Critique of the Americans For Self-Determination Plan for Separatism and Decentralism

It should be obvious enough that those of us who are committed to a firmly “beyond left and right” perspective in our approach to radical or revolutionary politics must at some point articulate concrete proposals for what will follow once the present system is eradicated. Indeed, one of the reasons for the many failures of the historic Left, particularly in its 1960s and post-1960s versions, has been the failure of the Left to offer any alternative vision for the sort of institutions that might follow the demise of state-capitalism. When I was an anarcho-leftoid in the 1980s, I used to frequently ask veterans of 1960s radicalism what exactly they planned to replace the US regime with once the Weathermen and Black Panthers succeeded in overturning it. The most common response was usually along the lines of “Well, we never really thought about it”. Some years ago, I had an acquaintance, a very pathetically liberal do-gooder, reactionary leftist, P.C. goofball of the Phil Donahue variety whose ambition was to become a politician for the purpose of “doing good” and “promoting socialism”. Once I asked him what exactly his version of “socialism” would involve and his predictable response was “You know, I never really thought about it”.

In evaluating and then subsequently rejecting various strategies, both tactical and ideological, for waging war against the US regime over the years, I have observed that one of the primary weaknesses of most dissident factions is the inability of these to rise above parochial or provincial cultural matters and focus their attack on the over-arching enemy of the System itself. For example, the reactionary Left attempts to combine “class struggle” with the hysterical cultural Marxism of the academic Left while failing to recognize that workers are typically more tribalistic than the liberal bourgeois elites and that workers “of color” (Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Arabs) are typically more “patriarchal” and “homophobic” than the average white, even the average non-bourgeois white. In other words, the efforts of contemporary leftist intellectuals to synthesize proletarianism with liberal-bourgeois values like multiculturalism, secularism, feminism and homosexualism is simply unworkable in practice. Indeed, the disinterest of much of the Left in labor related politics in favor of left-wing variations of identitarianism attests to this. Additionally, the focus of traditional Marxist-influenced leftism on the urban industrial proletariat as the foundation of revolutionary struggle appears to be unwarranted in modern times. The historic labor movement is dead. Workers have been relatively integrated into mainstream society. Labor unions are now a part of the Establishment. The working class is stratified into layers and divided into sectors with conflicting interests. Rarely are workers interested in anything beyond bread and butter concerns. I know from my experience of doing strike support work with several different unions that it is quite difficult even to get workers to show up for picket duty, much less to “overthrow capitalism”.

Indeed, it was observations such as the aforementioned that eventually led me away from the Left and towards libertarianism. However, I soon discovered that libertarianism also was a decidedly middle class liberal-bourgeoisie oriented movement that in many ways mirrored the reactionary Left. Just as the Left shares the liberal-cosmopolitan cultural values of the bourgeoisie, so do the libertarians share the liberal-commercialist economic values of the bourgeoisie. In examining these problems, I found myself once again going back to my roots, specifically to the insights of the classical anarchist Mikhail Bakunin. Bakunin noted, in contrast to the Marxists, that the revolutionary struggle must originate from the ranks of those with the smallest investment in the System, namely, “those with the least to lose”. Neither the liberal middle-classes nor the upper-strata working class elements that comprise the industrial proletariat are sufficiently oppressed by the System in order to take up arms against it. These classes value security, stability and order for the sake of protecting their sometimes tenuous class positions. It was these classes that were the most horrified by the uprisings and instability of the 1960s. Indeed, it was the upheavals of the 1960s that pushed much of the traditional southern labor vote towards the Right. Recall Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”. Likewise, it was the left-identitarian liberal-bourgeoisie, with roots in the “New Politics” of the McGovern era, that was most horrified by the rural insurgency that emerged during the 1990s in the form of the militia movement.

Bakunin recognized that the vanguard classes in the struggle against state-capitalism must be the urban lumpenproletariat and the rural peasantry. This implication of this for modern America is that the urban underclasses, composed primarily of ethnic minorities, and what we might crudely call the “neo-peasantry” of rural agricultural workers and small farmers, typically whites with traditional cultural values, are natural economic allies, even if they are cultural and ethnic enemies. How then can a class-based struggle emerge among populations with conflicting cultural identities? The answer would seem to require complete rejection of the liberal-bourgeoise/cultural-Marxist paradigm of social democratic welfare-statism, coercive integrationism and state-centralism in favor of decentralism, separatism and a “third position” on economic matters beyond capitalism and communism. At this point, the radical Right and the radical Left begin converge. “Third way” economic ideologies from the Left (syndicalism, guild socialism, council communism) are remarkably similar to those from the Right (distributism, geoism and agrarian populism). Similarly, advocates of “black power” and advocates of “white power” (or “brown power” or ” red power” or “yellow power”) often have much more in common that any of these do with the liberal-bourgeoisie. Indeed, there are even overlaps between the countercultural-hippie-punk Left and the redneck-racist-Christian Right, such as a common interest in alternative media, pirate radio, unconventional medicine, conspiracy theories, naturistic “back-to-the-land” enthusiasms, alternative economics and the like. Both of these obviously have more in common with each other than either do with suburbanites or urban yuppies.

