Ladies and gentlemen, the Libertarian Party candidate for the President of the United States of America

Here are some samples excerpted from David Weigel’s interview with Bob Barr in the most recent issue of reason.

reason: Some of what you’re talking about, though, you supported in Congress. You voted for the Iraq war.

Bob Barr: The Iraq war was presented as something that was based on sound intelligence: a clear and present danger, an immediate threat targeting the United States by the Saddam Hussein regime. We now know [sic] that the intelligence was not there to support those arguments. Many of us, including myself, gave the administration the benefit of the doubt, presumed that this would be an operation that was well founded, well thought-out, well strategized, when in fact it wasn’t. There was no clear strategy, and we’ve paid a very, very heavy price for that.

. . .

reason: What about the PATRIOT Act?

Bob Barr: This was presented to us immediately after 9/11. I took what might be called sort of a leadership role in Congress in marshaling a lot of different groups in opposition both to the PATRIOT Act generally and to specific onerous provisions in it. Several factors caused me to sort of go against my gut reaction and vote for the PATRIOT Act.

The administration did in fact work with us and agree to several pre-vote changes to the PATRIOT Act that did mitigate some of the more problematic provisions in it. The administration also, from the attorney general on down, gave us personal assurances that the provisions in the PATRIOT Act, if they were passed and signed into law, would be used judiciously, hat they would not be used to push the envelope of executive power, that they would not be used in non-terrorism-related cases. They gave us assurances that they would work with us on those provisions that we were able to get sunsetted, work with us to modify those and to look at those very carefully when those provisions came up for reauthorization. The administration also gave us absolute assurances that it would work openly and thoroughly report to the Congress, and by extrapolation to the American people [sic!], on how it was using the provisions in the PATRIOT Act. In everyone of those areas, the administration has gone back on what it told us.

— Bob Barr Talks, interview with David Weigel in reason (November 2008), p. 29.

In other words, Bob Barr is either an incredible sucker or a willfully ignorant fool, who supported two of the most infamous acts of a miserable and disastrous Presidency, because he spent years blindly trusting in absurd claims and ridiculous promises made by salivating Republicans in the executing branch of the government, which most people outside of the government, including almost all libertarians, already knew to be lies. He trusted in administration flunkies’ assurances over the warnings of civil libertarians, even though the assurances were empty gestures that would not hold back power grabs even for a second as soon as anyone in the DOJ or DOD or DHS decided that a power-grab is what they wanted. And he trusted in the government spooks’ and government flunkies’ claims of intelligence even though these claims were obviously absurd, and widely exposed as such at the time by anti-war writers, because in spite of all that Bob Barr would rather give his colleagues, the government spooks and administration flunkies, the benefit of the doubt.

In other news, Movement of the Libertarian Left veteran and Southern California ALLy Wally Conger has recently posted an online edition of the MLL’s Issue Pamphlet #5, Our Enemy, the Party, originally published in 1980 and reissued by Sam Konkin in 1987.

See also:

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76 replies to Ladies and gentlemen, the Libertarian Party candidate for the President of the United States of America Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. "Nick Manley" - The Eternally Confused "Deviant"

    Don’t forget that he’s some kind of hardcore conservative Christian too. He sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act.

    This is part of what Wikipedia says about it: “The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is the short title of a federal law of the United States passed on September 21, 1996 as Public Law No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419. Its provisions are codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C. The law has two effects:

    1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
    2. The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.”

    And what was up with his comment about the “threat” from Latin America?!?!?!

    I quote: “”While Washington’s current national security worldview remains focused like a laser beam on Iraq and Afghanistan, fires smolder and burn elsewhere. Shifting at least a portion of that concern and those resources to South America, and especially to the Andean region that currently is near the boiling point, is critical to our security. There may not be weapons of mass destruction lurking in the jungles of Venezuela, Colombia or Ecuador (there weren’t in Iraq either, of course), but arms are flowing into the area. Venezuela, for example, is buying billions of dollars worth of Russian military equipment. Leftist guerrillas and narco-terrorists remain firmly entrenched in the region, and evidence that other terrorist groups are using the area for problematic purposes is mounting.”“

    He also makes this incredible statement: “Although the publicly stated reasons for the tensions between the Colombian and Venezuelan leaders relate to Colombia’s efforts to eradicate the leftist guerrilla threat that has plagued the country for decades, most observers know it is Colombia’s openly pro-U.S. stance that really rankles Chavez. The entire South American continent has long chafed under the benign neglect of one U.S. administration after another.”

    http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=12689

    Uh huh. That’s why the CIA spent its days mining Nicaraguan harbors and bankrolling the murderous Contras. The U.S. has been intervening in Latin and Central America for ages. I am astonished that the LP could nominate a man who apparently doesn’t know this.

    Mary Ruwart for 2012! I supported her being the LP candidate, because I couldn’t bear seeing Bob Barr take the nomination. I also thought it’d be a nice shake up for the party — an intelligent woman nominee. I didn’t even necessarily plan to vote for her or anyone else, but I like to see the best people running in each party, when I live in an electoral statist society.

  2. Laura J.

    Some Latin American countries are a political hornets’ nest, ergo we should poke at it with a very large stick.

  3. Mike Gogulski

    Tainted. Goes in the bin.

  4. Sameul Haque

    Libertarianism has always been associated with right wing politics which is why I no longer associate myself with it. For some reason, Libertarians always seem to grow up to be Republicans. Maybe this generation of Libertarians will be different. Maybe they’ll grow up to be Independents or Democrats.

  5. "Nick Manley" - The Eternally Confused "Deviant"

    In fairness to Bob Barr, he has recanted some of his previous anti-gay rights positions. He now claims to support ending the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in the military. See here: http://thinkprogress.org/2007/06/13/barr-dont-ask/

    He now takes a state’s rights stance on gay marriage. I still suspect his own cultural views are rather conservative though. I found a really awful 1996 quote of his via Google searching.

    “The homosexual agenda calls for taking these so-called marriage licenses to the mainland and the other 50 states, the other 49 states, and trying to force these other states, the citizens of these other states, to accept their bizarre view of marriage.” [CBS This Morning, 12/4/96]

    Lo and behold, I just found further support for my contention about his cultural views:

    “As a conservative Republican member of Congress from 1995 to 2003, I was hardly a card-carrying member of the gay-rights lobby. I opposed then, and continue to oppose, same-sex marriage, or the designation of gays as a constitutionally protected minority class. Service in the armed forces is another matter. The bottom line here is that, with nearly a decade and a half of the hybrid “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to guide us, I have become deeply impressed with the growing weight of credible military opinion which concludes that allowing gays to serve openly in the military does not pose insurmountable problems for the good order and discipline of the services. […]

    Because the military can’t fill its slots, it has lowered its standards, extended tours of duty and increased rotations, further hurting morale and readiness. Conservatives are supposed to favor meritocracy — rewarding ability — especially in the armed forces. Instead, the military is firing badly needed, capable troops simply because they’re gay, and replacing them with a hodge podge that includes ex-cons, drug abusers and high-school dropouts.”

    Libertarianism is becoming corrupted by socially conservative GOP liters who oppose cultural legitimacy of any type of partnership that deviates from man-woman. We simply cannot see them as allies.

  6. Kevin Carson

    I remember seeing an onscreen blurb by Barr right after Colin Powell presented his “evidence” to the Security Council, saying that loyal Americans had a duty to give “their government” the benefit of the doubt on such claims. I thought at the time it was the most un-American thing I’d ever heard.

  7. anonymous

    I met Bob Barr at the 2006 Libertarian Party Convention (AKA “the Portland Massacre”).

    After his (boring and pompous) speech, I asked him what his views on sex worker rights issues. He half-flinched and made a face that suggested gagging down a live insect, and then stuttered out something to the effect of ‘I guess you can do… whatever you want.’ After this he turned towards attendees who displayed more awe and excitement at the prospect at being in the presence of a Congresscreature.

    In fairness, as human beings and libertarians (excuse me, ‘libertarians’) go, there are plenty worse than Barr. He comes across as a shallow and privileged power addict, but I prefer him to more honest and genuine libertarians who are less interested in personal power than pushing everyone into a closed, conservative society. Barr’s an intellectual lightweight, and his takeover of the Libertarian Party was the result, not the cause, of libertarianism’s gradual and necessary abandonment of principle and individualism.

    Nick-

    I agree that Barr isn’t a real libertarian by any honest use of language- he’s an opportunist and given his choice of tactics obviously not a particularly clever one.

    But was libertarianism really corrupted? If you start a political movement which sets as its goal a context-free attack on the modern state, but deliberately and explicitly refuses to do so in favour of any particular kind of substantive socio-political order, what do you expect but takeover by conservatives? Contrary to Ayn Rand’s emphases in the 70s (but in accordance with her essential principles and diagnosis), trying to be all things to all men in terms of values only supports relativists and nihilists in the short run; in the long run, it’s the deep traditions and prejudices of folkish conservatism (always the majority and always embedded in the history of our structures and language) to which a weakness in defense of liberal values must inevitably submit itself. Libertarianism could have stood for its historical and necessary foundation in the (previously barely thinkable) rational refounding of society towards the goal of individual happiness. But instead it took a short cut to avoid offending conventional morality- and now we see what a libertarianism animated by and in the service of conventional values looks like.

    There is no way to rescue libertarianism from what it has become which does not explicitly defend the individual human spirit against subordination to social aims. But such a libertarianism would not be the libertarianism we know and would find most of what goes by the name diametrically opposed to its essential spirit and goals. There’s no use in mourning betrayal if one knowingly forms a council with Ganelon. The trouble is that libertarianism is spiritually hollow, and there’s nothing to appeal to within it which can provide protection against the Barrs, the Pauls, the Hoppes, the Rockwells, the Prestons of the world.

    You and I might wish that individualism was integral to libertarianism, but it simply isn’t, and there’s no betrayal here. Theory and practice are showing with jarring clarity that getting rid of the state can not only be perfectly compatible with a drive to crush the individual under collective convention but that it can easily become a preferred means to it. Yes, our basic problem with the state is what it can do to individual freedom, but their basic problem with the state is that it robs primacy and power from other social structures which can more deeply enforce traditional values. But if you define your political philosophy as ‘hate the state’, you do, inevitably, have to accept them in the same movement- which means finding out that all your life’s effort will work to empower those who consciously want to turn off the air you breathe.

    Anti-statism is not in itself pro- individual liberty (and in fact, I think that some social elements which arose within the context of the state are absolutely indispensible for any individualist or liberal social order). It took me years to get this, and I wish I’d done so earlier and so avoiding immense amounts of completely pointless ugliness and heartbreak. But I cannot stress enough my belief that libertarianism is by the nature of its cause a dead end. You cannot purify from corruption something which has an expedient blindness to corruption at its core. What has happened to libertarianism had to happen, by internal logic, with the waning of individualist morality in the larger American society (a waning made more likely by the attempt, by individualists, to defend individualism without defending individualism). A wertfrei stance simply cannot protect against a resurgence of the repressive evil which nearly all of history’s cultures and religion have considered the good. The repressive convervatism you loathe is simply the vast ancient order of all of man’s society’s rising to reassert itself in a period where liberal civilisation has become corrupt and weak. As in the last such period in the early XX century, the only way to defend the open society is to defend the fragile institutions and values of our open society.

    Kevin-

    Un-American? But ‘American’ does not only mean those individualistic values which were as a matter of fact historically first institutionalised on a certain portion of the North American continent. ‘American’ also means… ‘American’- ‘of America’- the irrational thisness of a particular cultural heritage and anything emotionally associated with it. And the mind that thinks primarily in thoughts like ‘American’, rather than abstract principles or concepts, is nearly certain to give the latter meaning to the word.

    If ‘American’ is an attachment to blood and soil, to home and tribe and family, to how things have been and how things will be, then Bob Barr is, as captured in your anecdote, is the perfect American. A person for whom things are not true or false, but American or un-American, is perfectly poised to forgive any outrage upon truth in deference to the tribal chief. Nationalism is merely active chauvanism wielded to a certain formality of institutions; that which defines itself as ‘American’ (or ‘German’, or ‘Arab’, or ‘Russian’) already contains the tendency to be nationalist, and any contradiction to non-tribal values within the national history will prove irrelevant to a mind with in the beginning shuns abstractions and concepts.

    And given what ‘American’ distinctive means as a way of life today, Bob Barr is a very good American indeed. What he is being terribly is a citizen of the world.

  8. Marja

    But civilization itself is an attempt to remake society according to the values of the ruling class. It must privilege the values of the ruling class over the values of excluded and outcast groups, assuming the former and dismissing the latter. It introduces privilege into its discourses, and drives out reason. Unstated or unquestioned assumptions can undermine the discourse; for example Zeno’s paradox loses any meaning with the discovery of the calculus; classical Mediterranean civilization identified perfection with unchangeability; medieval European civilization assumed justice requires punishment, etc.. A ruling class which happens to value rationality will still undermine it.

    This is not to suggest that non-civilization, in itself, is better than civilization, though I believe that one or another non-civilized form can be more rational than civilization.

