ailment by Eric Margolis

No Free Speech in Britain by Sean Gabb

Instead of a Stimulus-Do Nothing! Seriously! by Robert Higgs

The Porn Bailout by Doug French

The Enslavers by William Norman Grigg

The Audacity of Mendacity by Justin Raimondo

Kyrgyzstan’s Revenge by Justin Raimondo

Obama Wants a Surge of His Own by Charles Pena

Obama Lies for Israel by Grant F. Smith

Is An Empire Necessary? by Bruce Fein

The 180-Degree Reversal of Obama’s State Secrets Position by Glenn Greenwald

The Holocaust is Over by David Gordon

What if Avigdor Lieberman Were in Austria? by Glenn Greenwald

The Biden Speech: The Downside by Robert Dreyfuss

The Plight of the Skanks by Richard Spencer

Obamania in Canuckistan by Nina Kouprianova

The Old California by Justin Raimondo

The Economic Apocalypse Isn’t So Bad by Richard Spencer

Dylan Hales interviewed by Jack Hunter 

Abraham Lincoln: Taking the Gloss Off the Great Emancipator by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

What Is Anarchism? by Rad Geek

Americans Favor a Probe of War on Terror Excesses 

Secession Workshops and Seminars Now Available 

The Largest Wave of Suicides in History 

Change We Can Smoke? by Fred Gardner

A Call to End All Renditions by Marjorie Cohn

Who’s Running Guantanamo? by Andy Worthington

Judges Nabbed for Jailing Kids for Kickbacks by Dave Lindorff

Against Military Slavery by Karen Kwiatkowski

Abe the Mass Murderer: A Lincoln Scholar Comes Clean by Tom DiLorenzo

Economic Meltdown Tom Woods interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Tim Geithner and the Ruling Class by Morgan Reynolds

Killer Greens Down Under by Andrea Petrie

Fred Reed Retires-We’ll Miss You, Fred! 

Gerald Celente on FOX 

More Gerald Celente: “The Worst Economic Collapse Ever” 

Obama Backs Bush “State Secrets” Position by J.D. Tuccille

The History of Schools from InfoAll

The Worker As Tool 

A Pierre Joseph Proudhon Reader 

Anarchism and Its Many Sects by Shawn Wilbur

How Will Obama’s Deficits Be Financed? by Paul Craig Roberts

Obama’s Great Game by Pat Buchanan

Geithner Lays an Egg by Peter Schiff

Being Honest About Abe by Jack Hunter

Libertarians, Freaks and Kooks by Dylan Hales

Comic Libertarianism by Tom Piatak and Kevin Michael Grace

Darwinian Traditionalism by Matthew Roberts

France: It Couldn’t Happen Here, Could It? by Ted Rall

On the Rocks by Alexander Cockburn

Pakistan On the Brink by Brian M. Downing

Israel’s Ball Boys by Christopher Ketcham

Why Can Judd Gregg See What Obama Can’t? by Dave Lindorff

A Short History of Business Handouts by Stephen Lendman

How the American Empire Will Fall by Tom Schmidt

Joint Venture by David Usborne

Should You Join the Military? by Laurence Vance

Stimulus to Depression Lew Rockwell on the Mark and Jim Show

Out of Iraq? by Justin Raimondo

Barack Obama’s Empire Chris Floyd interviewed by Scott Horton

The International Silence on Gaza by Ann Wright

Can Procedural Utility Lend a Hand to Paleo-Libertarianism? by Dain Fitzgerald

Updated News Digest February 8, 2009 2

Quote of the Week:

“A war for Kuwait? A war for an oil-can! The rest is vanity; the rest is crime
… an unimaginative, ‘democratic capitalist’ Republican regime, early in 1991, committed the United States, very possibly, to a new imperialism.

                                            –Russell Kirk, The Politics of Prudence

Cystic Fibrosis Fundraiser by Bay Area National Anarchists-Donate! 

