Updated News Digest August 16, 2009 Reply

Why Read the Sunday Paper When You Can Read AttacktheSystem.Com!

“You’re cultivating disrespect for government in your children!” protested a relative not long ago. “Every way I can think of doing so, with each opportunity that presents itself, every single day that God sends me!” I responded. Children are never too young to be taught to despise the State, to distrust its agents, and to avoid cooperating in any way with the mechanism of official plunder, deception, and coercion. Parents should seek to instill such attitudes in their children as soon as possible, if for no other reason than to protect them from being abused at the hands of those employed by what Orwell might have called, with suitable irony, the Ministry of Compassion — that is, those employed by the official child-snatching apparatus.
                                                                          -William Norman Grigg

Problems and Priorities: What Issues Most Concern Americans NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll

Live Free or Blow Hard by Jack Hunter

An Antiwar Effort Only the Right Can Lead by Dr. John V. Walsh

Why I Am A Radical Conservative by Jack Hunter

Obamageddon by Justin Raimondo

Nader Was Right: Liberals Are Going Nowhere With Obama by Chris Hedges

Unspinning the Unemployment Numbers by Paul Craig Roberts

Razing Japan to the Ground: U.S. War Crimes in WW2 Daniel Ellsberg interviewed by Scott Horton

The Case for Leaving Iraq-Now! by Tim McGirk

The Israel Lobby May Be Headed Towards Obsolescence by Michelle Goldberg

The Persistence of Empire by David Bromwich

Is the Pro-Israel Lobby Panicking? by Rami G. Khouri

Lost in Military Limbo by Tom Engelhardt, Sarah Lazare, and Dahr Jamail

Don’t Make Colombia Another Afghanistan by Teo Ballve

The Great American Plutocracy by Charles Burris

Chomsky on Iran by Niusha Boghrati

There Is No Recession; It’s a Planned Demolition by Mike Whitney

Pink Slip Nation: Get Used to It by Gary North

Sickos by Richard Spencer

Lincoln’s Appeal to Marxists by Harrison Bergeron 2

Coming Soon: Anarchy from Infoshop.Org

Creating a European Indigenous Peoples’ Movement from The Brussels Journal

Who Owns Our Jobs? by John Medaille

People Die in Obama’s Unarmed Chicago by Karen De Coster

“Anti-Racism” Hysterics Reach New Low by Riva Richmond

11:20 am  from Rad Geek People’s Daily

Tax-Feeders and Manufactured “Crimes” by William Norman Grigg

Chauvinism for Sissies by Scott Locklin

Angry White Men by Pat Buchanan

Setting the Right in the Right Direction by Red Phillips

Tax-Feeders and the New Debtors Prisons by William Norman Grigg

Obama Seeks to Block Abuse Photos by Eli Clifton

Distracted Driving Summit? by Karen DeCoster

Doomsday: Pros and Cons by Arnaud De Borchgrave

Learning from Past Exit Strategies: The American Colonies by Stanley Weintraub

Indignant Government Rhetoric on Torture Rings Hollow by Clive Stafford Smith

An Army Man Changes His Mind by Wendy Murray

The Man with the Plan for Bananastan by Jeff Huber

Hamas 2.0: The Islamic Resistance Movement Grows Up by Michael Broning

Obama’s Acting Stupidly in Afghanistan by Stephen M. Walt

Secret Prisons and Gag Orders Continue Under Obama by Thomas Eddlem

Letting Cheney Off the Hook by Joanne Mariner

Shouting for the State by Lew Rockwell

Obama’s Healthcare Horror by Camille Paglia

 Small Government Caused Our Current Problems? by Robert Higgs

Carl Schmitt Appreciation Society (hat tip to Chris Donnellan)

Prosecutorial Totalitarianism by Bill Anderson

We Who Are Against the French Revolution

Police State Healthcare by William Norman Grigg

How I Wrote 1,000 Columns for Antiwar.Com by Justin Raimondo

The Ever Present Military Option by Charles Pena

Big Brother May Be Watching You…Again by David Kramer

The Truth About Iran in Iraq Gareth Porter interviewed by Scott Horton

Kudos to Bill Clinton? by Bill Clinton

Gitmo Prosecution Witnesses Paid Daphne Eviatar interviewed by Scott Horton

Is a Political Solution in Afghanistan Possible? by William Pfaff

Israel Threatens Lebanon from The Daily Star

The Thirty Years War by Robert Dreyfuss

Getting Away with Torture by Deepak Tripathi

Eric Holder’s Cover-Up by Jacob Hornberger

Addicted to War: America’s Brutal Pipe Dream in Afghanistan by Chris Floyd

White House Opening to Hezbollah, Hamas? by Robert Dreyfuss

Is It Now a Crime to be Poor? by Barbara Ehrenreich

Second Class Citizens by Bay Area National Anarchists

Those Who Can’t Do and Those Who Can’t Teach by TGGP

Obama’s Authoritarian Style by James Taranto

Milton Friedman Unraveled  by Murray Rothbard

 The Obama Way of War by Richard Spencer

Why Are Internment Camps Being Built? by Chuck Baldwin

The Return to Depression Era Economics from No Third Solution

Thoughts on Localism by J.L. Wall

Where Is the $PLC on Panthergate?  by Ellison Lodge

Breaking the Bank by Sean Scallon

Strip Kristol and Podhoretz of their Medal of Freedom by Jack Ross

Our Alarming Economic Future Bob Murphy interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Wag the Dog, Again by Philip Giraldi

Pot Is Safer Than Booze  by Paul Armentano

The Silence of the Lefties Justin Raimondo interviewed by Scott Horton

Patients, Beware! by Hannah Borno

Anatomy of the Warfare State Robert Higgs interviewed by Scott Horton

The Best Goldman-Sachs Apology Yet by Matt Taibbi

Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber

Philadelphia G-20 Info-Session and Planning Meeting from Infoshop.Org

Unhealthy Debate by Tom Harnden

I Hate to Bother You  by Eduardo Galeano

Innovation in the World of Hate? by Lila Rajiva

Breaking Eggs to Make “Libertarian” Omelets by Kevin Carson

Obama, Bush and the Limits of Power by Anthony Gregory

Line in the Sand: The State Sovereignty Movement by Timothy Baldwin

What to do When They Come for You by William Norman Grigg

You Can’t Fight City Hall, But You Can Pee on the Steps and Run by Gary North

The Surveillance Society Marches On by Wilton Alston

Posse Comitatus Act R.I.P. by David Kramer

Why Are We in Afghanistan?  by Justin Raimondo

Bombings Worse Than Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Laurence Vance

Who’s Un-American? by Jack Hunter

Why a Debtors’ Revolt Would Work by Marshall Auerback

Big Government=Low Wages by Peter Schiff

War Unwinnable by Pat Buchanan

Health Plans and Death Plans by Alexander Cockburn

My Son is Sotomayor’s Ghost by Paul Gottfried

Astroturf by Ilana Mercer

Repressive Tolerance? 

“We’re White Punks on Dope!”: Anthem of the Anarcho-Leftoid Movement?

 

 Weekly Reading of Scripture:

 The State: Its Historic Role by Peter Kropotkin

For Community: The Communitarian Anarchism of Gustav Landauer by Larry Gambone

Woman Suffrage by Emma Goldman

The Origins and Ideals of the Modern School by Francisco Ferrer

A Nation of Sheep, Ruled by Wolves, Owned by Pigs

The Revolution Within Anarchism 

Forty Years in the Wilderness? 

Liberty and Populism: Building An Effective Resistance Movement for North America

The Revolution Within Anarchism: Goodbye, Ultra-Leftism; Hello, Pan-Secessionism 14

For any movement or system of thought to remain relevant or dynamic, it must possess the internal capability of periodically reassessing its present course and shifting its focus and direction. Thus far, political anarchism has experienced two distinct stages. The first of these was the era of “classical” anarchism. Roughly defined, this was the period between the Marx/Bakunin split in the 1870s and the defeat of the Spanish anarchists in the 1930s. The second stage began during the 1960s with the emergence of a brand of anarchism that internalized the ideological framework of the New Left, and it is this framework that still prevails at the present time.

The classical anarchist movement was primarily oriented towards proletarian revolution and the historic labor movement. This was appropriate as the “labor question” was the principal political struggle of the time. The New Left-influenced anarchist movement (“neo-anarchism”) oriented itself towards the movements that emerged during its own era. These included “anti-racism” (for instance, the movement against American and South African racial apartheid systems), “anti-colonialism” (opposition to the Vietnam War and other manifestations of imperialist aggression), “the womens’ movement” (second wave feminism), “gay liberation” (homosexuals were previously regarded as criminals, deviants or mentally ill by the wider society), the ecology movement, a variety of tendencies collectively known as “counterculturalism”  and other comparable but lesser known movements, all of which had the purpose of challenging traditional institutions, systems of authority, social practices, cultural norms and so forth. The overwhelming majority of contemporary anarchists continue to function within this particular paradigm.

However, the question needs to be asked as to whether this paradigm is really appropriate in the early 21st century. If it were found to be inappropriate, what might the alternative be? In more recent times, an number of tendencies have emerged within the anarchist milieu that have challenged the dominant New Left-derived paradigm. These include primitivists, eco-anarchists, anarcho-capitalists, anarcho-monarchists, national-anarchists, tribal anarchists, anarcho-pluralists, a variety of ideologies that might be collectively labeled “free-market anti-capitalists”, post-left anarchists, Christian anarchists, and a number of other perspectives. While there are significant differences between these tendencies, and each of these rejects the dominant New Left paradigm with varying degrees of consistency or fervor, collectively they compromise a dissident force within anarchism that seeks to move past the current second stage in the history of anarchism and into a new era.

The two most serious weaknesses of contemporary anarchism are illustrated by the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on anarchism:

Anarchism is a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider the state, as compulsory government, to be unnecessary, harmful, and/or undesirable, and favors the absence of the state (anarchy.)Specific anarchists may have additional criteria for what constitutes anarchism, and they often disagree with each other on what these criteria are. According to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy “there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance.”

Among many contemporary anarchists, there is an observable tendency to ignore the struggle against the state, or the treat the battle against the state as only one matter on a laundry list of preferred causes, usually those of a conventionally leftist or countercultural nature. This is the first weakness. The other is the matter of sectarianism, i.e., setting an amount of “additional criteria for what constitutes anarchism” that is so large that it becomes self-defeating when it comes to the matter of building an actual movement that can wield political influence. 

There needs to be a revolution within the anarchist movement itself. This should be a revolution that re-orients the anarchist movement towards the primary anarchist objective of state abolitionism. Second, there needs to be a shift in contemporary anarchist thought and action that involves a retreat from the current tunnel-visioned focus on ultra-leftism and counterculturalism. A new focus that is broader and that speaks to a wider variety of issues and population groups is necessary. Third, there needs to be an evaluation of tactics, and the adoption of new tactics that are relevant to current political realities.

An interesting list of historic anarchist communities can be viewed here. One thing that is immediately noticeable about these anarchist polities from the past is how different many of them were from one another. Consequently, it is probable that in a civilization where anarchist communities became widespread there would be wide variation in the specific ideological, cultural or structural content of these communities. This automatically means that the sectarian differences between competing strands within anarchism are irrelevant. Different kinds of anarchists will form different kinds of communities in those geographical regions where their own tendencies are prevalent. For instance, anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists, leftist anti-racist anarchists and national-anarchists, anarcho-futurists and primitivists, gay anarchists and Christian anarchists, anarcha-feminists and anarcho-monarchists, may not even consider one another to be “true” anarchists, but these battles simply do not matter if different kinds of anarchists are simply “doing their own thing” within the context of their own communities, institutions and organizations.

How, in a nation-state like the United States, could an anarchist movement become large enough, or influential or powerful enough, to actually carry out a revolution rivaling that of, for instance, the Spanish anarchists of the 1930s? Clearly the anarchist movement in North America could never do such a thing, given its small size and narrow focus. But what about a much larger popular movement, in which anarchists assume leadership roles, and with a much broader focus than what is found in the anarchist milieu at present?

Read this essay by the military historian Martin Van Creveld on the present decline of the state as an institution. Now, read this series of articles on the possible scenarios that will bring about the downfall of the American regime itself. Then read this review of a book that describes how Americans are in the process of sorting themselves out into communities specifically oriented towards their own political, cultural or lifestyle interests. Now, take a look at this opinion poll showing the amount of support for secessionist movements in the U.S., and the surprising nature of these numbers. Then take a look at two books (here and here) which offer us an alternative economic paradigm beyond the standard “big business vs big government” false dichotomy.

My friends, these works contain the ideas and information necessary to develop a popular revolutionary movement in North America. This essay is an attempt to synthesize these ideas and develop a comprehensive strategy for their application. No single reader is likely to agree with every argument or position taken in that essay, but its purpose is to “get the ball rolling” concerning the debate as to how anarchist revolution in North America will actually be carried out. And this essay is a discussion of considerations concerning time frames.

The single idea of state abolitionism will never be popular enough to become a mass movement. Most people simply are not that averse to political authority. However, the idea of secession has its roots in American history, culture and tradition. Therefore, anarchists should simply work to develop their own independent enclaves reflecting the value systems of their particular sect of anarchism, encourage other secession movements, and work to popularize the idea of secession. An effort should be made to appeal to those demographic groups most under attack by the state, those with single issues that put them in conflict with the state, and those who have the least to lose and most to gain by rejecting the state. 

Further, anarchists should position themselves as the upholders of the economic interests of ordinary people. This opinion poll   indicates that the issues of most concern to the public at large at present are unemployment, government spending and healthcare. What, if anything, do anarchists plan to do about these matters? How many individual anarchists have even given any thought to such topics? There are some ideas on these here, here, and here. If you do not like these, then come up with something of your own.

Particularly problematic is the question of people and groups with polar opposite views on many issues participating in the same movement. For instance, the conflicts between the various anarchist sects (Anarchist People of Color and Crimethinc come immediately to mind), or the conflict between secessionists holding opposing cultural or ideological perspectives. No doubt, there are some people who will not enter into a movement that includes others with whom they strongly disagree on certain questions no matter what. These individuals will simply have to fall by the wayside. The proper response to such questions is the “good riddance” argument.  In a decentralized political system, with voluntary association and community autonomy, leftist anti-racist anarchists and national-anarchists need not have any association with one another, nor anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-communists, nor gays and religious conservatives, nor racists and racial minorities, nor snobby rich people and slummy poor people, nor druggies and straight edges, nor feminists and male chauvinist pigs. Nor Crimethinc and Anarchist People of Color. Everyone wins but the state, the ruling class and the empire.

Updated News Digest August 9, 2009 Reply

Why Read the Sunday Paper When You Can Read AttacktheSystem.Com!

Quotes of the Week:

“America is just the country that how all the written guarantees in the world for freedom are no protection against tyranny and oppression of the worst kind. There the politician has come to be looked upon as the very scum of society.”

“The law is an adroit mixture of customs that are beneficial to society, and could be followed even if no law existed, and others that are of advantage to a ruling minority, but harmful to the masses of men, and can be enforced on them only by terror.”

“Have not prisons – which kill all will and force of character in man, which enclose within their walls more vices than are met with on any other spot of the globe – always been universities of crime?”

