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Posts from March 2011

Market Anarchy Mailed Monthly!

tl;dr. There’s three beautiful new booklets available for ordering from the ALL Distro, and the Distro is officially launching two regular monthly publications. If you’re interested in subscribing for individual copies or bulk distribution packets, contact me.

I’m happy to announce three new additions to the Alliance of the Libertarian Left Artwork & Agitprop Distro, and some exciting new projects. First, the lit. Issue #17 of the Market Anarchy Zine Series is a classic from Voltairine de Cleyre on the egalitarianism of individual ownership and free competition. Second, the Distro is reorganizing some of its longer historical materials into an ongoing Anarchist Classics Zine Series. I quietly put up ACS#04 last month — an inexpensive, nicely-printed edition of Randolph Bourne’s anti-war, anti-state classic The State.[1] Now I’m noisily putting up ACS#05 — a stand-alone printing of Proudhon’s Third Study from General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, The Principle of Association, which seems to be pretty rarely discussed these days but which really raises a lot of important and interesting issues for people from two rather different camps — those interested in the issues raised by post-Left Anarchy, on the one hand; and those engaged with the market Anarchist tradition, on the other.

The Lit

Market Anarchy #17 (Mar’11). Competition Not Domination.

A Glance at Communism

Voltairine de Cleyre (1893)

A follow-up to de Cleyre and Rosa Slobodinsky’s classic The Individualist and the Communist (Market Anarchy Zine Series #2, Capitalistic Anarchism?), in which de Cleyre looks at the egalitarianism of competition, and the invasiveness and domination involved in Communist attempts to control economic life according to anti-competitive blueprints.

Communism itself has two individuals within its folds known as the State Communist and the Free Communist…. An Anarchist-Communist is a person who is a man first and a Communist afterwards…. He… believes that property and competition must die yet admits he has no authority to kill them, contends for equality and in the same breath denies its possibility, hates charity and yet wishes to make society one vast Sheltering Arms… [But] a free Communist when driven into a corner always holds to freedom first. The State Communist, on the other hand … believes in authority, and says so.

The main thing is, must we be licensed, protected, regulated, labeled, taxed, confis­cated, spied upon, and generally meddled with, in order that correct statistics may be ob­tained and a quantity prescribed; or may we trust to the producers to look out for their own interests sufficiently to avoid under-stocked and over-stocked markets? Whether we may expect provision and order from those concerned, or be condemned to accept a governmental bill of fare from those not concerned….

$1.00 for 1; 75¢/ea in bulk.

The patriot loses all sense of the distinction between State, nation, and government. In our quieter moments, the Nation or Country forms the basic idea of society … we think of our own people merely as living on the earth’s surface along with other groups, pleasant or objectionable as they may be, but fundamentally as sharing the earth with them. … Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of living and letting live. But State is essentially a concept of power, of competition: it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects. And we have the misfortune of being born not only into a country but into a State, and as we grow up we learn to mingle the two feelings into a hopeless confusion….

Wartime brings the ideal of the State out into very clear relief, and reveals attitudes and tendencies that were hidden. In times of peace the sense of the State flags in a republic that is not militarized. For war is essentially the health of the State. The ideal of the State is that within its territory its power and influence should be universal. … And it is precisely in war that the urgency for union seems greatest, and the necessity for universality seems most unquestioned.

The State is the last and best-known work of the radical essayist Randolph Bourne (1886-1918). Written during the last days of his life and published posthumously in 1918, this anti-state classic examines the mass psychology of war, and the role of war in the growth of State power and the manufacture of political identity — expressed most famously in Bourne’s aphorism, War is the health of the State!

$2.00 for 1; $1.50/ea in bulk.

Anarchist Classics #5 (Mar’11). The Principle of Association.

Third Study from General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1851)

In The Principle of Association, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon —the 19th century French radical who became the first political thinker to describe himself as an Anarchist — takes on the revolutionary systems of authoritarian socialism. He questions the forms of authority, obligation, and micromanagement inherent in mass organization; he challenges the dogmatic formulas of From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, and of social order based on systematic association at all costs. His revolutionary, libertarian socialist alternative: reciprocity and mutual exchange, emerging within a social space of individual initiative and spontaneous cooperation. Proudhon’s argument may be of special interest to those interested in issues raised by post-Left Anarchy or the market Anarchist tradition. From Proudhon’s 1851 masterpiece, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century.

