On Purging the Anarchist Movement of Reactionary Liberal Influences

By Keith Preston

In 1969, Lawrence Dennis published his Operational Thinking for Survival, a work whose central thesis was an attack on the tendency of modern thought to approach political and social questions from the perspective of preconceived ideological notions and to attempt to force situational anomalies into a predetermined ideological framework. Instead, Dennis advocated an “operational” approach, whereby such questions might be addressed in the same manner as scientific endeavors, that is, as a matter of examining simple facts as they actually appear, irrespective of ideological bias or political agendas. “Just the facts, ma’am”.

It goes without saying that most of the contemporary anarchist movement presumes the legitimacy of basic liberal assumptions. Indeed, on most social questions, anarchists typically do not sound any different from the average liberal, though they may appear to be more militant and less enthusiastic about voting for the Democratic Party or the Greens. With the passage of time, I become more and more convinced of the truth of the traditional anarchist critique of the state as nothing more than a criminal gang writ large. One need only to consult the work of R. J. Rummel to find ample evidence for this conclusion. However, I am also, with the passage of time, increasingly skeptical of the liberal presumptions to which most modern anarchists subscribe. What are these presumptions?

First, there is the matter of egalitarianism. It should be obvious enough that the notion that “all men are created equal” is a joke. Is George W. Bush equal to Albert Einstein? That question alone ought to be enough to prick the equality balloon. There is indeed considerable inequality among humans in terms of intelligence, prowess, cunning, ingenuity, creativity, intuitive abilities, innate talents, and many other things. The obvious truth of inequality raises questions about conventional left-anarchist objections to “hierarchy” and “authority”. It would seem that on the question of hierarchy, several distinctions need to be made. There are voluntary hierarchies and coercive hierarchies. A Tibetan Buddhist monastery is an example of the former, whereas the state is an example of the latter. There are also natural hierarchies and artificial ones. The superior ranking of surgeons over nurses and of nurses over candystripers in a hospital is a natural hierarchy. No one would suggest that a neurosurgeon should consult the hospital parking attendant as to how to best proceed in treating his patient (well, maybe some leftoids would). An artificial hierarchy involves the superior ranking of some over others for arbitrary or exploitive reasons. Examples range from the Nuremberg racial laws to local zoning ordinances designed to artificially inflate the value of real estate held by politically-connected interest groups at the expense of their more disadvantaged competitors, such as the residents of low-income housing.

It would seem that some authority is natural and beneficent, while other kinds might be tyrannical or even lethal. One can debate the matter of which methods of child-rearing are most desirable, but most people would recognize that the ultimate authority should rest with the parent rather than the child. If the child wants to play in traffic, then the parent is not simply being a bully by preventing him from doing so. Any sort of productive enterprise requires some system or organization. The traditional subordination system found in factories or corporate structures may be undesirable, but even in enterprises operated as partnerships, some rules of the game are required. Virtually all anarchists recognize that such common criminal acts as rape, robbery, and murder are in conflict with anarchist principles. So there would naturally have to be some means of restraining individuals inclined towards such actions even in the absence of a formalized state apparatus. The delusions of liberalism are great in number. These include not only egalitarianism but also universalism, humanism, multiculturalism, legalism, pacifism, and democratism. The classic statement against humanism and universalism by Joseph De Maistre is instructive:

I do not know the man as such. Never have. I have known Poles, French, English. Thanks to Montesquieu, I am aware of the existence of the Persians as well, but I have never known the man.

Do human beings really share a so-called “common humanity”, or is the human species really a collection of sub-species with no more in common than giraffes and catfish? Is the notion that “all men are brothers” really just a foolish superstition possessing no more validity than the notion of the divinity of the emperor? Perhaps humans are, instead, competitors and predators in an amoral “state of nature”, a war of each against all? One of the core tenants of modern humanism and universalism is the Hegelian conception of “progress”. But is “progress” a reality, or is there simply “change”? Does not the history of civilizations more easily coincide with the cyclical patterns of life and death suggested by Spengler or Nietzsche?

