The Critic Responds, and My Reply 7

A few days ago, I posted this response to a left-anarchist critic.  The critic has offered an analysis of my earlier reply. Read it in full here. First, a clarification:

I got into a prolonged scuffle on the LeftLibertarian forums with Jeremy Weiland who identifies as a “Left Libertarian” and hosts, for free, mind you.  Naturally, fate intervened when Keith Preston, who was the subject of much debate in that thread, picks up my post, publishes on ATS (without accrediting me at all mind you) and then tries to haul me over the coals in front of his Third Positionist buddies.  All I have to say is that if Preston felt threatened enough by a forum post to rebut it to a post published on ATS, and in such a condescending manner, then I must be doing something right.

The critic’s name is Royce Christian, whom I believe resides in Australia and is a left-anarchist/left-libertarian. I did not use his name in my earlier reply out of respect for his privacy as I was uncertain about to what degree he is “public” about his anarchist beliefs. Royce’s reply is rather wordy, and often redundant, so I’m not going to attempt a line-by-line rebuttal of his analysis of my work. Instead, I will focus on what seem to be the major or at least the more substantive points of his arguments.


Some Drugs Are More Equal Than Others Reply

So says “Thoreau.

As a helpful guide to our readers, I have prepared a detailed classification scheme for illegal drugs:

Class Ia:  The drugs that you used when you were young and wild.  Not as potent as today’s drugs, and nothing to get judgmental about.  Sometimes worth getting a bit nostalgic about, though.

Class Ib:  The drugs that you used before  joining a 12 step program and/or a new religion.  Dangerous, evil things that even a fine person like you could not handle, and definitely too strong for anybody else.  Well worth getting self-righteous about, but not worth losing your rights over.

Class II:  The drugs that your young children might use some day unless the government Does Something About It.  Dangerous, evil things that must be stopped at any cost, as long as that cost is mostly paid by somebody else.

Class III:  The drugs that your teenage children just used.  These drugs are a private family matter that nobody else needs to get involved in.

Class IV:  The drugs that you heard are being used by people with less money than you and/or more melanin than you.  These drugs are not only incredibly potent and dangerous substances, they are also a sign of a deep moral defect that warrants a stiff prison sentence, substantially reduced employment prospects, and permanent suspension of voting rights.

The New White Nationalism in America 5

Scott McConnell of The American Conservative reviewed this book by Vanderbilt law professor Carol Swain.

I consider this book to be the very best scholarly work on the question of American white nationalism. In fact, it is probably the only such work of any genuine quality. Dr. Swain is an African-American, and not personally sympathetic to white nationalism, while giving it an objective scholarly analysis. It is this work that has most influenced my own thinking regarding the question of white nationalism, and it is largely Carol Swain’s policy recommendations (with some adjustments to make them more compatible with the anarcho-libertarian paradigm) that I have incorporated into the ARV/ATS program.

Swain reminds us that the affirmative action policies that mandate quotas, timetables, and diversity monitors were initially developed as a means to give immediate succor to the black poor in the aftermath of the civil rights revolution. They have now developed into anything but that. Instead, they are seen either as a means to impose diversity, now construed as an end it itself, or as a method to provide black and Hispanic students with role models.

Swain has no patience with any of these rationales. It strikes her as pathetically small minded to imagine that blacks need black role models to succeed: her own, she adds with some poignancy, were white male academics who prodded her to push herself intellectually. As it is, the current system undermines both the self-esteem and the education of its purported beneficiaries. Swain asks how the personal chemistry of college sports teams would fare if teams were required to have proportionate quotas of white and Asian athletes. And she relates a bitter truth from her own experience with black students on campus—many of whom pass through college believing that affirmative action guarantees their admission to top-quality professional schools regardless of their academic performance. Such a belief
may be only partially true, but it has had devastating consequences for black academic performance.

When liberal immigration policies are thrown into the mix, the American racial system is threatened with overload. Swain estimates that by the middle of the present century well over half of Americans will be entitled to racial preferences. It seems most unlikely that such a development could take place without fierce resistance by white Americans.