Association, by itself, does not solve the revolutionary problem. Far from that, it presents itself as a problem, the solution of which implies that the associates enjoy all their independence, while preserving all the advantages of union; … the best association is one into which, thanks to a better organization, liberty enters most and devotion least.

Whoever talks of association, necessarily implies obligation, common responsibility, fusion of rights and duties in relation to outsiders…. Association formed without any outside economic consideration, or any leading interest, association for its own sake, as an act of devotion, a family tie, as it were, is an act of pure religion, a supernatural bond, without real value, a myth.

$2.00 for 1; $1.50/ea in bulk.

The Announcement

Moreover, I’m happy to announce that from here on out, both the Market Anarchy Zine Series and the new Anarchist Classics Zine Series are going to become regular monthly publications. Until now, the Market Anarchy series has been, shall we say, irregularly published — William Gilis prepared the initial 5 issues all in late 2007, and new issues were put out by Southern Nevada ALL at intervals in 2008, 2009, and 2010, often with a couple new issues put out at a time in order to make sure that we had new material for an upcoming outreach event. But, honestly, this stuff is not hard and there is a lot of great material out there to cover; and regular publication offers a more reliable product for ALL locals, distros, infoshops and other radical spaces that might want to offer this stuff. So from here on out, here is the publication schedule:

  • Issues of the Market Anarchy Zine Series will be published each month, with the new issues going out during the third week of the month. Market Anarchy zines are short, punchy items, usually about 4-16pp, with a mix of historical[2] and contemporary[3] writing, usually focused on a single issue or critical question. These zines usually go for about $1.00 or $1.50 at outreach tables; cheaply-printed versions could plausibly be given away for free if your local group has access to free printing or a little money to burn. They are intended as attractive outreach material and should be very useful for people interested in market Anarchism broadly, or for ALL locals.

  • Issues of the Anarchist Classics Zine Series will be published each month, with the new issues going out during the third week of the month. Anarchist Classics zines are somewhat longer (usually about 16-40pp), tend towards more comprehensive overviews, and focus on the Anarchist tradition, not on contemporary writing. They are the kind of thing that could go for $2.00 or $3.00 at an outreach table; they are likely to be most interesting to people who want something less one-off and more comprehensive, or who like collecting and reading some good old texts. The series is intended to recover, republish and showcase classic texts from Anarchist, Individualist, and other radically anti-authoritarian social movements; we aim to introduce ideas, raise questions, and provoke conversations about the radical possibilities of total liberation, consensual politics and DIY social change.

As William said when he first introduced the Market Anarchy series:

The state of Market Anarchist propaganda has been pretty dismal. Despite a ton of resources on the internet, there are few books, pamphlets and articles available in the real world. And–aside from a few glossy and expensive volumes published by the Mises Institute–what there is just isn’t that pretty or appealing…. Anyway, to fill that void and maybe make things easier for the Market Anarchist who wants to go tabling or stock their local infoshop I’ve gone ahead and put together an easy-to-print series of pamphlets/zines on Market Anarchy.

I hope that the new projects and the regular publishing schedule will help out ALL locals, hometown radicals and market anarchists out to make a point. I can provide nicely printed copies at low cost; and for those who want super-low-cost zines to give away for free or just prefer to DIY, I’ll also be providing regular access to ready-to-print electronic copies to anyone who subscribes, orders or donates to the project. (For details on ready-to-print electronic copies, see below.)

Scatter tracts, like raindrops, over the land….

–William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, March 1831.

Subscribe! Table! Stock your local infoshop!

As always, you can order individual copies, sampler packs, or bulk orders for tabling, infoshop-stocking, and other special events. With issues coming out each month, I’d also like to announce that the Distro now offers you the option of setting up subscriptions for individual copies, or for bulk packets for distributing through your ALL local, at outreach tables, or through local radical libraries and infoshops. Here’s the basic break-down of your options. The prices all include any shipping and handling costs.