Liberals never tire of flaunting their infatuation with such pieties as “democracy” and “rule of law”. Indeed, these idols are now so universally worshipped that even most so-called conservatives run to embrace them. If “democracy” is so wonderful, then why has every sensible political philosopher since the time of Plato recognized it as nothing more than the rule of ignorant mobs led by self-serving demagogues? The classical-anarchist godfather Proudhon advanced an insight that modern anarcho-leftoids would no doubt find shocking, if not heretical:

…because of this ignorance of the primitiveness of their instincts, of the urgency of their needs, of the impatience of their desires, the people show a preference toward summary forms of authority. The thing they are looking for is not legal guarantees, of which they do not have any idea and whose power they do not understand, they do not care for intricate mechanism or for checks and balances for which, on their own account, they have no use, it is a boss in whose word they confide, a leader whose intentions are known to the people and who devotes himself to its interests, that they are seeking. This chief they provided with limitless authority and irresistible power. Inclined toward suspicion and calumny, but incapable of methodical discussion, they believe in nothing definite save the human will.

Left to themselves or led by their tribunes, the masses never established anything. They have their face turned backwards; no tradition is formed among them; no orderly spirit; no idea which acquires the force of law. Of politics, they understand nothing except the element of intrigue; of the art of governing, nothing except prodigality and force; of justice, nothing but mere indictment; of liberty, nothing but the ability to set up idols which are smashed the next morning. The advent of democracy starts an era of retrogression which will ensure the death of the nation and the state…

Often, one will hear a liberal utter some foolish notion that “we are a nation of laws and not men”. Well, who makes laws? Laws do not simply appear magically out of a vacuum. Laws are made by men, and men make laws to advance their own interests over those of their enemies. The “rule of law” is really just a clever façade for a formalized rule of power. Modern democratist regimes have simply implemented a system where A conspires against B, B conspires against C, and C conspires against A. So-called “democracy” is really just a form of low-intensity civil war. It is useless to claim that so-called democratic governance simply establishes the rules of the game and acts as a value-neutral umpire. The state is an active player in the game with interests of its own. A quite valuable insight provided by Carl Schmitt involves the observation that the mere existence of a democratist regime implies that democratists have gotten the upper hand in the power struggle over monarchists, fascists, communists, theocrats, etc.

Two terms that appear in modern liberal rhetoric as much as any others are “non-violence” and “multiculturalism”. One question that I have persistently asked liberals (and others) over the years is “What is inherently wrong with the use of violence to achieve political ends?”. How much is one somehow obligated to take from power-holders and ruling elites? Liberals are typically not Hobbesians, who insist on the preservation of order at almost any cost; this might be an understandable perspective, though still a subjective one. Instead, liberals are utopians for whom the idea of “violence”, like “racism” or “xenophobia”, simply offends their aesthetic sensibilities. But is a preoccupation with “peace” and “non-violence” an indication of high-minded idealism, or is it simply an expression of the triumph of weakness, cowardice, and materialism? More and more, I am drawn to the latter view. Paraphrasing Picasso’s claim that he “went to Communism as one goes to a spring of fresh water”, I might say that I embraced the ideals of martial struggle with the perpetrators of the system as a starving man devours a magnificent feast placed before him.

The flipside of modern liberalism’s obsessive egalitarianism is its equally obsessive multiculturalism. Any sort of distinction to be drawn on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, religion (except Christianity), age (except when traditional elder-worship is involved), sexual orientation, handicap, and a few other things have replaced the “seven deadly sins” as the ultimate in wickedness. Of course, liberals really do not believe all of this. They have no problem with racism against whites or chauvinism against men. Indeed, they often deny that such things are even possible. They typically treat non-liberal minorities, non-feminist women, and non-progressivist gays with the utmost contempt. Observe, for example, the insulting dismissal by liberals of black conservatives as Uncle Toms or of non-feminist women as pathetic weaklings under the grip of “false consciousness”. Of course, what liberals are really committed to is not the real-world advancement of actual blacks or women or anyone else as much as the advancement of the utopia where all such distinctions cease to exist and to which those “minorities” who won’t play the liberal game must be seen as the vilest and most threatening of traitors. Many years ago, I was involved with a motley collection of “anarchist” collectives working on the establishment of an anarchist news journal for North America. Most of my cohorts were hard-core leftoids, including many former Trots and Mao-Maos. Their principle concern was that the paper’s editorial staff be dominated by women, gays, and “people of color” (a difficult task given the understandable and sensible lack of interest in the anarcho-leftoid scene by real-world non-whites). The lesson I took from that experience is that the modern left’s true agenda is not “equality” but a new caste system based on a race/gender/sexual orientation-based spoils system. “What was once forbidden is now mandatory. What was once mandatory is now forbidden.” The “iron law of oligarchy” triumphs once more.