  9. Anonymous

    Marja-

    I disagree, and choose my associations and alliances accordingly. I think nothing good comes from the mythic, organic, religious mind. I´ve seen human life untouched by civilisation, and I´m no longer kindly inclined towards romanticisation of the premodern mentality, either in others or myself.

    And altho’ I´m something vaguely like a social democrat at present, I distrust narratives which teach an unqualified rejection of ´privilege´ with little concern for what is being privileged. Sexism, racism, etc. are objectionable because they are irrational atavisms. But institutional privilege for (say) science over creationism, or humanism over ethnocentrism, or sexual liberty over familial conservatism, are good things- such privilege should not take the form of legal sanctions or civil exclusion (at least until the point of active bigotry or abuse has been reached), but nevertheless in a world in which concrete choices must be made as regards both spiritual and physical infrastructure the possibility of the good life requires the conscious acknowledgement that there are better and worse ways of running things. Yes, one must guard against the institutionalisation of a specific sociobiological set running things (and this institutional capture of civilisation, is, in the time of Bush as in the past, liberal civilisation´s vulnerable heel). But fear of a conventional elite should not deter us from the kind of meritocratic elitism required if one is to found and maintain an open society- yes, a world which offers vastly increased ability to learn and travel, vastly increased freedom and prosperity- and more than anything, which gives us the chance of a true interior life of one´s own.

    I´ve now seen the pre-alphabetical mind firsthand. I´ve seen what people´s lives are actually like in unreconstructed tribal units, and the kind of brutality, unhappiness, narrowness, and spiritual impoverishment which is the human fate in such circumstances- and its a very hard fate to get out of, because a self-referential, collective self-hypnotic trance of entrapment within the tribal story is part of the landscape. I think this kind of society deserves no love or honour- on the contrary, genuine desire to see human beings flourish requires that we encourage and advertise every avenue of escape from such systems. If we are unwilling to say this, if we are unwilling to stand up for the superiority of liberalism, then everything we take for granted can and will be lost. And the serious failures and lapses of our partially open society will seem the pettiest of personal obsessions in that genocidal night. If we refuse to have both the courage and convictions of our historically unspeakably fortunate lives- against Evangelicism, Islamism, or primitivism, for instance- we will lose the incomplete but unspeakably precious world we partially have.

    An ideal society would not include a ruling class. An acceptable society may contain inequality so long as there is political and social space for the development of the human personality, which absolutely requires the possibility of independence from tribal bonds and developed institutions for the pursuit of science and free artistry. If my choices are between an unequal open society with a parasitic aristocratic or capitalist class and an equal closed society where everyone´s identity and worldview are woven into a pre-existing tribal-ethnic-mythical structure, then I will welcome Alexander with open arms. The trouble today is not so much that there is a ruling class so much as that the ruling class has become corrupt, stupid, and increasingly immune to social mobility- and this is making plausable the views of those who urge abandonment of the entire enterprise. I despise the idiocy and injustice of socio-economic privilege. However, it is a lesser issue in comparison with the question of what values and institutions permeate a society. It is better to be a second-class citizen in a liberal culture than a first-class citizen in a conservative one- altho´, having said this, one of the most crucial reasons a liberal society must stamp out caste divisions and cultural prejudices is precisely in order to extend the experience and benefits of the open society to everyone within it. If just grievances against bigotry and oppression are ignored by a hypocritical ruling class within a partially liberated social system, then the system itself will appeal valueless to the best and brightest within the excluded groups.

    Nevertheless, the fact that a partially open society may be useless to those to whom it turns its closed face does not justify the view that liberal civilisation is meaningless or worthless. And, just as those who believe in the free society must oppose Communism even as they oppose the unjust and oppressive traditions which nurture indifference to individual freedom, so those who believe in the open society must oppose primitivism and substantive multiculturalism even if the bigotries and blindnesses which nurture indifference to civilisation. Only a further extension of civilisation has any hope of seeing an extension of rational social strctures, as, in the best of cases- it already has. Ultimately, the goal of civilisation is to universalise the kind of spiritual and material life possible historically only to the ruling class, and we will only move towards acheiving this if we cultivate in our won souls the habit of wanting not less, but more.

  10. Marja

    I must apologize - but I focus on reason because it is easier to describe, not because it is more important than the other aspects of personal and interpersonal development.

    A system of reason is an approximation of reason. The map is not the territory.

    Aristotelian logic is true but it is not complete; Boolean logic extends it to cover cases that Aristotelian logic could not. People can discover better methods of reasoning, as well as new applications of reason.

    There are several ways this can happen:

    1. People can apply their systems of reasoning to their systems of reasoning. This is the closest thing to a sure system, but it can take the concepts out of their context - it is prone to equivocation.

    2. People can encounter ideas from another system of reasoning and examine them with their own system of reasoning (#1).

    3. People can encounter ideas from intuitive or nonrational sources and examine them with their own system of reasoning (#1).

    Privileging one system of reasoning tends to close the door to #2. Of course, if any two systems, continuously influence each other, either they will merge, or one will absorb the virtues of the first and the other will collapse from previously-hidden contradictions, or, in he extreme case, both will collapse. In the last case, this may be fertile ground for the emergence of a new system which avoids the exposed contradictions of the old systems. Or it can be fertile ground for unreason. I still think it is best for two systems to meet each other on even terms - so that the only bias is that of truth over falsehood.

    Reason, the self-criticism of one’s system of reason, the exploration of other systems of reason, the rational consideration of ideas from intuitive and nonrational sources, and the success of reason after the collapse of rival systems, all depend on the same virtues, chief among them an inveterate curiosity.

    This pits reason against hierarchy. Reason involves questioning several working hypotheses; hierarchy involves following one set of orders.

  11. quasibill

    “The trouble today is not so much that there is a ruling class so much as that the ruling class has become corrupt, stupid, and increasingly immune to social mobility”

    And Lord Acton proclaimed the ocean wet.

  12. Marja

    I have to backtrack somewhat on my claim that “the only bias [should be] that of truth over falsehood.”

    Certainly the elegance of a claim, the simplicity of its application, and its compatibility with what one considers solid knowledge are reasonable subjective concerns, which may or may not be considered part of truth.

    In addition, we may reason from our own experiences, without being able to reproduce these experiences for others. There may be another bias towards claims based on reproducible events or commonly-experienced ones, over claims built on rarely-experienced irreproducible events.

  13. Rad Geek

    Anonymous,

    I certainly agree with you that humane and intelligent people ought to oppose primitivism. But I think it’s also important to remember how much coercive violence is directed against people whose practices or identities are declared primitive by the State (whether accurately or inaccurately). If you want to defend civilization and modernity — and there’s certainly something worth defending there — then I’d suggest that it’s absolutely vital to insist that these goals must be absolutely decoupled from the coercion, dispossession, and genocide that have been committed in their name by political thugs. (After all, if people who really care about civilization can’t or won’t differentiate humane civilization from the brigandry and bigotry of the political gangsters who dub themselves civilizers, then who will?)

    I don’t know whether or not I agree with you about substantive multiculturalism, because I’m not sure what you mean by that. There are many different kinds of claims often described as multiculturalist, some of which I definitely agree with (e.g. the claim that so-called Nation States like the U.S.A. often involve many distinctive cultures that have little other than shared political subjugation in common with each other; that the forms of language used by historically oppressed classes or cultures are not, in and of themselves, more primitive or less correct than the forms of language promoted as official and self-consciously cultivated as markers of the dominant classes and cultures; that the achievements of historically oppressed cultures have often been blanked out of the historical record and ought to be more widely remembered and discussed; that simple-minded progress narratives about the development of modern nation-states are generally bunkum, and that they ought to be revised to take into account the experiences of the victims as well as the victors of the historical process of nationalization; etc.) And others of which I definitely disagree with (e.g., various forms of cultural relativism in politics, ethics, or aesthetics; various attempts to insist that a simple-minded understanding of cultural or subcultural identity take precedence over all other identities or affiliations in a person’s daily or political life, to the exclusion of cross-cultural concerns about gender, sexuality, class, work, philosophy, spirituality, and any number of other things). So I’d be interested to know more what you mean specifically when you object to substantive multiculturalism.

    The trouble today is not so much that there is a ruling class so much as that the ruling class has become corrupt, stupid, and increasingly immune to social mobility- and this is making plausable the views of those who urge abandonment of the entire enterprise.

    I’m puzzled by the has become. Was there a time when the ruling class was not corrupt, stupid, and immune to social mobility? If so, when and where? I think that any ruling class is bound to be largely dominated by people who are largely corrupt, stupid, and immune to social mobility, no matter how much their animating ideals may sound like the animating ideals of humane, intelligent, and universalist people, so long as the position of the people in that class is based on rule and not on mere influence, persuasion, or conversion. Rule necessitates dealing with people by force and command, and dealing with people by force and command, as a matter of routine, necessitates cultivating the coldest and least worthy parts of yourself, and dealing with the worst parts of other people at their most fearful and their most brutal.

    There is no way to force people to philosophize or to value the good and the beautiful; the only hope is to cultivate a voluntary community that appreciates these things, and to come to people as they are and show them, as best you can, the best in themselves. That doesn’t require class power; what it requires is equality, voluntary community, education, critical thinking, and compassion.

  14. "Nick Manley" - The Eternally Confused "Deviant"

    Anonomyous,

    “There’s no use in mourning betrayal if one knowingly forms a council with Ganelon.”

    “You and I might wish that individualism was integral to libertarianism, but it simply isn’t, and there’s no betrayal here. Theory and practice are showing with jarring clarity that getting rid of the state can not only be perfectly compatible with a drive to crush the individual under collective convention but that it can easily become a preferred means to it.”

    Quotes further comments about Libertarianism without substance

    What you say has been said to me before. I don’t substantially disagree with it. Anyone famailar with my public body of work knows I am a strident and confident defender of cultural liberalism. I do not feel betrayed by a character like Bob Barr. I never had any allegiance to him or the Libertarian Party in general. I was fortunate enough to be an anarcho-communist before an egoist or Libertarian. I never had the scars from coming to Libertarianism via the Republican Party or other bastions of social conservatives.

    Ironically enough, I did tell someone they were a whore or something to that effect in the 7th or 8th grade. A time when I was intellectually and spiritually maturing, but had not yet reached my mature view of prostitution. My mom tells me I would use the word gay or fag as a synomom for something stupid when I was younger. And she just had to point out that those nice neighbors of mine were gay to get me quiet. My labor lawyer father would always get leftist publications like Z Magazine or The Nation, so I read them religiously in my teen years. I guess you could say I was blessed with a liberal environment. It’s kind of odd to think of my dad as part of the power establishment you support out of necessity though. As a lawyer for The Teamsters, he gets to speak to the son of the famous late Jimmey Hoffa. He also gets to be around when negoitatitons between labor reps and corporate reps sometimes. What he gets done is via coercion. The employers are forced to deal with the state approved and regimented union. He’s to the left of them, but he needed health insurance for us dependent “children”, and he views it as working within the system.

    As you can see, I am surrounded by people of an intellectual liberal bent. It helps to be a red diaper baby of ex-community organizers with professional degrees when it comes to freedom of intellectual exploration. I often notice anecdotal support for a correlation between education-income and liberal-tolerant attitudes. The Islamist Sadrist movement in Iraq is a populist one drawn from Baghdad’s Sadr City slum. I’ve seen evidence I can’t recall for the assertion that Iraq’s professional classes are less prone to rampant tribalism-sectarianism. They’ve left in frightful numbers since the U.S. invasion. And they’ve been deliberately targeted by armed thugs.

    I say this in response to this comment of yours:

    “and that the enemies of slavery are, as often as not, among the powerful who have had the privilege to learn how to live in freedom and acquire the mind and independence a free society absolutely requires to survive.”

    I reject the notion that I am harming the fight for civilization by being associated with The Alliance of the Libertarian Left or doing generically anti-statist activistism. In fact, I am more interested in the study of liberal child treatment right now. I decided I would better enjoy the life of an intellectual-researcher who promoted the philosophic-cultural preconditions of a thick left-libertarian, vaguely Objectivist, or left-anarchist polity. I am arguably drifting somewhere among these traditions right now. I am no longer a certain anarchist; although, I am still interested in the study of the anarchist tradition.

    How can I support these modern institutions you speak of? I have little to no ability to have a major structural impact on the American polity, and little desire left to be a hardcore revolutionary, so I am simply enjoying a life of my own — when it isn’t hampered by severe depression. I am still determined to make waves in some way, but that is more likely to come in my defense of the prostitute or work in alternative education. Libertarianism is not my life’s work right now. My remaining interest in it lies in Chris Sciabarra’s contextual approach and Charles’s thickness approach.

    I am not even being a good anarchist or left-libertarian this election. I am voting against Sarah Palin. You can call that a minimal salute to the values of a liberal constitutional order against theocracy.

  15. "Nick Manley" - The Eternally Confused "Deviant"

    Anonomyous,

    “There’s no use in mourning betrayal if one knowingly forms a council with Ganelon.”

    “You and I might wish that individualism was integral to libertarianism, but it simply isn’t, and there’s no betrayal here. Theory and practice are showing with jarring clarity that getting rid of the state can not only be perfectly compatible with a drive to crush the individual under collective convention but that it can easily become a preferred means to it.”

