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Obama argues his assassination program is a state secret. Glenn Greenwald discusses it. Says Glenn:
At this point, I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims. That’s not surprising: both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.
Bill Bishop discusses his book “The Big Sort” where he talks about the political splintering of the U.S. into liberal and conservative local communities.
A study showing where the rural poor are located, including a breakdown along ethnic lines.
Unfortunately, the authors offer no solutions other than more welfare statism. One thing I would love to see anarchists and libertarians do is wage a campaign to expose and attack laws and regulations that constrict the supply of housing, the availability of arable land, or opportunities for small entrepreneurship. A campaign against zoning ordinances, for instance, would be something that all libertarians and anarchists of any hyphen should be able to agree on, and it would be an issue of benefit to poor and working people across the cultural, racial, geographical, and political spectrum.
Some comments from a reader named “Jared”:
Totalitarian humanism is something that I agree is a serious threat and where I live in Canada, it has advanced into law where people can be incarcerated for expressing opinions that are deemed hateful.
[Keith: At present, the First Amendment and a journalistic class conscious of its own self-interest prevents the formal censorship that has emerged in the Western European countries and Canada. This could very well change in the future. Modern American liberals are still somewhat under the residual influence of classical liberal values regarding a number of issues, such as free speech and freedom of the press. But that could end as the PC ideologues gain ever greater power.]
When it comes to the far right and their criticisms of leftist authoritarianism, I think they are on the mark. In many respects I find the authoritarianism of managerial liberalism to be far more distasteful than the worst right wing small town authoritarianism. My reasons for this are that while the crude authoritarianism of the latter sort is laughable to most, the former is taken seriously by people in the cultural elite. Also, the right wing type is up front about it’s authoritarianism while the left often conceals it behind all sort’s of nice sound rhetoric such as, “we as a society,” we are the government” etc. That was one of the things that angered me so much about the way Ron Paul was treated when the whole newsletter scandal broke. The fact that people were so up in arms about Paul’s paper authoritarianism while the media darling, Rudy Giuliani, was never criticized in the mainstream media ( that I saw) about his real life authoritarianism while he was mayor.
[Keith: Yes! A socially conservative but libertarian Republican is far less acceptable to the liberal elite than a socially liberal but authoritarian Republican such as Giuliani.]
On decentralization, I think that the reasons for some of my concerns about what sort of societies might develop come more from what I have seen in both the contemporary anarchist and libertarian movements, from an the perspective of an outsider I might add. As you have said that strategy is a primary concern, I think you would agree that these issues are important to any strategic considerations to be made.
In your past articles, you have discussed your experience with left-anarchist movement years ago and criticized many of the ridiculous elements in that movement. From what I have observed as an outsider, the same movement today of my generation is as bad as the movement was when you were involved, which is the reason that I have no interest in being involved with any of those groups. One thing that really bothers me is not just the fact that those various groups are uncooperative and engage in pointless feuds, but also what accompanies the interpersonal nastiness is a victim mentality that such people have when it comes to the state. Whenever protests occur such as at the recent G-20 in Toronto, invariably what will come out are all sorts of writings, blog posts, and videos full of people complaining about minor mistreatment at the hands of the state, such people give ammunition to the critics who charge that people involved in these anarchist groups are just a bunch of pampered, sheltered, and spoiled brats who are live in complete ignorance of the world around them.
[Keith: Many such protesters do indeed convey an image of “How dare that cop arrest me for throwing a rock through a window?” hooliganism.]
I realize that what I have just stated will seem pointlessly repetitive to you as you haven expressed similar sentiments in your own writings in the past. The reason that I am bring this up now is in the light of the kinds of communities that would exist in a decentralized system. If the current system fails in a sudden way, there will be many groups vying for power and most of them will be a lot worse then the current group of people that control our centralized system. While you have argued that authoritarian groups may gain control in rural areas, but that cities would be a different story, I still have many concerns regarding them. The reason is that in cities there gangs and other organized crime groups who would clearly seek an opportunity to grab more power and control if they saw an opportunity to, which they would have if the current system fell apart. Now if my analysis of most contemporary anarchists and for that matter libertarians (especially of the left types) is correct, it is clear that such people would be absolutely powerless in the face of those groups that would seek the fill the power vacuum left in the absence of the state. I would add that as critical as I am of the police, the fact is that in the current system they are bound by certain rules of conduct whereas the groups that I have mentioned are not.
[Keith: The key to the problems of decentralization is still more decentralization. Let’s say a predatory gang comes to dominate an urban region in an “Escape From New York” scenario. Surrounding communities might build a fence around it and essentially imprison and quarantine the offenders, which I think is the most preferable solution to violent crime anyway.]
One example of what I am describing is among the libertarians who make up the Free State project, which I been following for the past few years. I would invite you to check out some of the activism done there freekeene.com, and you would see many of the same sorts of silliness such as pointless civil disobedience acts, silly protests, and other absurd antics. On top of the fact that such acts do nothing to build a realistic alternative to the current system, the activists have also earned an extremely negative reputation among the people in those communities where they do their activism.
