Dissatisfied Customer Sues Escort Service Reply

The latest candidate for the Darwin award.

We see some pretty bizarre lawsuits at times around here, but Consumerist points us to one that takes bizarre lawsuits to a new level — involving a guy suing an escort firm for almost getting him arrested, even though the potential arrest only came after he called the police himself, upset that the woman did not stay long enough. Apparently, a college student named Hubert Blackman went to Las Vegas last month and ordered a stripper to come to his room at the Stratosphere. He apparently paid $155 for a lap dance, and then an additional $120 for a sex act.

The next morning, he demanded a refund from the firm he had called for the stripper, saying she didn’t stay the full hour he had paid for and also telling them that since he was drunk, he couldn’t have legally agreed to the sex act. When the company refused, the guy called the police, who politely explained to him that he had broken the law in hiring a prostitute and that they should arrest him. Somehow, he avoided arrest, but rather than drop matters, he went back to New York and filed a lawsuit in which part of the complaint is that “I almost had gotten arrested,” after “An escort did an illegal sexual act on me during her paid service to me.” The guy even admits he knew that prostitution was illegal in Vegas. However, he’s demanding the firm be shut down, his $275 back… and another $1.8 million for good measure. It kind of makes you wonder if he’s going to actually get arrested this time…

Creating Conservative Anarchists Reply

Two, three, many Joseph Sobrans would likely lead to a serious influx of former conservatives into our camp.

He briefly ran for Vice President of the United States on the Constitution Party ticket in 2000, soon finding out that it was against the law to make a living as a writer while running for the executive office, so Joe bowed out, literally and figuratively, becoming an anarchist shortly thereafter.  Much of his adult life was spent with a battle against some tedious authority of late modernity in the background. His attitude toward crime was rather archaic: A community’s problems are its own; let the State pay them less attention.

Armed Resistance to the Police State Grows Reply

From Uhuru News:

The question is whether the resistance of the African community will continue to be unorganized and isolated or if it will become organized to overturn the occupation that it responds to.
InPDUM says that it must be organized! It is with organization that we gain power. Only with organized resistance can African people overturn the colonial occupation and win control over our own lives and our own communities.
It is with this understanding that InPDUM holds its 20th Annual International Convention on February 19-21 in Philadelphia under the banner “Africans Have a Right to Resist! Freedom and Reparations Now!”
The convention aims to organize around various issues including the miseducation of African children, the special oppression of African women and the struggle against the whitewashing of African communities.
One workshop of the convention is entitled “U.S. is a Prison of Nations: 50 million Africans held captive!” Out of this workshop will come a strategy to take on the question of State violence and repression against the African community.
It is inevitable that occupation will produce righteous resistance. The question for African people is, will we organize ourselves to win power for ourselves or struggle in isolation forever? We must organize and resist!

Only the Black Community Can Fix Black Education 7

Walter Williams explains why.

What needs to be done is not rocket science. Our black ancestors, just two, three, four generations out of slavery, would not have tolerated school behavior that’s all but routine today. The fact that the behavior of many black students has become acceptable and made excuses for is no less than a gross betrayal of sacrifices our ancestors made to create today’s opportunities.

Some of today’s black political leadership is around my age, 75, such as Reps. Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel, John Conyers, former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder, Jesse Jackson and many others. Forget that they are liberal Democrats but ask them whether their parents, kin or neighbors would have tolerated children cursing to, or in the presence of, teachers and other adults. Ask them what their parents would have done had they assaulted an adult or teacher. Ask whether their parents would have accepted the grossly disrespectful behavior seen among many black youngsters on the streets and other public places using foul language and racial epithets. Then ask why should today’s blacks tolerate something our ancestors would not.

The sorry and tragic state of black education is not going to be turned around until there’s a change in what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior by young people. The bulk of that change has to come from within the black community.

Immigration and Boutique Multiculturalism Reply

Jaenelle Antas on the hypocrisy of the chattering classes.

Historically, the multiculturalist experiment has failed everywhere. It leads to deep division and conflict. In the West, the problem will never be solved as long as we have an establishment that keeps pretending that we can all get along, and that differences in the multicultural society are merely superficial differences of lifestyle and opinion.