    Quotes further comments about Libertarianism without substance

    What you say has been said to me before. I don’t substantially disagree with it. Anyone famailar with my public body of work knows I am a strident and confident defender of cultural liberalism. I do not feel betrayed by a character like Bob Barr. I never had any allegiance to him or the Libertarian Party in general. I was fortunate enough to be an anarcho-communist before an egoist or Libertarian. I never had the scars from coming to Libertarianism via the Republican Party or other bastions of social conservatives.

    Ironically enough, I did tell someone they were a whore or something to that effect in the 7th or 8th grade. A time when I was intellectually and spiritually maturing, but had not yet reached my mature view of prostitution. My mom tells me I would use the word gay or fag as a synomom for something stupid when I was younger. And she just had to point out that those nice neighbors of mine were gay to get me quiet. My labor lawyer father would always get leftist publications like Z Magazine or The Nation, so I read them religiously in my teen years. I guess you could say I was blessed with a liberal environment. It’s kind of odd to think of my dad as part of the power establishment you support out of necessity though. As a lawyer for The Teamsters, he gets to speak to the son of the famous late Jimmey Hoffa. He also gets to be around when negoitatitons between labor reps and corporate reps sometimes. What he gets done is via coercion. The employers are forced to deal with the state approved and regimented union. He’s to the left of them, but he needed health insurance for us dependent “children”, and he views it as working within the system.

    As you can see, I am surrounded by people of an intellectual liberal bent. It helps to be a red diaper baby of ex-community organizers with professional degrees when it comes to freedom of intellectual exploration. I often notice anecdotal support for a correlation between education-income and liberal-tolerant attitudes. The Islamist Sadrist movement in Iraq is a populist one drawn from Baghdad’s Sadr City slum. I’ve seen evidence I can’t recall for the assertion that Iraq’s professional classes are less prone to rampant tribalism-sectarianism. They’ve left in frightful numbers since the U.S. invasion. And they’ve been deliberately targeted by armed thugs.

    I say this in response to this comment of yours:

    “and that the enemies of slavery are, as often as not, among the powerful who have had the privilege to learn how to live in freedom and acquire the mind and independence a free society absolutely requires to survive.”

    I reject the notion that I am harming the fight for civilization by being associated with The Alliance of the Libertarian Left or doing generically anti-statist activistism. In fact, I am more interested in the study of liberal child treatment right now. I decided I would better enjoy the life of an intellectual-researcher who promoted the philosophic-cultural preconditions of a thick left-libertarian, vaguely Objectivist, or left-anarchist polity. I am arguably drifting somewhere among these traditions right now. I am no longer a certain anarchist; although, I am still interested in the study of the anarchist tradition.

    How can I support these modern institutions you speak of? I have little to no ability to have a major structural impact on the American polity, and little desire left to be a hardcore revolutionary, so I am simply enjoying a life of my own — when it isn’t hampered by severe depression. I am still determined to make waves in some way, but that is more likely to come in my defense of the prostitute or work in alternative education. Libertarianism is not my life’s work right now. My remaining interest in it lies in Chris Sciabarra’s contextual approach and Charles’s thickness approach.

    I am not even being a good anarchist or left-libertarian this election. I am voting against Sarah Palin. You can call that a minimal contribution to the defense of the remains of a liberal constitutional order against theocracy.

  16. "Nick Manley" - The Eternally Confused "Deviant"

    “I was fortunate enough to be an anarcho-communist before an egoist or Libertarian. I never had the scars from coming to Libertarianism via the Republican Party or other bastions of social conservatives.”

    Scratch the egoist part. I’d like to have worded it as: I was fortunate enough to have been an ultra-leftist anarchist in the beginning of my political career. This gave me a solid theoretical grounding for opposing illiberal conservative doctrines of race, sex, and class discrimination.

  17. Keith Preston

    Nick,

    “I am voting against Sarah Palin. You can call that a minimal contribution to the defense of the remains of a liberal constitutional order against theocracy.”

    I’m sure your intentions are of the highest order, but I have to disagree that Palin is a proponent of theocracy. A genuine right-wing Christian theocrat would never take her unmarried, pregnant teenaged daughter out on the campaign with her. In fact, genuine theocrats would oppose the idea of a woman holding high political office in the first place. Sarah is a mainstream, slightly center-right American politician and nothing more. This is what genuine right-wingers think of her:

    “She is, in short, a liberal. From Shatter-the-Glass-Ceiling Sarah, to Take-Care-of-an Infant-Baby-while-Running-for-and-Serving-as-Vice-President-of-the-United-States Sarah, to Take-Your-Unmarried-Pregnant-Teen-age-Daughter-on-Your Vice-Presidential-Campaign-and-Display her-on-Stage-with-You-in-Every-State-of-the-Union Sarah, to Spread-Democracy-to-the-Whole-World Sarah, to Legalize-(Almost)-All-Illegal-Aliens-Because-it-Will-Make-Them-Feel-Good Sarah, it all seems to be of a piece, doesn’t it? But none of this matters to the conservatives. All of this is just great with the conservatives—because (drum roll) Sarah is pro-America.”

    Anonymous,

    “The trouble is that libertarianism is spiritually hollow, and there’s nothing to appeal to within it which can provide protection against the Barrs, the Pauls, the Hoppes, the Rockwells, the Prestons of the world.”

    That’s pretty illustrious company you’ve placed me in. I didn’t know I was such a significant figure in the libertarian world.

    Rad Geek,

    “But I think it’s also important to remember how much coercive violence is directed against people whose practices or identities are declared “primitive” by the State (whether accurately or inaccurately). If you want to defend civilization and modernity — and there’s certainly something worth defending there — then I’d suggest that it’s absolutely vital to insist that these goals must be absolutely decoupled from the coercion, dispossession, and genocide that have been committed in their name by political thugs.”

    Yes, Yes, Yes! Keep in mind the “we’re bringing them civilization” was a big part of the historic rationale for British and other European imperialisms. It’s also a big part of the Neocons effort to legitimize imperial conquest of Islamic lands.

  18. anonymous

    Kieth-

    I’m sure that the lord of the ninth circle of Hell is throughly disgusted with the Lord of the Second, because a weak and sentimental sop like Dispater only plans the ruin of humanity rather than their universal torture and damnation.

    Sarah Palin is lethal enough as she is to justify the most extreme measures against her, and the fact that such an indignantly illiterate monster could even have a chance at acquiring executive power in America is a sign of the country’s desperate cultural and political state. I’m not sure at all that I would agree that her views fall short of theocracy- but that disputable issue is a technically of secondary consequence for those, starting with young and independent women and proceeding to LGBTs, free-thinkers, etc., etc., who would be her victims if she or someone like her ever ascended to the presidency. I assume anyone reading this is well aware of her views and record (for those who are not, I recommend reading through Adam Reed’s blog borntoidentify.blogspot.com).

    In other news, I attended my first anti-fascist action yesterday. Time was I’d have thought this kind of thing silly because I used to think that explicit fascism was a pathetic marginal remnant safely and rightly marginalised into harmlessness, something which no one in their right mind would seek to rehabilitate or take seriously. Times change, and one learns and changes with them.

  19. Keith Preston

    Anonymous,

    “Sarah Palin is lethal enough as she is to justify the most extreme measures against her, and the fact that such an indignantly illiterate monster could even have a chance at acquiring executive power in America is a sign of the country’s desperate cultural and political state.”

    As opposed to whom? Richard Nixon? Lyndon Johnson? Woodrow Wilson? Harry “Hiroshima” Truman? I don’t see that Palin represents any special degeneration.

    “I’m not sure at all that I would agree that her views fall short of theocracy- but that disputable issue is a technically of secondary consequence for those, starting with young and independent women and proceeding to LGBTs, free-thinkers, etc., etc., who would be her victims if she or someone like her ever ascended to the presidency.”

    How will these people be her “victims”?

    “I assume anyone reading this is well aware of her views and record (for those who are not, I recommend reading through Adam Reed’s blog borntoidentify.blogspot.com).”

    I checked out that blog. Given that Adam Reed is a Randian, I wasn’t expecting much and I wasn’t disapppointed.

    “Theocratic politics is a new phenomenon in America, and so we don’t have (yet) a scale of toxicity for its gradations. So I’ll borrow the scale from the history of the left. George W. Bush is the theocon equivalent of a Social-Democrat. Sarah Palin, on the same scale, scores as a Maoist. The kind that saw the results of Mao’s cultural revolution, as we are seeing the result of the Christianist revolution that Sarah Palin imposed on her family, and kept on believing, and kept on destroying every human life in his path. “

    Comparing Palin to Mao is off the scale in absurdity. So Palin plans to execute millions for the crime of “having prospered under the old regime”?

    “Sarah Palin is, to the Christianists and the Islamists of the world, an actual saint. In her last pregnancy, she learned that she was carrying a fetus with a genetic defect, one that will make the child, that this fetus could eventually become, forever incapable of fully human conceptual life. Sarah Palin, rejecting the option of abortion, decided to sacrifice a large fraction of the rest of her life to God’s Will by completing that pregnancy, and deliberately giving birth to a genetically defective child.”

    So Sarah Palin opposes abortion and human cloning? That makes her a fascist? Like the atheist civil libertarian Nat Hentoff? Or the Catholic pacifists Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan?

    So much for the Objectivist belief in “reason”.

  20. Anon73

    Keith,

    Hmm that’s funny, I remembered you as being sympathetic to Objectivism. Maybe I’ve confused you with somebody else.

  21. "Nick Manley" - The Eternally Confused "Deviant"

    Keith,

    I think Adam was comparing them in principle (i.e. they both want to destroy human life).

  22. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Keith,

    Palin certainly accepts the basic idea of theocracy. The ban on gay marriages or benefits to gay government employees may be “light” compared to the former Taliban, but it still has an impact.

    For example, you can’t use having a gay partner here, as a basis for immigration. I don’t like the government certified marriage model or anything, but the present context ties beneficial things to it.

  23. Keith Preston

    Anon73,

    “Hmm that’s funny, I remembered you as being sympathetic to Objectivism. Maybe I’ve confused you with somebody else.”

    Well, I suppose Objectivists are like any other group in the sense of it’s best to evaluate them on the basis of what they individually do or say rather than simply saying, “I hate ‘em all…”

    There are people who claim the Objectivist label or who are influenced by Objectivism whose thinking I find interesting (George Smith, for instance). Yet among hard-core Rand groupies there’s also a cult-like psychology that makes Neocons and Leftoids look sensible by comparison. And their sense of paranoia often rivals that of the LaRouchies. Listen to some of Leonard Peikoff’s lectures and you’ll see what I mean.

    Nick,

    “I think Adam was comparing them in principle (i.e. they both want to destroy human life).”

    You have a point there, in the sense that Palin has signed on to the Neocons lunatic foreign policy views, but I don’t think that’s what Adam was talking about. There are some Rand-influenced writers (like Arthur Silber) who are extremely critical of US imperialism, but I didn’t see any of that on Adam’s blog. Instead, it’s just one long anti-Christian tirade. Adam’s thinking reminds me of some of the conservatives I know who’ll say, “Well, I don’t really care about foreign policy or military commissions, but I don’t like Bush’s support for No Child Left Behind” or something to that effect.

    “Palin certainly accepts the basic idea of theocracy. The ban on gay marriages or benefits to gay government employees may be “light” compared to the former Taliban, but it still has an impact.”

    To my knowledge, they don’t have same-sex marriages in Japan or China, but those are hardly theocracies. In fact, those societies are at least as irreligious as the Western Europeans.

    While I wouldn’t personally care if gay marriages were legally recognized, I’m not sure I’d agree that same-sex couples have any inherent “right” to government benefits (nor do heterosexual couples). Benefits of this kind involved transfer payments from taxpayers to others. Not being a socialist, I disagree that anyone has any rightful claim of government subsidies/employment/benefits, etc.

    If same-sex marriage can be used to legitimize such things, why not other non-conventional forms of marriages? Should I be able to marry 20 women and demand benefits for all of my spouses?

    “For example, you can’t use having a gay partner here, as a basis for immigration. I don’t like the government certified marriage model or anything, but the present context ties beneficial things to it.”

    Is having a heterosexual partner to whom you are not legally married a basis for immigration? I’m not sure, but I doubt it is.

    I disagree that marriage (of any kind) should entitle anyone to anything. I personally regard marriage as archaic and outmoded. I’m 42 yrs. old, never been married, never wanted to be, never needed to be. I really think there’s better things for libertarians to do than promote and uphold “marriage”. I realize you and I probably disagree on this issue, but I’m with Justin Raimondo on this:

    http://www.takimag.com/site/article/gay_marriage_sucks/

    In fact, I’d go further than Justin and say “marriage sucks…period.”

  24. Marja

    I think Palin’s connections to witch-hunting are more threatening than her views of marriage.

    Returning to my last tangent, I consider myself an anti-civ anarchist but not a primitivist. Urbanism/civilization implies certain institutions including the state, including slavery, serfdom, or other forms of exploitation, and often if not always including hierarchical religion.