[Keith: That doesn’t surprise me a bit. PR and marketing never were the strong suits of anarchists.]
I suppose that given what I have written here, it isn’t surprising that you would break with both left wing anarchists and libertarians the silly and cowardly nature of so many in those movements. It’s clear that such groups have not improved with the times, but have in fact degenerated. If there ever comes a time when there is a serious movement against the empire, I would rather have this guy on my side (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7420469.stm) than a thousand of the current crybabies that are rampant in anti-authoritarian movements today.
[Keith: I can only imagine what Antonio Baron would think of today’s anarchist movement. I have always said I would rather have five quality people in my camp than five hundred mediocrities or losers]
There are some great quotes in this.
To what degree are Americans integrated or segregated? Cartographer Eric Fischer figures it out.
There’s some pretty good discussion going on with this, including comments from Carson, Gary Chartier, and myself.
Homicide Rates in the United States 1900-1990
Chris George recently offered these comments in response to my “Liberty and Populism: Building an Effective Resistance Movement for North America” essay. Chris raises some really good issues here. I’d like to know what others here might have to say on some of these questions.
On the whole, I think I’m mostly in agreement with the pluralist approach. In some respects I think it might be a little too unfocused on anarchism and more focused on pragmatic decentralism/secessionism. But that’s a minor gripe, considering that what I think needs to transpire first anyway. As a rhetorical tool, I always like to have my end goals remain the unwavering focus.
Some things I didn’t agree with or I’d need more convincing of (mostly public choice critiques):
Use of the political means: I’m all for anarchists “running” in elections as a way of using elections for education or mocking the system, but I’m extremely skeptical of any attempts to win. The worst will rise to the top. Elections, as I view them, are a crutch. I’m not sure if there’s one person that I know who I would trust in any position of political authority. My family who I trust aren’t anarchists and the anarchists I know of aren’t people I know well know enough to trust. The current environment is too vastly populated for us to be successful by any means of manipulation, politics being primary among them.
Secretive leadership: I can see the appeal of secretive anarchist leadership, but it makes me uneasy. Keeping things secret from the State has its benefits but I’m not sure if it’s necessary at this point. But secrecy may result in the State being more able to crackdown or use that secrecy as something to demonize leadership with. Plus, I don’t think there’s any need to keep our ideas hidden from those on the ground. Seems a little too “scientific socialist” to me.
Philosopher kings: I used to hate Plato for this stuff, but I’ve actually become a lot more sympathetic, if not supportive (and if not simply because the foolishness of most people is nauseating). However, I’m not sure how it could be enforced/secured or how people could be selected. The methods of training you suggested I find to be problematic for the same reason all testing for merit has problems. I would say as a matter of practicality that there should be no one with enforceable power over more than 10,000 – 50,000 people (just an arbitrary ballpark). Any kinds of federation meeting, I would hope, would involve several thousand equally empowered delegates.
Violence/Class Conflict: Call me an optimist, but I don’t think that the State could withstand a dramatic ideological shift to anarchism within the population. If it didn’t, then I think defensive violence on the part of workers taking over their workplaces and communities taking over their roads and government buildings may be in order barring any other more practical means, but actually attacking the State and military, I think would be a bad idea. Perhaps I lack the warrior spirit and the petite bourgeoisie criticism definitely applies to me, but I’ve got to look out for my interests as well.
NKM’s tagline “Life is the process of resolving conflicts that have no basis in reality” reflects my opinion that conflicts are mutually destructive and that there are preferable ways of resolving them than through violence, politics, manipulation, fraud, lying, etc. A lot of anarchists take an us against them mentality, but I don’t. For me, the battle is humanity against human institutions that do no good for anyone besides a psychopath here of there.
Also, there was some anti-consumerist/seemingly primitivist elements in there which I have some sympathies for but am mostly against.
Spent most of the time on criticism, but I’m more in agreement than not. Here’s my platform: radical decentralization to an anarchist end point, federation and free trade to libertarian future.
Lew Rockwell interviews filmmaker Brent Leung. Listen to the podcast.
Interesting article from Scott Ritter.
It is in this topsy-turvy world created by political hype and media spin that a president can, with a straight face, announce the withdrawal of American “combat troops” from Iraq, while leaving behind six combat brigades (renamed, but not reorganized) comprising some 50,000 troops to fight and die in “noncombat.”
The war is over but tens of thousands of troops remain. Where have we seen that before?
U.S. Census Bureau data on population growth. Clearly, the growth of incarceration rates is light years ahead of what could be accounted for by ordinary population growth.
The Census Bureau also provides projections for the future, but these are highly speculative. We have shown their ‘middle estimates’ extending to 2100.
So far Massachusetts is the only state to explicitly uphold a conviction for recording on-duty cops, and Illinois and Massachusetts are the only states where it is clearly illegal. The Illinois law has yet to be considered by the state’s Supreme Court, while the Massachusetts law has yet to be upheld by a federal appeals court. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler recently issued an opinion concluding that arrests for recording cops are based on a misreading of the state’s wiretapping statute, but that opinion isn’t binding on local prosecutors.