It is obvious enough that a class-based insurgency against state-capitalism must include all of these diverse cultural, religious and ethnic factions. The traditional Proudhonian anarchist concepts of federalism, decentralism, mutualism and voluntarism provide the most workable institutional framework for the accommodation of these diverse forces. But what about some concrete proposals for overturning the present US regime/ruling class and the achievement of sovereignty for each of America’s captive nationalities or subject cultures? The most comprehensive proposal of this type is that advanced by Jeffrey Anderson of a Washington, D.C. based organization called Americans For Self-Determination. Anderson is a former mainstream conservative, apparently with paleo leanings, who later moved into Far Right circles. The bulk of the ASD Plan deals with racial matters, arguing from the premise that multicultural, multiethnic societies are inherently unstable and prone to fracticious violence. Far from being a blueprint for social harmony, the “diversity” much trumpeted by liberals and leftists is actually a recipe for political disaster. The actual historical record and examples from the contemporary both yield to this conclusion. Though he describes himself as a white nationalist, Anderson is admirably free of the crude bigotry and loopy “kill ’em all” rhetoric that unfortunately characterizes many in that milieu. Instead, Anderson has outlined a remarkably thoughtful and nuanced plan for achieving ethnic and cultural harmony in North America in a way that gives equal balance to the interests of all sides.

This basics of the ASD Plan are this: Whites would pay reparations to blacks, but with certain strings attached. The funds would be used for the economic development of particular regions of North America classified as “black separatist” states. In return, blacks would renounce affirmative action and other privileges in other regions dubbed “white separatist” states. Still other areas would maintain the present multiculturalist/affirmative action system, perhaps even expanded considerably beyond what it is now. Essentially, every major faction in the racial divide would get a piece of the pie. White nationalists and white conservatives would get their own territories. Black nationalists or separatists would have theirs as would liberal-integrationists of all races. Additionally, this new racial system would be created on a voluntary basis. Whites in black territories could stay there if they chose and would not be forced to sell their property to new black immigrants. Blacks could remain as a minority in the white territories but without any particular legistlated preferences or privileges. Mixed race territories would also continue to exist, which Anderson regards as ideal for mixed couples or families. The general expectation would be that over time the separatist territories would begin to take an increasingly homogenous appearance as a result of migration inspired by economic, racial and cultural incentives. There would be no ethnic cleansing, forcible repatriations or expropriations of anyone’s property. Indeed, Anderson insists that any particular program for separatism along ethnic lines be implemented according to what he calls the “democratic, Christian and humanitarian ideals of the American people”. While he has collaborated with racial/ethnic activists ranging from the Jewish white nationalist Michael Hart to Don Black of Stormfront to Jared Taylor to black nationalists like Dr. Robert Brock or members of the Pan-African International Movement, Anderson insists upon the avoidance of racial finger-pointing (“You did this to us” or “You owe us this”) and the seeking out of constructive solutions to America’s ethnic problems.

It is ironic that while Jeff Anderson considers himself to be a white nationalist, the most immediately obvious beneficiaries of his plan would be blacks. Blacks would be the recipients of a fund, managed by black elected officials within the context of some kind of checks and balances, that would provide grants and low-interest loans to blacks for the purchase of real estate, businesses, farms and education in the designated “black separatist” states. The implementation of this plan would be an enormous economic opportunity for blacks, particularly the disadvantaged. Nothing could be more beneficial to the cause of black self-advancement. Furthermore, blacks would have the means to political as well as economic independence and no longer be a mere appendage to white society. Malcom X would probably be thrilled with this idea. Anderson also addresses the question of where the black states should be located. Among other possibilities, he suggests that a reason for locating the black states in the South would be the fact that the South is where the largest number of US blacks currently reside. I would tend to concur with this. It would be best to implement the ASD Plan is such a way as to minimize upheaval, confusion and chaos. This would in turn mean attempting to keep actual population transfer, even though voluntary, to a minimum. Also, my experience has been that, contrary to popular myth, racial tensions between blacks and whites tend to be less severe in the South than in other areas. Racism among southern whites is primarily cultural in nature, involving long-standing traditions, but with blacks and a majority of southern whites sharing a common class history as serfs or slaves.