    To simplify things, Marxism attributes these to undeveloped technology and the organization of production [I’m neglecting primitive communism here]. Primitivism attributes these to overdeveloped technology and the organization of production. While I have been sympathetic to various historical materialisms, I think ways-of-life depend on idea-culture as much as material culture.

    I still think that civilization/urbanism, as an economic form, depends on exploitation. However, I do not believe that an open society depends on civilization/urbanism, or that technology does.

  25. Anon73

    Ah ok, I couldn’t tell from the first few posts if Reed was like Peikoff or not. Generally I only call people similar to Peikoff “Randians”. :)

  26. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Keith,

    “You have a point there, in the sense that Palin has signed on to the Neocons lunatic foreign policy views, but I don’t think that’s what Adam was talking about. There are some Rand-influenced writers (like Arthur Silber) who are extremely critical of US imperialism, but I didn’t see any of that on Adam’s blog. Instead, it’s just one long anti-Christian tirade. Adam’s thinking reminds me of some of the conservatives I know who’ll say, “Well, I don’t really care about foreign policy or military commissions, but I don’t like Bush’s support for No Child Left Behind” or something to that effect.”

    I can assure you that Adam is no friend of conservatives. I have never spoken to him about The Military Commissions Act, but I highly doubt he supports Bush’s “legal” claims of unquestionable and unchecked power to detain/try so called “enemy combatants” without judicial branch interference. He’s certainly more hawkish than you, but he views Americans as having been sacrificed to support theocracies in Afghan. and Iraq. Sarah Palin thinks the messianic will of God is at work in Iraq. I imagine Adam thinks she will sacrifice the lives of Americans to the goal of propping up such tyrannies.

    “To my knowledge, they don’t have same-sex marriages in Japan or China, but those are hardly theocracies. In fact, those societies are at least as irreligious as the Western Europeans.”

    Don’t Eastern forms of mysticism have some kind of influence there? They may not qualify as theocracies, but I know China is an extremely repressive place. This debate seems to be partially over when a country qualifies as a theocracy. I don’t think it’s possible to say that America does not suffer under some theocratic measures.

    “While I wouldn’t personally care if gay marriages were legally recognized, I’m not sure I’d agree that same-sex couples have any inherent “right” to government benefits (nor do heterosexual couples). Benefits of this kind involved transfer payments from taxpayers to others. Not being a socialist, I disagree that anyone has any rightful claim of government subsidies/employment/benefits, etc.

    If same-sex marriage can be used to legitimize such things, why not other non-conventional forms of marriages? Should I be able to marry 20 women and demand benefits for all of my spouses?

    “For example, you can’t use having a gay partner here, as a basis for immigration. I don’t like the government certified marriage model or anything, but the present context ties beneficial things to it.”

    Is having a heterosexual partner to whom you are not legally married a basis for immigration? I’m not sure, but I doubt it is.

    I disagree that marriage (of any kind) should entitle anyone to anything. I personally regard marriage as archaic and outmoded. I’m 42 yrs. old, never been married, never wanted to be, never needed to be. I really think there’s better things for libertarians to do than promote and uphold “marriage”. I realize you and I probably disagree on this issue, but I’m with Justin Raimondo on this:

    http://www.takimag.com/site/article/gaymarriagesucks/

    In fact, I’d go further than Justin and say “marriage sucks…period.”

    This is what I was referencing in my comment on immigration:

    “Currently, U.S. immigration law does not allow lesbian and gay citizens or permanent residents to petition for their same-sex partners to immigrate. Approximately 75% of the one million green cards or immigrant visas issued each year are granted to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, those excluded from the definition, under current immigration law of family, are not eligible to immigrate as family. Such ineligible person include (but are not limited to) same-sex partners and unmarried heterosexual couples.

    Each year, current law forces thousands of lesbian and gay couples to separate or live in constant fear of deportation. In some cases, partners of lesbian and gays face prosecution by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), hefty fines and deportation and U.S. citizens are sometimes left with no other choice but to migrate with their partner to a nation whose immigration laws recognize their relationship. This creates a tremendous hardship, not only for those involved, but for their friends and family, and leads to a drain of talent and productivity for our country.”

    http://www.hrc.org/issues/5585.htm

    Realistically speaking, the INS is probably not going to be abolished or drastically scaled down in power anytime soon. This issue illustrates the importance of contextual thinking once again. In this context, and at this time in history: a legal marriage certificate is one way to safely get to and stay in a better place.

    I agree with you that marriage sucks. I agree that state certification of relationships opens up a whole can of worms that shouldn’t be opened. I’d much rather critique marriage than spend my time advancing the legalization of it for increased numbers of people, but I would still cast a ballot for equality under the law. In our present welfare statist context, there are LGBT people forced to pay into the social security fund — even if politicians may routinely gut it. They pay for medicare and medicaid too. It may be necessary for an LGBT individual trying to pursue their happiness in this current world context to have martial based access to those welfare state resources. Of course, you’re right that one way to end this forced subsidy by disenfranchised sexual minorities of straight marriages is to end benefits based on marriage. I don’t want to pay taxes to support funds doled out on the discriminatory basis of state approved relationships either. I especially don’t want to hand money over to support the marriages of the Christianists bent on my spiritual destruction.

    Ultimately, the root of the problem is the notion of authorities having to verify romantic commitment. One of my best pieces of work was written on the need for cultural change in our understanding of family and marriage to resolve the gay marriage issue. You can read it here: http://www.lifeloveandliberty.com/2006/03/27/further-thoughts-on-marriage-cultural-feelings/

    In retrospect, I should have dropped the pretense of defending marriage as conventionally understood and argued for free love a la a Benjamin Tucker in that piece.

    Anyhow, Chris Sciabarra is right about the importance of dialectics and contextual thinking. We will never achieve true LGBT relationship liberation via a narrow analytical focus on the realm of the state centric polity detached from cultural consideration. A state Supreme Court can mandate governmental recognition of marriage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone in the citizenry sees it as a legit partnership — the precondition for genuine societal integration and assistance.

    This is why only philosophic and cultural education can truly solve America’s problems in this area.

  27. Rad Geek

    Marja,

    Urbanism/civilization implies certain institutions including the state, including slavery, serfdom, or other forms of exploitation, and often if not always including hierarchical religion.

    Do you think that any large agglomeration of people living in one place together with some form of community relationships among themselves necessarily implies coercive or hierarchical institutions? Or do you mean something more than just that when you say urbanism and civilization?

    Also, I suppose that serfdom has historically always gone along with civilization (in some sense or another) where it has existed. But isn’t it more or less exclusively an agrarian rather than an urban institution?

    Keith,

    While I wouldn’t personally care if gay marriages were legally recognized, I’m not sure I’d agree that same-sex couples have any inherent “right” to government benefits (nor do heterosexual couples).

    Nobody has an inherent right to government benefits, but same-sex marriage advocates (critical as I may have been of it in the past) are concerned with a lot more than just access to government benefits.

    If same-sex marriage can be used to legitimize such things, why not other non-conventional forms of marriages? Should I be able to marry 20 women and demand benefits for all of my spouses?

    Sure. Why shouldn’t you be able to?

    If the concern is that this would somehow cause problems for the welfare state’s ability to operate as it has in the past, well, so what? I want to abolish the welfare state; don’t you? If the combination of a basically noncoercive institution (voluntary plural marriages) with a basically coercive institution (government welfare) produces bad results, then it seems to me that’s a good reason to talk about the problems with the basically coercive institution, not to call for limitations on the basically noncoercive institution.

  28. Marja

    As I was just telling Nick:

    I’m not 100% sure that cities - areas of very high population density which do not feed themselves surrounded by a hinterland of lower population density which feeds the city - have to depend on exploitation.

    However, the growth of cities often depends on primitive accumulation. Rome is a good example where the patrician class seized the farms of the other classes, and drove people into the cities. They deliberately replaced small family farms with slave plantations. There were also tax subsidies and other subsidies to settlement in Roma. London also grew as the landlords drove the people off their land, for the wool trade.

    I would add:

    I’m not saying that the city is parasitic. It can be, but it isn’t usually. I think the city is a refugee camp. Rural elites drive people off the land and urban elites use them as cheap labor.

  29. Rad Geek

    Marja,

    O.K. Thanks. I certainly agree with you that historically cities have often emerged, in part, because of political dispossession, deliberate assaults on agrarian (heathen) ways of life and livelihoods, etc., and that city elites have often sustained themselves through political parasitism, or through nominally productive industries that happen to be dependent on political coercion or its ripple effects for their sustenance.

    But I also do think it’s important to note how much cities themselves are battered into their familiar shape by ongoing political coercion against the underclass within the city. (For example, why is it that cities don’t feed themselves? Partly it’s because the land has just been turned over to other uses. But the degree to which cities depend on either trade or piracy to get food from elsewhere is largely a product of political coercion — when poor people are left alone in cities, they plant gardens on a large scale or a small scale, keep small livestock (historically it was usually pigs and chickens), etc. They don’t often do so now, not because they couldn’t do it if they were free to, but because they are stopped by city laws or by conditions set down by their politically-privileged landlords. And the same is true of a lot of other features of city dwelling. Without these privileges and that coercion, you’d still have something noticeably urban — but the ways in which people made their living within it would be very, very different from the landlords, strip malls, and downtowns that we see in politically-occupied cities today.

  30. Anon73

    when poor people are left alone in cities, they plant gardens on a large scale or a small scale, keep small livestock (historically it was usually pigs and chickens), etc.

    It’s so annoying to me that many self-styled “leftists” can’t let themselves acknowledge this kind of thing. The idea that if freed from coercion the poor and working class would not be able to provide food or goods for themselves is ridiculous, as the South Central Farm project showed. Yet people like John Edwards and Obama call for more government intervention to help the poor instead of less. The next time someone from Hillary’s party says government intervention is needed to help the poor, point out South Central Farm!

  31. Keith Preston

    LOL! I’m pretty sure more than a few leftists would be horrified by the idea of urban farming by poor people. Middle class liberal-social democratic types would be more worried about neighborhood aesthetics, possible foul smells or real or imaginary health hazards from having a bunch of farm animals around, while more hard-core leftists would be like, “What???They’re eating meat???!!!!??? Off with their heads!”

    Zoning is a good illustration of what I’m talking about. I’ve seen studies showing that African-Americans in Houston have a better quality of life than in any other US city. Not coincidentally, Houston has no zoning laws (or at least they didn’t until fairly recently, maybe it’s changed). I’m pretty sure the majority of leftists would side with the zoning commissars over poor inner-city black people. They’d be more worried about traffic congestion, parking, environmental do-gooderism, and aesthetic values than the ability of poor people to have food, housing and employment.

  32. Keith Preston

    Rad Geek,

    “the concern is that this would somehow cause problems for the welfare state’s ability to operate as it has in the past, well, so what? I want to abolish the welfare state; don’t you? If the combination of a basically noncoercive institution (voluntary plural marriages) with a basically coercive institution (government welfare) produces bad results, then it seems to me that’s a good reason to talk about the problems with the basically coercive institution, not to call for limitations on the basically noncoercive institution.”

    That’s a very good point. Perhaps the most sure fire way of ending the welfare (and warfare) state would be for everyone to keep on making more and more demands from it until the whole fell over under its own weight. Actually, it seems to be doing that as we speak. Ironically, it’s been conservatives who have done the most to destroy the welfare state, not through reducing “taxing and spending” as they falsely claim they want to do, but by spending the system into oblivion with unbelievably extravagant fiscal policies, crazy monetary policies, military welfare, corporate welfare, international welfare and proposing still more welfare like “presciption drug entitlements” (welfare for pharmaceutical makers), “faith based initiatives” (welfare for churches), the recent “bailout” (welfare for banks), the prison-industrial complex (welfare for prison manufacturers and prison guards unions) and much else.

  33. Rad Geek

    Keith,

    I’m pretty sure more than a few leftists would be horrified by the idea of urban farming by poor people.

    Do you know many Leftists?

    I’m asking in all honesty, because, as it happens, I do, and this suggestion is actually more or less the exact reverse of at least my experience. So I’m wondering where you get this notion.

    Certainly it’s true that much of the regulatory apparatus (zoning regulations, health codes, etc.) that I’m complaining about was originally crafted by managerial Progressives early in the last century. But nowadays a lot of Leftists, including even the sort of professional class statist Progressives — the kind that, as you may know, I usually have very little patience with — have often embraced the notion of urban gardening and even keeping small livestock, and lead campaigns to stop or roll back statist controls that would squash them. Usually under the heading of green localism, along with a critique of factory farming. The South Central Farm was a cause celebre for plenty of Cali limo-liberals. And the trend is most visible in the cities that are most stereotypically dominated by Progressive types, e.g. Left Coast hubs like Portland (where a lot of the local lefties are currently obsessed to the point of distraction with urban chicken farming).

    Of course, I’m sure you can also find many Leftists, or corporate liberals, or Progressives, or whatever, who would be against all this stuff, especially if they saw it being done on a large scale, and especially if they saw poor people doing it. There are a lot of people in the (broadly defined) left, so I’m sure you can find somebody who believes most anything, especially when it comes to common bourgeois phenomena that tend to cross political party lines among the professional and managerial classes, like short-sighted NIMBYism and intolerance for anything seen as poor and trashy. But the basic problem, as far as these things go, doesn’t have much to do with distinctively Lefty forms of statism, at least not in my experience. In fact distinctively Lefty views tend to cut against it. It has a lot more to do with corporatism, economic cleansing, and local growth-machine politics.

