One Cheer — More or Less — For the Green New Deal 3

This seems to be a serious, thoughtful critique of the “Green New Deal” idea from a fairly conventional left-anarchist perspective (although Carson is an individualist/mutualist/AWA, not an an-com).

The ATS theoretical model and strategic paradigm is oriented toward global revolutionary struggle against the new Rome (i.e. the global capitalist empire), with an emphasis on indigenous people everywhere, and bottom-up anti-imperialist struggle. I’d say my own geopolitical outlook approximates that of the Shining Path (minus the Maoist fundamentalism).

What Carson describes here is more or less what I would envision the reformist wing of the left-wing of pan-anarchism in First World countries doing, but it’s only that. Notice that the examples Carson provides are all First World places (“the new municipalist movements in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, and Jackson”) I see the ATS vision of global revolutionary struggle as transcending the left/right reformist/radical First World/Third World (core/periphery) dichotomies. A similar analysis could be made of Carson’s ideas on “privilege theory,” which would likewise be appropriate for the social/cultural wing of the left-wing of pan-anarchism in First World countries (in a way that potentially networks with similar tendencies in the Third World).

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

In critiquing and analyzing a state policy proposal like the Green New Deal from an anarchist perspective, I should throw in the usual disclaimers about my working assumptions. I’m not an insurrectionist and I don’t believe the post-capitalist/post-state transition will be primarily what Erik Olin Wright called a “ruptural” process. Although the final transition may involve some ruptural events, it will mostly be the ratification after the fact of a cumulative transformation that’s taken place interstitially.

Most of that transformation will come from the efforts of ordinary people at creating the building blocks of the successor society on the ground, and from those building blocks replicating laterally and coalescing into an ecosystem of counter-institutions that expands until it supplants the previous order.

Some of it will come from political engagement to run interference for the new society developing within the shell of the old, and pressuring the state from outside to behave in more benign ways. Some of it will come from using some parts of the state against other parts, and using the state’s own internal procedural rules to sabotage it.

Some of it will come from attempts to engage friendly forces within the belly of the beast. Individuals here and there on the inside of corporate or state institutions who are friendly to our efforts and willing to engage informally with us can pass along information and take advantage of their inside positions to nudge things in a favorable direction. As was the case with the transition from feudalism and capitalism, some organizational entities — now nominally within state bodies or corporations — will persist in a post-state and post-capitalist society, but with their character fundamentally changed along with their relationship to the surrounding system.  If you want to see some interesting examples of attempts at “belly of the beast” grantsmanship and institutional politics, take a look at the appendices to some of Paul Goodman’s books.

A great deal, I predict, will come from efforts — particularly at the local level — to transform the state in a less statelike direction: a general principle first framed by Saint-Simon as “replacing legislation over people with the administration of things,” and since recycled under a long series of labels ranging from “dissolution of the state within the social body” to “the Wikified State” to “the Partner State.” The primary examples I have in mind today are the new municipalist movements in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, and Jackson and the dozens and hundreds of cities replicating that model around the world, as well as particular institutional forms like community land trusts and other commons-based local economic models.

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Review: Srnicek and Williams, Inventing the Future Reply

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (London and New York: Verso, 2015, 2016).

I approached this book with considerable eagerness and predisposed to like it. It belongs to a broad milieu of -isms for which I have strong sympathies (postcapitalism, autonomism, left-accelerationism, “fully automated luxury communism,” etc.). So I was dismayed by how quickly my eager anticipation turned to anger when I started reading it. Through the first third of the book, I fully expected to open my review with “I read this book so you don’t have to.” But having read through all of it, I actually want you to read it.

There is a great deal of value in the book, once you get past all the strawman ranting about “folk politics” in the first part. There is a lot to appreciate in the rest of the book if you can ignore the recurring gratuitous gibes at horizontalism and localism along the way. The only other author I can think of who similarly combines brilliant analysis with bad faith caricatures of his perceived adversaries is Murray Bookchin.

I quote at length from their discussion of folk politics:

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Where Do We Go From Here? 2

As with the Gillis article, I find the general tone of this Kevin Carson piece to be overly hysterical. Other than that, these are some damn good ideas. Why can’t the libertarian left exercise this level of revolutionary zeal all the time?

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

I confess my reaction on Election Night, when it first looked like Trump might get in the White House, was sheer panic. It was a bit like Philip K. Dick’s “Black Iron Prison” closing down. On a personal level, I was about as terrified as the night I was arrested and put in jail.

Now, a few weeks after, I still have a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach anticipating the next four years. But I’m a lot less terrified (although I never forget that for a lot of less privileged folks it’s always been a Black Iron Prison, and the downside possibilities of a Trump presidency are a lot scarier for them).

For one thing, it looks like there are significant structural constraints on a fascist power grab, no matter how authoritarian Trump is. The biggest single constraint is that (as Benjamin Studebaker points out), unlike Hitler, he can’t take advantage of Article 48 in the German Constitution to declare an emergency, criminalize the Democratic Party and remove court oversight of cases involving civil liberties.

And Trump didn’t get elected because either he, or the white nationalist ideas of his strongest supporters, were especially popular. In fact he’s probably going into office with the highest negatives of any new president in the past century. He got a minority of the popular vote, and was able to beat Clinton mainly because she was such a lousy candidate in her own right that Democratic voters stayed home by the millions.

So Trump’s starting out already as unpopular as Bush was on the eve of 9/11, when he was widely written off as a one-termer. And he’s only likely to drop further in popularity once he enters office. He’s no longer competing against another unpopular politician — he’s only running against himself now. With every gaffe, every display of incompetence or disorganization, every policy failure, he will only become more unpopular.

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