I grew up in the rural, small-town areas of western Virginia (no, not West Virginia). Virtually all whites I knew typically referred to blacks as “niggers”, “coloreds” and the like, but at the same time blacks and whites went to school together, played in the same sports leagues, and worked together, with churches and residential neighborhoods maintaining relative segregation. I have known blacks from the northern parts of the US who have relocated to the south and experienced shock at the apparently lesser degrees of hostility towards non-whites to be found in the South. I suspect that the reason for this is the lack of a shared class history among blacks and whites in other parts of the country. Many northern whites are the descendents of German, Irish or Italian immigrants. There is also the matter of tensions between blacks and the other non-white ethnic groups. I have encountered more hostility to blacks from Hispanics, Asians, Arabs and other Mediterraneans over the years than I have from whites. This throws a wrench in the efforts of liberals to lay the blame for “racism” at the feet of “white supremacy”. Racial attitudes among whites seem to span the entire spectrum of opinion, ranging from white separatists who see racial preservation as paramount to white conservatives who reject racial-identitarian views but resent the alleged “reverse discrimination” of affirmative action, minority set asides, etc. to liberal whites with orthodox mainstream multiculturalist views to white leftists who identify with black nationalism (on this latter point, the black nationalist Peoples’ Democratic Uhuru Movement even has an auxillary unit for whites).

Under the ASD Plan, all of these perspectives could be accommodated to some degree. The “white separatist” regions would likely attract both ideological racialists along with “average Joe” whites resentful of black crime, affirmative action and immigration. Ideally, the white separatist states would be located in those areas of the country that already possess the smallest minority populations, such as the West or the upper Northeast (the latter may prove untenable, given the liberal social views of most northeasterners). The obvious choice locations for the “mixed race” states would be the Northeast corridor, the West Coast and the Upper Great Lakes regions, the so-called “blue states”. As for the other American ethnic groups, a cluster of Hispanic states could be created along the southwestern border or perhaps this region could even be ceded to Mexico. Things appear to be headed in that direction anyway. I believe that many among the ranks of the current US ruling class hope for the eventual abolition of America’s northern and southern borders alike, effectively turning North America into the United States of NAFTA, a large mercantilist “free trade area” unhampered by the inconvenience of national borders, with North America in turn being but a mere province of the New World Order. This is borne out by the fact that an alleged conservative Republican President has proposed de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants. The American Indian Movement has long demanded that the federal regime honor its actually existing treaties with the Indian nations and return certain lands promised by those treaties. The ASD Plan also calls for the possible creation of Asian states on the West Coast or even in western Canada. Jeff Anderson has also suggested the possibility of abolishing US aid to Israel and in its place allowing for the evacuation of the Israeli Jewish population to New England. A proposal somewhat similar to this has also been suggested by the paleolibertarian commentator Stephan Kinsella.

A weakness in the ASD Plan is its failure to consider the numerous cultural, ideological and religious differences to be found among the various ethnic groups. Among Asians, there are persistent rivalries between Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese and others. Among South Asians, there are obvious rivalries among, for example, Pakistanis and Indians and between Hindus and Muslims. Among white nationalists, there are Jewish white racialists like Michael Levin along with overt neo-nazis. Among black nationalists, there are Marxists, Muslims, Christians and “black Israelites”. Mostly likely, the ethnic nationalist/separatist states would have to be subdivided into autonomous or semi-autonomous enclaves for contending sub-ethnic, religious or ideological factions. While the ASD Plan pays some attention to the cultural as well as racial differences that divide Americans (for instance, the ASD Plan mentions the possibility of gay or feminist separatist enclaves), these issues are not addressed nearly as thoroughly as they need to be. The “culture wars” between the “reds” and the “blues” is at present more divisive to the North American population than even questions of race. The obvious solution is simple sovereignty for red and blue communities alike.