  34. anonymous

    “I’m pretty sure the majority of leftists would side with the zoning commissars over poor inner-city black people. They’d be more worried about traffic congestion, parking, environmental do-gooderism, and aesthetic values than the ability of poor people to have food, housing and employment.”

    Not all of us, for the record. And that isn’t fair to a majority of progressives either, as I’ve encountered them. I’ve been seriously poor (at least if anyone living in the first world can be considered truly poor, which I think is debatable), and while a few radicals and a few more liberals have shown exactly the attitude you describe, that has been the exception and not the rule- and a few have shown kindnesses which have done a great deal towards allowing me to like the sound of the word ‘humanity’. The left-of-center types in positions of power whom I’ve known have been, likewise, more often well-meaning than not- even where they are operating from heirachies (political, economic, social, etc.) which shouldn’t exist, they are often the only people in these heirachies one can trust to put individuals over rules, value happiness over order, or simply acknowledge one’s mind or humanity if one doesn’t belong to the most privileged in-group.

    There are some truly awful people on the left, granted. The worst I’ve ever met was an environmentalist who told me, point blank, that if a healthy planet was not sustainable with a population of more than 500,000,000 humans that yes, she personally really would be willing to do the dirty work of cutting the human population to that level. Given the utterly warped misery and self-hatred she radiated, I must say that I believed her. That said, she was far from the norm, and a couple of things she said which hinted at undigested issues with rather serious very traditional kinds of prejudice makes me wonder how much of her attitudes result from her current politics and how much they resulted from her extremely conservative upbringing.

    I should say that I’ve seen genuine compassion and kindness for minorities and outsiders among libertarians as well, altho’ its been a very mixed experience. By contrast I’ve virtually never known a person of any kind of right-wing persuasion who showed anything better than malign indifference towards me- and some have been much, much worse.

    I think progressives and other liberal humanists should be called on their faults, but they are a senseless group to specially demonise in a world in which there are real human demons- just as Jonah Goldberg deserves nothing but scorn for publishing Liberal Fascism at a time when the conservative party is visibly teetering on the edge of very real fascism. I hardly see anyone other than progressives (imperfect as they are) whom poor and marginalised people would be well-advised to seek allies with- and trying to turn the anger of the oppressed against big city liberals has a long and utterly sordid and shameful history, whose essence has not changed much.

  35. Keith Preston

    Rad Geek,

    “Do you know many Leftists?”

    LOL! Where do I begin? I started out in radical politics as a hard-core left-winger twenty-some years ago. I was in the anti-apartheid movement, the Central America solidarity movement, and most of my associates in those days were from commie cults like SWP, RCP, or WWP, “libertarian theology” Catholic-Marxist types, anarcho-leftoids, etc. I was a something of a protege to a fellow who was a former organizer for SDS in the 60s. One of my closest collaborators was a French fellow who had been involved with armed Maoist groups in Europe in the 60s and 70s (we’re still good friends). I was also the local delegate for the IWW and came close to being elected General-Secretary at one point. I was also on the national committee of the Workers Solidarity Alliance (which is the US section of the same anarcho-syndicalist international that the Spanish CNT of Civil War fame belongs to). I used to go to fund raising events for El Salvador’s FMLN. I was also at the founding conference of a left-wing anarchist group called Love and Rage (which was something of a predecessor to NEFAC). I used to work at a homeless shelter run by the Catholic Worker organization. I also helped found several left-wing student organizations with names like Coalition for Student Awareness. I traveled all over North America, hooking up with anarchists and other radicals wherever I went, participating in demonstrations, workshops and conferences.

    I camped out with striking miners in the hills of Kentucky and the coalfields of southwest Virginia, picketed with striking airlines and Greyhound bus workers, taught a class on alternative politics at an experimental high school, held forums on anarchism on college campuses, spoke to high school and college students about the supposed dangers of fascism and organized racism, protested CIA recruitment on campuses, helped defend abortion clinics during the course of militant pro-life demonstrations, marched against the Klan with the Stalinist Workers World Party in D.C., helped organize benefit concerts for the homeless and various environmental causes, attempted (unsuccessfully) to organize a student union, helped bring all sorts of radical speakers to town, attended anarchist conferences attended by thousands in San Francisco and Toronto, went to the annual Wobbly campout in upstate New York, and many other activities that I can no longer recall. I also met many luminaries of the leftist subculture. These included the anarchists Sam Dolgoff and Mel Moss-Most, both of them associates of Emma Goldman in their early years (“Red Emma” had been Mel’s babysitter when he was little-of course, he was in his 80s when I knew him), Murray Bookchin, Alex Cockburn,Phil Agee, Dave Dellinger, Michael Parenti, folk singer Utah Phillips, Dan Ellsberg, Lenora Fulani, Tim Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Stokely Carmichael.

    So, to answer your question, yes, I’ve known more than a few leftists in my time. Most of what I’ve mentioned here happened in the 80s. In the 90s, I was involved in municipal politics as an activist and journalist so during that time I got to see up front how the whole process of zoning, building codes, urban planning, etc. actually works (not to mention “law enforcement”). In recent years, most of the left-wingers I’ve been associated with have been of the academic type.

    “But nowadays a lot of Leftists, including even the sort of professional class statist “Progressives” — the kind that, as you may know, I usually have very little patience with — have often embraced the notion of urban gardening and even keeping small livestock, and lead campaigns to stop or roll back statist controls that would squash them.”

    That’s good.

    “The South Central Farm was a cause celebre for plenty of Cali limo-liberals.”

    I vaguely remember that.

    “But the basic problem, as far as these things go, doesn’t have much to do with distinctively Lefty forms of statism, at least not in my experience. In fact distinctively Lefty views tend to cut against it. It has a lot more to do with corporatism, economic cleansing, and local growth-machine politics.”

    I agree on that last point about “economic cleansing”-very much so!

    It sounds like you’re defining “the Left” more narrowly than I am. What you seem to be describing are the bohemian-countercultural-hemp festival-Green Party sympathizer types. I’m thinking more of the wider class of social democrats who are all for “universal health care”, abortion rights, gay marriage, and environmentalist legislation, who are horrified when they hear racial epithets (but wouldn’t venture into a black neighborhood in an armored car), who sympathize with the cause of “humanitarian” war, and who think “the real enemy” are rural rednecks, Christian creationists, and gun-owning trailer trash.

  36. Keith Preston

    Anonymous,

    “I’ve been seriously poor (at least if anyone living in the first world can be considered truly poor, which I think is debatable),”

    I agree, though an economic catastrophe like another Great Depression could change that.

    “The worst I’ve ever met was an environmentalist who told me, point blank, that if a healthy planet was not sustainable with a population of more than 500,000,000 humans that yes, she personally really would be willing to do the dirty work of cutting the human population to that level.”

    That sounds like this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentti_Linkola

    “I should say that I’ve seen genuine compassion and kindness for minorities and outsiders among libertarians as well, altho’ its been a very mixed experience. By contrast I’ve virtually never known a person of any kind of right-wing persuasion who showed anything better than malign indifference towards me- and some have been much, much worse.”

    Well, only you can speak from your own personal experience, but the aspect of the present system that most closely resembles something akin to historic oppressions like slavery or medieval religious persecution would probably be the “war on drugs”, and probably the most effective and most well-known critics and opponents of that have been right-wingers like William F. Buckley, Jr. and Milton Friedman.

    “I think progressives and other liberal humanists should be called on their faults, but they are a senseless group to specially demonise in a world in which there are real human demons- just as Jonah Goldberg deserves nothing but scorn for publishing Liberal Fascism at a time when the conservative party is visibly teetering on the edge of very real fascism.”

    Goldberg is just a neocon propagandist, and not someone to be taken seriously, though I think a more serious critique of left-wing “fascism” masquerading as enlightened humanism has much merit. I would agree that the present day Republican Party closely resembles the core features of historic fascism in many respects-aggressive militaristic nationalism, police statism, exaltation of the leader, jingoism, corporatist economics-but there are also some important differences.

    The intellectual leadership of the GOP comes from the neocons, most of whose leaders have their roots in Trotskism, Social Democracy or Cold War liberalism. Also, many leading proponents of neoconservatism are ethnic Jews with a pathological hatred of anything associated with historic fascism. In fact, I think this explains much of their constant rhetoric about appeasment and “Islamo-fascism”, as well as their Germanophobia, Russophobia, and hatred of the New Left (which tended to be pro-Palestinian), and not to mention their “Israel First” foreign policy outlook. Neoconservatism in many ways more closely resembles Jacobinism than fascism ( though I recall that Alain DeBenoist once referred to the Nazis as “Brown Jacobins” so maybe there’s some overlap there as well).

    Also, look at the GOP convention. Antiwar social conservatives like Ron Paul were given no recognition at all (RP was barely allowed in the building). Even a moderately antiwar conservative like Chuck Hagel was excluded. Yet a neocon flunkie like Thompson (who did far worse than Paul in the primaries) was given a key speaking position. Pro-choice but pro-war Rudy Guiliani and liberal-on-every-issue-but-war and not-even-a-real-Republican Joe Lieberman were at the top of the ticket.

    When neocon propagandists David Frum and David Brooks used to appear on NPR, I used to listen to them reassure their educated middle class liberal audience that the social conservatism of the GOP was just raw meat for the red state rubes in order to get more votes for the things that really mattered-like tax cuts and a “strong national defense”. I suspect Frum and Brooks had it right on that point.

  37. Rad Geek

    Keith:

    So, to answer your question, yes, I’ve known more than a few leftists in my time.

    That’s fine. As I said, my question was asked in earnest, not rhetorically, because I don’t know you except through your writing, and that only casually. But I was specifically asking about whether you know a lot of Leftists right now, because your comment seemed pretty distinctly out of sync with the trends that I’m familiar with among both Leftists I know personaly, and a number of popular official Left outlets. A number of these trends have emerged mainly over the past 20 years, and intensified a lot over the past 10 years, both among real Leftists, and also among establishment Progressive and liberal types. That may be the reason for the disconnect between your experience and mine.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it is true that the majority of self-identified Leftists in the 1980s, other than the occasional lingering back-to-the-lander hippie type, would have been either indifferent to, or actively hostile to urban farming by poor people. I think that’s something that’s changed between then and now, and for the better.

    Me:

    The South Central Farm was a cause celebre for plenty of Cali limo-liberals.

    Keith:

    I vaguely remember that.

    Specifically, a number of the usual suspects for celebrity Leftism showed public support during the fight — Joan Baez, Danny Glover, Ed Begley Jr., Martin Sheen, Darryl Hannah, Leonardo DiCaprio, Willie Nelson, Laura Dern, et al. Darryl Hannah participated in a sit-in defense along with other protesters and was arrested when the farm was cleared out to be bulldozed. The celebrity presence was enough to get the story a mention in TIME and the New York Times.

    It sounds like you’re defining “the Left” more narrowly than I am. What you seem to be describing are the bohemian-countercultural-hemp festival-Green Party sympathizer types.

    No, not exclusively. There is that subculture to be accounted for, but I was also talking about comfortable professional- and managerial-class Progressives, especially those who are motivated by some form or another of environmental (sustainability, whatever) concern. It doesn’t take long to find this sort of thing if you look at who was on what side in, e.g., the Great Chicken Debate in Portland, or read environmentally-inclined Leftist magazines, or just talk with folks about these issues, especially in Lefty enclaves like the Pacific Northwest or Austin or Asheville or….

    The countercultural scene(s) you’re thinking of are indeed the source of a lot of the values and ideas behind the support for urban farming and other sorts of small-is-beautiful localism and decentralist green projects. But I think you may be severely underestimating the degree to which those values and ideas have diffused throughout the broader political Left in the age of Whole Foods. Often in weakened or adulterated forms (like, well, Whole Foods, which is after all the bizarre disowned offspring of the food co-op movement), but they are out there, in some form. (And the more the statists in question tend to identify as with Progressivism, Social Democracy, or the Left, rather than with some form of ill-defined generic I-hate-Republicans liberalism, the more you tend to see it.)

    I would be the very last person to say that professional- and managerial-class white welfare-state Progressives, including (especially?) those in comfortable Lefty enclaves, don’t do any number of things that are worthy of complaint, particularly when it comes to the ways in which they deal or don’t deal with issues related to economic class, or that they haven’t advocated any number of stupid and harmful things out of indifference or active contempt for the poor people that they claim to care about. I’ve certainly complained about that sort of thing enough here and elsewhere (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.). But credit where credit is due; I don’t think that urban farming is an issue where they particularly deserve to be dinged, and it’s something they’ve been doing good work on, increasingly, over the past several years.

  38. Keith Preston

    Rad Geek,

    “But I was specifically asking about whether you know a lot of Leftists right now, because your comment seemed pretty distinctly out of sync with the trends that I’m familiar with among both Leftists I know personaly, and a number of popular official Left outlets. A number of these trends have emerged mainly over the past 20 years, and intensified a lot over the past 10 years, both among real Leftists, and also among establishment “Progressive” and liberal types. That may be the reason for the disconnect between your experience and mine.”