Multiculturalism is more than just food, festivals, music, and clothes. If that were all that it was, then we could probably all just get along. For example, I really love chocolate and my boyfriend doesn’t; and he really loves the Grateful Dead, which I hate . . .  but we’ve still managed to live together for six years in relative harmony and with pretty much no bickering. I even put up with that ugly sweater of his; he just doesn’t get as many hugs when he wears it.

Having different cultures means having fundamental differences in values. A common “argument” (and I use that in the loosest sense of the term) is that “We’re all immigrants.” Well, that’s simply not true. Most of us aren’t immigrants. But for the sake of argument, I’ll assume the hypothetical proponent of this argument means we all came from immigrant families at some point. The difference between the immigrants that came here from Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and those that come today from Third World countries is that our European ancestors shared a common culture. Yes, there are variations on European culture, as you move from one country to another, but Europe as a whole shares a common culture and a common history. We understand each other, we value the same things, we are alike in very fundamental ways. Our differences are largely superficial. European immigrants came to a country that was founded by other Europeans who established a government and way of life based on European Enlightenment principles—those of Locke, Mill, and other thinkers. European immigrants integrated relatively easily. And they wanted to integrate. They truly came for a better life, not an easier life. They knew it wouldn’t be easy. They knew many of them would die on the journey or during their first winter. But, disgusted and frustrated with the government policy in their homelands, they were willing to make these sacrifices.

Today’s immigrants to America are nothing like the European immigrants who came before. Today’s immigrants come from radically different cultural backgrounds. They have radically different ideas about notions we take for granted. For example, democracy, women’s rights, social responsibility, or freedom of religion, just to name a few. They have no common history with us, many of our most important ideas are as foreign to them as theirs are to us, and, instead of integrating, they form ethnic enclaves and isolate themselves from real Americans. These people do not come here for a better life and they are not willing to make sacrifices. They come because they have heard that there are a lot of free lunches being handed out over here. The majority of immigrants who come to this country, legally and illegally, are not skilled workers, but the dregs of their societies. They are not interested in what they can do for American society, but in what they can get out of it for themselves and their own people.

Government Isn’t You — It’s a Witch Reply

Kevin Carson explains why.

In yet another SWAT drug raid on the wrong house, as reported by Radley Balko (“Another Isolated Incident,” Reason, Jan. 13),  the uniformed thugs pulled the father (David McKay) outside in his underwear, pointed a gun at the 13-year-old daughter and — standard operating procedure for cops in such raids — threatened to shoot the family poodle.  When it became apparent the armed invaders had kicked in the wrong door and they moved on to their intended target, the McKays asked them what was happening and why they were there. “They wouldn’t say,” he recalled. “All they would say was ‘You’ll read about it in the paper tomorrow.’”

Um, yeah — that’s just the kind of thing I’d expect “us” to do to “ourselves.”

Oh — it’s also a prospective 15-year sentence for recording cops on the job in Illinois. Because there’s nothing “we” hate like having “us” record “ourselves” doing our job.

And we’ve done all sorts of other unkind things to “ourselves,” like throwing ourselves in prison for publicly opposing WWI and detaining ourselves without charge for being of Japanese descent during WWII.

Jeez, talk about being our own worst enemies!

American Foreign Policy Promotes “Our Interests”? Puh-leeze! Reply

Kevin Carson on the greatest lie American political class.

American foreign policy is aimed at guaranteeing American corporations a supply of “safe, reliable and affordable” fuel from the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea oil basins.  It’s aimed at making sure foreign governments recognize and enforce the “intellectual property” rights of the proprietary content companies who make up the bulk of the corporate global economy (rights which are also the primary means by which American corporate headquarters are able to retain control of outsourced job-shops all over the Pacific Rim and charge a 1000% brand-name markup to American consumers).  It’s aimed at preventing peasants from regaining control of expropriated land which is used by landed elites to grow cash crops for the export market, in collusion with Western agribusiness corporations and domestic authoritarian governments.  American foreign policy, in short, is a continuation of the old-style gunboat diplomacy of the colonial powers, aimed at keeping the world safe for corporate power.

About the only time American policy doesn’t reflect such corporate interests is when it irrationally deviates from them to pander to the Zionist colonial project in Israel.  The one case in which American foreign policy seems to reflect some principled ideological imperative, even at the expense of promoting energy policy through stable relations with autocratic regional regimes, is America’s “special relationship” with Israel.  Not that that’s got anything more to do with “our interests” than the rest of it.