Cultural Marxism in Canada: Prosecuting Polygamy, Protecting Gay Marriage 

How to Save Money Like a Mormon by Jennifer Dobner

Israel Hopes to Colonize Parts of Iraq as “Greater Israel” by Wayne Madsen

When Did We Stop Caring About Civilian Deaths During Wartime? by Robert Fisk

Elect the Cops-The Response by Dylan Hales

Trial of Neo-Nazi Leader to Have Important 1st Amendment Implications 

America: A Bankrupt and Discredited Country by Paul Craig Roberts

War Tax Resistance lecture by David Schenk

Pro-Life Tax Resistance by Dr. Gerald DePyper

The Therapeutic State in North Carolina 

The Persecution of Michael Phelps 

Czech President Attacks Al Gore’s Climate Campaign 

Monetary Lessons from America’s Past lecture by Tom Woods

Putin to the West: Take Your Medicine by Justin Raimondo

The Return of Real Interventionism by Leon Hadar

Renditions May Expand Under Obama from AntiwarNews

Obama: Agent of Change? Well, Agent of Something… by Jeremy Sapienza

The Bogus War on Terror by Eric Margolis

End Legal Immunity for Government Officials by Bill Anderson

Going Bankrupt for “National Defense” by Tom Engelhardt and Chalmers Johnson

Our Rulers Are Destroying Our World by Bob Higgs

Coming: The Third American Hyperinflation by Mike Rozeff

Condemn the System, Not Michael Phelps by Paul Armentano

Served, Protected and Sodomized in Baltimore 

Ideology and the Internet  by Justin Raimondo

Repudiate the Monroe Doctrine by Phillip Brenner and Saul Landau

Politically, Hamas May Have Won by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

Obama’s Defense of Rumsfeld and Yoo by Jacob Hornberger

Neocons Spin Pentagon Budget Increase as Cut by Glenn Greenwald

What Cheney’s Daughter’s Senior Thesis Tells Us About the Bush Presidency by Zac Frank

Protect and Defend…The Military-Industrial Complex by Jeff Huber

Obama’s Wars by Bill Moyers

First, Jail All Bush’s Lawyers by Robert Parry

How the U.S. Created an Enemy in Iran by Brett Popplewell

Obama’s War Cabinet Stephen Zunes interviewed by Scott Horton

Putin’s Warning to America Justin Raimondo interviewed by Scott Horton

Military to Pledge Oath to Obama, Not Constitution by Michelle Chang

Nancy Pelosi’s New Deal by Pat Buchanan

The War on Terror is a Hoax by Paul Craig Roberts

I Saw Iceland Melt by Kevin DeAnna

Why Iceland Melted by Richard Spencer

How to Prevent Vermont from Going Down with the Titanic by Thomas N. Naylor

How Much Does It Cost Vermont to Remain in the Union? by Thomas N. Naylor

We, the Anarchists-An Interview with Stuart Christie by Chuck Morse

Resisting Anti-Panhandling Law by David Beyer

A Generals’ Revolt? by Dave Lindorff

Obama’s Lincoln Thing by Kirkpatrick Sale

What to Do About Wall Street by Ralph Nader

Reactionary Late Modernism: Back in Style! from Ean Frick

The 68ers In A Nutshell from Ean Frick

Former Trots Make Good from Ean Frick

The One-State Solution by Muammar Qaddafi

America First by Merle Haggard

The Therapeutic State Strikes in Australia and New Zealand

American Fascism by Karen Kwiatkowski

The Blessed Return of Right-Wing Paranoia by Anthony Gregory

French Cartoonist on Trial for “Anti-Semitism” 