    What particular publications and/or websites would you recommend that deal with these matters from a leftist perspective?

  39. Rad Geek

    Keith,

    Just off the top of my head, there’s Utne, TreeHugger, Sustainablog and similar outlets.

    From a quick search, here’s TreeHugger on backyard chickens and urban agriculture, and here’s Sustainablog on what they call urban homesteading (which is obliquely related to, but distinct from, the way I use that phrase). They praise the example immigrant communities which have used it as a food source in the past, although most of the article is concerned with links to what their hip white environmentalist friends are doing.

    To be fair, there’s certainly still a lot of problems with all this — not least the preening self-satisfaction and the frequent lack of awareness that what these folks are doing is what poor folks, in particular, have spontaneously done, when they were left alone and free to do so so, from time out of mind, and would be doing on a much larger scale right now if they were free to do so; that it didn’t take some white college-educated dude with a grant from a big 501(c)3 to come up with the idea. And also that, if you’re not a relatively comfortable child of the professional or managerial class, living in a single family dwelling with a significant yard around abouts, the restrictions on your ability to do this kind of thing have to do with a lot more than this or that minor and easily fixable detail of zoning or animal code regulations. It has just as much or more to do with the fact that, for example, lots of poor people in the city core live in small apartments or worse, and have to deal with far more restrictions from their landlords than just what the law imposes, and that lots of poor people are in that kind of situation for political reasons, because they are systematically deprived of access to the land by a system of politicized expropriation, re-allocation, and concentration of land titles in the hands of a select few, which is driven both by conservative Growth Machine development schemes, and also by liberal slumlord-subsidizing renewal and affordable housing schemes. So while the establishment Lefties do deserve credit for getting behind the idea, they generally need to go much further than they so far have in order to really take on the whole problem as it is really faced by the people they claim to be concerned for.

    Hope this helps.

  40. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    My experiences with leftists are better then my experiences with libertarians, but I’ve had much less experience with libertarians, so I am not sure I am a good judge. I actually visited an Anarchy Hour here in D.C. with my friend and commenter here, Marja. We were going to see if an ALL chapter was viable. We wanted to see how well we got along with folks. It ended up being a really pleasant experience. Amusingly, one of the people had a shirt on that said “anarcho-capitalism” on it. Marja was wearing the Infoshop.org shirt with the slogan “Kill capitalism before it kills you” across it — you really have to give the creator of that one a pat on the back for creativity ( :

    We eventually got down to brass tacks. I tried to explain the way that the Alliance is meant to differ from more conventional libertarian outfits. When we got around to discussing project ideas, I mentioned philosophic-cultural education and challenging local cultural conservativism. I didn’t get rebuked, but I honestly can’t recall our meeting getting anywhere too concrete. If nothing else, I got to talk to a very pleasant woman from the Institute for Humane Studies. The oddest moment of the evening was shaking hands with a guy from the Cato Institute — I belong to a Facebook group called “All Those Opposed to Vulgar Libertarianism” with a slash through a circle that reads Cato Institute on it ( :

    I can understand the frustration with Libertarians by someone like anonymous. I have certainly strayed from its orthodoxies in my own rhetoric, but I am simply a Chris Sciabarra at heart. I like to talk to people of differing intellectual traditions approximating my own views — even ones whose political agenda may be at odds with mine. I am no politician. I am no lobbyist. I am no cultural icon — although; I damn well should be! Lol. These people won’t be battling for political power with me. If they are willing to listen seriously, then I am willing to talk.

    As for leftists, I have always been more partial to the best of them, because I am such a cultural libertine. This is why I say my experiences have been better with them overall. At my first and only Libertarian workshop, I got a distinct vibe of more cultural conformity. In fairness to the people there, I didn’t interview everyone on the key cultural questions of the day — I certainly enjoyed myself.

    On the “anarchist left”, I have never met anyone really approximating a social conservative though. I imagine you might be able to find a parallel with someone somewhere though. As Voltarine De Cleyre wrote in the feminist classic called Sex Slavery…

    “No longer than a week since, an Anarchist (?) said to me, “I will be boss in my own house” – a “Communist-Anarchist,” if you please, who doesn’t believe in “my house.” About a year ago a noted libertarian speaker said, in my presence, that his sister, who possessed a fine voice and had joined a concert troupe, should “stay at home with her children; that is her place.” The old Church idea! This man was a Socialist, and since an Anarchist; yet his highest idea for woman was serfhood to husband and children, in the present mockery called “home.”

    http://praxeology.net/VC-SS.htm

  41. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    I totally want to take one of those thoughs off. Its cramping my writing style! ( :

  42. Keith Preston

    Rad Geek,

    Thanks, I’ll check some of that out.

    If there’s a growing support for these kinds of activities on the Left, it may be in part because such ideas are becoming more popular overall, political affilitations aside. I’ve seen similar tendencies among certain species of conservatives, like the “crunchy cons”, and I’ve seen a few articles by some old-fashioned paleos praising organic farming, do-it-yourself animal husbandry, back-to-the-land movements, et.al.

  43. Rad Geek

    Keith,

    Yeah, I’m passingly familiar with the parallel developments on the traditionalist Right. I am sure that part of it comes from general transpartisan cultural trends. Some are new (e.g. the development of environmentalism over time, and its diffusion into the broader culture across political lines). Others are perennial. Decentralism and localism tend to be popular in troubled times, especially when the economy seems to be going to hell at the same time that trust in establishment politics and identification with the central State are low. What we’re seeing now, including some of the parallel interests on Left and Right, is reminiscent in a lot of ways of what happened among back-to-the-landers, survivalists, et al. in the 1970s, under similar political and economic conditions.

    I think there are also some explanatory factors that are specific to the political Left, though. Some of them factors worth celebrating (e.g. the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus of official Communism as a force on the radical Left; the replacement of it by new influences that like Zapatismo and social anarchism, which stressed localism and rejected the Marxian Moloch-cult of centralization and capital-intensive production at any cost; some fruitful discussions between more moderate Lefties and libertarian outfits during the late 1990s and early 2000s about issues like corporate welfare; etc.).

    Others have been less welcome. For example, the popularity of anti-consumerist bollocks, and the fashion using expensive and hard-to-find food choices, or other aesthetically retro or seemingly homespun consumer choices, as one of the new cultural markers self-appointed Progressive sophisticates can use to distinguish themselves from the rubes who eat at McDonald’s and shop at Wal-Mart.

    But, whatever the complex of reasons, it seems that a fair number of Lefties, whether radical or milquetoast, are currently on the right side of this particular issue, even if I wish they would get much more serious and radical about it.

  44. anonymous

    “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentti_Linkola”

    Wow. I admit, this is a revelation of a wholly new level of intellectual evil. I haven’t had an experience like this since I became aware of the existence of neo-fascist writers such as Alain de Benoist and Julius Evola.

    An an aside, I think that people concenrned with the preservation of an open society should take this kind of ‘ecofascist’ style of thinking very seriously, especially if human damage to the environment does in fact prove as severe as some seemingly rational scientists are claiming. The closed society mentality isn’t just an error- it’s the space where tribal self-protection very easily and quickly moves the human psyche in situations of real or perceived collective threat. Those attitudes are still incredibly deep in all societies, even liberal ones, and an ecological crisis could easily scare people who are still only uneasily and guiltily comfortable with a society (partially) built around human reason and pursuit of happiness. We think of ecology as a force on the left. but I’m convinced this is mostly a historical accident- the ‘back to the land mentality’ naturally aligns with a traditional ethnocentric conservatism which believeves that the group and the sacred demand the suppresion of human self-direction and material desire. Linkola is just being explicit about this.

    I personally think that while a liberal environmentalism seems an intelligent extension of enlightened self-interest, the left in generally being very stupid to uncritically embrace the environmental movement (I have a similar problem with the embrace of indigineous traditions, not to be confused with the principled defense of the individual rights of all human beings, indigenous or otherwise). Leftists are all-too-willing to join with anyone in order to vent their (partially justified) anger at the establishment and the bourgeoisie. But I think the typical leftist, if honest, is really an extreme or avant-garde bourgoeis- someone who also lives for the pursuit of private happiness but is more able to build a house of the spirit than a house in a subdivision- or at least this is true for Leftists who enjoy their life, as opposed to the ugly kind trying to display a pretense of moral superiority by the public wearing of costume hairshirts. The same leftists seem to have no idea that people like themselves are usually ruthlessly beaten down in pre-Enlightenment cultures and that a society of enforced scarity and ‘harmony with nature’ is going to be impoverished, miserable, small-minded and in no mood of providing time and money for artists and intellectuals to think, sing, and create beauty in coffeehouses.

    If contemporary society often seems to go out of their way to make life difficult for the kind of spirit attracted to the left (and it does), progressives should think long and hard about what a fully traditional order (whether indigineous to South America or Europe) would do to them. The bourgeoisie can be brought after a generation of stubborn short-sightedness to open up enough to let the last generation of youth who demanded more in. It’s unfair and infuriatingly stupid, but it’s also paradise by historical standards and offers a reasonable chance to hope for improvement in the situation. It’s utterly insane for people even more in need of an affluent society than the suits to indulge in random reflex bashing of its philosophical and physical infrastructure while working to glamourise materially and psychicly primitive conditions. It is an absurd anti-intellectual pragmatism to think it a good idea for the future to ally with the past against the present.

    I wish more on the Left understood this. The current left is an incoherent mix of causes which pull in naturally opposite directions- LGBT rights, feminism, the sexual revolution are extreme products of a critical culture and a secular and individualistic way of life… but serious ecology and primitivism are expressions of a fear of the liberal mentality and social order- the view that disaster will result if people do what they please and that therefore their will and appetites must be curtailed. One can see this mentality in many promenient writers on environmental subjects (Lovelock and Robert Jensen come to mind).

    In Linkola we can see an anti-human madness like fascism, National Socialism, Communism, Ba’athism, Islamism, or Christian fundamentalism- but this time in a newborn form. It should be respected enough to be strangled in its cradle before it acquires enough influence to become seriously dangerous. One simply collaborate with people who shout, like the Falangists, ‘long live death’.

  45. anonymous

    “Also, many leading proponents of neoconservatism are ethnic Jews with a pathological hatred of anything associated with historic fascism. In fact, I think this explains much of their constant rhetoric about appeasment and “Islamo-fascism”, as well as their Germanophobia, Russophobia, and hatred of the New Left (which tended to be pro-Palestinian), and not to mention their “Israel First” foreign policy outlook.”

    That’s a… pretty special picture of how the world works. So have you any more intelligent and orginal political analysis to share with us?

    I must confess to a ‘pathological hatred of anything associated with historic fascism’. I can’t imagine how I might have contracted such a disease. I’d thought it was like oral herpes and that virtually everyone had it.

  46. Keith Preston

    Anonymous,

    My point was that it is problematic to associate the Neocon-led Republican Party with fascism, and you suggested such a relationship in a previous post. And I quote:

    “I think progressives and other liberal humanists should be called on their faults, but they are a senseless group to specially demonise in a world in which there are real human demons- just as Jonah Goldberg deserves nothing but scorn for publishing Liberal Fascism at a time when the conservative party is visibly teetering on the edge of very real fascism.”

    Even if there are similarities in some matters, given the ethnic background and radical Left political background of many luminaries of neoconservatism, along their “It’s forever 1938” mentality, it is unlikely the Neocons would have much sympathy for historic fascism. Perhaps the paleocons (like Paul Craig Roberts and Claes Ryn) are closer to the money when they criticize the neocons as modern Jacobins.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/gottfried/gottfried109.html

    http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/mar/28/00029/

    “I must confess to a ‘pathological hatred of anything associated with historic fascism’.”

    So you hate Germans? You hate Italians? You hate Spaniards? You hate Argentines?

    C’mon, now, where are all those rosy humanistic sentiments?

  47. Sergio Méndez

    Keith:

    But I think anonymous means anything that ideologically asociates with fascism. In other words, anonymous is suggesting that libertarianism is ideologically close to fascism, not that people are associated with fascism just for belonging to a certain group (libertarians, or a national group that is not even defined by its ideological leannings, like argentinians or itialians or germans)

  48. Keith Preston

    Sergio,

    “I think anonymous means anything that ideologically asociates with fascism.”

    Okay, that makes more sense. My mistake, perhaps I didn’t make my earlier point clear enough.

    “anonymous is suggesting that libertarianism is ideologically close to fascism”

    Really? That’s an odd claim considering that the founder of fascism, Mussolini, described fascism as “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” That would seem to be the polar opposite of libertarian anti-statist radicalism.

    There are a number of leftoidals who try to claim a link between libertarianism and things like Nazism. When she was working on her book about American anarchists, the German writer Ulrike Heider said that some left-wing acquaintances told her that her German accent would make her popular with libertarians. The funny thing was when she went to visit Sam Konkin III, he actually spoke to her in German, thinking it would make her more comfortable conducting the interview, but in her book she ended up trying to depict Sam as some kind of crypto-fascist. I think she didn’t like the looks of the Movement of the Libertarian Left logo, for one thing.