                                                                                                              -Peter Kropotkin

Against Anarcho-Inadequacy: National-Anarchist Reflections on Race, Tribes and Identity by Andrew Yeoman

How Is America Going to End? Who’s Most Likely to Secede? by Josh Levin

The End of America 2009: Special Series

Anarchic Patriotism by Mandolyna Theodoracopulos

Who Was Right? Huxley or Orwell by Stuart McMillen

“Culturally Sensitive” Imperialism by Justin Raimondo

The Greatest Depression in History by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Why the State Sovereignty and Secession Movements? by Brian Roberts

MOLOCH: Mass Production Industry as a Statist Construct by Kevin Carson

The Silence of the Sheep by William S. Lind

Listen Up, “Anti-Racists”: It’s Not Just the Dark-Skinned Folks Who Are Victimized by the PIGS by Ted Rall

Anarchism, State-Socialism and Healthcare Reform by Gary Chartier

The Most Inclusive Day Ever  by Nina Kouprianova

The Folly and Wickedness of War by Lawrence Vance

The Return of the Bomb by Justin Raimondo

The Expiring Economy by Paul Craig Roberts

Cruise Missile Liberals Jeremy Scahill interviewed by Scott Horton

National Bankruptcy by Peter Schiff

The Belief in Regenerative War: Why So Many American Intellectuals Supported the Iraq War by Jackson Lears

National Security State by Jon Taplin

Export Cars, Not Democracy by Philip Giraldi

Wham Bam Bananastan by Jeff Huber

Mercs, Murder and the American Way by Chris Floyd

Who’s To Blame When Vets Turn Homicidal? by Kelley Vlahos

Obama’s Israel Albatross by Elaine C. Hagopian

The Hiroshima Cover-Up Greg Mitchell interviewed by Scott Horton

It’s KGB-Gestapo Time by William Norman Grigg

Obama and the Israeli Lobby by Anthony DiMaggio

“Civil Liberties Extremist” Glenn Greenwald interviewed Scott Horton

America’s Evil Asian Empire Eric Margolis interviewed by Scott Horton

The War We Can’t Win  by Andrew Bacevich

Life Under Communism: East Germans Prefer the GDR 

Let the Military Commissions Die by David Frakt

Rein in the Human Rights Bureaucracy by Peter Worthington

Jobs of Our Own: Building a Stakeholder Society from The Distributist Review

Time to Go, Grandma! by Pat Buchanan

Perpetual War for Perpetual War by Jeff Huber

No More Nuclear Mass Murder by Frida Berrigan

Whitewashing CIA Crimes by Sherwood Ross

Obama and His Media on the Economy by Lew Rockwell

What to do When There’s No Doctor by Gary F. Arnet

Away With Libertarian Opportunists by Dylan Hales

The “Patriotic” Spy by Justin Raimondo

Turning the U.S. Army Against Americans by Dan Kennedy

Bubba Scores a Reversal by Gordon Prather

Tomb of Peacemakers by Eric Margolis

FOXy Feminists by Paul Gottfried

The Empire is Running on Empty by Nebojsa Malic

It Pays to Have a Nuke by Alexander Cockburn

Squaring Dupont Circle by Eve Tusnet

Playing Politics with a Ghost by Scott Ritter

The Real Lessons of the Henry Louis Gates Affair by Radley Balko

Privacy is Dead in America by Gary D. Barnett

Adding Up the True Costs of Two Wars by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes

Read Between the Lines by John Pilger

Make a Difference, Make a Living Gary North interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Obama Scales Up the Terror from Francois Tremblay

The Stand for Sovereignty by Timothy Baldwin

The Future is Going to Be a Lot Worse by James Howard Kunstler

Why Be Afraid of the State? by Harry Goslin

The Media is the Propaganda Arm of the State by Glenn Greenwald

What Samuel Said About Solomon by Frank Chodorov

The Khmer Rouge Goes on Trial Michael Paterniti interviewed by Scott Horton

Acceptable Bigotry? by Karen DeCoster

One is Six Long Term Jobless is Dead Within Ten Years by Laura Clark

The Limits of Power: An Interview with Andrew Bacevich by Aaron Leonard

PIGS Make National Guardsmen Eat Piss Dirt by William Norman Grigg

The Destruction of the Black Middle Class by Dedrick Muhammed and Barbara Ehrenreich

Grandfather Assaulted by PIGS by William Norman Grigg

The Myths of Afghanistan by William Blum

PIGS Shoot Infant to Death by William Norman Grigg

Is Food Not Bombs White Supremacist? from Bay Area National Anarchists

Sarah-Phobia? by Lila Rajiva

The Key to Understanding the State by Charles Burris

8:15 am by Rad Geek

Modern Day Daniel by Chuck Baldwin

 

A Nation of Sheep, Ruled by Wolves, Owned by Pigs

The Fruits of Anarchist "Anti-Racism" 9

“Certain attitudes derived from the New Left and the so-called counter-culture permeated neo-anarchism and had a deleterious effect upon it. Chief among these was elitism. It was the common belief among the New Left that the majority of the population were “coopted”, “sold-out”, “racist” and “sexist”. For the hippie-left, most people were considered to be beer-swilling, short-haired rednecks. Much of this youthful hostility was directed against their parents and hence was more of an expression of adolescent rebellion than political insight. With the exception of those who opted for anarcho-syndicalism, most neo-anarchists carried this contemptuous attitude with them. The majority was written-off as hopelessly corrupted and this attitude still continues today. Such contempt is in complete contrast to classical anarchism, which even at its most vanguardist, saw itself as only a catalyzer or spokesman for the masses. While rejecting the majority, they became infatuated with minorities. The New Left, scorning workers, turned to racial minorities and the “poor” as possible agents of social change. Native people, prisoners, drop-outs, homosexuals, all have been given a high profile, virtually to the exclusion of the rest of the population.”

                                                              -Larry Gambone, Sane Anarchy, 1995

A recent article in the Intelligence Report, the journal of the state-connected, crony-capitalist, cop-friendly, “private” espionage and surveillance agency known the Southern Poverty Law Center remarked: “Unifying anarchists has been likened to herding cats. But if there is one theme that most anarchists will rally around, it is that of stamping out racism, especially organized racism driven by white nationalist ideology. Many younger anarchists are members of Anti-Racist Action, a national coalition of direct-action “antifa” (short for “anti-fascist”) groups that confront neo-Nazis and racist skinheads in the street, often resulting in violence.”

And what do these anarchists have to show for all of this “anti-racist” zealotry? How well are these anarchists regarded by actually existing people of color for their efforts? An item that has recently been circulating in the anarchist milieu with the revealing title, “Smack a White Boy, Round Two“, demonstrates just how much “solidarity” is felt towards the mostly, white, middle-class, left-anarchist movement by the supposed beneficiaries of its anti-racism:

Dread locked white punks, crusties with their scabies friends, and traveling college bros swarmed a space on the dividing line of gentrification in the Bloomfield/Garfield/Friendship area late July 2009 in Pittsburgh for the annual CrimethInc convergence. Whereas previous CrimethInc convergences had been located deep in wooded areas, this particular one took place in a poor, black neighborhood that is being pushed to the borders by entering white progressive forces.

There were those that had experienced CrimethInc’s oppressive culture and people for years and others who had experienced enough oppression after just a few days. Our goals were to stop CrimethInc, their gentrifying force, and to end the convergence right then and there for all that they had done.

Just a few blocks away, eight anarchist/autonomous/anti-authoritarian people of color* gathered to discuss a direct confrontation. We arrived from different parts of these stolen lands of the Turtle Island. Some came from the Midwest, some from the Northeast, some born and raised in Pittsburgh. Altogether we represented 7 different locations, half of us socialized as female a variety of sizes, skin color, with identities of queers, trans, gender-queers, gender variants, and womyn. With little time and a desire for full consensus, we quickly devised a plan.

The majority of the CrimethInc kids were in the ballroom on the second floor watching and participating in a cabaret. A group of us began gathering attendees’ packs, bags, shoes, banjos, and such from the other rooms on the second floor and moving it all down the hallway towards the stairs. We had gone pretty unnoticed, mostly due to lack of lighting.

Once those rooms had been emptied, it was time for the main event. We gathered at the ballroom’s doorway furthest from the stairs following the final act of the cabaret.

On the count of three. One, two, three!” one APOCista said.

Get the fuck out!”, we all shouted.

And the eviction began. One apocer began reading ‘An Open Letter to White Radicals/Progressives’, while the others began yelling at the attendees to gather their things and leave. Irritated by their continued inaction after about 10 minutes or so, one of the people involved in the action shouted,

This is not an act! Get your shit, or we’ll remove it for you!”

So much for the claims of anarchists to be exemplars of multicultural brotherly love. Now, before I get to other questions, let me say that I actually think the “Anarchist People of Color” group who carried out this “eviction” had a point. Many white leftists and progressives do indeed regard non-whites as children in need of rescue by enlightened folks such as themselves, and often assume a paternalistic attitude when dealing with people of color. And while I’m not so sure that “gentrification” by white anarchist kids is quite on the level of gentrification by upper-middle class, affluent, professional people organized into state-connected “civic organizations” and “business associations”, and operating in collusion with crony-capitalist “developers”, the overall point is still well-taken. Gentrification does indeed frequently assume the character of a kind of urban imperialism, and white, middle-class “progressives” who never tire of wearing their racial liberalism on their sleeves are often at the forefront of such efforts. Indeed, it might be argued that gentrification serves the same purpose in modern urban societies as the dispossession of native or indigenous peoples’ in frontier or colonial societies, i.e., naked robbery carried out under the banner of enlightenment, progress, paternalism or cultural and class chauvinsim. Some would go even further and argue that mass immigration serves a similar purpose, e.g., economic and cultural dispossession of the indigenous poor and working class in order to provide labor for capitalists, clients for social services bureaucrats and voters for political parties and ethnic lobbies. But that might be “racism”.

The obsession with “racism” exhibited by modern leftists appears to be rooted in a number of things. Some are the obvious, e.g., the political, cultural and intellectual backlash against such horrors as Nazism, South African apartheid, “Jim Crow” in the American South, the Vietnam War and other manifestions of extreme colonialism. Another is the need for the radical Left to find a new cause once the horrors of Communism were revealed. Still another is the universalist ethos that emerged from Enlightenment rationalism. Yet another is the adolescent rebellion against society mentioned by Gambone. And another is the quasi-Christian moralism exhibited by many left-wingers: “Love thy exotically colored neighbor.”

It’s like this, my fellow anarchist comrades: World War Two is over. Hitler is dead. George Wallace is dead. Bull Conner is dead. Jim Crow has been relegated into the dustbin of history. Apartheid is finished, and Nelson Mandela eventually became South Africa’s head of state. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the United States now has a black President. Many of the largest American cities have black-dominated governments. In the wider society, “racism” has become the ultimate sin, much like communism or homosexuality might have been in the 1950s. By continuing to beat the dead horse of “white supremacy”, anarchists are simply making our movement look like fools.

No doubt many reading this will raise the issues of the high rates of imprisonment among blacks and Hispanics, police brutality, the medical neglect of illegal immigrants in detention centers, or the high unemployment rates in American inner cities. Do you really think that no whites have ever been adversely affected by these things? Do you think there are no whites in jail or prison for frivolous reasons? Who receive shoddy medical care? Who are adversely affected by state-capitalism and plutocratic rule? Who are subject to police harrassment or violence, or who are shabbily treated by agents or bureaucrats of the state? Who are subject to social ostracism because of their class, culture, religion or lifestyle?

There is certainly nothing wrong with opposing the genuine oppression of people of other races or colors, and many anarchists and other radicals engage in laudable displays of support for the people of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tibet, Latin America, and indigenous ethnic groups who are subjected to occupation or imperialist aggression. Yet, the obsession with “racism” found among many Western radicals has become pathological in nature. Whenever I encounter these “anti-racism” hysterics, I am reminded of the cultic, fundamentalists religious sects, where no amount of devotion to the cause is ever good enough. Go to church three times a week? Not good enough, you need to be there six times a week. And there is little doubt that the war between Anarchist People of Color and Crimethinc will produce a great deal of “What are we doing wrong, us shitty white supremacists?” self-flagellation among many”anti-racist” left-anarchists.

This obsession with “racism” on the part of many anarchists might be worth it if it had the effect of recruiting or converting many thousands or millions of people of color to our cause.  Yet, the simple truth is that decades of anti-racism hysteria has produced an anarchist movement that is as white as it ever was. This does not mean that there are never any non-whites to be found in anarchist circles. Of course there are. But are they representative of the cultural norms of the ethnic or racial groups from where they came? Not in my experience. Instead, the relatively small number of people of color who can be found in North American anarchist circles are usually immigrants from other places, or products of ethnic minority cultures that have assimilated into a wider white culture, for instance, blacks who grew up in white middle-class neighborhoods or minorities who participate in white youth subcultures, like punk rock. Honestly speaking, what would a typical African-American or Latino think if they wandered into the standard anarchist discussion group and found themselves in the midst of the usual anarchist banter about “racism”? What would they think, other than, “What a bunch of freaks!”

This does not mean that anarchists should become “pro-racist”. It simply means that it would be more productive if anarchists would simply re-orient themselves towards the ostensible purpose of anarchism, i.e., “a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider the state, as compulsory government, to be unnecessary, harmful, and/or undesirable, and promote the elimination of the state or anarchy.” I recently came across a Facebook page with the heading “The Other Anarchists” which described itself thus: “For those who wish to see the state abolished, but are not nihilists, terrorists, or idiots. Including some: free market anti-capitalists, anarcho-capitalists, anarcho-monarchists, voluntaryists, social anarchists, Christian anarchists, Green anarchists, and our fellow travelers ( [non-violent] Luddites, paleoconservatives, minarchists, left-conservatives, retroprogressives, and the like).

This would seem to be about right. Perhaps we can work with the nihilists and terrorists, but the idiots really need to be shown the door. What should anarchists do about “racism”? Just forget about it. Yes, you read that right and if you need more elaboration, watch this. And this. Many anarchists engage in many worthwhile projects that many different kinds of people can benefit from, like antiwar activism, labor solidarity, prisoner defense, support for the homeless, resistance to police brutality, the protection of animals from cruelty, environmental preservation, alternative media or alternative education.  These are issues that transcend color lines. Just stick to these and let “people of color” work out their own problems for themselves.

The APOC/Crimethinc battle may well be indicative of what the future of the political Left will be. I have predicted before that the center-left will be dominant in American politics for the next several decades due to demographic, cultural and generational change in U.S. society. It is widely predicted that the non-white populations will collectively outnumber whites in the U.S. by the 2040s. As the non-white population grows due to demographic trends and large-scale immigration, and as class divisions widen, there is likely to be a split within liberalism between the mostly white, upper middle class, cultural progressives and the mostly black and Hispanic lower classes, which include many persons with more conservative views on social questions like gender roles, abortion, homosexuality and religion.

A Zogby poll taken last year concerning the level of public sympathy for the matter of secession indicated that the principal source of support for genuinely radical ideas (like separatism) comes not from the “far right” or backwoods militiamen but from young, unemployed, uneducated blacks and Hispanics in the heavily populated areas of the U.S.. In a few decades, the crumbling U.S. empire and its liberal-capitalist-multiculturalist elites and affluent classes may well be facing an insurgency by the expanded non-white underclass. There are an estimated one million urban gang members in the U.S., mostly blacks and Hispanics, and these are organized into thousands of armed groups. Are these not a domestic American version of the “fourth generation” insurgent movements that exist in other parts of the world like Latin America or the Middle East?

What will be the condition of American society in the decades ahead as the liberal-capitalist-multiculturalist ruling class begins to lose its grip and is faced with an insurgency by the black and Hispanic underclass? What should be the response of the mostly white anarchist movement to such a turn of events? How should the anarchist movement seek to handle such a scenario? Play your cards wrong and you’ll end up in a situation infinitely worse than that faced by Crimethinc.

The anarchist milieu needs to re-think its positions concerning racial matters. Continuing to perpetrate anti-racism hysteria year after year, decade after decade, is a dead end. There is zero evidence that such a stance will bring the masses of North American blacks and Hispanics into our ranks, and much compelling evidence that such efforts are futile, foolish and counterproductive. For many years, the anarchist movement’s obsession with “social issues” has been a distraction from what ought to be the primary objective of anarchism, i.e., the abolition of the state. This is not to say that anti-statism is the only value, or that anarchists should not be concerned with other matters. It does mean that a more constructive stance on certain questions should be pursued.

For one thing, it might be helpful if anarchists would display an interest in issues other than run of the mill left-wing causes like those involving race, gender, sexual orientation, ecology and the like. Why are anarchists not involved in the movement for the defense of the right to keep and bear arms? In a sensible anarchist movement, there would be anarchists sitting on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association. Why are anarchists not involved in the various movements for local or regional autonomy, or secession by states and communities? Certainly, such efforts should fit well with the supposed anarchist emphasis on decentralization.

What might be a more sensible approach to racial and cultural differences than the hysterical approach currently taken? A venerable American tradition is one of “separation of church and state.” This is a tradition that has worked quite well throughout U.S. history. Individual Americans are largely free to practice or not practice whatever religion they wish. Yes, fringe religious groups like the Branch Davidians are sometimes subject to persecution. Yes, state laws such as the ban on the use of psychedelic drugs impedes powerless groups like certain indigenous tribes from practicing their religion. Yes, children from sects whose tenants prohibit certain medical practices are sometimes forcibly subjected to such practices. Yes, religious do-gooders sometimes wish to use the force of the laws to suppress activities deemed immoral, like gambling, vice or alcohol. But for the most part, most people practice their religion or non-religion of choice most of the time with very little interference from either the state, or from society at-large. Compare this with the situation in, say, Saudi Arabia or North Korea, and it can be determined that “separation of church and state” is a system that works quite well. Research shows, for instance, that atheists are a minority group that is more widely disliked than any of the groups championed by the Left: blacks, immigrants, homosexuals, Muslims. Yet atheists, of whom I am one, are hardly an “oppressed minority” but an intellectually and culturally elite group who are heavily represented within the ranks of leading scientists, philosophers, academics, journalists, authors, artists and entertainers. As far back as 1910, Thomas Edison was able to proclaim his heretical religious views with to the New York Times with impunity.

I submit that the appropriate attitude for anarchists to take concerning racial and cultural matters is one of “separation of race and state” or “separation of culture and state.” Within such a context, all state legislation or regulation concerning race and culture would be eliminated, and individuals and groups would be able to engage in whatever racial or cultural practices they wished within the context of their own voluntary associations. Just as some religious organizations or institutions are very conservative or exclusionary in nature, and others are very liberal and inclusive, so might some racial or cultural organizations and institutions be similarly conservative or liberal, exclusionary or inclusive. For instance, the Anarchist People of Color and other like-minded groups could have their own schools, communities, neighborhoods, commercial enterprises and other institutions where white folks are verboten. Likewise, the Nation of Islam, Aztlan Nation, evangelical Christians, Mormons, paleoconservatives, or “national-anarchists” might also have their own homogenous communities as well. Feminists and queers might implement similar arrangments for themselves.