The Iranian Revolution 30 Years On: Was it Worth it? by Angus McDowell

Stasi Britain: The Culture of Snitches by Melanie Phillips

Never Talk to the Cops 

Fractional Reserves Have Wrecked the Fascist State by Gary North

Stimulating Tyranny by William Norman Grigg

Endgame? What Endgame? by Justin Raimondo

The Nightmare of Netanyahu Returns by Johann Hari

Hold Israel Accountable for Gaza by George Bisharat

Geert Wilders and the Dutch Republic byDerek Turner

This is Just the Beginning by Peter Schiff

Reefer Madness by Jack Hunter

Those Darn Purists! by Grant Havers

Do Americans Cherish Freedom Anymore? by Chuck Baldwin

Whistleblowers and Management by Larry Gambone

More Than a Paycheck National War Tax Coordinating Committee

Simple Solutions to Stupid Problems by Rad Geek

Counter-Economic Optimism 

Authoritarians in Libertarian Clothing by Kevin Carson

Obama’s First Bad Week by Alexander Cockburn

Obama and the Empire by William Blum

Ten Reasons to Get High About Pot in 2009 by Norm Kent

Obama, Mitchell and the Palestinians by James Abourezk

Occupied Territory by Russell Mokhiber

Obama, Race and the Future of U.S. Politics by Bob Wing

Economy on a Thread by Dave Lindorff

The End of the Monroe Doctrine Saul Landau interviewed by Scott Horton

Why Not Apologize to Iran for the Coup? by Robert Naiman

Sorrows of Empire Chalmers Johnson interviewed by Scott Horton

Bush Jr.’s Foreign Policy Legacy Doug Bandow interviewed by Scott Horton

Obama, The Ruling Class and the Future of Secession 5

Thus far, the Obama presidency has moved along lines similar to what one might expect. The significance some would assign to his mulatto ancestry notwithstanding, Mr. Obama is very much an Establishment Man. The actions of the Obama administration in its earliest days indicate that the policies of this administration will largely be a continuation of those of the Bush administration. On economic policy, Obama has surrounded himself with neoliberals and called for deficit spending on additional bank and corporate welfare in the form of the “stimulus package.” The so-called “stimulus” is really just Phase Two of the extravagant “bailout” program enacted under President Bush. This should not be surprising, given that Obama’s primary financial backers during his campaign were Goldman-Sachs and other principal beneficiaries of the bailout, which Obama supported as a Senator. Of course, the “stimulus” program includes some additional social spending for the sake of appeasing various Democratic Party constituencies. This is the reason, along with sheer partisanship, that the Republicans are opposing the stimulus, which they are correct to do, even if they are doing so for all the wrong reasons.

On foreign policy, it appears that the Obama administration, whose foreign policy team is comprised mostly of recycled Clintonites, will continue to pursue the same set of foreign policy goals as the Bush administration. Obama has called for increased military spending, expanding the war in Afghanistan, perhaps to Pakistan, and it appears renditions will also continue. Obama does seem to be scaling back operations at Guantanamo, yet only as a public relations  maneuver so far as world opinion is concerned. It’s not like the prisoners at Guantanamo are going to be released. Indeed, it would appear that the only real difference between Bush and Obama on foreign policy is that the Obama government will be less bellicose in its formal rhetoric. As a protege’ of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama represents the liberal internationalist wing of the foreign policy elite, who are just as committed to the preservation of the Empire as the neoconservatives, but who are more cautious about openly giving the finger to allies, client states, and world opinion. Liberal internationalists realize that this is not conducive to the efficient administration of the Empire or its maintenance over the long haul, particularly given the current dependence of the U.S. economy on Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arab lenders.

Obama also kowtows to the Israel Lobby, as illustrated by his appearance before AIPAC prior to his election to the presidency and his appointment of Rahm Emmanuel. James Petras has observed that the Obama administration contains as many arch-Zionists as any previous administration. There is also some indication that Israel will go to war with Iran under Obama’s watch, which could likely lead to actual U.S. participation in such a war. In fact, the overall amount of U.S. military intervention may escalate under Obama, as it did under Bill Clinton.