    I’ve used the “fascist” epithet myself repeatedly when referring to the neocons. “Fascist” is gettig to be like “son of a bitch” as an all-purposes epithet that doesn’t really mean anything. The history of the neocons really is an interesting one. What you see is a movement that came out of the far left eventually aligning itself with uber-Americanists like Cheney and Rumsfeld, the right-wing of the corporate class and the religious right.

    I think the necons see American imperialism as a tool for world revolution in the name of liberal-democratic-modernism, and they see the globalization and domination of US capitalism/corporatism as a similar tool. Their Israel-centric views and Jewish ethnocentrism would seem to be a departure from their otherwise strongly held univeralist and modernist values, but I guess there’s always exceptions for the in-group. And this certainly explains their alliance of convenience with the religious right. I think it was Irving Kristol who asked what it mattered what the abstract theological views of the religious right are so long as they support Israel.

    Michael Lind had an interesing piece on neocon history:

    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/lind1.html

  49. Sergio Méndez

    Keith:

    Well, I think when you analyze any ideology, it is worth looking it in a dyachronic and syncrhonic way: in other words, you have to see what the ideology actually spouses, its content, and second you have to see the context (by who, how these people “read the world”, to what are they reacting etc…) in which it was produced. I think if you see libertarianism in the first way, it is the opposite of fascism: against state intereference in the affairs of people, for a limited or inexistent state etc… But when you see it in the second way, you see that libertarisnim is essentially a movement made -mostly- of excentric conservatives, people who are in the move to remove the state of the lives of the citizens, but mostly on economic issues and with very right wing fascist leaning views on social issues. Left libertarians are not the core of the libertarian movement in the US, but are the exception (a glorious one in my view).

    Now I think it is a mistake to prefer any of the mentionated ways to see libertarianism. What people like Charles Johnson and Roderick have taught me, is to learn to apreciate the value of works of people who, otherwise, I will have considered just weird right wingers (Mises, Hayek etc…). Those ideas have intrinsic value, independent of the personal leanings of their exponents. And I think that is what the anonymous mises. But I also think you should never forget how and why those ideas were created, and that is good cause it helps the libertarian movement to be capable of a serious self criticism.

  50. Keith Preston

    Sergio,

    I agree with your first point, and also your point that libertarians often espouse a kind of economic conservatism that I also disagree with. I’ve written about that extensively. Sample:

    http://attackthesystem.com/free-enterprise-the-antidote-to-corporate-plutocracy/

    I don’t quite follow your point about libertarians “very right wing fascist leaning views on social issues.”

    Not in my experience. Virtually all libertarians are in favor of drug decriminalization, for instance. The leading US libertarian publication is “Reason” and the largest think-tank is the CATO Institute. Both of these are generally pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-euthanasia, hold ACLU-like views on police powers, and hold liberal views on immigration. LewRockwell.Com is the most popular libertarian website, and while there are pro-life libertarians there and others with socially conservative personal opinions on some things, they’re hardly “fascists”.

    I don’t know much about the Libertarian Party. I was an inactive member of the party in the mid-1990s, but I haven’t really followed it much since then. I know the national party has been trying to become more mainstream in recent times. Hence, their nomination of Barr (which I think was a mistake-he’s demonstrated that he’s just an opportunistic politician). I know local people who are involved with the party, some of whom I’ve known at least casually for years. They’re hardly “fascists” on social issues.

    I’m curious as to how you’re defining “fascist”.

  51. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Keith,

    That article you link to is by a really weird guy. Isn’t he a monarchist?

    He states it in this column: http://www.antiwar.com/lind/?articleid=9841.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Lind is the Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation. He advocates a Declaration of Cultural Independence by cultural conservatives in the United States, in the belief that the Federal government has ceased to represent their interests, and begun to coerce them into negative behavior and affect their culture in a negative fashion. The Center believes that American culture and its institutions are headed for a collapse, and that cultural conservatives should separate themselves from the calamity it foresees. It supports setting up independent parallel institutions with a right to secession and a highly decentralized nature that would rely on individual responsibility and discipline to remain intact, but would prevent the takeover of the institutions by those hostile to cultural conservatism’s ideals.

    Lind has authored and co-authored with Paul Weyrich a number of monographs on behalf of the Free Congress Foundation attempting to persuade American conservatives to support government funding for mass transit programs. He was a co-host of an NET program on light rail called The New Electric Railway Journal.

    As a paleoconservative, Lind has often criticized neoconservatives in his commentaries. While not a libertarian, he has also written for LewRockwell.com.

    [edit] Criticism

    [edit] Southern Poverty Law Center

    In an article for the Southern Poverty Law Center writer Bill Berkowitz describes Lind as Paul Weyrich ally “who has done the most to define the enemies who make up the so-called “cultural Marxists.” According to Lind, Cultural Marxists are those who criticize traditional Western values with the intention of ultimately destroying Western Civilization itself, namely feminists, homosexual activists, secular humanists, multiculturalists, sex educators, environmentalists, black nationalists, the ACLU and the hated Frankfurt School philosophers.” (Wow! I never knew sex educators and black nationalists were in league to destroy Western Civilization)

    According to the SPLC, in 1999 Lind wrote “The real damage to race relations in the South came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won.”[1]

    Lind has been criticized by writer Thomas E. Ricks in an The Atlantic Monthly magazine article “The Widening Gap Between the Military and Society” where Ricks asserts that Lind’s rhetoric differs from what Ricks calls “standard right-wing American rhetoric of the ’90s” because Lind suggests that “The next real war we fight is likely to be on American soil.”[2]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WilliamLind#CenterforCulturalConservatism

    His problem with the neo-conservatives seems to be their nominal worldiness or departure from the standard cultural conservative plumbline. As someone curious about challenging gender norms, I fear he and I would not get along easily.

    Sergio,

    Where does anonymous state that Libertarianism is ideologically close to fascism? I didn’t catch it in my following of this debate. I would argue that the philosophic roots of fascism can be present in paleo-libertarians who celebrate patriarchy uber all. Patriarchy and other forms of non- conventional state authortarianism or totalitarianism do not allow anything outside or against them either.

    This is clearly evident in the work of a Hans Herman Hoppe. I need only cite this infamous quote: “There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They—the advocates of alternative, non-family-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism—will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order”

    I once told Chris Sciabarra in an email that I’d take today’s order over Hoppe’s. I still stand behind that comment.

  52. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    I left a qualified pro-secessionist comment on an anti-Sarah Palin Facebook group I joined.

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eniG9l_7its

    “You should infiltrate… Put the republican label on it to get elected”

    So maybe Sarah Palin isn’t a secessionist… but i think this is far more frightening than Obama’s “relationship” with Ayers.”

    I don’t know much about what relationship Obama did or didn’t have with Ayers. I tend to regard these kind of dubious attacks on Obama as frivolous and trivial. They detract from any real assessment of basic ideological difference between candidates — if it actually exists. His foreign policy views today are really not those of the radical-revolutionary 1960’s-1970’s New Left, so I am not sure what all the fuss is about. He’s sold his soul to the ruling class at this point.

    On Sarah Palin’s baggage:

    Sarah Palin’s association with secessionism doesn’t bother me per se. The desirability of secession depends on the specific context of a given political situation and what the secessionists plan to create. If San Francisco were to secede from the union on the grounds that the Fed’s War on Drugs is intolerable, then I might find it very prudent. I would definitely consider it wise; if they were creating a socio-political system that actually consistently protects the inalienable rights of the individual — something the Feds have a decidedly mixed track record on.

    Sarah’s Palin’s ideal political system wouldn’t protect these rights, so I have no care to trumpet any secessionist ideas she may have. I just wanted to point out that it’s not necessarily an awful thing. In fact, it would be a great idea for all friends of secularism and liberty to consider renouncing their ties to a future Christianist theocracy headed by a Sarah Palin — those that survive it.

    Comments?

  53. Keith Preston

    Nick,

    “So maybe Sarah Palin isn’t a secessionist… but i think this is far more frightening than Obama’s “relationship” with Ayers.”

    The Alaskan Independence Party is actually a fairly middle-of-the-road party, advocating a kind of “radical middle” populism of the Ross Perot variety, though with a somewhat more libertarian-oriented edge. They don’t even take a position on abortion, by far the most popular right-wing social issue, on the grounds that abortion is too divisive an issue. Not exactly radical theocrats by any means.

    “I don’t know much about what relationship Obama did or didn’t have with Ayers. I tend to regard these kind of dubious attacks on Obama as frivolous and trivial. They detract from any real assessment of basic ideological difference between candidates — if it actually exists. His foreign policy views today are really not those of the radical-revolutionary 1960’s-1970’s New Left, so I am not sure what all the fuss is about. He’s sold his soul to the ruling class at this point.”

    As for Ayers, if only Obama would stand up for any relationship he may have had with Ayers. I met Bill Ayers briefly when I was in Chicago in 1989. A former Weatherman-turned-anarchist I knew took me to see him. I didn’t speak to him for very long, but he seemed to be an okay guy, at least on the surface. I have a lot of respect for Ayers. What was he trying to do but end an aggressive imperialist war? No one was ever even killed in a Weather bombing, excepting a few Weatherpeople who blew themselves up at one point (shit happens). For all of the talk of “revolution” in those days, Ayers was one of the few who actually took up arms against the Nixon regime. Good for him.

    Obama’s just a standard Chicago machine politician. He has more in common with Dan Rostenkowski than Bill Ayers.

    “Sarah Palin’s association with secessionism doesn’t bother me per se. The desirability of secession depends on the specific context of a given political situation and what the secessionists plan to create.”

    Yes and no. No one wants to join a secession movement that is antithetical to their own interests. But I’m also of the opinion that the crappier someone’s opinions are, the better that they be separated from everyone else. I support a number of secession movements whose actual politics I don’t personally care for, in part because I view this as a way of getting rid of them.

    A very interesting book that was recently published is Bill Bishop’s “The Big Sort” that shows how Americans are already in the process of self-separating along cultural, religious, racial and economic line. Also, a recent poll by Zogby shows that one in five American support the right of secession, and one in six would actually support a secession movement in their state or community. Interestingly, support for secession is highest among racial minorities over whites, young people over older people, low income over the affluent, less educated over the very educated (this was the widest gap!) and self-described liberals over self-described conservatives.

    So much for the idea that secessionism is just for right-wing extremists.

    “In fact, it would be a great idea for all friends of secularism and liberty to consider renouncing their ties to a future Christianist theocracy headed by a Sarah Palin — those that survive it.”

    I don’t like to predict election results in advance, because there’s too many variables that can come into play that one doesn’t recognize, but I suspect the electoral future belongs to Democrats and the center-left. There have been some interesting studies done on overall trends by both liberals and conservatives pointing this out. The reasons vary and they include the fact that the 60s generation is rapidly becoming the elderly generation, that the center-left is disproportionately concentrated among the educated classes and those institutions that shape opinion (media, education, mainline religion, etc.), that more generations of younger people have grown up under that influence, the increased influence of the feminist, gay and environmental movements, the increase in the racial minority population (through birth rates and immigration), the growth of the educated urban professional class and the decline of the traditional middle class, increased economic hardship for the blue-collar class, growth of the urban population, etc.

    Keep in mind the majority of Americans voted for either Al Gore or Ralph Nader in 2000, with these being as liberal as any presidential candidates have ever been. Kerry, the most liberal member of the Senate at that point, only lost by 3 percent, mostly because Bush had some political capital left from 9-11. Obama is the 5-1 predicted winner this time and he’s not only the first black serious contender but also the most liberal member of the Senate at present.

  54. Rad Geek

    No one was ever even killed in a Weather bombing, excepting a few Weatherpeople who blew themselves up at one point (shit happens).

    Well. That was more than just shit happening. The bomb that they were making in Greenwich Village was an anti-personnel bomb packed with nails, which they had intended to set off at an officer’s dance in Fort Dix, where it would have almost certainly killed a lot of people, including not only soldiers but also their friends and dates. In that case, their failure to kill anyone other than themselves was only the result of botched plans, not the result of conscientious care.

    It wasn’t until after the 3 Weather members got killed in Greenwich that WUO started announcing targets ahead of time and trying to avoid killing people.

    For all of the talk of “revolution” in those days, Ayers was one of the few who actually took up arms against the Nixon regime. Good for him.

    I think taking up arms is valuable, when it is valuable, only as a means to an end. And what did Weather accomplish? Their main stated goals were (1) to destroy SDS as an organization; (2) to draw the FBI’s and police’s fire off of black militants, especially the Black Panthers; (3) to force an end to the U.S. war on Vietnam by opening up a home front; and (4) to inspire revolution and contribute the overthrow of the United States government.

    As far as I can tell, they accomplished none of these goals, except (1), at which they were certainly successful. For (2)-(4), all the evidence I am aware of indicates that their contributions were at best irrelevant, and often massively harmful, to the causes they professed to be bombing for.

    A number of former Weathermen and Weatherwomen have come to about the same conclusion. Mark Rudd, for example, is especially outspoken about the destructiveness of his and his comrades’ actions — writing, for example, How could we have done the FBI’s work better for them?. Bill Ayers, unfortunately, has not generally shown anything like that kind of forthrightness or capacity for self-criticism. Much to his discredit.