As I have said before, we need a “revolution within anarchism itself”. We need an anarchist movement that is not just an all-purposes leftist movement, but a movement that has abolition of the state as its central focus, and an approach to matters of race, culture, religion and so forth that is workable in a highly diverse society. This renovated anarchist movement would shift its focus towards the building of autonomous, voluntary communties, reflecting a wide assortment of cultural, economic or ideological themes, within the context of a wider pan-separatist ethos who principle enemy is the overarching state. It should be understood that severe and irreconcilable differences among different kinds of people will inevitably arise, and that such differences are best managed according to the principle of “peace through separatism.” As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn observed: “The ideological and philosophical struggles, which can neither be suppressed nor made an organic part of the governmental machine, have to be relegated to the private sphere of society.”

Updated News Digest August 2, 2009 2

Quote of the Week:

“My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) — or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remain obstinate!… Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people… The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”

                                                                                                        –J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Left is the Establishment, the financial and cultural elite of the Western world support them, and all the SDSs, Indymedias, “antifascists,” and the rest are nothing but the managerial state’s militant wing, lackeys of the powerful as surely as were Pinkerton detectives.”

                                                                                                                     -Kevin DeAnna

Anarchism and Secession Walter Block interviewed by Lew Rockwell

The Power of Statelessness by Jakub Grygiel

America the Great…Police State by Gore Vidal

Professor Gates’ Arrest: There is a First Amendment Right to be Rude to a Cop by Harvey Silverglate

Obama’s Secret Police by Justin Raimondo

Neither Opportunism Nor Sectarianism: On Radical Strategies speech by the late Murray Rothbard

Praetorian Presumptions by William Norman Grigg

Tell Israel: Cool the Jets! by Pat Buchanan

There Is No Fix for the American Healthcare System by Thomas Naylor

Most Americans Oppose U.S. Role in Iraq and Afghanistan Wars AP Poll

The Disappearing Palestinian by Philip Giraldi

The Wall Street Journal Discovers Secession from Second Vermont Republic

The Biden and Clinton Mutinies by Alexander Cockburn

Searching for Enemies by Gabriel Kolko

The Bastards Never Die by Joe Bageant

I’d Rather Be a Farmer than a Stockbroker by Jim Rogers

Bill Kristol is a Lying, Scheming, Scam Artist, Scumbag by Glenn Greenwald

The Alternative Right and the Impossibility of Conservatism  by Kevin DeAnna

What If the Right Becomes the Antiwar Party? by Marcion

Full Spectrum Dominance by Thomas Naylor

Beyond the Palin by Rick Pearlstein

Economism in the Alternative Right by Patrick J. Ford

Microstate Madness in Europe by Chirol

Decentralization for Socialists by Brian McClanahan

Americans Don’t Trust the Federal Government by Steven Thomma

The Superpower Conceit by Justin Raimondo

The Holocaust and Israel’s “Re-Establishment” by Jack Ross

The Walls Came Tumbling Down by Kevin Carson

The PIGS Keep On F***ing Up from Rad Geek

Right-Wing Jingoist “Christians” Are Bloodthirsty Assholes by Francois Tremblay

My Experiences as a Working Class Anarchist by Terry Morgan

Proudhon on Profit from Francois Tremblay (you may need Babelfish for this one if you don’t read French)

Post-Race Scholar Yells Racism by Ishmael Reed

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics by Paul Craig Roberts

PIG Shows His True Attitude Towards Those Whom He Serves and Protects from Austro-Athenian Empire

The Honduran Coup and the Clinton Connection by Justin Raimondo

The Recession is Finally Over-Not! by Peter Schiff

In Praise of the Heroic Pashtun by Tom Engelhardt and Juan Cole

Middle East Show of Farce by Jeff Huber

I Shouldn’t Read the News. I Really Shouldn’t. by Fred Reed

State-Capitalism in Britain by James Heartfield

Today, Henry Gates; Tomorrow, You by Kelley B. Vlahos

Cheney’s Plans for a Military Coup by Scott Horton

The Ten Commandments for Ambitious Policy Wonks by Stephen Walt

People Like Palin by Jack Hunter

Hate Crimes and Free Speech by Chris Clancy

The Politics of White Guilt  by Paul Gottfried

We All Stand Before Peltier’s Parole Board by Harvey Wasserman

Dismantling the Empire  by Tom Engelhardt and Chalmers Johnson

Bombing for a Juster World by Jean Bricmont

My Experiences with National Healthcare by Linda Schrock Taylor

Universities Face Economic Meltdown by Gillian Wee

The Last Knight of the Habsburg Empire by Jorn K. Baltzersen

The Green Rope-A-Dope by Walter Williams

China’s All-Seeing Eye by Naomi Klein

Will the Feds Declare Martial Law? by James Bovard

The Affirmative Action0cracy by Steve Sailer

The Monsters Underneath My Bed by Patroon

My Life as a Person of Color by Paul Gottfried

Afghanistan’s U.S.-Backed Child-Raping Police by Gareth Porter

U.S. Attorney General Denounces “Radicalization” of Americans by Jeremy Pelofsky

A Few Thoughts on the “Birthers” by Red Phillips

They Thought They Were Free

Updated News Digest July 26, 2009 Reply

Quotes of the Week:

“We anarchists do not want to emancipate the people; we want the people to emancipate themselves.”

                                                                                                                -Errico Malatesta

“We are bound first to imform ourselves concerning so great a matter as the revolt of millions of people- what they are struggling for, what they are struggling against, and how the struggle stands- from day to day…as best you can; and second, to spread this knowledge among others, and endeavor to do what little you can to awaken the consciousness and sympathy of others.”
                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                          -Voltairine de Cleyre

Secession is the Future  An Interview with Kirkpatrick Sale

First Steps Taken to Implement Preventive Detention, Military Commissions by Glenn Greenwald

Unfashionable Nation-Building by Dan Phillips

Proudhon on Capital and Usury from Francois Tremblay

Anarchism, Class Struggle and Political Organization by Tom Wetz

Israel Jumps the Shark by Justin Raimondo

Anarchism and the Movement for a New Society by Andrew Cornell

Care Tactics: Weaponizing Human Rights by Chase Madar

A Compilation of Critiques on “Hate Crimes” Legislation from Infoshop.Org

Threatening Iran by Paul Craig Roberts

The Democrats: Fake Party of Compassion by Kevin Carson

Revolt of an Elite: On Henry Louis Gates by Elizabeth Wright

Prisoner Insurrection in Canada by Joe Warmington, Pete Fisher and Andrea Houston

Nine States Quietly Declare Their Independence by John Paul Mitchell

The Fiscal Ruin of the Western World by Ambrose Evans Pritchard

We Are in the Midst of an Economic Disaster by Gary North

The Masters of Perfidy: AIG and the System by Jeffrey St. Clair

Obama Escalates Afghanistan Quagmire by Patrick Krey

Living in a Police State by Dave Lindorff

The American Revolution Revisited by Chuck Baldwin

Eastern Europe and the Habit of Servitude by Justin Raimondo

The Unconscious of a Liberal by Jack Hunter

Invisible Iraq by Robert Dreyfuss

How to Argue Against Torture by Bernard Chazelle

Benjamin R. Tucker and Gertrude B. Kelly on Education by Libertarian Labyrinth

Blackwater Seeks Gag Order by Jeremy Scahill

“Humanitarian” Efforts Are Often a Pretext for Aggression by Paul J. Nyden

The Coup and the U.S. Airbase in Honduras by Nikolas Kozloff

Bush’s Third Term by James Joyner

The Technique of a Coup d’Etat by John Laughland

The Battle Begins: ATF vs the 2nd Amendment by Bryce Shonka

Obama’s Free Lunch is Over by Philip Giraldi

Back to the Future? Return to El Salvador by Clifton Ross

Obama’s Disappointing Secrecy by Benjamin H. Friedman

Previous Governments: To Prosecute or Not? by Michael Tennant

“A Damned Murder, Inc.” by Alexander Cockburn

Is America a Racist Nation? by Ian Huyett

The U.S. Has No Business Being in the Murder Business by Eric Margolis

A Victim of the System Needs Help (Update here)

Chinese Imperialism and Its Discontents by John Derbyshire

This Is Your Country on Drugs by Laura Miller

Why War in Afghanistan Is Futile by Malou Innocent

When Mark Levin Attacks by Jack Hunter

Is Food for Africa Working? by Brian Doherty 

Obama’s Court of Red Czars by Ilana Mercer

What Americans Can Learn From the British Experience with Surveillance by Jacob Sullum

Will the Republicans Save Us? by Laurence Vance

Never Believe Uncorroborated Police Testimony by William Norman Grigg

Uninformed Ingraham by Patrick J. Ford

Too Many Other People by William Norman Grigg

25 Scary Facts About Brainwashing by Jill Gordon

Cops Gone Wild by Dave Lindorff

Police State Wisconsin

Watch Who You Call Extremist by Steven Greenhut

Bruno: A Glimpse Into Zionism by Gilad Atzmon

Politicizing Crime by Daniel Coleman

Why More Atheists Than Anarchists? from Francois Tremblay

Forty Years in the Wilderness? 12

For some years  now, I have advocated for the anarchist movement in North America a change in direction from the course it has followed since the 1960s. Essentially, the general flavor of the anarchist milieu is one that expresses the same set of primary values as Marxists, social democrats and left-liberal Democratic Party activists, with the added qualification of “by the way, we’re also against the state as well.” A principal problem with such an approach is that it fails to distinguish political anarchism from run of the mill leftism. Furthermore, anarchism exists primarily as a kind of youth culture/subculture that focuses on a very narrow ultra-leftism and hyper-counterculturalism that inevitably has the effect of relegating political anarchism into a fringe ideological ghetto.

This is a situation that I have sought to change. I have done so by advocating a broader, more expansive approach for political anarchism than what the current mainstream of the movement will allow for. This effort has won me many highly sympathetic friends within the anarchist milieu and many bitter enemies as well. In a recent and highly controversial essay, I argued for a “revolution within anarchism.” What I was calling for is the future advent of a “non-leftoidal” anarchist movement, meaning one that is more substantive, comprehensive and original in its approach, rather than simply championing the run-of-the-mill causes and issues favored by leftists and post-60s counterculturalists.

If one surveys most of the contemporary anarchist websites and publications, one typically sees persistent and predictable references to things like the evils of racism, sexism, and homophobia, the villainy of pollution and cutting down trees, the need to be kinder to animals, the championing of unions and worker-related causes, the need for better health care, and other things that any little old lady at a Democratic Party precinct meeting, liberal Methodist pastor, or high-school social studies teacher might be interested in. Added to this might be standard countercultural causes like publishing “zines,” alternative media projects, squatting, “Food Not Bombs,” vegetarianism or veganism, neo-pagan or New Age religions, transsexualism, hippie communes,  or punk music. Many of these are no doubt good causes or perfectly harmless activities, but it is questionable as to how much they really do to subvert “the System.” After all, the radicals from the 60s have for the most part been victorious on most of the issues that emerged during that time. But what has been the result? The military-industrial complex is larger and more expansive than ever before, and the empire more far-reaching and more overtly aggressive. The state is more expansive and repressive, and the police state and prison-industrial complex have emerged as major growth industries. The plutocracy has become ever more exploitive, and the socio-economic classes ever more polarized. And the “culture wars” have degenerated into battles within the middle class over symbolic issues like same-sex marriage.

I submit that anarchists in North America should strive to break the grip that the “60s model” of radicalism has on their own milieu and begin looking for new directions. In my previous writings, I have called for the development of an anarchist-led pan-secessionist movement with a strong populist orientation, and oriented towards the lower socio-economic orders, e.g., the lumpenproletariat, neo-peasantry, declasse’ sectors, lower petite bourgeoisie, respectable poor, sinking middle and so forth. Such a movement would champion “third way” economic tendencies beyond socialism or capitalism, with an emphasis on decentralization and the voluntary sector. There would be an across-the-board defense of civil liberties (defending both drug decriminalization and the right to bear arms, for instance) and irreconcilable cultural differences would be handled according to the model of “peace through separatism,” meaning groups like the feminist/gay Left or the Religious Right would have their own separate institutions, associations, communities, and, if necessary, entirely separate regions, with explosive cultural matters like the definition of marriage, abortion, capital punishment, the rights of children against their parents, educational practices, and immigration being determined according to local community standards. The emergence of such a movement would involve a situation where the independent Left, populist Right, radical Middle, underclass, lumpenproletariat, declasse’ sectors, radical ecologists, and racial-nationalists among the minority groups would naturally bend towards one another against the neoconservative/left-liberal establishment.

My own ideological perspective is, for all practical purposes, virtually identical to what one might find at a website like Infoshop.Org , with several important differences. One of these is my rejection of abstract internationalism in favor old-fashioned foreign policy isolationism. A similar policy has worked quite well for the Swiss and Swedes for generations, and an emphasis on strict neutrality in international relations is even more important in an era where “humanitarianism” is used as a justification and cover for imperialism. Second, the phenomena of what is called “political correctness” needs to be effectively and comprehensively challenged, given that this is the ideological superstructure of an emerging form of totalitarianism. Lastly, I wish to end the “culture war/race war” mentality common to many Leftists and Rightists alike, and deal with differences of religion, culture, race, ethnicity, language and so forth according to the principles of individual liberty, voluntary association, pluralism, meritocracy and peaceful co-existence where possible, otherwise decentralism, localism, secessionism, separatism, self-determination and mutual self-segregation. For holding such positions, I have gained many enemies, but I have also brought in new friends, allies, and ideological tendencies whose tenants overlap to a great degree with those of traditional anarchism. Just as those of us who opposed the Cold War were often accused of fueling Communism, so are those of us who today oppose the Culture War accused of fueling Nazism, fascism, racism and theocracy but, as has been said, “this too shall pass.”

A question that emerges from this discussion involves the issue of what sort of time frame we are looking at.  I prefer to use the “forty years in the wilderness” analogy, a reference to the biblical legend whereby the escaped Israelite slaves wandered in the wilderness for forty years before reaching the Promised Land. I will explain the relevance of this analogy shortly, but when considering such a matter it is important to recognize identifiable trends in U.S. politics. These include:

1) The two-party system has proven to be extraordinarily durable, and has survived for 200+ years since the founding of the Republic, with no significant alterations and in spite of many subsequent changes in American society of a monumental nature.

2) The state has persistently grown throughout U.S. history, with no significant rollback at any point, and will likely continue to do so in the forseeable future, particularly given the economic troubles that lie ahead. Depending on whose estimates one relies on, the U.S. state now consumes 35 to 40 percent of the GDP, and is capable of consuming still more, as the European social democracies demonstrate. Further, there is no real evidence that the public at large objects to this. Opinion research indicates that anti-statist ideologies like libertarianism and paleoconservatism are the least popular so far as ideologies somewhat connected to the political mainstream are concerned.

3) Demographic, cultural and generational trends indicate that the center-left and, consequently, the Democratic Party, will be the dominant force in American national politics in the decades ahead. It is also true that American domestic partisan cycles tend to run at 35 to 40 year intervals. The Democrats recently emerged victorious after Republican dominance since the late 1960s. The Nixon Republicans displaced the Democrats who had been dominant since the election of FDR in 1932, and FDR ended the Republican reign that had begun in the 1890s (with the exception of the disastrous Wilson presidency). If this trend has any meaning for the future, the current Democrat-dominated partisan cycle should begin to expire sometime in the 2040s, precisely the decade when Americans of non-European ancestry are expected to collectively become a demographic majority.

In other words, we should count on the center-left being dominant for the next 40 years or so, and we should plan on using that time to build up a revolutionary movement that will eventually displace the current center-left coalition that has emerged victorious with the election of President Obama. Of course, there are a lot of people who wish to unseat the present center-left ruling coalition from the Right, ranging from right-wing neocon Frumites to paleocon Buchananites to the “grassroots Republican” Palinites to the Religious Right, Libertarians, and so forth. However, it is unlikely that any of these elements will ever achieve anything more than marginal or temporary victories, as all of them represent forces that were once dominant in American society but are in a serious state of decline. Neoconservatism, for instance, is a degenerated form of Cold War liberalism and the Paleocon/Religious Right program of turning back the clock to the 1950s is something of a joke. That mainstream “conservatives” have found no one better than Sarah Palin to be their leader demonstrates what a joke their perspective is as well. The purpose of present day “conservatism” is not to gain political power but to attract listeners and viewers to talk-radio or FOX News (itself a product of the “dumbing down” of American culture) and to sell books by barely literate right-wing polemicists.