Of course, such a program of radical ethnic and cultural separatism could only transpire within the broader context of full political decentralization. This is where anti-state radicalism of the type advocated by traditional anarchists and libertarians comes into play. The battle between the reds and the blues is not so much a question of a conflict between regions as much as it is a battle between urban and rural localities. The solution would be to make urban and metropolitan areas into independent city-states, free of control by regional or state governments. Cities could then be further decentralized into collections of sovereign enclaves organized along cultural, ethnic, religious, ideological or economic lines, ranging from communities controlled by the Crips or the Hell’s Angels to communities controlled by the Baptist Church or Islamic fundamentalists or anarchists or communists. The implementation of the ASD Plan is something that anti-state radicals should cheer, as its achievement would be the de facto death of the US federal Leviathan. Perhaps the greatest weakness of the ASD Plan is its lack of any suggestion for economic conversion following the demise of the present US federal system. Obviously, the present ruling elites will not take the break-up of their empire lightly. Obviously, the overthrow of the US federal regime implicit in the ASD Plan would require the overthrow of corporate America in the economic realm. On economic questions, Anderson falls back on the inadequate perspective of Buchananite-Naderite economic nationalism. This is probably due to his paleoconservative roots. Apparently, he has not yet given up on the idea of “America” as a nation-state. But economic decentralization is a better idea than economic nationalism. The downfall of corporate America will naturally mean the dispersal of economic resources and power (whether medical care or the mass media) to community, labor, consumer and entrepreneurial organizations.

Anderson’s approach to immigration is also inadequate. He calls for the issuance of national ID cards and the compulsory repatriation of illegal immigrants and a ten-year moratorium on new immigrants. How this is to be achieved is not explained. With regards to the matter of national ID cards, there is already enough police statism in America without adding any more ingredients to the mix. How are illegal immigrants to be located and deported when the government cannot even prevent the use and sale of illegal drugs or the entry of these substances into the United States? Rest assured, any pretense of a crackdown on illegal immigration will have no detectable effects on immigration levels but will surely be used to expand the police state. As with economic matters, control over immigration should simply be decentralized. The state should stop paying immigrants to immigrate (by eliminating or restricting entitlements for immigrants). The state should stop attempting to force immigrants and natives together (by repealing antidiscrimination laws). The state should stop attempting to cultivate new electoral constituencies through immigration. Instead, the naturalization process should become a local matter handled according to local community standards. Authentic matters of crime control and border defense should be taken out of the hands of incompetent state bureaucracies and police agencies and turned over to community militias. Above all, the state should stop creating economic and political refugees of the type that comprise many immigrant populations by ending economic, political and military imperialism in the Third World.

Jeff Anderson’s outlook on foreign policy is quite good. He is an uncompromising isolationist in the style of Thomas Fleming or Murray Rothbard. He criticizes every American war except the 1776 War of Independence from Great Britain. Authentic anti-statists must always remember Randolph Bourne’s dictum that “war is the health of the state” and therefore guard against imperialist or expansionist war religiously. I believe that the struggle against the present US regime is by nature a global struggle. It is not enough for radicals within the domestic US to simply adopt and old-fashioned neutralist stance. Instead, we must conceive of ourselves as part of a broader insurgency against the empire of the New World Order. As residents of the mother country of the empire, we bear special responsibilities on this question. We must act in solidarity with our revolutionary brothers in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Islamic world. Two other issues of major importance are absent from the ASD Plan. One is the matter of the environment. Some provision needs to be worked out to turn control of ecological resources now under the control of the federal government or state-connected corporations over to communities, homesteaders or environmental organizations. There is also the matter of the police state. Millions currently reside in American prisons, mostly for non-violent or entirely victimless offenses ranging from drug charges to firearms possession to tax charges to violation of the labyrinth of bureaucratic regulations that currently smother American society. A program of general amnesty for all prisoners not convicted of a crime of violence would seem to be in order. Those convicted of property crimes can be released on the condition of victim compensation. Even radical theocrats like Gary North and neo-nazis like Tom Metzger have endorsed this position. The question of those imprisoned for political reasons or for self-defense also needs to be addressed.

The ASD Plan is remarkably similar to the ideas found in an obscure but growing form of European radicalism known as the “Third Position” whose most radical tendency is a newer school of anarchist thought known as “national-anarchism”. If revolutionary anarchism is to have any sort of future (and why shouldn’t it, given the intellectual bankruptcy of the traditional Left and the traditional Right?) it will probably be in some form such as that generally favored by national-anarchists, a unity of separatists and decentralists within the context of class struggle, anti-statism and anti-imperialism. Merely aping either the cultural or economic values of the liberal-bourgeoise elite will not be sufficient. The ASD Plan may not be entirely adequate, but it commendably gets the ball rolling in the creation of a new revolutionary formula for the next wave of American radicals.

Copyright 2005. Keith Preston. American Revolutionary Vanguard. All rights reserved.



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