    Of course, none of this is to say anything in favor of the Right’s know-nothing fulminations about Ayers or Obama, which are either thoughtless or perfectly ridiculous and have more or less nothing to do with the real issues at stake.

  55. Keith Preston

    Yes, I’m familiar with the general narrative of Weatherman history that you outline. I suppose I’d give them an “A” for attitude and effort, but an “F” for achievement. I agree it’s a good thing the Fort Dix plot failed, or else they would have been the Tim McVeigh of the Left, though the Tim Leary prison break was kinda cool.

    Thanks for the link to the Rudd article. I recall he published an article in the old Commie mag “The Guardian” expressing the same views back when the Tiannamen Square thing was going on. It’s somewhat humorous how he’s practically a total pacifist now.

  56. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Are you talking about the British newspaper called The Guardian? I did not it was ever a Commie rag.

  57. Keith Preston

    No, “The Guardian” I’m referring to is an old US Marxist paper that’s now defunct.

  58. LadyVetinari

    Fascists were the ultimate social conservatives, despising anything that gave women control over their reproduction, any equal role for women in society, and homosexuality. This was not just a side-effect of fascism. It was the moral core, the centerpiece around which the rest of the ideology was built (women’s obedience to husbands and fathers was akin to citizens’ obedience to the state). So, yes, many socially conservative right-wing libertarians do have fascist views on social issues. Any extreme social conservative views are fairly described as “fascist” views of social politics.

  59. Marja

    Fascists tend to regard society as a family, and to regard a hierarchical, authoritarian, abusive family as the healthiest kind of family.

    As a result, they favor a hierarchical, authoritarian, abusive society - a state, and they usually limit society to their suppose blood relatives - although race is fictive and kinship is as likely as not to cross “national” boundaries.

  60. Rad Geek

    Nick,

    I’ve written about William Lind here before, in particular an article on LRC in which he called for government schools to foster Americanization by nationalizing immigrant children’s consciousness, and in which he quite seriously proposed the old East-West German border (!) and the shoot-on-sight policy as a model to be emulated (!!). So, yeah. The guy’s a creep.

    However, the essay that Keith was linking to was by Michael Lind, not by William Lind. M. Lind is a sort of right-wingish vital center whose put together a small cottage industry for himself writing about how much he hates other conservatives, originally focusing on the Religious Right and now focusing on neo-conservatives as well, which leads to a certain amount of overlap in topics with W. Lind. While I have problems with M. Lind, he’s not the same guy as W. Lind, and isn’t nearly as nasty on the issues that W. Lind is especially nasty on.

  61. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Oops! I am not sure how I confused the two. Weird.

  62. Keith Preston

    Nick,

    I agree William S. Lind gets a bit eccentric with his affinity for the Prussian monarchy, but much of his writing on military science is quite good, particulary his analysis of “fourth generation warfare”.

    Though he approaches it from a different angle than I would, his critique of the Frankfurt School is also fairly insightful at times.

    LOL! One thing Lind misses about the Berlin Wall is that it’s purpose was to keep people in, not keep them out.

  63. Sergio Méndez

    Keith:

    What is your criticism to to the Frankfurt school?

  64. Keith Preston

    Lady Vetinari,

    “Fascists were the ultimate social conservatives, despising anything that gave women control over their reproduction, any equal role for women in society, and homosexuality. This was not just a side-effect of fascism. It was the moral core, the centerpiece around which the rest of the ideology was built (women’s obedience to husbands and fathers was akin to citizens’ obedience to the state). So, yes, many socially conservative right-wing libertarians do have fascist views on social issues. Any extreme social conservative views are fairly described as “fascist” views of social politics.”

    I understand the point you’re trying to make, and it’s a point well-taken, but a crucial distinction between modern fascists and traditional conservatives has to do with the role of the state. Fascists recognize nothing outside the state. Other institutions-businesses, cultural organizations, religions, families, etc.-are allowed to exist only to the degree that they serve the broader ends of the state. A genuine fascist economy, for instance, retains nominal private ownership, but production is centralized and coordinated through the state in a manner similar to Marxism (it’s commonly called “corporatism”). Labor organizations may be allowed to exist, but they have no independence and strikes are usually brutally suppressed. Children are considered property of the state and it is the responsibility of women to bear children for the state. Religion is expected to inculcate pro-state values in parishioners (for instance, the Nazis invented so-called “positive Christianity” and imposed it on German churches in opposition to traditional Christianity).

    Social conservatives on the other hand usually recognize institutional prerogatives beyond those of the political sphere and emphasize, for instance, the sovereignty and authority of family and Church outside the control of the state. The social conservatism of paleolibertarians is to some degree rooted in this idea. Not surprisingly, many of them are also Catholics and their ideas on this are no doubt an outgrowth of their Catholicism. They see family, religion, community, businesses, the “private sector”, voluntary associations, private schools, etc. as bulwarks against state power.

    As an atheist who supports legal abortion, euthanasia, drugs, the ACLU and prison abolition, I’m hardly a social conservative, but I do tend to agree with paleos on the concept of so-called “intermediary institutions” as bulwarks against the omnipotent state. I see this as simply an extension of the Jeffersonian idea of “separation of powers” and all that. Where I disagree with social conservatives is that such institutions must be “traditional” or “Christian” in nature.

    For instance, a family could theoretically be a commune of artificially inseminated lesbians with a horde of children or a polygamous Mormon community. Plus, a “traditional” family would be more along the lines of polygamous tribes than the borgeoisie nuclear family favored by paleos.

    Religion could be a Wiccan-New Age-Buddist community (or the Nation of Islam) as well as Christianity. Business could be modeled on Mondragon or an anarcho-syndicalist labor federation as easily as General Motors or Wal-Mart. A community could just as easily be a bunch of dope-smoking “Deadheads” as church-going Jesus freaks.

  65. Keith Preston

    Sergio,

    “Keith: What is your criticism to to the Frankfurt school?”

    That’s a pretty broad question. It would depend on the specific Frankfurt School thinker, the branch of Frankfurt School thought involved, and the time period in Frankfurt School history.

    Someone else here mentioned Bill Lind. I agree with some of his criticisms of Frankfurt School-inspired “cultural Marxism” as the foundation of a reductionist totalitarianism masquerading as an ideology of liberation. Here’s a sample of Lind’s thinking:

    http://www.academia.org/lectures/lind1.html

    I’ve written about some of these same ideas myself:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/preston1.html

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/preston2.html

    While I agree with much of Lind’s analysis of the Frankfurt School, I’d approach the issue from the opposite end of the political spectrum. He’s a DeMaiste-Burke-Metternich “throne and altar” traditionalist conservative and I’m a Proudhon-Bakunin-Kropotkin traditionalist anarchist.

  66. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Finance fascism!

    The banks are paying dividends to stockholders with the bailout money with government permission.

    None of that lending stuff. Looks like they took the loot and are simply getting ready to weather the depression-recession.

    To hell with the taxpayers-consumers-producers who footed the bill.

  67. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    That last comment was a satire paraphrase of a possible politically connected banker’s mindset.

· November 2008 ·

  1. Sergio Méndez

    Keith:

    I´ve read the articles you posted and I find them…weird and confuse. I think you commit a first when you accept the concept of “Political Correctness” as meanfull at all. If Political Correctness is the criticism of “western civilization” (another neboulous concept) then everybody and not only critical theorists are “PC”. Which explains to me why you could end putting in the blend the whole political culture of democracy as politicaly correct and confuse trends like “free market” (as defended by most “orthodox” economists”) with feminism (which is supposedly the disguise of imperialism).

    In other words I think this will require a more precise intelectual history. For example, the critical theory never pretended itself to be a critic of “western civilization”, but more importantly a criticism of the enlightment and modern rationality. Of how that beatifull project that proclaimed liberty, equality and fraternity, took europe and european culture to racism, imperialism, colonialisnim, WORLD WARS, hollocausts, slavery in the name of comunism (in the case of the Soviet Union). I think that is a philosophical enterprise that is worthwile. Don´t you?

  2. Sergio Méndez

    Keith:

    Concerning your discusion with Lady Veterinari about fascism and social conservatism, I think you miss a point: both my look different, but they share the same logic. They just differ on scale. Fascism and social conservatism agree that the individual is subject to the command of a bigger “structure”, non personal and abstract concept: namely, the state or the family, or the “comunnity” (intermediary structure, borrowing the language of neoconservatives who have given the concept the use in XX century). I think Charles has shown in this blog how those non state forms of opresion ARE opresion anyways, and must be faught back too.

  3. Keith Preston

    Sergio,

    I don’t particularly like the term “political correctness” either. I use it only because it’s a term people are familiar with and I use it as a euphemism for something larger.

    “Which explains to me why you could end putting in the blend the whole political culture of democracy as politicaly correct and confuse trends like “free market” (as defended by most “orthodox” economists”) with feminism (which is supposedly the disguise of imperialism).”

    What I am describing there is a broad package of ideas that grouped together form what I call “totalitarian humanism”, the view that particular sets of ostensibly “liberal” political, economic and cultural values must be imposed universally through imperialist war and political totalitarianism. The Neocons’ idea of “global democratic revolution” is one of these. So is Christopher Hitchens’ notion of “bombing Afganistan out of the Stone Age”, i.e. imperialist war in the name of secularism, feminism, modernism, liberalism, etc. Another is so-called “hate speech” legislation where free speech must be curtailed so as to silence those whose views do not jibe with modern liberal or left-wing orthodoxy. Still another are the pervasive attacks on intellectual freedom in the academy in the name of upholding progressive orthodoxy. It’s a long, long list.

    “For example, the critical theory never pretended itself to be a critic of “western civilization”, but more importantly a criticism of the enlightment and modern rationality. Of how that beatifull project that proclaimed liberty, equality and fraternity, took europe and european culture to racism, imperialism, colonialisnim, WORLD WARS, hollocausts, slavery in the name of comunism (in the case of the Soviet Union). I think that is a philosophical enterprise that is worthwile. Don´t you?”

    The Frankfurt School was initially a response to the failure of an international workers revolution to take place during the time of World War One. Instead, workers from different countries, included avowed socialists in many cases, fought for their respective nations. The Frankfurt School’s cultural criticisms asked why this was so, and concluded that social institutions had inculcated the workers with nationalist sentiments over class consciousness (or what Marxists would later call false consciousness). Therefore, they concluded before there could be a Marxist revolution in politics and economics, there would first have to be a revolution in cultural institutions like education, religion, media, art, etc. This was in many ways the beginning of the Left’s movement away from class-based politics towards cultural politics of the kind that emerged full-on in the 1960s and that we see today. It wasn’t just the Frankfurt School who had these ideas. For instance, Antonio Gramsci started working on similar theories around the same time.

  4. Keith Preston

    Sergio,

    “Fascism and social conservatism agree that the individual is subject to the command of a bigger “structure”, non personal and abstract concept: namely, the state or the family, or the “comunnity” (intermediary structure, borrowing the language of neoconservatives who have given the concept the use in XX century). I think Charles has shown in this blog how those non state forms of opresion ARE opresion anyways, and must be faught back too.”

    On a sufficiently abstract level, I’d agree with you. But individuals don’t exist in a vacuum like asteroids drifting about in space. Human communities are always going to have group norms of some kind. Conflict between the individual and other individuals, between the individual and community,and between community will always exist. The Other is permanent.

    Libertarian and leftist sects are good examples. Look at the in-group, out-group, sectarian fighting, personality clashes and other hostility than goes on there, even though the majority of these profess opposition to “traditional” forms of out-grouping like race, religion, nationality, etc.

    How popular would a person in a hippie-vegan-gay-Marxist commune be if he/she decided to convert to traditionalist Catholicism or conservative Republicanism?

  5. Sergio Méndez

    Keith:

    I think we ought to distinguish two different concepts. One of them is “clash” and the other is “opresion”. In an authentic libertarian society of course there will be clashes, and of course there will be prefered cultural norms manifest in the comunity. But the difference is nobody will be coerced to live by the standards of a true libertarian society. In small town of conservative america a person who deviates - say, an homosexual- is in physical danger of being beaten and in danger of being systematically discrminated. In “hippie-vegan-gay-marxist” comunity you imagine, if that community trully shares the values of a left libertarian order, that personn will not be coerced not be a catholic or a republican conservative. I think there lies the difference.

  6. Keith Preston

    “In “hippie-vegan-gay-marxist” comunity you imagine, if that community trully shares the values of a left libertarian order”

    That’s the whole point. Many, probably most, leftwingers do not “share the values of a left libertarian order”. The intolerance exhibited by these people is often every bit as extreme as that of their counterparts on the Right, to the point of using violence.

  7. Sergio Méndez

    Keith:

    Yes, but by your scheme of “intermediate structures”, the intolerance of this left wingers will be justified. I mean, if it is ok for “community” to impose by force its values on others, there is little difference on who and what values constitutes this community.

  8. Keith Preston

    My point is that any kind of value system can become intolerant and authoritarian once it has institutional power behind it, not just “conversative” value systems.

  9. Keith Preston

    ooops! That should have been “conservative”

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