So when you hear a pundit talk about “our interests,” ask yourself who he’s got riding along in his pocket — or rather, whose pocket he’s riding in.

Do Racialists Have the Right of Free Speech? Reply

Richard Spencer has a new blog up discussing the latest trials and tribulations of American Renaissance. View it here. Richard discusses the back story to these events here. This is the second year in a row American Renaissance has run into difficulty attempting to exercise its rights of free speech, association, and assembly. Last year’s conference was hampered by threats of extra-legal violence. This is what I said about those events at the time: Read it here. What’s happening to American Renaissance is actually fairly tame compared to what goes on in some other countries as I explain here.

The liberties of speech, association, assembly, press, and religion are fundamental to any kind of civilized or decent society. It’s not for no reason that they are mentioned in the very first section of the Bill of the Rights. Perhaps even more ominous are efforts to silence open or frank discussion of racial issues, given the intensify of feeling over such issues. Efforts to repress discourse only serve to fan hostility that cannot be swept under the rug indefinitely. Communist Yugoslavia maintained an official ideology much like present day political correctness. Hate speech laws existed and were enforced during the Communist era. Didn’t all of that turn out well?

Why Are People Rioting in the Middle East? 3

Because they’re hungry. See this very good analysis from Richard Spencer.

As David Hacket Fischer demonstrated in his monumental work The Great Wave (1996), commodity-price spikes—and related governmental interventions—regularly coincide with political violence and “regime change.” The 18th century, for instance, was an era of higher prices and political revolutions, most prominently in America (1776), France (1789), Switzerland (1792), Belgium (1794), the Netherlands (1794), Poland (1794), and Ireland (1798). In the French example, the Bastille Day riot (14 July, 1789) coincided almost exactly with a cyclical peak in grain prices. In turn, Robespierre fell from power when a public riot ensued after he had instituted wage controls. The whole era of instability in France was inaugurated by John Law’s infamous “Mississippi Bubble” inflation of 1719-20, which led to the destruction of the market for royal billets d’état and a near total economic collapse.


Ron Paul and Ralph Nader on Corporatism and War Reply

by Sheldon Richman

http://www.fff.org/comment/com1101o.asp

What is American politics coming to? I just watched a joint interview with Ralph Nader and Rep. Ron Paul — and they were mostly on the same side! Nader has spent his life promoting government intervention in the economy. Paul has spent his life promoting the free market and minimal government. For the two of them to discuss making common cause is something extraordinary.

And yet it makes total sense. What’s so exciting is that their common cause shines the spotlight right where it’s needed: on corporatism — the constellation of government policies that primarily benefit wealthy and well-connected business and banking interests at the expense of the rest of us. While much of the Right Wing sees the danger of the Obama administration in Marxism and state socialism, Paul and Nader realize that that makes no sense. Bill Daley, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Paul Volcker, and Jeff Immelt are not the men a Marxist would pick as advisors. But they are the picks of a president who believes that economic stability can exist only if government and major businesses manage the economy together. Corporatism is the opposite of free markets, competition, and full individual liberty.

Paul and Nader are also united in their opposition to America’s imperialist policies and perpetual overt and covert wars, which, in truth, is also part of the corporate state. Foreign wars and world policing may not be solely motivated by economic interests, but they play a big role. Writer Nick Turse documents that the military-industrial complex is more pervasive than ever. The “defense” budget is a gigantic trough at which American companies can feast at taxpayer expense. Why take risks on new and better products for consumers, when the government will pay top tax dollar to pay for you make bombs, rockets, and Humvees?

Along with the imperial state come domestic surveillance and other destruction of civil liberties — all of which Paul and Nader despise. The horrendous USA PATRIOT Act is a prime target for both men.

Paul and Nader have many differences, of course, especially relating to welfare-state and regulatory programs. But they agree that spending hundreds of billions of dollars on military adventures, bailouts, and other forms of subsidies is contrary to the interest of most Americans.