It is of the utmost importance that a genuine revolutionary movement identify the present and future center-left ruling coalition as the primary enemy. To focus on “right-wing conservatives” is foolish given that these represent the losing forces of history, e.g., the right-wing of the old-monied elite, proponents of archaic nation-state based nationalism, religious fundamentalists, opponents of the sexual revolution, the declining white middle class and so forth. Yes, Rush Limbaugh may be a fat-assed windbag who peddles jingoism in its crudest form, and Ann Coulter may be a sniveling cunt, but there is no evidence that the movement they represent will ever achieve comprehensive or enduring political power in the United States. Indeed, the Bush administration, with its grotesque ineptness, may well have been their last gasp. Even more foolish is the tendency of some in the anarchist movement to devote inordinate amounts of attention to “right-wing extremist” groups, e.g., the Ku Klux Klan, neo-nazis, skinheads, et.al. Nothing is more marginalized and irrelevant to the mainstream of American politics than these. Persistent battles between “racists” and “anti-racists” are as socially and politically productive as wars between one-percenter motorcycle clubs or crack-dealing, inner-city street gangs.

The correct historical model to draw on in the development of a 21st century revolutionary movement in North America is not the battle between the Left and classical Fascism in the 1920s and 1930s but the historic rivalry between the anarchists and the Communists, with the center-left and its ideology of political correctness now playing the role of the “new totalitarianism.” I submit that the anarchist movement in North America should adopt as its primary objective the development of a revolutionary movement to challenge the center-left from the left, with the goal of obtaining political pre-eminence once the center-left expires its historical utility. In other words, there should be an anarchist-led revolution in the United States sometime during the 2040s, and the interim decades should be a build-up period to that point.

American history informs us of how we might proceed. Given the historic durability of the two-party system, it is worth noting that the only disruptions of that system were the replacement of the Federalists with the Whigs, and the subsequent replacement of the Whigs with the Republicans prior to the U.S. Civil War. Given that the Democrats are likely to be the ruling party over the next few decades, the aim of the revolutionaries should be to eventually replace the Republican Party with a yet to be named or thoroughly defined revolutionary coalition/organization/federation of some kind.

It is also worth noting and rather ironic that the only “near miss” as far as rolling back the perpetual expansion of the Leviathan state in U.S. history was the attempted Southern secession of 1861, which the Republican Party was formed primarily to prevent. Given that the two largest revolutionary events in U.S. history were the secession by the 13 colonies from Britain and the attempted Southern secession from the Union, it makes sense that a continuation of the American secessionist tradition should be our primary strategic tool. There is also the question of how to best go about formulating propaganda whose purpose is to shift popular opinion in our direction. As anarchists, we can quote Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, Proudhon, Spooner, Tolstoy, Stirner, Nock, Rothbard, Bookchin or Chomksy within our own circles all we wish. The fact that remains is that most Americans don’t know and don’t care about such things. What they do know is the American populist revolutionary tradition that extends back to Jefferson and the Declaration Independence. In other words, we anarchists should follow the lead of Voltairine de Cleyre and work to fuse anarchism with American radical traditions in a way that makes sense to the ordinary person.

The need to abandon conventional “culture war/race war” psychology cannot be emphasized strongly enough. This does not mean that anarchists, the majority of whom identify with the left on social and cultural matters, should abandon their own ideals, interests or preferences. For instance, the majority of anarchists probably take a favorable view of the “immigrants’ rights” cause. Because immigration is a highly divisive social issue within the ranks of the poor and working class, I have advocated simply decentralizing immigration policy to the local level. This means that some localities might have the ultra-liberal immigration policies of contemporary “sanctuary cities” and others might take a position more like the contemporary Minutemen. In a community where the prevailing opinion on immigration was rather “conservative” in nature, left-wing anarchists could still agitate for an alternative point of view if they wished, vote against an anti-immigration referendum, etc. Nevertheless, it remains true that a wide assortment of demographic groups commonly identified with the “cultural right” will likely come under increasingly severe attacks from the state in the decades ahead. What we anarchists should say to the Right is this: “You rightists will get a better deal from us than with the totalitarian Left. We will defend you against attacks from the state. We will uphold the right to bear arms, free speech, educational freedom, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. We will shut down the police state. We will recognize your political sovereignty in those communities where your perspective is the prevailing sentiment. We will uphold the economic interests that you share in common with others.”  It should not be difficult to connect and form alliances with a wide variety of rightist factions against the common enemy in the central government given that states’ rights and local sovereignty are venerable American traditions of the kind which conservatives are the ostensible champions.

The center-left will eventually collapse as it begins to fracture along various lines. As political correctness becomes more deeply entrenched in American society, it will have fewer and fewer inhibitions about showing its fangs. As the role of the Israel lobby in U.S. foreign policy becomes increasingly exposed, the center-left will fracture along pro-Zionist  and anti-Zionist lines. As the immigrant and non-white population expands and becomes more powerful, racial and ethnic divisions on the Left will become more obvious. Other contributing factors to the eventual demise of the center-left ruling coalition will be growing class divisions, ideological differences among the left (multicultural vs universalism), the incompatibility of some of the left’s constituent groups (socially conservative blacks and homosexuals, for instance), the decline of the traditional Right as a common enemy and unifying force for the center-left, and the economic bankruptcy of the welfare state. Ultimately, the greatest fault line will be between upper middle class, white, liberals mostly concerned with social issues like gay rights, abortion rights, environmentalism and secularism, and lower class, mostly black and Hispanic, radicals concerned with class and economic issues, framed as racial and ethnic issues.

Over the next twenty years or so, anarchists should work to re-orient their movement away from a narrowly focused ultra-leftism and towards the broader pan-secessionist, decentralist populism I have outlined here. This will be achieved by those anarchists who already hold a similar position agitating for such ideas in the anarchist milieu and eventually gaining positions of leadership as the older ways become increasingly archaic. Once again, this does not mean that anarchists should necessarily abandon many of the projects with which they are currently involved. It means simply expanding the horizons of the anarchist milieu, appealing to a wider variety and larger number of people, and tackling a wider assortment of issues.

Once the project of re-orienting the anarchist movement towards becoming a more effective fighting force is achieved, the next step will be to work to gain political preeminence at the local and regional level for the ultimate purpose of overturning the present and future center-left ruling coalition, and doing so in a way that involves radical decentralization of power to the lowest possible level. This does not mean that decentralization is the only value. There are currently many worthwhile projects that anarchists are involved with ranging from assisting the homeless, to agitating for the living wage, to prisoners’ rights, to alternative schools, to solidarity with the Palestinians, Tibetans and oppressed people in other parts of the world. This does not mean that any particular set of anarchists needs to abandon their preferred set of cultural values. What I am simply proposing is that irreconcilable cultural differences be handled according to the model of “peace through separatism” as opposed to civil war, persecution, subjugation or oppression. Some rural counties may not allow abortion and some liberal enclaves may not allow handguns or smoking in bars. Some science academies may discriminate against creationists, and some churches may discriminate against feminists and homosexuals. Some schools may teach Afro-centrism and some may teach Euro-centrism. Some neighborhoods may exclude outspoken racists and others may exclude drug dealers or vice merchants. Such is an inevitability in a highly diverse civilization of hundreds of millions of people.

As to where those anarchists already committed to an outlook such as the one I’ve outlined here should begin, I would suggest that anarchists of this type begin infiltrating larger organizations for the purpose of gaining leadership positions. For instance, most of the current “third party” organizations are politically worthless, and there has never been a genuinely successful third party in U.S. history. However, these parties might well be captured by the anarchist movement and combined into a federation of more authentically revolutionary organizations, with their own infrastructure, social services, schools, media, militia and so forth, perhaps on the model of Fourth Generation entities like Hezbollah. It is these institutions and organizations that should replace the state once the present ruling class crumbles.

Updated News Digest July 12, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

““Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town meeting would be an asshole.”

                                                                                              -Karl Hess

It’s Not Just Fundamentalists Who Are Ignorant by TGGP

Rot in Hell, Robert McNamara: The Life of  a Monster Considered by Ray Mangum (Hear Daniel Ellsberg on McNamara’s Scumbaggery; and Alexander Cockburn and Robert Scheer)

Secession is the Answer by Claire Wolfe

Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction by Bill Anderson

Celebrate Secession by John Payne

One Step Forward, One Step Back by William S. Lind

Fourth Generation Warfare from AnarchoNation

Why the Global Warming Hoax is Being Perpetrated by Gary North

Vatican City as a Voluntary Society by Carlo Lottieri

U.S. Imperial Aggression Against Diego Garcia by Murray Polner

Obama in Russia by Justin Raimondo

Are Afghan Lives Worth Anything? by Tom Engelhardt

Al Franken, Chickenhawk by Anthony Gregory

So This is What Victory Looks Like? by Scott Ritter

Obama Slouching Towards an Iran War? by Tony Karon

Victory is Impossible in Afghanistan by Matthew Parris

The Honduran Drama by Justin Raimondo

Ten Steps to Close Down an Open Society by Naomi Wolf

A Quagmire for Obama by Derrick Z. Jackson

What’s That Imperial Base in Honduras For? by Jacob Hornberger

Pentagon Report Verified Detainee Torture by Thomas Eddlem

The “Values” Fetish by Paul Gottfried

First They Will Come for the Hate Criminals by Peter Brimelow

The Pie Graph of Theft by Francois Tremblay

Unity, Diversity and Divisiveness in Marxism by Larry Gambone

Obama’s Strategic Blindspot by Andrew Bacevich

Prison Rape as Policy by David Rosen

The New McCarthyism by Neil Clark

Time to End the War on Drugs from the Cato Institute

Towards a Soviet America by Bill Anderson

“It’s Discrimination!” by Ben O’Neill

Tase Early, Tase Often by Patrick Bedard

Why Do Feminists Support the Afghan War? by Sonali Kolhatkar and Mariam Rawi

China’s Porcelain Empire by Justin Raimondo

Hands Off  Honduras by Philip Giraldi

The Myth of the Surge by Stephen Walt

Real ID: A Real Warning on the Danger of Government  by James Bovard

“Staying the Course” Prolongs Afghan War by Malou Innocent

Norks and Nukes by Ted Galen Carpenter

Can Ethnonationalism Bring Down America’s Tower of Babel? 

High Infidelity  by Jack Hunter

The Tyranny of Mark Levin’s “Liberty” by Jack Hunter

Americana: The 2nd Revolutionary War 

Obama’s Biden Problem by Alexander Cockburn

Rural America Needs More Than Listening Sessions by Jim Goodman

Updated News Digest July 5, 2009 Reply

 Quote of the Week:

“I would love to be disassociated from anti-racists. I think their cultural leftism is a turnoff. And I say this as a non-white. I can’t speak for all people of diverse or non-caucasian racial makeup, but I for one am tired of some people (predominantly white) telling me to be indignant about racism, ostensibly to satisfy some sense of guilt they may have.”

                                                                                                               -Dixie Flatline

“Diversity in capacities and powers – those differences between races, nations, sexes and persons – far from being a social evil, constitutes on the contrary, the abundance of humanity.”

                                                                                                       -Mikhail Bakunin

Down with the Therapeutic Left and the Managerial Right, Part 2 (see Part One ) by Mark Wegierski

The Rise of the Libertarian Distributists by Ian Huyett

Who Are We to Accuse Iran of Election Fraud? by Thomas Naylor

The U.S. of Goldman-Sachs by Matt Taibbi (a follow-up)

The Communitarian Anarchism of Gustav Landauer by Larry Gambone

Principles of the American New Right by Chris D.

Barter Networks and the Counter-Economy by Kevin Carson

The Uncompromising Rothbard by Lew Rockwell

The Big Whorehouse on the Potomac by Paul Craig Roberts

It’s All About Independence by Justin Raimondo

Consent or Coercion  by Gustav Landauer

The Coming Nationalist Schism by Ian Huyett

Gob Smacked by Alexander Cockburn

Independence and Liberty: We’re Losing Both by Anthony Gregory

Iraq: The Coming Train Wreck by Ivan Eland

Who You Calling a Conservative? by Paul Gottfried

History Haunts Honduras by Justin Raimondo

Iraq Occupation Isn’t Over Yet Scott Ritter interviewed by Scott Horton

NAACP Calls for Martial Law (talk about a death wish!) by Steven Farley

Just What the Hell is “Socialism”? by the Tasmanian National-Anarchists

Leave Africa to the Africans (an African author agrees) by Ian Huyett

National-Anarchism and Defense from Tradition and Revolution

Liberty and the Tehran Spring by Justin Raimondo

Baptist Pastor Assaulted by PIGS from Francois Tremblay

Dissent in the Military by Dahr Jamail and Tom Engelhardt

Of Vices and Crimes, Beginnings and Ends by Quasibill

Chilean Anarchists on the Honduras Coup from Porkupine Blog

Mad Max Conservatism by Richard Spencer

The Superiority Complex from Francois Tremblay

The Honduras Coup: A Wake-Up Call from Porkupine Blog

The Democracy Regime and Honduras by Kevin DeAnna

Profit Is Not Justified by Entrepreneurial Risk by Francois Tremblay

Pirates of the Mediterranean by Paul Craig Roberts

Unity, Diversity and Divisiveness in Anarchism by Larry Gambone

Victory in Iraq? by Harrison Bergeron 2

Debtors’ Prisons Are Making a Comeback by Francois Tremblay

Hezbollah After the Elections by Franklin Lamb

Industrial Worker, Issue # 1717, July 2009 from Worker Freedom

Homeless Organize, Stand Together and Win 

Greek Anarchists Go On Arson Spree  by Kathimerini

I Hearby Resign My U.S. Citizenship by Jeff Knaebel

A College Degree is a Bad Idea by Jeff Hough

Why I Own Guns by Michael Gaddy

The Suppressed Facts: Death by U.S. Torture by Glenn Greenwald

Obama’s New Euphemism by Joanne Mariner

Obama’s Latest Leap Towards Lawlessness by J.D. Tuccille

The Freedom to Discriminate by Art Carden

Beware the Dreaded Iranian Curse by Eric Margolis

The Police Statization of America by Lew Rockwell

Real ID: A Warning on the Danger of Government by James Bovard

PIGS Gone Wild by William Norman Grigg

Insufferable Historicism by Mark Hackard

Creepy Old Men Support Pedophilia by S. M. Oliva

Establishment Chic by Thomas Woods

NYC Street Vendors Resist the State

Hands Off Honduras by Pat Buchanan

Wal-Mart: State-Capitalist Scumbags by Sheldon Richman

Race, Localism and the Problem of Over-Articulation from Front Porch Republic

What Was America? by Harrison Bergeron 2

Victim of PIGS Near Death After PIGS Attack Bar 

Direct Action in Action 

Keep the State Out of Church by Laurence Vance

The Banality of Evil Applies to Everyone by Jacob Hornberger

Half-Sigma vs Kevin MacDonald by TGGP

Video Record of Left-Libertarian Strategy Session

Updated News Digest June 28, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“A century ago, anarchism was a major force within the European revolutionary movement, and the name of Michael Bakunin, its foremost champion and prophet, was as well-known among the workers and radical intellectuals of Europe as that of Karl Marx.”

                                                                           -Paul Avrich, Anarchist Portraits

Down With the Therapeutic Left and Managerial Right by Mark Wegierski

Obama’s Denial of Reality by Lew Rockwell

Not So Huddled Masses: Multiculturalism and Foreign Policy by Scott McDonnell

The Origins of Fascism by Charles A. Burris

Stay Out of Iran! by Jack Hunter

Gun Control: What’s the Real Agenda? by Paul Craig Roberts

Obama and the Torturers by James Bovard

Mainstreaming Censorship by Harrison Bergeron 2

Ignorance is Strength by Paul Craig Roberts

Free Leonard Peltier by Michael Gaddy

The Four Stages of Revolution, Part One by Bay Area National Anarchists

Neither the U.S. Nor Israel is a Genuine “Party to Peace” by Noam Chomsky

Was 50 Million Deaths Really Necessary? by Anthony Gregory

Is Realism Better Than Idealism? byIvan Eland

Do Iranians Deserve Progressive and Liberal Sympathy? by Mupetblast

Iran: It’s All About US, Or Is It? by Justin Raimondo

Popular Support for Israel Eroding Ira Chernus interviewed by Scott Horton

Ten Days That Shook Iran by Pat Buchanan

Loose Ends by Justin Raimondo

Iran’s Green Revolution: Made in America? by Justin Raimondo

Seeing Through All the Propaganda About Iran by Eric Margolis

Iran Falling to U.S. PSYOPS? by Paul Craig Roberts

Better Load Your .44, This is Civil War by TGGP

The War at Home, Up Close by Kevin Annett

Belief in Government Means Ignoring the Evidence from No Third Solution

Noam Chomsky vs Michel Foucault (thanks, Francois!)