Swain’s own recommendations are the epitome of common sense. Racial preferences for hiring and promotions should be eliminated. Affirmative action should be remodeled with an emphasis on class rather than racial background in order to benefit the poorest Americans. Racial preferences for new immigrants should be scrapped entirely. Immigration rates should be reduced, and the laws against hiring illegal aliens (who compete with and drive down the wages of the American working poor) should be enforced. The black leadership should be challenged: its current focus on divisive issues like reparations or its obsession with eliminating statues, street names, and other symbols of the Confederacy do nothing for the black poor and only drain the reservoir of racial good will. Social policy should be refocused on aiding the working poor through such measures as income subsidies and vocational training for high school dropouts.

The Contradictions of Noam Chomsky 2

Excellent, comprehensive take down of the High Priest of Left-Anarchism by left-anarchist Roderick T. Long.

I will always acknowledge my intellectual debt to Chomsky, whose writings more than those of anyone else helped me to develop a thorough understanding of the history and nature of U.S. imperialism. But as the years have passed I’ve come to find his views on domestic issues and his contradictory analysis of the state to be increasingly revolting.

*Note on Racial Separatism 1

One of the biggest controversies surrounding myself is my association with the national-anarchists, my recognition of them as a legitimate branch of anarchism, and efforts to include them as part of a pan-secessionist alliance. This statement by the National Anarchist Tribal Alliance of New York provides what is perhaps the most concise yet thorough clarification of the true relationship between national-anarchism and racial separatist ideologies.

Left and Right Against Fascism 12

This interview with Naomi Wolf gives a good overview of the real problems with the police state that has arisen from the terror war. Read it here. Wolf is actually a pretty good antidote to the histrionics of the Glenn Beck and/or Alex Jones crowd. She actually provides solid intellectual arguments, firmly supported by evidence, as to how the police state continues to grow and expand, rather than relying on conspiracy theories and over the top rhetoric based on assertions from questionable sources.

The only problem I have with Wolf is that, from what I can tell, she doesn’t give much of a back story on how the modern American police state actually began to develop long before the terror war. It really has its roots in the FBI’s COINTELPRO program in the late 1960s, and was further expanded by Nixon’s initiation of the drug war. The drug war was later intensified by Reagan, and his successors expanded the drug war to a war on “crime” generally. The culmination of all this was the terror war that began after September 11. As Wolf points out, Obama is now institutionalizing the provisions of Bush’s terror war and making them into permanent features of American political life.

Also, this analysis of Obama by Pat Buchanan is right on target. Buchanan debunks the hysteria of the FOX Newsians who insist Obama is an American Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe. Rather, he’s more comparable to an ambitious corporate executive who finally makes it to the CEO’s chair and is more interested in protecting his own position rather than imposing some far-reaching ideological agenda. His personal opinions are obviously left of center, and he’s arguably the most liberal president the US has ever had, but the claim of the Glenn Beckians that he’s a Marxist revolutionary is insanity.

On the Political Climate of Hate in America Reply

by Jeremy Weiland

It is natural to look for meaning in tragedy. History, myth, literature all represent means by which humans attempt to come to terms with the dark sides of our experience and to find something valuable in it, so that the tragedy was not for naught. The motivation is not simply to avoid similar tragedies in the future, but to give ourselves a sense that we understand what’s going on, that all this isn’t just a huge chaotic mess from which we will never be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We seek comfort as much as insight.

It is not natural, however, to fit tragedy into an ideological narrative. Ideology doesn’t originate within us but arises from our acceptance of a narrow system of thought to which we attempt to conform. So complex events and nuanced actions must be shoved like a square peg into a round hole in order to validate the black and white ideological approach in our gray shaded lives. But we adopt ideological approaches for similar reasons: to give ourselves a sense that we can explain it all, that if we can just achieve the world prescribed by the ideology, such tragedy will never occur again.

The attack on Representative Giffords is now being portrayed by many as an outgrowth of the “climate of hate” surrounding conservative politics in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. The assassin would never have attacked this congresswoman, many claim, if there wasn’t a poisonous undercurrent of anti-government sentiment. While an individual is responsible for his or her actions, we have a responsibility also to preserve a civil discourse and ensure that loose cannons do not employ our rhetoric in the service of violence.