In the remaining 47 states, the law is clearer: It is generally legal to record the police, as long as you don’t physically interfere with them. You may be unfairly harassed, questioned, or even arrested, but it’s unlikely you will be charged, much less convicted. (These are general observations and should not be treated as legal advice.)
Some interesting stats on the clearance rates for crimes. Two in five murderers, three in five rapists, and three in four armed robbers, and nine in ten burglars “get away with it.” It’s also true that in some large cities the clearance rate for homicides is less than fifty percent, meaning most murderers complete their crimes successfully. There are sections of some U.S. cities where the clearance rate for murders is in the single digits, meaning there are urban zones where murder is de facto decriminalized. Of course, in such a scenario it’s hard to say where “murder” ends and self-defense or “street justice” begins.
The reason for this low clearance rate seems to be the diversion of so much police time and resources to the War on Drugs and other consensual crimes. So says a former New York prison official and a former undercover narcotics agent.
Some more gems from AltRight:
PCU by Paul Gottfried
Although PC is taught at elite universities, its function there is entirely different from what it is elsewhere. In the Ivies, for example, PC constitutes the ideological basis of the present managerial order. It is the sacral and legitimating teaching of the ruling class that has to be passed on to a new generation of priests, in order to maintain the system. PC and diversity as transmitted at the top are not at all what they are at the bottom. At less than distinguished colleges, they are the candy of the intellectually challenged or hopelessly mediocre, which is pushed for among other reasons to keep government agencies and leftist accreditation boards off the backs of college administrators.
Slave Morality in Democracy by Scott Locklin
My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us…
“The Deacons for Defense and the Black Panthers, in my eyes, were legitimate anti-racists who acted against racist governments for self-determination. But then again, most of the members of these groups (esp. the Panthers) were involved in community movements and not co-opted by corporate state diversity programs.
When Black Panthers helped the Young Patriots to organize Urban Appalachians in Chicago against police brutality and typical urban problems, the Panthers were successful because of their non-moral-supremacist approach as opposed to the SPLC’s force-fed diversity nazi way of trying to promote tolerance. A lot of the Patriots had relatives in the KKK and whatnot, but steadfast community organizers like Bobby Lee ignored these dilemma to help launch a united working class war against oppression that would be co-opted by a common enemy, Cointelpro. ”
“Our proper ally here is NOT “middle class” blacks who abandon their own and whose grandchildren are not an asset to our neighborhoods. Our proper ally here is “lower class” blacks.”
Interesting how two posters, one from the anti-racist far left and one from the racist far right, essentially reach the same conclusion. I agree with much of the paleoconservative analysis of America’s class structure, but one way where I think it errors is in its tendency to regard the left-wing of the upper-middle class (the “New Class”) as allies of the so-called “underclass” (meaning the urban poor and/or lumpenproletariat, often but certainly not always comprised of racial minorities). I would argue that the role of the New Class is to regulate and control the urban lower classes, which is the primary function of the whole therapeutic-welfare-managerial public sector bureaucracy in the first place. It is this New Class that staffs the entire bureaucratic apparatus that regulates the lower classes, including Child Protective Services, social welfare systems, child support enforcement, family courts, so-called “criminal justice,” public housing, mental health professions, public schools, the myriad of busy body “case workers,” and so forth. There is no class more committed to the totalitarian humanist ideology than these public sector professional types.
Some insightful leftists actually recognize this. One of Howard Zinn’s books (I forget which one) included a chapter called “Revolt of the Guards” where he was calling on these public sector professional bureaucrats to renounce the plutocratic capitalist upper class and take up the cause of the poor whom they are charged with supervising. Implicit in the use of Zinn’s use of the term “guards” is that he understood that these sectors are agents of state control and not so-called “helping professionals.” He understood that the social bureaucracy is to ordinary society what guards are to jails and prisons. Of course, Zinn’s challenge was sheer fantasy. When have guards ever siding with prisoners in a prison uprising?
It is ironic that the New Class that the paleo-populist-traditionalist-racialist right-wing hates the most is the same class that administers the day to day oppression of the urban poor.
Tom argues that “liberation” is a better term. My guess is that nothing will appease the PC Inquisitors irrespective of what kind of terminology we employ, nor do I think we should bother with trying to appease the forces of PC. But I also suspect “liberation” might be a more marketable term in a liberal region like Vermont, while “secession” might be more appropriate for a conservative region like Texas or the deep South. Conservatives would hear the term “liberation” and think “Communism” just like liberals hear the term “secession” and think “racism and fascism.”
There was actually a very small militia back in the 1990s that essentially had a pan-secessionist outlook (which is more or less where I lifted the concept from) called North American Liberation Army. Their goal was to build an alliance between the militia movement and groups like the Nation of Islam and American Indian Movement in North America, pro-Palestinian groups in the Middle East like Hezbollah, and the Zapatistas and Shining Path in Latin America.
The U.S. now has its highest poverty rate since 1965. We’ve got to get this class struggle thing moving.