Conceptualizing Political Economy on the Humane Scale by Cato the Younger

What Actually Happened in the Iranian Elections? by Esam Al-Amin

 Stay Out of Iran’s Evolutionary Process by Philip Giraldi

Generation Gap by Steve Sailer

Obama’s Undeclared War Against Pakistan by Jeremy Scahill

The “Neda” Video and the Truth-Revealing Power of Images by Glenn Greenwald

What Iran Means by Stephen Walt

Dumbest Idea on the Planet by Jeff Huber

Intifada in Iran by Robert Fisk

PIG Kills Man at Stoplight by William Norman Grigg

California Is America’s Future by Pat Buchanan

San Diego Jury: PIGS Are Above the Law (of course!) by William Norman Grigg

Michelle Braun and Her Plea Bargain by Tim Worstall

When the Jackbooted Ones Strike… by William Norman Grigg

The Myth of Our Regeneration by Michael O’Meara

The U.S. Government is Evil by Francois Tremblay

Turkish Sex Workers Look to Form Union 

What the Big Banks Have Won by Mike Whitney

Arrest of Gang Intervention Leader Raises Concerns 

Building Fascism by Lew Rockwell

The Government Owns Your Body from theConverted

Parents of Unruly Students to be Jailed 

Debtors’ Prisons Are Making a Comeback by Francois Tremblay

Sicko by Ilana Mercer

Interview with Anarchist People of Color founder Ashanti Alston by Jose Antonio Gutierrez

The Hate Crimes Bill: How Not to Remember Matthew Shepard by Alexander Cockburn

Secession: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Conservative State Worship 8

No matter how pissed off I get at liberals and leftists (a very frequent occurrence, I assure you), I have never been able to bring myself to start calling myself a “conservative.” Some of this is no doubt a reflexive reaction to being raised among right-wing Know-Nothings. But just when I am sometimes starting to think that philosophical conservatives are the ones who really have their act together, I come across something like this post from conservative Catholic philosopher Edward Feser.

Feser was once associated with libertarianism, at least on the periphery, and is now some kind of ultra-reactionary Catholic traditionalist. Predictably, he takes a position on abortion that equates abortion doctors with serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer. I’ve known a number of other people who took such positions (mostly Christian fundamentalists of one type or another), and I really don’t find such views to be interesting enough to bother discussing them. Suffice to say that in an anarchic social order different kinds of communities would likely have different rules and standards concerning enormously controversial issues like abortion. As for my own preference, I’m for legal abortion, at least in the early stages of pregnancy. I’m probably for the legality of late-term abortion also, though I am less sure of this position and would be more accepting of compromise on the question. I don’t know that I really approve of peripheral regulations on abortion either, like parental consent and waiting periods. So, obviously, I’m in the “liberal” camp on this question. But what I find interesting about Feser’s post are comments like this:

On November 28, 1994, notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered in prison by a fellow inmate. Unspeakably heinous though Dahmer’s crimes were, his murder can only be condemned. To be sure, by committing his crimes, Dahmer had forfeited his right to life. By no means can it be said that the injustice he suffered was as grave as what he inflicted upon his victims. But the state alone had the moral authority to execute him, and no private individual can usurp that authority. Vigilantism is itself a grave offense against the moral and social order, and Dahmer’s murderer merited severe punishment.
The recent murder of another notorious serial killer – the late-term abortionist George Tiller – is in most morally relevant respects parallel to the Dahmer case. It is true that Tiller, unlike Dahmer, was not punished by our legal system for his crimes; indeed, most of those crimes, though clearly against the natural moral law, are not against the positive law of either the state or the country in which Tiller resided. That is testimony only to the extreme depravity of contemporary American society, and does not excuse Tiller one iota. Still, as in the Dahmer case, no private citizen has the right to take justice into his own hands, and Tiller’s murderer ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
 
One can understand how someone can criticize the killing of Jeffrey Dahmer by another prison inmate. Dahmer had already been arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. But by the logic of Feser, Dr. George Tiller was a serial killer who was even more evil than Dahmer himself, a mass murderer of innocent children, and the state and the law were allowing him to commit his crimes. Let’s think about this for a minute: Suppose the Manson Family started a political lobby, and through the usual process of procuring legislative favors, pushed Congress or the states to enact a law exempting the Manson Family from the laws against mass murder. The Mansonites begin using their new-found freedom to kill other people with legal immunity. So some sensible person or group of persons grab their Glocks and start picking off the Mansonites one by one. Who would criticize them? Not me. I might even join in. At the very least, if the state subsequently arrested the anti-Mansonites for taking out the Mansonites, I might lead civil disobedience at the court house where the anti-Mansonites were being tried for “murder.”

So what’s Feser’s problem? If he really thinks abortion is the mass murder of innocent children that a corrupt state allows to legally take place, then why does he not praise the heroism of someone who places himself in grave danger in order to eliminate the killer and prevent him from killing more children in the future? Would Feser object to the killing of a wild animal that repeatedly attacked and killed human beings but could not be killed legally because of “animal rights” laws? Maybe, but I’d be surprised if he did.

Frequently, I have heard hard-core pro-lifers refer to abortionists as serial killers but then object to those who assassinate an abortion doctor. I suspect there are two reasons for this. One, whatever they think they believe outwardly, they really do not believe inwardly that abortion is the equivalent of mass murder. This is reflected in the fact that many pro-lifers do not believe there should be criminal penalties for women who obtain illegal abortions, only for the doctor. But whoever heard of the idea that being an accomplice to the murder of a child is not a crime? This perspective makes no sense at all. Many cult members and adherents of fanatical religions will betray their supposed beliefs in private moments and unguarded moments, often without the realization that they are doing so. In their heart of hearts, they really don’t believe in all the bullshit they claim to believe in.

But there’s another issue involved here as well, and that’s the state worship found among many conservatives. While many other conservatives are anti-statists with varying degrees of consistency or sincerity, “moralist” conservatives often express views not unlike Feser’s. Let’s look at Feser’s words once again. This is the key passage:

“But the state alone had the moral authority to execute him, and no private individual can usurp that authority. Vigilantism is itself a grave offense against the moral and social order, and Dahmer’s murderer merited severe punishment.”

And this:

“Still, as in the Dahmer case, no private citizen has the right to take justice into his own hands, and Tiller’s murderer ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

What the hell is this crap about “the moral authority” of the state? What’s so special about the state? Would this be the same institution that killed two hundred million subjects during the 20th century alone? And how exactly is “vigilantism” such a “grave offense against the moral and social order”? The arguments against vigilantism are these:

1) Protection of the innocent. The accused should not be subject to the arbitrary accusations and retaliation of others. Instead, there needs to be a process of determining innocence or guilt according to objectives rules of evidence judged by neutral third parties.

2) Proportionality. One should not be able to arbitrarily execute someone they feel has wronged them. Instead, the punishment should “fit the crime” and be imposed by a neutral third party.

3) Civil order. If everyone “took the law into his own hands,” would this not lead to a breakdown of civil society and the emergence of a free-for-all?

These arguments might make sense in a functional society with a functional legal system, even one that performs erratically much of the time. But that would not seem to apply in a society that has formally legalized mass murder, which is what Feser thinks America has done with legalized abortion. Would a sensible person condemn Cambodian persons who armed themselves circa 1976 and starting taking out Khmer Rouge operatives? A Russian circa 1935 who did the same to Stalinist agents? A German who engaged in such actions against Gestapo agents in 1943? Of course not.

Aside from the fact that Feser does not really believe in his Catholic fundamentalist anti-abortion ideology beyond the surface, conscious level, he also exhibits the emotional and intellectual cowardice that comes with an inability to reject the state. If Feser had been born in North Korea, he would have been one of the North Korean soldiers I saw in television footage after Kim Il-Sung’s death hugging a statue of the Great Leader and weeping: “He took care of me since I was a baby!”

I’ve undergone de-conversion from three cults in my own lifetime: Christianity, statism, and egalitarianism. So maybe there’s still hope for Edward Feser. This brings me to another issue. The owner of the “Debunking Christianity” blog, John W. Loftus, has called for Feser to be fired from his teaching post at a community college because of his statements comparing the assassinated abortion doctor to Jeffrey Dahmer. Says Loftus:

“We’ve heard about the murder of George Tiller, an abortionist doctor. But did you know that in this blog post Edward Feser compares Tiller to Jeffrey Dahmer who killed, dismembered and ate 17 men and boys. Feser claims that “Tiller was almost certainly a more evil man than Dahmer was.” No wonder I won’t bother reading his book length diatribe against the new atheists, “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism.””

Feser teaches for Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California which is a community college. I call upon that college to fire him for this highly inflamed rhetoric which will probably bring on more murders of abortion doctors. And I ask others to do likewise. No professor should use such inflammatory rhetoric or be so ignorant about some crucial distinctions.

 Umm, excuse me, but didn’t Feser condemn the shooting of the abortion doctor and say the perpetrator should be “punished to the full extent of the law”? So it’s not like Feser is advocating the actual killing of abortion doctors. In fact, he’s criticizing such actions. What does Loftus expect? That no professor should ever express moral revulsion concerning abortion or those who practice it, even if they don’t engage in or advocate violence in retaliation against abortionists? That no one should ever insult abortion doctors? Sounds a little wacky to me.

This is the deal. Loftus is a former fundamentalist Christian apologist and pastor who converted to atheism. His writings on atheism and debunking Christianity are some of the best on these topics around. But Loftus seems to have fallen into the trap of many former religious people who replace one form of moralistic zealotry with another. Loftus say he used to lead boycotts against video stores that sold adult videos during his time as a Christian. Now he wants to lead crusades against un-PC college professors. I for one would like to see more un-PC college professors, given left-liberal dominance in much of academia.

I’ve been there. Over twenty years ago, I used to do presentations for high school and college students on the dangers of “racism and fascism” using materials from groups like the $PLC and the Berletoids (I know, I know, but forgive me for I knew not what I was doing). I used to belong to all of the official anti-Christian sects like People for the American Way until I realized that liberals are just as authoritarian and moralistic as any of their religious counterparts. I learned better as I went along. Eventually, I realized that values are simply the subjective emotions and opinions of individuals, and that life is simply a brute struggle of each against all for survival of the fittest. The only thing that matters is how one chooses to wage the war of life. What a liberating realization! May others come to such enlightenment as well.

Program for a fictional ARV-ATS Scholars Conference 5

Recently at the No Treason site, Josh Rhodes made the following point concerning the recent rhetorical warfare between myself and some in the “left-libertarian” community:

As someone who has read quite a bit of Keith’s work and corresponded with him extensively, I can assure you that he is not by any stretch of the imagination some kind of queer-bashing neo-nazi. That many people consider him to be so is more indicative of the sorry intellectual state of much of contemporary anarchism and libertarianism than anything Keith’s actually written.

Reflecting a bit on Josh’s observations about “the sorry intellectual state of much of contemporary anarchism and libertarianism” and watching the video records of the latest conference of the Property and Freedom Society, I came up the with this fictional program for what an American Revolutionary Vanguard-Attack the System conference of scholars and activists might look like. Just for the purpose of amusement , here ’tis:

Day One: The Incorrigible Nature of the State

9 am-‘The Advancement of the Anarchist Struggle in the Twenty-First Century“-Welcome by Keith Preston

9:45 am-“The Political Theory of Anarchism” –Dr. April Carter lectures on traditional anarchism

10:30 am-“The State as Augustine’s Robber Band Writ Large” -an Augustinian monk and scholar presents Saint Augustine’s views on the State

11:15 am-“The Rothbardian View of the State“-the thought of Rothbard described by Justin Raimondo

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“Historical Overview of the Classical Anarchist Movement“-Phd student presents his scholarly research

1:45 pm-“The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War“-94 yr old Spanish Civil War veteran relates his experiences

2:30 pm-“Comparison and Contrast of Classical Liberalism, Classical Anarchism and Modern Libertarianism“-political scientist and professor of political philosophy expounds on these systems of thought and their relationship

3:15 pm-“The Virtue of Human Scale Institutions“-by Dr. Kirkpatrick Sale

4:00 pm-“The Case for National-Anarchism“-by Troy Southgate

Break

7 pm-viewing of rare newsreel footage of classical anarchist figures

7:30 pm-“The Rise and Decline of the State“-evening dinner lecture by Professor Martin Van Creveld

Day Two: The Economics of Anarchism and Anti-Statism

9 am-“The Contending Schools of Libertarian Economic Thought“-by Keith Preston

9:45-“Libertarian and Marxist Theories of the Ruling Class Compared“-by Dr. Sean Gabb

10:30 am-“Reconciling Property Rights with Collective Bargaining Rights“-a joint presentation by an anarcho-syndicalist and anarcho-capitalist

11:15 am-“The Case for Geoanarchism” by Dr. Fred Foldvary

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“Statement to the Convention by Kevin Carson“-read by Keith Preston

1:30 pm-“The Legitimate Foundations of Ownership Rights“-panel discussion featuring a Lockean, mutualist, syndicalist, distributist, Georgist and anarcho-communist, with questions from the audience

2 pm-“Cooperative Economics in Action“-lecture by a member of the Mondragon Cooperative Federation

2:30 pm-“Anarchic Socialism or Cutting Edge Capitalism?”-lecture from heterodox businessman Ricardo Semler

3 pm-“Land Rights Struggles for Indigenous Peoples“-indigenous person from Latin American country gives an overview

3:30 pm-“I Was a Teen-Aged Anarcho-Communist“-person raised on an Israeli kibbutz gives a first-hand report

4 pm-“The Case for Competing Currencies“-an economist makes an argument

4:30 pm-“The Prussian Militarist Origins of the Welfare State“-by Richard Ebeling

Break

7 pm-Film presentation on Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War

8 pm-“The Future of the World Economy“-noted trends researcher Gerald Celente outlines his predictions in evening dinner lecture

Day Three: The American Empire

9 am-“The Costs of the Empire to America“-by Dr. Robert Higgs

9:45 am-“The Costs of the Empire to the World“-by William Blum

10:30 am-“How I Went to Iraq and Saw the Light“-U.S. military veteran speaks

11 am-“What Happened to My Country Because of the U.S. Invasion“-an Iraqi refugee speaks

11:30 am-“How the U.S. Imperialists Crushed the Indigenous South Vietnamese Resistance and Allowed My Country to Fall to Communism“-a former South Vietnamese Buddhist militiaman speaks

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“George W. Bush and Cronies Belong on Death Row“-by Vincent Bugliosi

2 pm-“Life in the Occupied Territories“-a Palestinian refugee speaks

2:30 pm-“The Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty“-a survivor speaks

3 pm-“The Human Costs of the U.S. War Against Central America in the 1980s“-presentation by a former refugee from the civil war in El Salvador

3:30 pm-“Zionist Influence On American Foreign Policy“-by Dr. James Petras

4 pm-“Combating Zionist Influence in Domestic American Politics“-panel discussion with questions from the audience

Break

7 pm-film presentation of John Pilger’s early documentary on the role of the U.S. in the coming to power of the Pol Pot regime of Cambodia, and U.S. support for the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese invasion in 1979

8 pm-“On Resisting Imperialism“-evening dinner lecture by Alexander Cockburn

Day Four: Political Correctness

9 am-“Classical Anarchist and Classical Liberal Critiques of Marxism and the Historic Rivalry between Anarchists and Communists: Proudon, Bakunin, Goldman, Berkman, Mill, Russell, Kronstadt and Barcelona“-by Keith Preston

9:45 am-“The Communist Origins of Political Correctness“-by William S. Lind

10:30 am-“What I Experienced in China During the Cultural Revolution“-a survivor compares Western political correctness with Maoism

11:00 am-“My Imprisonment in Sweden“-a Christian pastor tells of his persecution under European PC laws

11:30 am-“Political Prisoners in Europe“-a European lawyer gives an overview

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“American Progressives’ Contributions to Political Correctness“-by Paul Gottfried

1:45 pm-“Judeo-Christian Roots of Political Correctness“-by Tomislav Sunic

2:30 pm-“The Emerging Totalitarian Humanism”-by Keith Preston

3:15 pm-“Political Correctness on American University Campuses“- a student activist speaks

4 pm-“How to Combat Political Correctness“-panel discussion with audience questions

Break

7 pm-“The Trial”-film adaption of the classic Kafka novel featuring Orson Welles

8:30 pm-“The Therapeutic State“-evening dinner lecture by Dr. Thomas Szasz

Day Five: Culture and Philosophy

9 am-“Peace Through Separatism: An Alternative to the Culture Wars“-by Keith Preston

9:30 am-“America’s Cultural Legacy of Anti-Statism“-by Thomas Woods

10:15 am-“The American Radical Tradition“-by Bill Kauffman 

11 am-“Has Brave New World Won Out Over 1984?”-discussion of the dystopian literary classics

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“Where the Gay Rights Movement Goes Wrong“-by Justin Raimondo

1:30 pm-“Women and the State”-presentation and panel discussion from anarcha-feminists, libertarian-feminists, individualist feminists, sex-positive feminists and anti-feminist female anarchists and libertarians

2:30–“Race-Realists Are Not the Devil“-lecture by Jared Taylor

3 pm-“The Nationalities Question“-presentations by members of the Nation of Islam, Lakota Republic, Atzlan, Puerto Rico independence and Hawaiian and Alaskan people’s movements

4:30 pm-“The Americans for Self-Determination Plan“-by Jeff Anderson

Break

 7 pm-“-“Rescuing the Conservative Revolution from the Legacy of Nazism“-presentation from a historian of Weimar intellectual history

8 pm-“The Big Sort“-evening dinner lecture from Bill Bishop

Day Six: Taking It to the Streets

9 am-“Building an Active Anarchist Local Community“-presentation from members of Bay Area National Anarchists

9:30 am-“Making Use of Alternative Media“-panel discussion with alternative radio operators, bloggers, ‘zine publishers, public access TV broadcasters, and podcasters

10:15 am-“Neither Cops Nor Criminals“-joint presentation by members of neighborhood watch and copwatch programs