Paul and Nader also don’t like the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank. While they have different ultimate wishes for the Fed — Paul would abolish it; Nader would make it an “accountable” cabinet department — both object to its having the autocratic power to bail out banks and other corporate interests. Moreover, both understand that fighting imperial wars would be impossible if the government couldn’t manipulate the currency through the Fed. Besides the killing abroad and regimentation at home, we also get a destruction of our purchasing power through inflation.

That Paul and Nader understand all this and are talking about it in joint appearances is exciting. Who knows where it could go from here? Yes, Progressives and libertarians have serious differences, just as they both have with conservatives. But all people of good faith who oppose America’s corporate welfare-warfare state — whether Progressives, conservatives, or libertarians — have an interest in moving America in a different direction.

The Revolutionary Wave 2

Raimondo reflects on the events transpiring in the Middle East.

The revolutionary wave now sweeping the world will not exempt America, in spite of the myth of “American exceptionalism.” We cannot and will not be excepted from the iron laws of economics, which mandate that you can’t consume more than you produce – no matter how many Federal Reserve notes (otherwise known as “money”) you print.

The implications for US foreign policy are radical, and unsettling. While the decline and fall of the Roman Empire occurred over centuries of decay and degeneration, the process as it unfolds in America is likely to occur with what, in terms of human history, appears to be lightning speed. As our allies and satraps fall, one by one, across the Middle East and Europe, their fate prefigures our own.

Before we start cheering this world revolution as the salvation of us all, however, it ought to be remembered that revolutionary regimes often turn out to be worse than the tyrannies they’ve overthrown. There’s no telling what direction these political insurgencies will take, either in the Middle  East or in America. As a negative example,  recall the ideologies that arose in the 1930s in the wake of the Great Depression — German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and Eurasian Bolshevism – and be forewarned. On a more positive note, here in the United States, at least, the possibilities are more balanced, although the dangers should not be underestimated.

What we are in for, finally, is a radical realignment of power, a vast shift that will break up the political landscape of every country on earth and shatter all the old assumptions. That old Chinese fortune-cookie curse, “May you live in interesting times,” is about to come true.

Renewing the PATRIOT Act: The Police State Continues to Grow Reply

Analysis by civil liberties attorney John Whitehead.

Most Americans have been lulled into thinking that the pressing issues are voting in the next election or repealing health care. This is largely due to the media hoopla over the Tea Party, the recent elections and the health care law, and the continuous noise from television news’ talking heads. But the real issue is simply this – the freedoms in the Bill of Rights are being eviscerated, and if they are not restored and soon, freedom as we have known it in America will be lost. Thus, Congress should not renew the USA Patriot Act, nor should President Obama sign it into law. If he does so, he might just be putting the final nail in our coffin.

Unfortunately, even many of those civil libertarians who took Bush to task and vocally criticized his civil liberties abuses have been virtually silent in face of President Obama’s continuation of Bush programs that undermine the Bill of Rights. For example, The Public Record, a nonprofit news organization based in California, asked prominent civil and human rights leaders “to explain their relatively passive position on the renewal of the Patriot Act. Most did not respond. One who did requested that his name not be used because he is still hoping to energize some of the silent voices.” Here’s what he had to say:

Many of my colleagues have just given up on the Patriot Act, either expressly or implicitly (in terms of the mindshare, energy, and resources dedicated to the issue). They don’t seem to understand or recall just how foundational this supposedly ‘emergency’ law was in setting the stage for the infringements that came later.

Sheer exhaustion plays a role, but the fact that it’s been nearly a decade means that generational change is even starting to have an impact, as have all the other irons in the fire – so many other traumatizing events have come up to distract and rightfully demand attention (torture, even broader surveillance, illegal war, assassinations), and a corrosive new so-called realism (cynicism, actually) about the politics of terrorism and the complicity of our fear-driven media and political class, combined of course with a reluctance to undermine our first black president and whatever incremental progressive achievements he can make.

So the situation’s pretty bleak out there, and will only turn around, in my view, if there is much greater bottom-up, local, and peer-to-peer, community-to-community activism.

It’s time to wake up, America.