Insofar as this goes, I have no problem with the argument above. We should take responsibility for the climate our politics creates, because that climate is the reality behind the abstractions of politics, civil society, and other institutions we ostensibly critique and support. The less positive and constructive our participation in the network of society, the more we create the hell we claim to seek to avoid. We each have an unenforceable but important duty to be our best selves in all matters.

However, this duty is only part of the story. Yes, we the people are accountable for our participation in the body politic. And if people are angry, then that is a problem – but a problem for all of us. After all, people don’t just get upset for no reason. It is usually the persistent denial of their interests, their values, the legitimacy of their point of view that creates the frustration and cynicism leading to such lashing out, rhetorically or physically.

Conservatives and liberals are jumping on the Giffords attack to push it into or out of their ideological narratives. They either blame those who stand against government overreach, or they deny that resistance to government overreach is to blame. What neither side does is question the premises of this argument: that only one side is responsible for this.

It seems to me that the growing conservative backlash to intrusive government has contributed to the climate of hate. But then, by the same token, so has the intrusive government acts that created the backlash. For that matter, the attitude with which certain statists have demonized and marginalized anti-statists also fed the feelings of hate and resentment. If there is a climate of hate, then all of us are responsible – not just the party that breaks first from these conditions.

Those who support the establishment – government functionaries, liberals sometimes, conservatives other times – act as if state actions are automatically legitimate, and that anybody who disagrees is a crank. Why isn’t this dismissive attitude not just as responsible for the eventual violence as the resentful attitude? If civility is the order of the day, it cannot be defined merely as fitting within the narrow confines of “accepted thinking”. And so extremism and hate are singled out as the problems, rather than the symptoms.

If we are to heal these divides and build a society based on some modicum of trust and appreciation, a society that can solve problems in the name of all its members and not to benefit some members over others, we have to take a step back from what we’ve been doing all this time and think freshly and honestly. It is incumbent on all of us – not just the side with which we disagree – to end the climate of hate. But ending that climate means addressing the causes, not the individual straw that breaks the camel’s back. And that likely means a stiff challenge to the centrist, establishmentarian elites who benefit no matter which side of the debate is labelled “extremist”.

Why the Right Was Blamed 2

by James Leroy Wilson

It was to be expected, right from the day of Barack Obama’s election as Presdient. As the Tea Party grew, it became not a question of “if” but of “when.”

Some lunatic was going to shoot a Democratic (or even moderate Republican) politician, and the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and right-wing talk show hosts would get blamed.

Well, this past Saturday a lunatic did shoot a Democratic Congresswoman, killed six others,and wounded many more. And conservatives were blamed even before the smoke cleared.

It appears that this particular murderer is too weird to be pigeon-holed ideologically.

But I admit that, upon hearing the news that a Democratic Congresswoman was shot (and before I heard that it was a much larger spree), my first thought was that it was a far-right nut job.

I suspect even many conservatives suspected the same thing. They understand there are violent, unbalanced nut jobs on The Right. It’s also true that a movement like the Tea Party would also attract fringe elements, and the media tends to blur the distinctions between the reasonable and extreme.

That said, why do we tend to assume that someone on the Right is more likely to do this kind of deed than someone on the Left?

Because the Far Right tends to invite it. Rumors of generals wanting to overthrow JFK for being “soft on communism,” KKK violence, and death threats against gays and atheists all tend to give the public the impression that the “fascistic” Far Right is inherently violent.

Likewise, because of people like Timothy McVeigh, they associate the “anti-government” Far Right with violence.

By anti-government, I do not mean libertarian. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, whereas “anti-governmentalism” is just a series of grievances, resentments and hatreds without a coherent philosophy.

It’s the domestic equivalent of foreign anti-Americanism.

And as many fear that foreign anti-Americans will commit terror, for the same reasons they fear that anti-government Americans may commit terror or assassination. Homeland Security has helped fuel this notion, and has smeared supporters of Ron Paul, the Libertarian Party, and the Constitution Party because of it.

In any case, it is disingenuous to say that “anti-government” rhetoric by a talk show host will push some violent wacko over the edge. It is far more likely that it is the government’s actions that will push him over the edge.

On Saturday, my first thought was that this shooter may be from the anti-government Tea Party fringe who may have been angry over something like last year’s vote on Obamacare.

But why would someone want to commit violence like that?