10:45 am-“Social Services without the State“-scholarly presentation on  historic and contemporary non-state social service systems

11:15 am-“Putting It Into Action“-representatives of non-state assistance programs for the homeless, mentally ill, orphans, battered women, hospices, drug treatment programs, the elderly and the disabled

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“What Elite Theory Tells Us About Anarchist Political Organization“-by Keith Preston

1:30-“The Role of Zoning Laws in Class Oppression“-presentation from a critic

2 pm-“Organizing for the Class Struggle“-panel discussion featuring representatives of labor, consumers, tenants, claimants, and students rights organizations

2:45 pm-“Forming Alternative Schools“-presentation from a critic

3:15 pm-“The Oppression of Youth“-panel discussion on drinking ages, compulsory school attendance, treatment of students by schools, the rights of runaways, curfews, alternatives to both abusive parents and statist institutions, squatting and discrimination against alternative youth cultures

4 pm-“Alternatives to Both Prisons and Capital Punishment“-discussion of possibilities such as restitution, penal colonies and exile

7 pm-“Are HIV Skeptics On to Something?”-debate between an orthodox scientist and a heretic

8 pm-“Global Warming: Dangerous Reality or Political Scam?”-a believer and unbeliever debate during dinner

Day Seven: Defending the Undefendable

9 am-“Overview of the U.S. Prison-Industrial Complex“-presentation from American Civil Liberties Union representative

9:45 am-“The National Socialist German and Contemporary American Police States Compared“-by Richard Lawrence Miller

10:30 am-“The Militarization of U.S. Law Enforcement’-by William Norman Grigg

11:15 am-“Resisting the War on Drugs“-presentation from November Coalition

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“Prisoner Medical Neglect“-presentation from Wrongful Death Institute

1:30 pm-“The War Against Patients’ Rights and Medical Freedom“-a victim tells their story

2 pm-“The Persecution of the Homeless“-presentation from homeless advocacy group

2:30 pm-“What It’s Really Like on the Inside“-former prison inmates tell their stories

3 pm-“Fathers Are People, Too“-overview of the fathers’ rights movement

3:30 pm-“The Nature of Psychiatric Coercion“-lecture from a dissident psychiatrist

4 pm-“The Last Minority: Prostitutes and Other Sex Workers“-presentation on sex worker rights

4:30 pm-“I Was a Crip: What the Street Life is Really Like“-current and former gang members tell their stories

Break

7 pm-“The State’s War on Self-Defense“-presentation from Gun Owners of America

8 pm-“Stateless Legal Systems“-evening dinner lecture from Edward Stringham

Day Eight: Getting There From Here

9 am-“Historic Anarchic Communities: An Overview” by Keith Preston

9:45 am-“The Ups and Downs of Electoral Action“-presentation by a veteran of the Ron Paul campaign

10:30 am-“My Dad’s Maverick Campaign for Mayor of New York City“-by John Buffalo Mailer

11:15 am-“Lessons of the 1990s Militia Movement“-a former militiaman speaks

12 noon-Lunch

1 pm-“Political Alignments and Re-Alignments in American Political History“-by Keith Preston

1:45 pm-‘The Legitimacy of Secession“-by Thomas DiLorenzo

2:30 pm–“The Case for a Secessionist Strategy” by Dr. Kirpatrick Sale

3:15 pm-“Lessons of the Indian Independence Movement and the Partitioning of India and Pakistan“-joint presentation from a Ghandi scholar and a historian of South Asia

4 pm-“Global Guerrillas: The Rise of Fourth Generation Warfare” by John Robb

Break

7 pm-viewing of documentary about Hezbollah militia in Lebanon

8:30 pm-“Blow It Out Your Ass, Uncle Sam!”-keynote address by Commander Marcos of the EZLN

Updated News Digest June 21, 2009 3

Quotes of the Week:

“No doubt in the days since we last gathered together as APOC (Autonomous / Anarchist / Anti-Authoritarian People of Color), much has changed for each of us. We’ve each experienced new joys and grieves, up and downs. Across the vastness of this metropolitan wasteland, new bonds have been built, old bonds strengthened. In surviving, even thriving against the transgressions perpetrated by those who would see us torn apart, we’ve developed both as individuals and as a movement. Still problems persist. Despite our best efforts, our most spirited resistance, we remain oppressed. Native land remains occupied, its people marginalized, their culture appropriated and left to die. Zionists, backed by other Western powers, continue their genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people. Gentrification continues to invade our neighborhoods. Police, ever vigilant in their protection of the ruling class, remain a brutal force separating us from our freedom. The rich still control the means of production, while the rest are exploited, forced into wage-slavery, prisons, and graves. The all-pervasive system of patriarchy still looms over and surrounds womyn, while their bodies remain battle grounds. Queers and transfolk still face violence, bashings and murders in a world hostile to all but the established norms. Billions of animals remain enslaved in chains, tanks, cages, and barns, subject to all manner of exploitation. This year, as before, the struggle continues.

Revolution, if it is to succeed, requires a coordinated, comprehensive network of dedicated revolutionaries. Of course, APOC has existed for some time now. However, we have not thus far been able to create and maintain a form suitable to our needs. Many times have we converged, many times have we expressed a desire for something more consistent. It is clear to many that what we need is an autonomous organization of sorts, perhaps many. Our intention is to make this happen.”

                               -Philadelphia Anarchist People of Color Mission Statement

“I see nothing here that is contrary to the positions and values of National-Anarchists. However, because some National-Anarchists are Anglo-Saxons, we are still labelled “racists.” We are all exploited and oppressed by the ruling elite. I am just as much a victim of capitalism as any black or Hispanic worker. There are black people, Jewish people, homosexual people and every other so-called “minority” that make up the ruling class all anarchists oppose; yet you scapegoat “whites” as the stereotypical enemy.”

                                                                                                   -AnarchoNation

Divided We Stand by Paul Starobin

On Rejecting Keith Preston by Dixie Flatline

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Empire! by Laurence Vance

Book Review-Kevin Carson’s Organization Theory by Sean Gabb

A Conversation About Racefilm by Craig Bodeker (hat tip to AnarchoNation)

Why America is a Bank-Owned State by Samah El-Shahat

How Obama Will Outspend Reagan on Defense by Winslow T. Wheeler

Iran’s Election: None of America’s Business by Justin Raimondo

Today’s Right-Wing Youth Are More Radical Than Their Elders (thank God!) by Charles Coulombe

The World As We Presently Know It by Ean Frick

Why “the Fascists” Are Winning in Europe by Mark Steyn

Are You Ready for War with Demonized Iran? by Paul Craig Roberts

Lenin’s The State and Revolution: An Anarchist Viewpoint by Larry Gambone

Iranian Elections: The “Stolen Elections” Hoax by James Petras

Is Israel Really a Beacon of the West? Phillip Weiss interviewed by Scott Horton

Iran’s Green Revolution by Justin Raimondo

Consumerism is Too Important to be Left to the Consumers by Ray Mangum

Don’t Trust Police  from AnarchoNation

Neocon Serial Killers by Glenn Greenwald

Obama Targets Antiwar Democrats by Norman Solomon

How to Deal with the Pork in Blue from Assata Shakur

Why U.S. Neocons Want Ahmadinejab to Win by Stephen Zunes

The Truth is No Defense-In Canada by Grant Havers

 Iran Faces Greater Risks Than It Knows by Paul Craig Roberts

Confessions of a Public Servant by Mr. X

How the Recession is Wrecking Friendships Across the Land by Emily Bazelon

U.S. Anarchism, Movement Building and the Racial Order by Joel Olson

The Waning Power of Truth by Paul Craig Roberts

Neocons for Ahmadinejad by Jack Hunter

On Iran, Democracy and Nuclear Weapons by Stephen Walt

Sadism is Sexual by Fred Reed

Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War review by Robert Higgs

Iran’s Tiananmen Moment by Pat Buchanan

Who Will Control Iraq’s Oil? by Patrick Cockburn

Anarchist Voices 

The Obama Siren Song to the Skeptical Muslim World by Eric Margolis

Workers Rights: No Balls, No Chains by Joe Bageant

The Case for Home Education by Sean Gabb

Farmland: The Best Investment of Our Time Jim Rogers and George Soros

Beat the Rising Cost of Health Care by Amanda Gengler

Life is Destroying the Planet! by Butler Shaffer

From Smash the Church to Going to Chapel by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Outlasting the Ayatollahs by Pat Buchanan

Strip Club Depression by Doug French

I Become an American by Alexander Cockburn

The Extreme Right by Jack Hunter

These Are Obama’s Wars Now by Joshua Frank

PIG Assaults EMT by William Norman Grigg

Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship by Francois Tremblay

Torture: An American Legacy by Carl Boggs

Lessons Learned from the Battlefield by Michael Gaddy

The American Empire is Bankrupt by Chris Hedges

String Up the Barbed Wire and Break Out the Guillotine by William Norman Grigg

The Faileocons by Paul Gottfried

Answering Some Well-Asked Questions About Self-Defense by Massad Ayoob

A  Tale of  Two Killings by S. M. Oliva

Fighting Tyranny Should Start at Home by Ilana Mercer

Another U.S.-Orchestrated “Color Revolution”? by Paul Craig Roberts

Anarchism’s Promise for Anti-Capitalist Resistance 

The Narcissism Revolution by Richard Spencer

Road Blockade in Solidarity with Mohawk Nation 

Some Things Are Acceptable in Different Cultures by TGGP

How Big of an Asshole is Keith Preston?

Charles Manson and Me by David Macaray

Sasha Grey Likes Gang Bangs-Live With It by Lily Quateman

Arlinton, Virginia: Hell on Earth

Lydia Guevara posing on the set of her PETA photo shoot.

Viva Che!

Lydia Guevara posing on the set of her PETA photo shoot

America’s Left-Conservative Heritage 2

Recent dialogue between Kevin R.C. Gutzman, Christian Kopff and Tom Piatak concerning the tension between classical liberal-libertarians and traditionalist conservatives reminded me of an observation from my Portuguese “national-anarchist” colleague Flavio Goncalves concerning  the clarion call issued by Chuck Norris a while back: “Seems like the US Right is as revolutionary as the South American Left? Your country confuses me.”

It does indeed seem that most of the serious dissidents in America are on the Right nowadays, and I think this can be understood in terms of America’s unique political heritage. American rightists typically regard themselves as upholders and defenders of American traditions, while American liberals tend to admire the socialism and cultural leftism of the European elites. However, the republican political philosophy derived from the thought of Locke, Montesquieu and Jefferson that found its expression in such definitive American documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and of which modern neo-classical liberalism and libertarianism are outgrowths, is historically located to the left of European socialism.

A variety of thinkers from all over the spectrum have recognized this. For instance, Russell Kirk somewhat famously remarked that conservatives and socialists had more in common with one another that either had with libertarians. Murray Rothbard observed that “conservatism was the polar opposite of liberty; and socialism, while to the “left” of conservatism, was essentially a confused, middle-of-the-road movement. It was, and still is, middle-of-the-road because it tries to achieve liberal ends by the use of conservative means.” Seymour Martin Lipset affirmed Rothbard’s thesis:

“Given that the national conservative tradition in many other countries was statist, the socialists arose within this value system and were much more legitimate than they could be in America…Until the depression of the 1930s and the introduction of welfare objectives by President Roosevelt and the New Deal, the AFL was against minimum wage legislation and old age pensions. The position taken by (Samuel) Gompers and others was, what the state gives, the state can take away; the workers can depend only on themselves and their own institutions…Hence, the socialists in America were operating against the fact that there was no legitimate tradition of state intervention, of welfarism. In Europe, there was a legitimate conservative tradition of statism and welfarism. I would suggest that the appropriate American radicalism, therefore, is much more anarchist than socialist.

Back in 1912, when the German Social Democrats won 112 seats in the Reichstag and one-third of the vote, Kaiser Wilhelm II wrote a letter to a friend in which he said that he really welcomed the rise of the socialists because their statist positions were much to be preferred to the liberal bourgeoisie, whose antistatism he did not like. The Kaiser went on to say that, if the socialists would only drop antipatriotism and antimilitarism, he could be one of them. The socialists wanted a strong Prussian-German state which was welfare oriented, and the Kaiser also wanted a strong state. It was the pacifism and the internationalism of the socialists that bothered him, not their socialism. In the American context, the “conservative” in recent decades has come to connote an extreme form of liberalism; that is, antistatism. In its purest forms, I think of Robert Nozick philosophically, of Milton Friedman economically, and of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater politically.”

Thomas Sowell has provided some interesting insights into what separates the Left and Right in contemporary American discourse. Both Left and Right are derivatives of eighteenth century radicalism, with the Left being a descendent of the French Revolution and the Right being a descendent of the American Revolution. What separates the legacies of these two revolutions is not their radicalism or departure from throne-and-altar traditionalism, but their differing views on human nature, the nature of human society, and the nature of politics. Both revolutions did much to undermine traditional systems of privileged hierarchy. After all, how “traditional” were the American revolutionaries who abolished the monarchy, disestablished the Church, constitutionally prohibited the issuance of titles of nobility, constitutionally required a republican form of government for the individual states and added a bill of rights as a postscript to the nation’s charter document? One can point to the Protestant influences on the American founding that coincide with the Enlightenment influences, but how “traditional” is Protestantism itself? Is not Protestantism the product of a rebellion against established religious authorities that serves as a kind of prelude to a latter rebellion to established political authorities?

I would maintain that what separates the modern Right and Left is not traditionalism versus radicalism, but meritocracy versus egalitarianism. For the modern Left, equality is considered to be a value in its own right, irrespective of merit, whether individual or collective in nature.  The radical provisions of the U.S. Constitution, for instance, aimed at eliminating systems of artificial privilege. No longer would heads of state, clerics, or aristocrats receive their position simply by virtue of inheritance, patronage or nepotism, but by virtue of individual ability and achievement. No longer would an institution such as the Church sustain itself through political privilege, but through the soundness of its own internal dynamics. To be sure, these ideals have been applied inconsistently throughout American history, and all societies are a synthesis of varying cultural and ideological currents. For instance, it is clear that nepotism remains to some degree. How else could the likes of George W. Bush ever become head of state?

Yet, for the Left, equality overrides merit. With regards to race, gender or social relations, for example, it is not sufficient to simply remove barriers designed to keep ethnic minorities, women or homosexuals down regardless of their individual abilities or potential contributions to society. Instead, equality must be granted regardless of any previous individual or collective achievement to the point of lowering academic or professional standards for the sake of achieving such equality. This kind of egalitarian absolutism is also apparent with regards to issues like the use of women in military combat or the adoption of children by same-sex couples. The Left often frames these issues not in terms of whether the use of female soldiers is best in terms of military standards (perhaps it is) or what is best for the children involved or whether the parenting skills of same-sex couples is on par with those of heterosexual couples (perhaps they are), but in terms of whether women should simply have the “right” to a military career or whether same-sex couples should simply have “equal rights” to adopt children, apparently with such concerns as military efficiency, child welfare and parental competence being dismissed as irrelevant.

To frame the debate in terms of tradition versus radicalism would seem to be setting up a false dichotomy. Edmund Burke, the fierce critic of the French Revolution considered by many to be the godfather of modern conservatism, was actually on the left-wing of the British politics of his time. For instance, he favored the independence of Ireland and the American colonies and even defended India against imperial interests. A deep dig into Burke’s writings reveals him to have been something of a philosophical anarchist. His opposition to the French Revolution was not simply because it was a revolution or because it was radical, but because of the specific content of the ideology of the revolutionaries who aimed to level and reconstruct French society along prescriptive lines. The American Revolution was carried out by those with an appreciation for the limits of politics and the limitations imposed by human nature, while the French Revolution was the prototype for the modern totalitarian revolutions carried out by the Bolsheviks, Nazis (whom Alain De Benoist has characterized as “Brown Jacobins”), Maoists , Kim Il-Sung and the Khmer Rouge.

One can certainly reject the hyper-egalitarianism championed by the Left and still favor far-reaching political or social change. It would be hard to mistake Ernst Junger for an egalitarian, yet he was contemptuous of the Wilhelmine German military’s practice of selecting officers on the basis of their class position, family status or political patronage rather than on their combat experience. He preferred a military hierarchy ordered on the basis of merit rather than ascribed status. Junger’s Weimar-era writings are filled with a loathing for the social democratic regime, yet he called for an elitist worker-soldier “conservative revolution” rather than a return to the monarchy.

Nor does political radicalism imply the abandonment of historic traditions. I, for one, advocate many things that are quite radical by conventional standards. Yet I am extremely uncomfortable with left-wing pet projects such as the elimination of “offensive” symbols like the Confederate flag; the alteration of the calendar along PC lines (C.E. and B.C.E instead of A.D. and B.C); the attacks on traditional holidays like Christmas or Columbus Day; a rigidly secular interpretation of the First Amendment (and I’m an atheist!); and the attempted reconstruction of language along egalitarian lines (making words like “crippled” or “retarded” into swear words or the mandatory gender neutralization of pronouns). All of these things seem like a rookie league version of Rosseauan/Jacobin/Pol Potian “year zero” cultural destructionism. Nor do I wish to do away with baseball, Fourth of July fireworks displays, Civil War re-enactors or the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I am also somewhat appalled that one can receive a high school diploma or even a university degree without ever having taken a single course on the history of Western philosophy. It is not uncommon to find undergraduates who have never heard of Aristotle. If they have, they are most likely to simply dismiss him as a sexist and defender of slavery. I’ve met graduate level sociology students who can tell you all about “the social construction of gender” but have no idea who Pareto was.