Market Anarchy Zine Series
Individuals Bulk Distribution Packets

Delivered each month

(= $18/year)
No. of copies ✕ 80¢/issue
(= N ✕ $9.60/year)
Anarchist Classics Zine Series
Individuals Bulk Distribution Packets

Delivered each month

(= $27/year)
No. of copies ✕ $1.25/issue
(= N ✕ $15/year)

Finally, a few more helpful perks if you set up a subscription:

  • Electronic copies. In addition to their print copies, if you want it, you’ll also get electronic copies of the documents used to produce each booklet, so that you can make your own print runs, produce ultra-low-cost copies to give away at outreach tables, political events, mobes, radical shin-digs, etc. All the documents are created using open-source software and can easily be viewed, printed, and edited using commonly-available software tools.

  • Customization on my end. Bulk order subscriptions can be localized by me, before they go out, so that your print run will include custom contact information about your hometown, your local group, or the distro/outlet/infoshop whence you send the booklets out.

  • Quarterly shipment packets. If you want, you can opt to get a significant discount (due to lower shipping costs), if you let me know you would rather receive a packet of the 3 most recent issues every 3 months, rather than 1 new issue each month. Mention it when you contact me if this is an option you’d like to consider.

I hope that I’ll get a more automated form for putting in orders for all this in the near future, but it’s going to take a fair amount of PHP monkey-work at the Distro page. For the next few months, if you’d like to set up a regular subscription for either the Market Anarchy Zine Series or the Anarchist Classics Zine series or both, please contact me forthwith and we’ll get something worked out.

See also:

  1. [1]There is already an anarchist small-press edition of The State available from See Sharp Press. Unfortunately there is need of a new edition, because the edition from See Sharp Press includes a serious error — it follows the incorrect page-ordering that was originally published in posthumous anthologies of Bourne’s work. It was later realized that incorrectly located material at the very end of the essay that was supposed to go at the very front, and seriously disrupts Bourne’s closing discussion of the party system, as well as his introductory discussion of the distinction among the Country, the State and the Government. Our edition fixes this error and follows the corrected ordering now used in most editions of Bourne’s work.
  2. [2]Usually material from individualists, mutualists, left-Rothbardians and other less-known radicals in the American libertarian milieu, etc.
  3. [3]Left-libertarians, market anarchists, agorists, and other rad material from the contemporary Anarchist milieu.

Change You Can Believe In (Vol. III, No. 3, March 2011)

Apparently this is becoming an ongoing monthly feature.[1] Here’s this month’s. You may recall back around fall 2010, a lot of voting Progressives were passing around links to a site called WhatTheFuckHasObamaDone.com. When I went to the website, some cosmic force decided that this is the first thing the random number generator would throw at me:

A screen from a website, reading: "What the fuck has Obama done so far? Issued executive order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay." A button below the text reads, "Big fucking deal. What else?"

And I closed the browser window, because, well, what else can I ask for after that? To be sure, Obama did sign an executive order to close the prison at Guantanamo in January 2009. And with that piece of paper under his belt, Obama went on to keep the prison at Guantanamo open and running for the next year and a half while voting Progressives were marking that one up as a win. Now, in March 2011, after two years of running the prison at Guantanamo, the Hopester’s got this to serve up:

NEW YORK – President Obama today issued an executive order that permits ongoing indefinite detention of Guantánamo detainees while establishing a periodic administrative review process for them. The administration also announced it will lift the ban on bringing new military commissions charges against detainees that don’t already have ongoing cases in the substandard system.

The American Civil Liberties Union has long called for Guantánamo to be shut down and opposes the indefinite detention of prisoners there, some of whom have been imprisoned by the U.S. without charge or trial for nine years. The ACLU has also long called for an end to the illegitimate military commissions and for the government to prosecute terrorism suspects in the federal criminal courts.

— ACLU (7 March 2011), President Obama Issues Executive Order Institutionalizing Indefinite Detention

The more things Change….

(Link thanks to Cheryl Cline 2011-03-08.)

  1. [1]Here’s January 2011; here’s February 2011.

