My Politics.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those of us who profess to favor freedom yet depreciate agitation are men who want the crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. … This struggle may be a moral one or a physical one, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has and never will. –Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and feminist

The General Line

  • Ideology: Anarchist, radical feminist, anti-authoritarian leftist
  • Fiscal policy: A society based on productive work, mutual aid, and voluntary association; an end to corporate welfare and government micromanagement
  • Social policy: Gender justice, gay liberation, civil liberties

Results from The World’s Smallest Political Quiz (as of 2005-05-31):

  • Personal Self-Government: 100%
  • Economic Self-Government: 100%
  • Ideology: Libertarian

It’s weird for me to try to talk with other people about politics, and I guess it’s weird for them to try to talk with me, too. Depending on the topic, I’ve been mistaken for a hand-wringing liberal, a raving conservative, an apologist for robber-baron capitalism, a crypto-Maoist, or an anti-political moralist. But I am none of the above (I am a moralist, but not anti-political). The general line of my ideology is best described in terms of radical feminism, individualist anarchism, and anti-authoritarian Leftism. I believe in individual freedom without compromise or apology and the inviolable dignity of all rational beings; I believe in solidarity with the oppressed and exploited, and voluntary community-based mutual aid; and I believe that the the powerful and predatory forces standing in the way of all of these things include not only the State apparatus, but also forms of oppression not directly linked to the State, especially those backed up through decentralized, culturally excused systems of violence. Perhaps the worst, the commonest, and the least-mentioned among these is patriarchy, as expressed in rape, wife-beating, gay-bashing, trans-bashing, and innumerable other forms of assault, harassment, and coercion.

In the struggle to resist both the violence of the State and the power of non-State forms of oppression, I find myself both deeply committed to the history and the humane values of the feminist and Leftist movements, but sharply opposed to the historical influence of the authoritarian and male-centric Left, as embodied in the AFL-line labor unions, vanguardist Marxist-Leninists, the New Left of the 1960s-1970s, mealy-mouthed State liberals and Progressives, misanthropic Romantics, and all too many macho anarchist boys today. As an anarchist, I reject all forms of State control; as a feminist I argue that State power, and the desire by all too many Leftists to seize it and use it, is little more than a political expression of father-right, patriarchal male supremacy writ large. What I am working for is a free market in the truest sense of the word, with a flourishing community based on individual workers’ control of their own labor, individual women’s control of their own bodies, and respectful and loving mutual aid. I am not working for a capitalist market shaped by the exploitations of the money barons, managers, landlords, and others who profiteer off of the impoverishment of working women and men. But I am damned well not working for a system in which State bureaucrats step in for capitalist bosses, in which the State controls everyone and workers allegedly control the State. What I am working for is perhaps most aptly described by the individualist anarchist Francis Tandy as voluntary socialism; or by Sarah Grimké, the abolitionist and feminist who summarized her demands as a feminist by saying:

I ask no favors for my sex, I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks and permit us to stand upright on the ground which God designed us to occupy. — Sarah Grimké

One of the thorny issues here, though, is how to deal with the fact that, until the final withering away of the State, we are stuck with government control in some of the main needs of our communities — such as education and childcare, health care, aid for people living in poverty, public transportation, &c. On the one hand there is also the fact that the role of the State interference in the economy is mainly concerned not with helping the historically oppressed, but with kleptocratic programs such as corporate welfare and subsidies, the cartelization and monopolization of major industries (such as banking and agriculture), protectionism for American industrialist fat-cats, union-busting (see: so-called Right-to-Work laws) and government command-and-control over unions and restraints on the possibility of militant labor action (see: the Taft-Hartley Act). In light of these considerations, it seems reasonable to focus the most attention on rolling back government where it is actively engaged in worsening socioeconomic oppression. But it’s also worth pointing out the ways in which central portions of the social welfare structure (such as the coercive practice and antihistorical content of government schooling, or the co-optation of labor organizing into the regulated structure of the Wagner Act) is corrosive to the autonomy of those who allegedly benefit from them, and paves the way for further government and corporate control over their lives. It’s a tricky dilemma, and I don’t think that there is an easy universal formula; the answer is probably different for different cases (the end of food stamps is a much less pressing issue than, say, rolling back government control over education or labor unions). Most of all I want to work towards a world where these solutions take place between the people themselves in a spirit of mutuality, rather than through the bossing and patronage of the State–that is, politics and economics from the bottom-up, taking trust in autonomy and freedom for ordinary people as its foundational principle and guiding light.

I used to believe in defensive voting, and voted for independent parties where I felt I could, strategic voting where it seemed necessary, and pushed for ballot reforms such as Instant Runoff Voting. But after wearying of partisan politics and becoming deeply skeptical of its possibilities as a lever for social change, I’ve come to the conclusion that electioneering, voting and party politicking are dead ends for serious social change, which can only be remedied by social movements and social struggles that move power away from local authority and federal leviathan, and towards social activism and ordinary people — not begging or pressuring professional politicians, but rather direct action movements, counter-economics, mutual aid networks, and culture-jamming and social activism as means to cultural transformation.

Some of my hot buttons are violence against women, abortion rights, gay rights, and foreign policy. On these topics I am respectively a radical feminist, gay-liberationist, and absolutely anti-war and non-interventionist. It’s worth noting, though, that on issues relating to feminism and gay liberation, I am usually much more concerned with the cultural politics of these issues than I am with the details of legislation. It’s not that legislation is unimportant; but some problems have to do with issues that aren’t properly the domain of legislation (e.g., helping poor women afford abortion or other reproductive health services), and others have more to do with what is already illegal but still tolerated (e.g. violence against women, gay-bashing, etc.) than they do with what is legally endorsed. In all cases, I’m deeply optimistic about the power of people to work together to end these injustices (otherwise I’d give up and enter a monastery), but my optimism has little to do with any kind of hope in government action: the main thing that needs to be done is often to get the government’s boots from off people’s necks so that they can stand on their own two feet; and I hardly think that the government, as presently constituted, is a body that can be trusted, now or any time soon, to make reforms with the best interests of women or LGBT folks at heart.

Politcal Writing and Political Projects