The principal evil of the Cultural Marxism of present day liberalism is its fanatical egalitarianism. Unlike historic Marxists, who simply sought equality of wealth, cultural Marxists seek equality of everything, including not only class, race, or gender, but sexuality, age, looks, weight, ability, intelligence, handicap, competence, health, behavior or even species. I’ve heard leftists engage in serious discussion about the evils of “accentism.” Such equality does not exist in nature. It can only be imposed artificially, which in turn requires tyranny of the most extreme sort. The end result can only be universal enslavement in the name of universal equality. For this reason, the egalitarian Left is a profoundly reactionary outlook, as it seeks a de facto return to the societies organized on the basis of static caste systems and ascribed status that existed prior to the meritocratic revolution initiated by the Anglo-American Enlightenment.

Perhaps just as dreadful is the anti-intellectualism of Political Correctness. In many liberal and no-so-liberal circles, the mere pointing out of facts like, for instance, the extraordinarily high numbers of homicides perpetrated by African-Americans is considered a moral and ideological offense. If one of the most eminent scientists of our time, Dr. James Watson, is not immune from the sanctions imposed by the arbiters of political correctness, then who would be? Are such things not a grotesque betrayal of the intellectual, scientific and political revolution manifested in Jeffersonian ideals? Is not Political Correctness simply an effort to bring back heresy trials and inquisitors under the guise of a secularized, egalitarian, fake humanitarian ideology? The American radical tradition represents a vital “left-conservative” heritage that elevates meritocracy over both an emphasis on ascribed status from the traditional Right and egalitarianism from the Left. It is a tradition worth defending.

Updated News Digest June 14, 2009 1

Quote of the Week:

“I participated in a forum on state sovereignty at Drexel University a short while ago where the subject of secession came up (naturally). A Pennsylvania state legislator was the other speaker, and while he did not dismiss the possibility of secession he said that it was important to first exhaust all other possibilities, such as writing and calling your congressional representative.

A student in the audience asked him this question in response (paraphrasing): ‘If a burglar broke in to your home and stole your valuables over and over again, do you think it would be effective to write the burglar a letter asking him to stop it?’

How refreshing to meet a college student who understands the ancient truth that government is just another criminal gang.”

                                                                                                           -Tom DiLorenzo

Getting to the Truth About World War Two by Eric Margolis

Fear is Eroding American Rights by Paul Craig Roberts

Liberal Imperialism in Afghanistan Bill Kelsey interviewed by Scott Horton

The Case Against the Federal Reserve by Murray Rothbard

Review of Kevin Carson’s Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective by Larry Gambone

Is Secession Treason? by Tim Case

Let’s Make the Youth of America More Stupid! by Childs Walker

The Case for Secession by Gary Barnett

The Rosetta Stone of Revolution: Countering Counter-Insurgency by John Robb

The Latest Torture Cover-Up Scam by James Bovard

Decentralized Craft Industry by Kevin Carson

Civil Liberties and the “Winds of Change” by Justin Raimondo

The Normalization of Violence, Torture and Annihlation by Arthur Silber

Whoever Wishes Peace Must Fight Statism Anthony Gregory interviewed by Scott Horton

“Global Warming Tax” to be Levied on International Air Travel? by John Vidal

Is Hyper-Inflation Around the Corner? by Mike Whitney

Don’t Trust Police from Anarcho-Nation

Anti-Americanism in Israel by Justin Raimondo

The USS Liberty: America’s Most Shameful Secret by Eric Margolis

Taking On the Corrections Corporation of America by Paul Wright

The Coming U.S. Default Interview with Peter Schiff

The Dairy Oligarchy by Jim Goodman

Ron Paul on Foreign Policy by Kathleen Wells

Obama: Committing the U.S. to “World Order” by Chuck Baldwin

The Few, the Proud, the Pimps 

7 in 10 Potential Military Recruits Are Unfit

Sweden’s Pirate Party Captures Euro Seat by Vernonica Ek

Remembering the Persecution of Hans-Hermann Hoppe by Vin Suprynowicz

What Global Warming? by Ron Paul

Police Insurance by Clement M. Hammond

Righteous Zeal and the Killing of George Tiller by Paul Gottfried

America’s Soft Despotism by David Gordon

Tasered While Black

Stop Collateral Damage in the War on Drugs by Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Europe Swings Right as Depression Deepens by Ambrose Evans Pritchard

Exposing the Wall Street Journal by Matt Taibbi

And We, Like Sheep… by William Norman Grigg

Leave China Alone by Justin Raimondo

Lebanon’s Odd Couple by Nicolas Dot-Pouillard

Bush is Gone, But Halliburton Rolls On by Pratap Chatterjee

Israeli Spy Fined, Scolded, Released

Richard Nixon: Liberal/Moderate Republican by TGGP

Community Kitchens by Julia Levitt

Resist the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh

Jack Ross is Back! by TGGP

Opposing the Liberal State Without Becoming Statist by David Bromwich

Anarchism and Crime from Direct Action

Becoming Barbarians by Rod Dreher

Some Dare Call It Torture by Wendy McElroy

The American Dream and the Anarchist Dream by Jake Carman

To Die for a Mystique by Andrew Bacevich

They Thought They Were Free from Murphy’s Bye-Laws

Not Good as Gold by David Gordon

The Streets Belong to the People by Jesse Walker

The Internet Lynching of Marcus Epstein by Bay Buchanan

Beyond the Paleos by W. James Antle

England: The Peasants Are Revolting by Sean Gabb

Saving Israel from Itself by John J. Mearsheimer

Ennabling the Surveillance State from No Third Solution

Peer Money by Kevin Carson

AIPAC Walls Beginning to Crack by Ira Chernus

How Civilized, Law-Abiding Countries Imprison Terrorists by Glenn Greenwald

Is the Israel Lobby Getting Weaker? by Stephen Walt

Ludicrous Albion by Austin Bramwell

The Benefits of Smoking  by N

Big Tobacco Vindicates Gabriel Kolko from Austro-Athenian Empire

“I Don’t Get the Whole Peak Oil Thing” from Back to the Drawing Board

PIGS Will Be PIGS from Rad Geek

Anarchist Summer Camp in Virginia from Infoshop.Org

The Italian Mafia: A Distorted Masonic Lodge from Mindhacks.Com

Dutch Journalist Raped but Respected by the Taliban by Thomas Landen

Somali Fisherman Says Foreigners Are the Real Pirates from Infoshop.Org

Black People Love US

The Inside Story of the Red Army Faction by Stefan Aust

2009 Northeast Anarchist People of Color Mission Statement 

Homosexuals Are By Nature of the Right by James O’Meara

Who Needs Yesterday’s Papers? by Alexander Cockburn

Fordlandia by Stuart Ferguson

Elmer Fudd Nation by Mark Ames

Bureaucrack-up by Ray Mangum

Carter in Lebanon  by Franklin Lamb

20,000 Nations Above the Sea by Brian Doherty

“People Who Lived Under King Saint Louis IX of France Were Freer Than We Are Now in America” by Brother Andre Marie

Italy’s Black Northern League Mayor by Michael Day

Gods Come Cheap These Days by Chuck Baldwin

The Right Way to Brussels by Derek Turner

Miss Affirmative Action, 2009 by Pat Buchanan

Hypocritical, Censoring Leftists by Stephan Kinsella

We Get It: Museum Shooter Was a Hateful Honkie by Ilana Mercer

Time to Start Filling the Gulag by William Norman Grigg

Got Property? by Peter Schiff

Bankers Are Scared, Are You? by Gary North

The War on Your Racism by Jack Hunter

Look Who’s Shopping Goodwill by Ruth La Ferla

Von Brunn and National Socialism by Dylan Hales

James W. Von Brunn by Anthony Gregory

Are We All Liberals Now? by Tom Piatak

Organizing the Urban Lumpenproletariat 14

For some time now, I have argued for an alliance of left-wing anarchism and right-wing populism against the common enemies of imperialism and Big Brother statism. I have argued that the strategic application of such an alliance would be a pan-secessionist movement rooted in the traditions of the American Revolution and the later Southern War of Independence. Secessionism is often associated with political conservatism, given the greater regard of conservatives for American traditions like states’ rights and the conservative nature of the Southern secession of 1861. Indeed, pro-secessionist rumblings have emerged in the mainstream Right recently. Such developments are a welcome thing, of course, and no doubt a future pan-secessionist movement would have a strong right-wing and radical center constituency behind it. As the middle class continues to sink into the ranks of the underclass, and as the vast array of cultural groups associated with right-wing populism continue to come under attack by the forces of political correctness, no doubt an increasing number of people, including many former jingoists, members of the religious right and one-time neocon sympathizers, will realize that the centralized liberal-managerial regime is their enemy, and decide that a political exodus is their best bet. Certainly, a mass army of secessionists in the rural areas, small towns and red states will be a welcome addition to our cause.

However, I do not think that it is on the Right that the crucial political battles will be fought. The Right represents an agglomeration of political, cultural and demographic factions that are losing power and shrinking in size. Instead, the crucial battles will be fought on the Left. The dominant center-left that is now consolidating its position is a liberal Left that espouses liberal internationalism, universalism, humanism and human rights imperialism, and expresses itself in the form of the therapeutic-managerial-welfare state. However, there is an emerging radical Left that is oriented towards pluralism, postmodernism, cultural relativism, pro-Third Worldism and anti-Zionism. Eventually, there will be a sharp split between these two lefts, as the former is capable of cooptation by state-capitalism, but the latter is not. Take a look at these photos:

http://zombietime.com/gaza_war_protest/

Can a radical Left that is fervently anti-Israel and pro-Third World nationalism ever be reconciled with the American ruling class? It is highly unlikely. Furthermore, the spectacle of conservative Muslims, feminists, gays, transgendereds, Marxists, anarchists, leftists, nationalists, national-anarchists, Jews, anti-Semites, racialists, anti-racists, peaceniks and Hamas sympathizers marching against Zionism and U.S. imperialism is not only a potential ruling class nightmare,  but a manifestation of the kind of pluralistic, culturally relativist, cross-ideological alliances against the System that I have been arguing for in the past.

The legitimizing ideological superstructure of the present regime and ruling class, i.e., liberalism, is antithetical to both paleoconservatism from the Right and cultural relativism from the Left, but there is sufficient enough overlap between these latter two as to make strategic alliances possible. We see the beginnings of this in the current alliance between bioregionalist and Green decentralist left-wing secessionists and conservative Christian right-wing secessionists. As left-liberalism continues to become an increasingly status quo and upper middle class ideology, the radical Left will find itself increasingly alienated from liberalism. The more deeply entrenched political correctness becomes, the more it will alienate even many of its former sympathizers.

The real political war of the future will be between not only the liberal-left and the postmodern left, but between the totalitarian and anarchistic left, and the New Class and the underclass. Just as the U.S. Civil War sometimes found members of the same family on different sides of the fence, so will the future political war find members of constituent groups from the contemporary Right and contemporary Left on both sides. If the battle is between liberal universalism and relativist pluralism at the intellectual level, then the natural political expression of the latter would be some kind of decentralized anarcho-pluralism, with its popular form resembling something like left-conservatism or pan-secessionism.

Although most of the actual secessionist movements at present are rooted in the red states or the more maverick blue states like Vermont and New Hampshire, a serious pan-secessionist movement will need to be first and foremost oriented towards the large metropolitan areas. This is where the majority of the U.S. population resides. It is where the plutocratic elites, state bureaucracies and New Class managerialists are located, and it is also where the lumpenproletarian masses are located. The large cities are where the paramilitary police forces are located and they are where most of the residents of the prison-industrial complex originate from.

The goal of a serious pan-secessionist movement whose aim is to overthrow the empire for real should be to obtain political preeminence in large cities as a first order of business. Cities tend to be dominated by the aforementioned plutocratic elites, and by landlords, developers, and well-heeled civic and business interests. These elements are for the most part bought into the System, and can therefore never be converted to our side. So strategically speaking, an urban secessionist strategy will generally have the flavor of plutocratic/bureaucratic elites vs Everyone Else. Recognition of this fact implies the necessity of a class-based radical movement rooted in the lumpenproletariat, petite bourgeoisie, lower respectable poor, lower middle class, bohemians and de classe elements. The goal is to obtain a political majority capable of seizing power at the municipal level in large metro areas. Once political preeminence was obtained in a fair number of cities, a formal alliance of municipal secessionist movements could be formed, and these could form a wider alliance with secessionists among the Red Staters, Greens, indigenous people and so forth. In “Liberty and Populism” I wrote:

We need to abandon the bourgeoise identity politics that have grown out of the new left. The legacy of this has been to create a constituency for the left-wing of capital among elite members of traditional minority groups including educated professionals among blacks, feminists and homosexuals, middle-class ecology enthusiasts and animal-lovers and so on. The best approach here would be to attempt to pull the rank-and-file elements of the traditional minorities out from under their bourgeoise leadership. This means that anarchist revolutionaries such as ourselves would need to seek out common ground with nationalist and separatist elements among the non-white ethnic groups against the black bourgeoise of the NAACP, poor and working class women against the upper-middle class feminist groups like NOW and the gay counter-culture (complete with its transsexual, hermaphrodite and “transgendered” elements) against the more establishment-friendly gay middle-class.

Indeed, we have not even begun to touch on the possibilities for building a radical movement rooted in part in marginalized social groups ignored, despised or persecuted by the establishment. These elements include the handicapped, the mentally ill, students, youth, prostitutes and other sex workers, prisoners, prisoner’s rights activists, advocates for the rights of the criminally accused, the homeless and homeless activists, anti-police activists, advocates of alternative medicine, drug users, the families of drug war prisoners, immigrants, lumpen economic elements (jitney cab drivers, peddlers, street vendors), gang members and many others too numerous to name. On these and other similar issues, our positions should be to the left of the ACLU. Adopting this approach will bring with it the opportunity to politically penetrate the rather large lumpenproletarian class that exists in the US with little or no political representation. At the same time, the last thing we should wish to do is emulate the mistakes of the new left by adopting an ideology of victimology and positioning ourselves as antagonists of the broader working masses. Nothing could be more self-defeating. The defense of marginal populations way beyond any efforts in this area offered by the left establishment should be part of our program, but only part. Our main focus should be on the working class itself, the kinds of folks who work in the vast array of service industries that comprise the bulk of the US economy.

There are several reasons for these positions. The first is rooted in recognition that as the Left has abandoned class-based politics in favor of the cultural politics of the left-wing of the upper middle class, it is only natural that we should step in to fill the void. The second is rooted in recognition of a wide assortment of outgroups that have never made it into the Left’s pantheon of the oppressed/victimological coalition, and the possibility of recruiting from these groups in order to increase our own numbers. The third is to undermine liberalism’s claimed monopoly on do-gooderism. A pan-secessionist movement that is seen as the simultaneous champion of the ordinary working poor and the marginalized and persecuted such as the homeless, punk rock squatter kids, mental patients, drug addicts, prisoners, et.al. will have a much easier time of deflecting the “fascism and racism” labels that will ultimately be thrown in our direction. The fourth is to undermine liberalism by splintering its constituent groups.

Note that I am not implying anything politically correct here. For instance, while we might uphold the legitimate rights of gay organizations, businesses or individuals that come under attack by the state, and practice non-discrimination within the context  of our own alternative infrastructure radical organizations, this does not mean that we will allow “gay rights” organizations allied with the liberal enemy to dictate who can or cannot be a part of our own movement. Being a primarily lower class movement, it is only natural that many people with conservative views on sex, morality, religion and the like will also be included within our ranks. Likewise, we may support organizational efforts set up to provide genuine assistance to transgendered people (even the Iranians do this), drug addicts, the handicapped, people with AIDS or other special populations, but we do not insist on the universalization of liberalism. For instance, we might also be just as supportive of skinhead squatters as leftist punk rock squatters, national-anarchists as leftist-anarchists, separatist tendencies among redneck white communities along with black separatists. More broadly, the radical movement would vehemently defend all victims of political correctness wherever they can be found just as strongly as we might defend victims of police brutality. We would defend students harassed by school authorities for carrying Bibles or other religious artifacts just as quickly as we would defend students harassed in a similar fashion for wearing “Goth” clothing. While in urban areas at least, we would take an liberal-left-libertarian, ACLU-like approach to cultural and social matters, with some exceptions like our own defense of the right to bear arms, unlike left-liberals we would recognize that controversial social questions like abortion and gay marriage are best handled at the local level according to community standards. While our own worker, tenants, squatter, and prisoner defense organizations would out of necessity be inclusive of both natives and immigrants, even illegal immigrants in some instances, this does not mean we would necessarily accept carte blanche immigration as a matter of principle.