If we reject every significant aspect of modern liberal ideology as false or severely flawed, then those of us who accept the anarchist critique of the state, state capitalism, imperialism and concentrated power must look elsewhere for guidance on social matters. Here, a little bit of “operational thinking” is in order. What do the real-world facts have to say so far as indications of where political order is heading? What is the likely future of the state? Perhaps no one is more qualified to offer insight on this matter than the eminent military historian Martin Van Crevald. His prediction is that the nation-state system will continue to break down through the rise of globalization, the diminishing economic viability of the welfare state, the intellectual disreputability of state-socialist ideologies, and the limitations on warfare imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons and the rise of terrorism as an effective weapon against conventional states. Political organization in the future will appear more and more in the form of tribes, feudatories, private governments, polycentric institutional orders, regions, and federations. Indeed, the breakdown of the historic, five-hundred year nation-state system will likely yield to an order that in many ways resembles the feudal order that followed the decline of Rome and that the nation-state system displaced. Of course, the big variable in all of this is the ambition of the globalists and the degree to which their objective of a New World Order will be achieved. The crucial test of the viability of the New World Order will be the survival of the US regime, without which the NWO would be a pathetic shell of the US Empire, a type of Holy Roman Empire when compared to the Pax Romana imposed by US imperialism. Therefore, the pre-emption of the New World Order necessitates a holy war against the US regime on all fronts and by any means necessary.

The first order of business here is the defense of the traditional sovereignty of all nations, irrespective of their internal political order or ideological underpinnings. The “third-positionist” approach to geopolitics informs us here. Furthermore, we must not only applaud but actively take part in the dismantling of the established nation-state systems and the decentralization of these into regions, communities, and enclaves and embrace the proliferation of sovereignty for an enormously diverse array of ethnic, religious, cultural, economic, and ideological orientations that would naturally follow. Nothing could be more antithetical to the statism, centralism, humanism, universalism, democratism, legalism, multiculturalism, materialism, therapeutism, consumerism, egalitarianism, and, indeed, outright imperialism that characterizes modern bourgeoise liberalism of the type that so many so-called “anarchists” have been duped by. The defeat of imperialism, globalism, statism, and state capitalism will naturally be accompanied by the victory of particularism, parochialism, provincialism, spiritualism, individualism, communitarianism, decentralism, agrarianism, religionism, ethnocentrism, mutualism, traditionalism, mysticism, federalism, racialism, voluntarism, regionalism, separatism, localism, natural hierarchy, natural aristocracy, feudalism, and many other things that the modern liberal would regard as sin. Let us have a Sodom and Gomorrah of political incorrectness. This is not to say that all of these triumphant values are inherently “good”. My own view is that some of these are desirable, some undesirable, others okay in modest dosages. However, what this post-imperial, post-state order will achieve is a viable institutional framework for the survival of human life, liberty, prosperity, culture, and civilization so that the rare Prometheus, the Nietzschean Übermensch, can here and there come forth in the manner of an Aristotle, Da Vinci, Voltaire, or Einstein and inspire us to rise above our usual existence as flocks of sheep herded about by the wolf of the hour.

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  1. The problem is the left spends to much time against capitalism instead of creating alternatives. Obama Care might not have happen if they left created free clinics and their own hospital system and not on board current hospital systems. The left never did volunteer socialism instead of state socialism on a large scale.

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