On “culture war” issues, Obama predictably leans somewhat to the left of the Bush government. So far, he has lifted the abortion-related “gag rule” and eased restrictions on stem cell research, and Obama has also signed an “equal pay for equal work” law as a reward for his middle-class feminist constituency. Yet Obama is far from being an ACLU civil libertarian. For instance, he voted as a Senator to authorize warrantless wiretaps and provide legal immunity to telecommunications companies engaged in such actions.

I’ve written before that the election of Obama signifies a demographic, cultural and generational shift among the American electorate. The left side of the “culture war” now has the upper hand, if it did not already. The Democrats will likely be the dominant political party for the forseeable future due to the fact that those groups who vote Democratic are growing in number and those who vote Republican are shrinking. The Obama coalition includes the left-wing of the “old elite” (demonstrated by the Kennedys support for Obama), the New Class center-left welfare state professionals, the “bourgeois bohemians” that David Brooks has written about, upwardly mobile members of the traditional outgroups now in ascension (blacks, immigrants, Jews, feminists, gays), newer ideological movements like environmentalism, younger people and a wide variety of public sector dependents. This coalition will probably prove to be stable enough to sustain itself over the next few decades even if matters like economic downturn occasionally produce a victory for the Republicans.  

Because the liberal side of the culture wars is gaining does not mean that the culture wars are over. While there is not enough of a constituency for the kind of cultural conservatism represented by the religious right  or the right-wing Republicans for these to achieve a majority in a national election, proponents of such an outlook are a large and vocal enough group to continue to be a force for political and cultural polarization for some time, even if their prospects for long-term victory are dim.

Indeed, the evidence indicates that the U.S. Congress of 2008 was the most polarized of any Congress in 120 years! The degree to which Americans are polarized has increased even in the last five years. Further, as Bill Bishop has shown, Americans are becoming more and more geographically segregated along cultural, ideological, religious, economic, ethnic, racial and generational lines.

As an old-fashioned anarchist who wishes to see an end to the U.S. empire internationally and the end of the Big Brother state domestically, I see this polarization as a welcome phenomenon. It is difficult for a state to survive when there is no consensus on primary values. If the cultural Left is going to be in the ascendency, then let’s hope that the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et.al. turn up the volume even louder and keep the polarization coming.  Those guys really aren’t my cup of tea, but I’m all for increased divisiveness.

Divisiveness will likely escalate for a variety of reasons. One of these will be the widening gap between socio-economic classes, which Obama shows no signs of doing anything about. Another will be the social conflict associated with  increased statism as politics becomes a spoils system for different groups looking to plunder one another. Increased diversity will likely result in increased disharmony in many ways, and the massive American police state will likely be used to squelch economic unrest and sharpening demographic conflict.

If secession by regions and communities is the most viable method of dissolving the Empire, as I believe it is, then it would seem that we revolutionaries should devote ourselves to the following tasks:

1) Continue to popularize the idea of secession. A Zogby poll taken last year showed that twenty-two percent of Americans support the right of secession, with eighteen percent saying they would support a secession movement in their area. Additionally, forty-four percent say the U.S. political system is broken and cannot be fixed. We need to get these numbers up.

2) Continue to develop actual secession movements and build constituencies for these movements. For instance, the dominance of the cultural Left is likely to increase support for separatist ideas on the Right. There is a prototype for this in the rise of the militia movement during the Clinton era. Likewise, Obama is likely to prove to be a disappointment to many on the Left, both blacks and whites, and this combined with increased economic misfortune may generated secession movements from the Left. The nationwide, continent-wide proliferation of secessionist tendencies from the Right and Left against the ruling class Center would be a highly welcome event.

3) Encourage greater polarization. In some ways, we should think of Limbaugh, Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Barney Frank and Arianna Huffington as the public relations arm for a future pan-secessionist movement as it is figures such as these who serve to create the polarization likely to result in eventual political splintering.

4) Build cross-cultural, cross-ideological alliances against the ruling class common enemy whenever feasible. If Afro-centrics, Black Muslims, militiamen and Ku Klux Klansmen can engage in common action, then what the hell is wrong with the rest of us?