The question of race is a particularly interesting and challenging one. African-American anarchist Mark Gillespie offered this assessment:

Whether you are a homo-leftist-anarcho-syndicalist-voluntary-eco-feminist or a racist-ultra right-wing-neo-conservative-constitutionalist-patriot, both agree that the State, in its current form, is detrimental to their views and lifestyles. In this “society”, these groups are kept from uniting by the activity of the state and its media. However, we know that in anarchy, diversity of views is a strength, not a weakness. We have allowed the State to divide us based upon the most trivial things.

The fact is that, under anarchy, all of these different groups may “have it their way”. If the an-caps want a completely free market economy for themselves and the an-socs want to combine in communes, they can do this better under anarchy than they can now. If the Homo-an-syn-fem (hell of a moniker, yes?) wants to separate from the Neo-con-con-pat or vice versa, they can and do it more peaceably than they can under statism. This is the best weapon of an anarchist vanguard. We can and should embrace the different elements that make up this country. Think about this. If we can embrace just two major groups under the anarchist banner, we could send the statists home, without a shot. The major ethnic groups in this country are the New Worlders (Aboriginal Americans, Blacks and Spanish/Aboriginals) and the Old Worlders (people of mostly European descent). These groups are kept at each other’s throats and socially separated by negative media reports and by institutionalized racism. Reports of rampant crime, lack of morals and mob violence send shivers down the spines of the average, patriotic, “law-abiding”, traditionalist citizens, amongst the Old Worlders. Historic wrongs, appeals to end needed restorative services in the community and a envy for those who seem to do better than them, keeps New Worlders in the grip of a fear that the statists work hard to instill. Neither one of these groups are necessarily wrong, but, their fears and hatred, spread and protected by the weapons of the state, virtually ensures that these two major groups will meet together, only when they are pointing guns at each other.

The New Worlders make up a combined 25.7 percent of the nation’s population (approximately 72 million people). Let’s assume that the mostly Old Worlder patriot movement makes up about 3 percent of the white population (approximately 6.5 million). With these numbers, and a properly educated and motivated anarchist vanguard, there are at least 32 different states that are immediately vulnerable to a takeover and disbanding of the state government (based upon a population of less than 5 million/state) and any state in the union is vulnerable to a gradual takeover.

Something like 32 states and maybe 50 major cities sounds about right. I’m also inclined towards the view that an anti-state, pan-secessionist revolutionary movement would actually have a disproportionately high number of racial and ethnic minorities. Of course, even this would not stop our enemies from throwing the “racist and fascist” label in our direction. Of course, the proper response to such accusations would not be persistent denial and attempts at clarification but a simple middle finger. But while we should not treat the politically correct classes with anything but contempt, it does seem natural that a pan-secessionist alliance would indeed include many ethnic sub-tendencies, for instance, blacks in inner-cities, indigenous people in Hawaii, Alaska, the western plains or on reservations, Puerto Ricans independencias, Muslim or Arab enclaves in Michigan, Hasidic, Asian neighborhoods in large cities, or Indian Quebecois separatists, majority Aztlan local communities in the Southwest,  and perhaps even revolutionary organizations within Mexico itself.  Indeed, the pan-secessionist revolutionary organizations might even form tactical alliances with insurgent forces in Central and South American countries or in the Middle East such as Hezbollah or the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. After all, it is the empire that is our common enemy. None of this is inconsistent with our insistence on the sovereignty of nations against imperialism, communities against statism, and individuals within the context of freedom of association.

An urban, lumpenproletarian revolutionary movement would be unlike anything that has come before. It would be socially conscious out of the recognition of the economic circumstances of the lower classes and the social conditions of a wide array of marginal population groups. Yet it would shun the political correctness of the liberal upper-middle class and cultural and intellectual elites, and no doubt have a conservative and libertarian as well as progressive dimension to its character.

Why You Conservatives Should Give Us Anarchists a Chance: A Reply to Paul Gottfried 2

A recent exchange at Taki’s Magazine between two of my favorite writers, Justin Raimondo and Paul Gottfried, prompted me to consider ways in which the thought of anarcho-libertarians and traditional conservatives might be reconciled or at least overlap. For many years, I was involved in the left-wing anarchist milieu, and I still consider Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Chomsky, Goodman, Bookchin, et.al. to be among my primary influences. Yet over time, I developed a strong appreciation for writers and thinkers of the traditional and not-so-traditional Right as well, including Rothbard, Mencken, Nisbet, Kirk, Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Pareto, Junger, De Benoist and others. I’ve also come to strongly admire the American populist tradition beginning with Jefferson and extending through contemporary paleocons and alternative Rightists. Consequently, my ideological leanings have come to be an eccentric “left-anarcho-libertarian, populist-nationalist, decentralist-pluralism.” Odd? Perhaps, though I suspect the fact that Kropotkin’s daughter Alexandra was a Goldwater Republican indicates more continuity than radical departure within the context of her family’s ideological heritage.

Because the source of the disagreement between Gottfried and Raimondo was an earlier piece by Jared Taylor, and because the majority of the persons within the left-anarchist milieu from whence I came are known for their hysterical “anti-racism,” I should probably note that while I agreed in part with Raimondo’s criticisms of Taylor, I also recognize Taylor as someone who dares to ask provocative questions that ought to be given a fair hearing, but are forbidden by the self-appointed censors of political correctness. Surely, libertarians can do better than that. Furthermore, Taylor has publicly advocated only two policies: complete freedom of association in racial, ethnic, religious and cultural matters; and a moratorium on Third World immigration. Contrary to what many of my anarchist compatriots, themselves in the grip of political correctness, would have us believe, neither of Taylor’s proposals are in violation of traditional anarchist articles of faith. In fact, the Webster’s dictionary defines anarchism in part as “advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.” Historically, anarchists have opposed the monopolization of power, wealth, land and resources by states or by state-connected plutocratic elites, and have argued for self-managed communities and a wider dispersion of ownership. But ownership implies the right of exclusion. Whether one is a leftist-syndicalist-communitarian anarchist or a rightist-proprietarian anarchist, it certainly does not follow that either collectively owned communes or associations of private property owners are obligated to admit all comers, regardless of beliefs, behavior, or individual contributions. Consequently, immigrants do not have any “right” to immigrate into the communities or proprietary associations of others, and while public areas (streets, lands, amenities) might consitute a kind of commons where individual citizens (such as street vendors or skateboarders) should not be arbitrarily excluded for the gratification of others, it does not follow that those from elsewhere have a “right” to enter or squat on such properties.

But what is even more interesting is Gottfried’s dissection of Raimondo’s Rothbardian “anarcho-capitalist” ideology. Says Gottfried:

The real source of Justin’s outrage lies in the contradiction between his ideology and Jared’s emphasis on cultural and biological specificity. The world as conceived by Justin is a collection of self-determining individuals, who should be free to work out their social and economic affairs, providing they do no physical harm to anyone else. In this ideal society, all humans, at least adults, however one defines them chronologically, will be free to develop themselves on the basis of their feelings and self-interests. Personally I couldn’t imagine how such a chimerical society could come into existence, let alone sustain itself, except in the minds of libertarian intellectuals or on a very provisional basis among likeminded ideologues. Such ideas are the modern counterparts of nineteenth-century utopian communities, all of which were attempts to restore a natural human condition that as far as I can tell never existed.

Historically, there have been more anarchist communities than many recognize, and while it is true some of these have lasted only for a few decades, or even a few years, others, such as the Icelandic Commonwealth and Gaelic Ireland, have lasted longer than the United States has been in existence.

Without authority structures, whether created by traditional hierarchies or by the modern managerial state, human beings have never lived together for any length of time. This generalization would apply to, among other societies, early America, which was a stratified and family-focused place.

I would dissent from the claim that political libertarianism necessarily implies either a radically egalitarian society or some kind of alteration of human nature from what it is at present. Certainly that is not the case for someone like myself, whose views on political science and social science are heavily influenced by the likes of Lawrence Dennis and James Burnham. Indeed, some of the most essential insights of elite theory like Michels‘ “iron law of oligarchy” and Pareto‘s “80/20” principle tell us that human organizations of any size will be dominated by the few rather than the many, and with a natural ranking of persons in even the most liberal circumstances. These principles are no less true for, say, an anarcho-syndicalist labor federation or an anarcho-capitalist private defense agency than for a conventional business firm or university. Nor does libertarianism, even in its more anarchistic forms, imply doing away with non-state social institutions such as family, religion, community, education, commerce, charity, or professional, cultural, and fraternal associations. Indeed, the elimination or massive reduction of dependency on the state should actually serve to strengthen such institutions.

Our sharp difference of views is reflected in the divergent ways in which Justin and I define the American Old Right. From his perspective, that American Right, about which he wrote an entire book, featured radical individualists resisting societal pressures and state authority. On my reading the interwar Right stood for a small-town and predominantly Protestant America faced by bureaucratic centralization and the rise of the modern culture industry.

Is it really a case of either/or? Surely, it would not be wholly counterfactual to suggest that Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, H.L. Mencken, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Jay Nock, or Lawrence Dennis were indeed “radical individualists resisting societal pressures and state authority,” particularly Dennis, who was placed on trial for sedition by the sinister Roosevelt regime. However, there is certainly no denying that the  American Right, whether in its “old” or “new” forms, has traditionally “stood for a small-town and predominantly Protestant America faced by bureaucratic centralization and the rise of the modern culture industry,” at least at the rank and file level.

Are libertarian-individualist anti-statism and rural, small-town, Protestant conservatism really all that incompatible? Not that I can tell. As one who wants to see government stripped down to the level of city-states, counties, communities, and neighborhoods, it would seem to me that some kind of libertarian-anarchism would potentially be the political salvation of the entire spectrum of the authentic political and cultural Right, whether cultural conservatives, moral traditionalists, religious fundamentalists, ethnic preservationists, immigration restrictionists, family advocates, racial separatists, property owners, firearms owners, homeschoolers, tax resisters or hard money advocates. It is these forces that are the most under attack by the centralized, managerial-therapeutic-multicultural-welfare state. Surely, the death of the state is at least the partial victory of social and cultural forces such as these. Surely, those most under attack by the heavy hand of totalitarian liberalism will have more to gain through the obtainment of sovereignty for their own communities and institutions than through the perpetual expansion of the state.

Now, to be honest, I would make the same argument to the Left as well. I have long believed that the ultimate settlement to the culture wars will have to be some kind of Peace of Augsburg rooted in pan-separatism. Surely, the blue counties could have all the single-payer health care, affirmative action, gun control, same-sex marriages, smoking bans, publicly subsidized transgender surgeries, institutionalized animal rights and wacky environmental laws they wished if only they did not have to share a political roof with those nasty, fascist conservatives, Nazi Republicans and Christian Talibanists! Traditionally, conservatives have argued for such principles as states’ rights, local sovereignty and community standards with regard to social and cultural matters. I agree with them. So it would seem that the demise of the state would essentially solve many of these conflicts, as the various sides would simply go their own way. To some degree, everyone would win, especially those who are most likely to suffer escalating attacks as political correctness becomes ever more deeply entrenched in state and state-connected institutions.

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!

Shrinking the Prison System 3

TGGP of the “Entitled to an Opinion” blog has an interesting post up on the prison-industrial complex, and he’s asked for some of my views on how to shrink the prison system in the near term. I have an extended essay on dealing with crime in a stateless social order, but obviously something like that is a good ways off, if it ever comes at all. In the meantime, what can be done to alter incarceration rates in the U.S.?

This is a serious matter, given that while the U.S. has only five percent of the world’s population, it has twenty five percent of the world’s prisoners. There can be only two possible explanations for this situation; either Americans are uniquely criminally inclined (a possibility that cannot automatically be ruled out, remember that Americans were the first to invent and use nuclear weapons), or American society suffers from gross overcriminalization.

When addressing the question of rates of imprisonment, the first question that ought to be asked is: What are the actual justifications for putting people in prison? The standard justifications are deterrence, or creating the threat of prison as an incentive for individuals to abstain from criminality; incapacitation, or restraining an individual so that they are incapable of committing more crimes, at least more crimes against the public at-large; retribution, or giving an individual their “just deserts” for past criminal behavior; and, lastly, rehabilitation, or re-training an individual to avoid criminality in the future.

Certainly, there are some crimes that are severe enough to justify removing an individual from society-at-large, for instance, heads of state that initiate aggressive war under false pretenses. Most people recognize that murder, maiming, robbery, rape, arson, kidnapping, home burglary and other comparable offenses justify segregating an individual from others. In my view, the primary justification for such segregation is not that criminals are “immoral” in some abstract sense, but simply on the pragmatic grounds that such people are immediately dangerous to other people. Virtually all states, even the most ruthlessly totalitarian ones, maintain prohibitions of private criminality of this type.  However, it is also true that states first and foremost use their monopoly over law and violence to uphold and enforce the ideological superstructure of the state. For example, in a theocratic society, ordinary criminal offenses of the common type are joined together with blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege, apostasy, etc. as offenses against the state.  Likewise, in an overtly totalitarian state, ideological and political offenses are treated in the same manner as common crimes and political dissidents are often regarded as being on par with common thieves and robbers.

While “liberal democracy” and state-capitalism of the kind that exists in the industrialized countries is often considered synonymous with “freedom,” the reality is that these states are no less ideological than their theocratic or totalitarian counterparts. Dr. Thomas Szasz has argued that just as medieval Christian or contemporary Islamic states are theocratic in nature, so are contemporary liberal states are “therapeutic” in nature. By the standards of the laws of the therapeutic state, the most egregious offense against the state is the use of psychoactive drugs outside the approval of the “white coat priesthood” or the medical-industrial-complex. Consequently, the annual number of arrests for marijuana offenses is greater than the number of arrests for all violent crimes combined.

It would seem that the first order of business in reducing rates of imprisonment would be drug decriminalization along the lines of the Portuguese model that Glenn Greenwald discusses here. Similar decriminalization might also be applied to other “consensual crimes.” Still another measure might be to pursue alternative means of handling crimes of lesser severity. While most people agree that carjackers, holdup men, rapists, child molesters, and home burglars are necessarily incarcerated, can the same really be said of shoplifters, persons convicted of traffic offenses like driving without a permit, tax evaders, check forgers, larceny of relatively small amounts of money or property, vagrants, embezzlers and trespassers? Are such people really dangerous enough to warrant keeping them under lock and key 24/7?  Could not such matters be handled in the same manner as civil offenses like those involving liability or default on incurred debts? It might also be a good idea to stop incarcerating people for self-defense, whether against ordinary criminals or against PIGS.

Beyond that, however, is the need for a total re-thinking of how so-called “criminal justice” is actually done. Paul Craig Roberts has written extensively on the sham that the police state, prison-industrial complex and legal racket have become. This is an issue where both “law and order” conservatives and left-liberals miss the boat. Conservatives idealize agents of  the “criminal justice system” as real-life Batmans who are only out to defend innocent crime victims, with no self-interest or ulterior motives of their own. The Left views the “criminal justice system” merely as a tool of racist, classist, sexist, fascist, et.al oppression, ignoring the fact that statist oppression transcends boundaries of race, class, religion and culture. This is what I have written concerning the issues of crime and statism elsewhere:

On crime, I propose the following approach: We should be tough on crime, but equally tough on cops, courts and laws. On the issues of legal restrictions on the investigative and arrest powers of the police, the powers of the courts to prosecute the accused and impose sentences, and the powers of penal institutions to hold incarcerated persons and the conditions they are held under, we should take positions as “liberal” as those of the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild and beyond. However, when it comes to the right of private citizens to keep and bear arms, to use them in defense against criminals and to form private organizations (neighborhood watches, militias, posses, private security guard services, vigilance committees and common law courts) for the purpose of mutual self-protection against crime (including government crime), we should take positions as “conservative” as the Gun Owners of America, the Michigan Militia and beyond.

And on the prison-industrial complex:

It is well-known that the United States maintains the world’s largest prison population. More than one quarter of all the world’s prisoners reside in US prisons. A grossly disproportionate number of these are blacks or other minorities. A comprehensive amnesty program is essential to any serious effort to dismantle the US Leviathan state. As a model for amnesty, we might look to that implemented by Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, prior to the commencement of the current war. Most prisoners were given full amnesty, foreign spies excepted. Thieves were pardoned on the condition of victim restitution. Even violent criminals had their sentences communted if the victim or the victim’s mother agreed to a pardon. If this was good enough for Saddam Hussein, it ought to be good enough for anti-state radicals in North America. Under such a general amnesty, the only remaining prisoners would be those who refused to compensate victims or whose crimes were serious enough to discourage the victim from granting a pardon. The rest of the prison population, from tax evaders to drug vendors to owners of “illegal” firearms to those convicted of violations of arcane regulatory statutes, would simply be cleared out. Likewise, those imprisoned for self-defense, whether against common criminals or the government (for example, Leonard Peltier, the surviving Branch Davidians or those resisting “no-knock” raids) should also be granted amnesty. Additionally, panels of legal experts should be commissioned to review the cases of those convicted of even the most serious crimes. Given the notorious incompetence of the US legal system, it is likely a significant number of these are innocent.

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.

 

 

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