The Condition of the Left-Anarchist Movement in North America Reply

An Irish Anarcho-Syndicalist shares his impression of the left-wing anarchist movement in North America. See the interview here. What he describes is pretty much the same thing that I observed during my time in that movement during the 80s. Some highlights with my comments:

In total I spoke in 44 North American cities scattered across 2 Canadian provinces and 18 US states. These were on the east and west coasts and from the east coast across the mid-west as far as Minneapolis-St Paul’s. There were lots of organizations, infoshops and organizations in formation involved on putting on the dates. Around one third were organized through the North East Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC) while some local groups just organized a meeting in the one city they were active in. In the vast majority of cases I’d never met any of the organizers, everything was done over email, the entire Florida tour for instance was initated by one student who was on the Crimthinc mailing list and saw an announcement for my tour which was apparently posted there.

Strike One. NEFAC is a quasi-commie group that’s an outgrowth of the old Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation which was an outgrowth of the combining of two other primary groups, a Trotskyite sect called Revolutionary Socialist League which experienced a mass conversion to anarcho-communism and a group from Minneapolis called the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League (RABL) whose sketchy leader later converted to full-on Marxism-Leninism and, I think, became some kind of self-styled Maoist. See this critique of NEFAC from a left-anarchist perspective. Looking over NEFAC’s website, 99% of its content is just run of the mill left-wing cultural politics dressed up in hoary hard leftist rhetoric that was already a cliche in 1972. Meanwhile, Crimethinc is a group for middle class drop out white kids who aspire to be professional vagrants. The self-description of these “ex-workers” says its all: “CrimethInc. is the black market where we trade in this precious contraband. Here, the secret worlds of shoplifters, rioters, dropouts, deserters, adulterers, vandals, daydreamers—that is to say, of all of us, in those moments when, wanting more, we indulge in little revolts—converge to form gateways to new worlds where theft, cheating, warfare, boredom, and so on are simply obsolete.” The Anarchist People of Color group had the right idea of what to do with these idiots.

I think on arrival in North America I shared any of the prejudices that you find in the British anarchist movement towards North America, prejudices that are often based on a failure to try and understand conditions there. I expected a lot of North American anarchists to be liberal idiots but the reality I found was huge numbers of people doing quite solid local organizing, in particular when you considered their weak numbers and relative lack of experience. And a good few of the positions that seem a little odd from Europe make a lot more sense when you can put them in the contest of local conditions and North American history.

That’s one thing that I’ve always found particularly frustrating about the left-anarchists. They do much good work that I very much admire, such as their homeless feeding, anti-police, prisoner rights, antiwar, pro-Palestinian, civil liberties, and poverty activism. But they just can’t seem to break out of their sectarian ideological ghetto in any way that would make them relevant to the wider society. Instead, they dismiss most ordinary people as “the enemy,” even people who are as critical of the system as they are in many ways, and paint themselves into corner where they seem to almost deliberately make themselves as unappealing to other people as they can. It’s like they put themselves on top of a hill, surround themselves with an ideological moat and a banner that says, “The Revolution is Our Private Property. All Others Keep Out.”

My tour coincided with and fed into a wave of anarchist communist organizing across many of the regions I was visiting which meant I got to play some role in the formation process of five or six new organizations. But I wouldn’t overstate this, as is true of the North America in general these organizations are tiny in comparison with the population of the areas they operate in.

Duh?

The IWW remains by far the largest network for anti-authoritarians in the US but it didn’t really strike me as having any real existence as a union outside of what were pretty small struggles in a couple of cities. Many social anarchists join it as a way of meeting up with like minded folk and of distancing themselves from the nuttier end of the local anarchist scene.

That’s rather depressing. The IWW was also the best thing going when I was in the left-anarchist movement, and in those days the IWW sucked. Mostly it was a collection of leftist ideologues fighting over control of the organization’s money. From what I’m told by present day insiders, the same crap is still going on, often involving the same individuals. Yawn. Lesson: Membership organizations that collect dues are a trap, particularly if they are democratically run.

Internally issues like the high rate of transience which means its hard to accumulate collective experience in any city as people are always moving in, in particular when organizational problems are encountered. Related to this is the very low level of intergenerational contact which means the movement today which is mostly under 30, if not 25 doesn’t easily benefit from the lessons learned the hard way by the movement in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Amen, say it again! Same old, same old.