Probably because he’s crazy. One can be anti-government without resorting to violence, just as one can be anti-American without becoming a terrorist.

The violence is wrong. Everyone understands that. But when the grievances are deeply-felt, and when they are legitimate, a violent response by an already-unstable person is unsurprising.

I imagine that if I was born and raised in the Middle East, North Africa, or Central Asia, I would come to believe that the American government was on a Crusade to stamp out Islam and rule the world. I would be anti-American.

That doesn’t mean I would commit acts of terror. It does mean that I would at least understand why some people would fall off the deep end because of American foreign policy. It’s known as blowback.

That same thinking applies within America as well. Healthcare reforms such as the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is totalitarian. The IRS has ruined a lot of innocent people. Gun laws and drug laws do violate our very rights to life and to control our own bodies. Instead of protecting our rights and property, the Federal State attacks them with impunity.

It’s enough to push marginally stable people over the edge. Yes, their violence must always be condemned. The terrorist – foreign or home-grown – should be punished to the full extent of the law.

But let’s never forget that their grievances are often rational and legitimate, even as their viiolent responses are irrational and evil.

If the U.S. government stopped meddling in other nations, and reduced its size, scope, and power at home, we would be far more secure from both foreign and domestic terrorism.

On Changing Our World 1

by Jeremy Weiland

Effective activism means understanding the nature of our many problems

A core problem with contemporary leftism as it is often pursued is that it has no sense of the boundaries of its project. Casting it in the most reasonable light, it tends to make the entire world and every person’s soul its political mission. After correctly identifying thought systems that lead to undesirable consequences, leftists often try to frame their activism in terms of “abolishing patriarchy” or “ending racism”. Because they believe these thought systems are at the root of the problem, it is natural to assume an attitude of attacking them.

Much like wars on victimless crimes, these attacks must be directed at people, since the ideas only exist in the mind. Individual human beings are often rejected in totality rather than merely rejecting their bad ideas. After all, individuals are sovereign within their own minds, and there is little power to force the adoption of values onto another (setting aside the countless problems with using force). The only real non-violent sanction one has against the beliefs of another is ridicule and withdrawal, which the left certainly employs often.

The question the alternative left poses to the mainstream and/or orthodox left is not whether these strategies are just – certainly, the defense of free association is a vital liberal tactic for non-violent social discipline. Sacrificing free association utterly endangers liberalism. Rather, its critique centers around the effectiveness of the tactic. Rather than a universal application of leftist ideology to every aspect of life, a lighter touch is suggested – not to let bad ideas and practices off the hook, but to better inculcate values conducive to sustainable social progress.

By its very nature, political activism orients itself towards formal institutions. Success in politics is measured by power – the power to realize visible and articulable policies, the power to direct the apparatus of an institution or organization, the power to compel individual behavior. Politics is practiced in spite of individual prerogative through capturing and dominating institutional vehicles for social influence. Certainly values can attempt to be promoted through these institutions, but ultimately they are the application of mechanistic policy or law to effect observable phenomena or measurable behavior.

Resisting or promoting particular institutions are valid forms of political activism because there’s something to resist or promote. For example, racist institutions – institutions that realize ends deemed racist – can be reformed or abolished. Unjust laws can be stricken and undermined. Organizations with objectionable values and goals can be disbanded or delegitimatized. Activists can target institutions with precision because they are easily identified entities with tangible assets, finite memberships, and/or express governing rules.

But the values that impel individuals to organize in the first place are not so easily eradicated. You can prevent the Ku Klux Klan from meeting and its members from acting, but you cannot force each member to renounce racial supremacist ideas. The Nazi party, its tenets, and its insignia are positively banned by law in Germany, and yet that poisonous belief system still lingers in the minds of many Germans. In fact, the attempt to stamp out such individuals for their beliefs can often create blowback: by marginalizing individuals for their beliefs, they become that much more dedicated to seeing them realized. They can come to identify with their ideology much more completely if their own well being is threatened.

How do people shed old belief configurations that are tied to their sense of who they are and adopt new ones? After all, lasting social and cultural change occurs through changing the behavior of the society’s or culture’s constituent members. And behavior follows from a person’s sense of their values and self-interest. So the key to long-term, lasting social progress of the kind we want is not political at all – it is changing minds and hearts.

People who are willing to be pariahs for their unpopular beliefs are unlikely to be cowed by ratcheting up hostilities. One can see this in military occupations where soldiers of one culture attempt to force those of another culture to change. One can also see this in movements here that embrace backwards approaches yet linger decade after decade, changing only in their application of beliefs and rarely in the bigotry motivating them.

Few people adopt their basic values on a rational basis. These values and beliefs are the basic “axioms” that inform their further reasoning, but the examination of these axioms usually reveals that some emotional or unconscious dynamic at play. Even the liberal belief in egalitarianism and justice is not one “supported” by any objective data; rather, we accept them as givens and use reason to find the best ways to achieve consonant goals.

In order to change one’s values, one must face the emotions, experiences and psychological background that convinced one to adopt them. I’m suggesting this is a deeply personal experience that requires a facing of the self, a “dark night of the soul”. It requires a vulnerability and honesty that is not well suited to the political project of influencing institutions and debating policy. We are asking people to dissolve basic parts of who they think they are and adopt new ones that are alien. This is a big step for anybody, and many go their whole lives without engaging in such a self-examination.

If our real desire is to convince people to substantively abandon bigoted and undesirable beliefs and values, and not simply eliminate the superficial vehicles informed by them, we must help people, not compel them. Decent societies are comprised of decent individuals, and if we rule out eliminating people for their beliefs then we have no choice but to work with them. This is a long, hard path that requires a dedicated ministering to deeply angry, hurt, or insecure people. It will also challenge our own beliefs and require honesty and transparency on our own part.

Building genuine trust among suspicious parties requires a light touch and a long view. But this is how a voluntary society and enlightened culture is created: individual by individual. The coarse means of political activism can stop large scale tragedies, but it cannot prevent them over the long run. To do that, we need to focus on being our better selves and bringing out the better selves of our neighbors. This scale of activity feels totally unequal to the task, and for precisely that reason it is too often ignored in favor of political activism. But while it feels unequal, it is the only viable route to sustainable, long-term social and cultural change.

Thinking Ahead: What Will ARV/ATS Be in the Future? 21

Here are some potential projects I would like to see ARV/ATS develop in the years and decades ahead:

1) An independent radio network which would feature a variety of programs aimed at targeted demographics. Some might be in the right-wing populist Alex Jones mode, some might be oriented towards anti-New World Order Christians, others might be geared towards the dissident left, while still others might have a black nationalist flavor. The different programs would focus on issues relevant to the targeted demographics, but with the common themes of opposition to the empire, community autonomy, class struggle rooted in the vanguard classes, critiquing totalitarian humanism, and the pan-secessionist outlook.

2) A network of dissident student organizations to be organized on campuses (like Youth for Western Civilization is doing). The most likely purpose of the student groups would be to challenge the domination of the academic world by totalitarian humanism, demonstrate critiques of this from both the left and right, and bridge the gap between the varying opponents of totalitarian liberalism, e.g. dissident leftists, alternative rightists, black nationalists, libertarians, etc.

3) The development of independent self-sufficient communities like the Twin Oaks community mentioned in a previous post, and the networking of our communities with similar communities.

4) The development of alternative social service projects by ATS affiliates and allied groups (like BANA, NATA-NY, and and AI/AN-ATS have been doing).

5) The creation of a speaker’s bureau so that our representatives and allied others will be available to speak to other groups, with an emphasis on student groups.

6) The creation of single-issue activist organizations affiliated with ATS for the purpose of bringing issues related to the pan-secessionist struggle under the umbrella of ourselves and our allies. These groups would then work within and seek leadership positions in other, larger groups that focus on the same issues. For instance, I want “our people” to someday work their way into leadership positions within both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association, and work to turn both of these away from their left-liberal and reactionary conservative orientations, respectively.

7) Conducting mayoral campaigns in dozens of American cities simultaneously that are oriented towards local issues and local culture, but share the common thread of the radical decentralist/pan-secessionist idea, and modeled on what Norman Mailer did in NYC in 1969. The purpose of such an effort would not so much be to take electoral politics seriously as much as a publicity stunt that was large-scale, well-coordinated, and geared to generate media attention.