Externally the North American cult of the rugged individual and the American dream not only make popular organizing difficult but seeps into the anarchist movement like a poison. Couple this with the historic success of the US state in smashing radical oppositional movements in all their forms and the current high degree of repression of anything that steps over the limited boundaries of protest allowed and you have a very difficult atmosphere in which to build anything that goes beyond lobbying. The number of police are extraordinary, their constant use against the ‘civilian population’ is striking, I saw more people being arrested on the streets in the 16 weeks of my tour as I have in nearly 40 years outside North America. And finally in the US in particular there is an extraordinary level of state infiltration and the use of agent provocateurs to tempt fresh young activists into doing stupid stuff that can lead them to very long jail sentences.

Yes. A lot of people don’t realize what a police state the USA actually is until they’ve spent time in other places where that kind of thing is less present. I really didn’t even feel it myself until I starting spending time overseas and I had been studying the issue for years by that time.

Class divisions, although sometimes camouflaged by race are very, very visible in the USA and almost as visible in Canada. Workers, particularly outside the coastal cities, are being fucked over in a very, very visible way. So ‘rugged individualism’ aside North America should be fertile ground for class struggle politics, it certainly has been in the past. Also the left does not really exist, the few far left groups that exist are much smaller than their equivalents in Britain despite the much greater population, they don’t really exist outside a few colleges in a few towns. With the exception of Canada there is no social democracy and no viable green party. In short it would not that hard for anarchists to become ‘the’ opposition.

This will be particularly true in the future as the economy crumbles and class divisions widen. I actually think America’s Jeffersonian libertarian heritage makes it the ideal country for the growth of a serious and influential anarchist movment. To the degree that this has not happened, I blame it on the anarchists more than I blame it on the culture. My prediction is that if there’s ever an enduring anarchist revolution in a Western country, it will take place in either America or in one of the southern European countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece).

The US and Britain are very similar in that most anarchists are not part of region wide organizations or often even local organizations. The region wide organizations in reality really only exist as more than isolated individuals in a very small number of cities although they often have a scattering of individual members outside of these. This means that in terms of struggle the vast majority of activity is around individual anarchists involved in local community, environmental or workplace struggle as militant individuals who happen to be anarchists rather than as part of a collective anarchist effort. From time to time there are a variety of social / political gatherings at which people can exchange experiences but which apart from the occasional spectacular event like summit protests these don’t formulate collective action. As with Britain the biggest of these are bookfairs but the sheer scale of North America means there is no single equivalent to the London bookfair but rather a range of bookfair and conference events across the continent.

Yes. This is a very accurate summary of the situation.

There is no equivalent to the anarchist influenced revolutionary unions on the European mainland. The IWW would like to be that but the reality is that its membership density is less than that of the WSM in Ireland so its more of a network of anti-authoritarian workplace militants that occasionally tries to act as a union when the opportunity arises at a particular location or at a particular time. There are no also equivalents of the sort of regional anarchist political organizations that are found in some countries that have a real presence across a large number of cities but this is a product of the small size of the movement as well as not talking the organizational question seriously enough.

Anarcho-syndicalism was an outgrowth of the historic labor movement. It belongs to history now. Anarchists need to familiarize themselves with Martin Van Creveld’s thesis on the decline of the state and John Robb’s ideas on fourth generation warfare if they want to know how to proceed.

Q. Do American anarchists really smell that much?

Nope – I only hit that smell once, in DC. There is a fringe of lifestylist types, very often students, for whom smelling is something occasionally adopted to give them kudos. It’s really not very important even if on that one occasion it was annoying. Most of the anarchists I met were ordinary folks that only differered from the people around them by their politics.

YES!!!. Get your filthy paws off me, you damn dirty anarchist!

Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal Reply

Murray Rothbard’s classic.

Twenty years ago I was an extreme right-wing Republican, a young and lone “Neanderthal” (as the liberals used to call us) who believed, as one friend pungently put it, that “Senator Taft had sold out to the socialists.” Today, I am most likely to be called an extreme leftist, since I favor immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, denounce U.S. imperialism, advocate Black Power and have just joined the new Peace and Freedom Party. And yet my basic political views have not changed by a single iota in these two decades!

It is obvious that something is very wrong with the old labels, with the categories of “left” and “right,” and with the ways in which we customarily apply these categories to American political life. My personal odyssey is unimportant; the important point is that if I can move from “extreme right” to “extreme left” merely by standing in one place, drastic though unrecognized changes must have taken place throughout the American political spectrum over the last generation.