Monday Lazy Linking

<li><p><a href="http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com/27027.html">Victim-Blaming - The Gross American Pastime (part 1 of many) <cite>Marja Erwin</cite> (2011-03-25)</a>. <q>For our first entry, I'll take all statements of the form:"If you [act in some harmless but insufficiently subordinate manner], then don't complain when faced with the consequences [up to and including beatings, arrest, torture, and rape]."Look, do we even have to explain why kapoism and other evils are bad?...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2011-03-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.laanarchist.org/blog/2011/03/i-w-w-presents-finally-got-the-news-film-screening-discussion/">I.W.W. presents “Finally Got the News” film screening &amp; discussion. Guy Debord, <cite>Los Angeles Anarchist</cite> (2011-03-25)</a>. <q>“Finally Got the News” film screening and discussion April 9th, 2011 2:00 pm @ The Southern California Library 6120 S. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA (guest speakers TBA) The Los Angeles IWW invites you to commemorate the legacy and lessons of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. The League was...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2011-03-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://reason.com/archives/2011/03/16/resilient-japan">Resilient Japan. Jesse Walker, <cite>Jesse Walker: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2011-03-16)</a>. <q>An 8.9 earthquake, a 33-foot tsunami, a series of crises at their battered nuclear plants: The people of Japan have withstood the last week with admirable tenacity. There&#39;s no shortage of lessons the rest of the world can learn from what we&#39;ve been seeing. Here are three of them. 1....</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2011-03-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/2011/03/two-socialist-catechisms.html">Two Socialist Catechisms. Shawn P. Wilbur, <cite>Two-Gun Mutualism &amp; the Golden Rule</cite> (2011-03-28)</a>. <q>I've been reading around Proudhon quite a bit lately, trying to establish contexts as a step towards further clarifying his ideas. And I have been in search of 19th century English translations of the French socialists, as a step towards establishing the contexts for people like William B. Greene and...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2011-03-28.)</em></p></li>

Friday Lazy Linking

<li><p><a href="http://fafblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/humanitarians-of-year.html">Humanitarians of the Year. the Medium Lobster, <cite>Fafblog</cite> (2011-03-23)</a>. <q>Freedom! If there&#39;s one thing America loves, it&#39;s... well, war. But if there&#39;s two things America loves, it&#39;s war and torture. But if there&#39;s three things America loves, it&#39;s war, torture, and genocide. But if there are several dozen things America loves, they are war, torture, genocide, chattel slavery, apartheid,...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2011-03-23.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/Anarchism/comments/g4udc/at_the_end_of_the_day_who_the_fuck_cares_if/c1kydzm">rechelon on At the end of the day who the fuck cares if Intellectual Property encourages creativity or not? Censorship is censorship, full stop. You don't get to own my thoughts, experiences, memories or communications. <cite>reddit: the voice of the internet -- news before it happens</cite> (2011-03-16)</a>. <q>**My right to the integrity of my own thoughts is not something you ever had the authority to &quot;*grant*&quot; me.** Autonomy means nothing if not the freedom to construct, share and express my thoughts (information) however the fuck I like. Even if you &quot;totally had that thought first&quot;. You can&#39;t...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2011-03-23.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://flipfloppingjoy.com/2011/03/22/michigan-votes-against-illegal-fetus-chompers/">Michigan votes against illegal fetus chompers. bfp, <cite>flip flopping joy</cite> (2011-03-22)</a>. <q>Things can always get worse in Michigan. We have one of the chronically worst economies in the US. Most people who have jobs are working two and three part time jobs rather than one stable full time job with benefits. Unemployment is soaring. There’s next to no economic investment and...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-03-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://cherylcline.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/this-only-seems-bad/">This Only Seems Bad. cherylcline, <cite>der Blaustrumpf</cite> (2011-03-08)</a>. <q>President Obama today issued an executive order that permits ongoing indefinite detention of Guantánamo detainees while establishing a periodic administrative review process for them. The administration also announced it will lift the ban on bringing new military commissions charges against detainees that don’t already have ongoing cases in the substandard...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-03-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://sheldonfreeassociation.blogspot.com/2011/03/un-authorizes-war.html">UN Authorizes War. Sheldon Richman, <cite>Free Association</cite> (2011-03-17)</a>. <q>"He who mounts a wild elephant goes where the wild elephant goes."I thought of those words of Randolph Bourne, the Progressive who became disillusioned by his fellow Progressives' enthusiasm for U.S. entry into World War I, when I heard that the UN Security Council, led by the Obama administration, voted...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-03-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2011/03/11/godzilla-vs-real-life"><em>Godzilla</em> vs. Real Life. Jesse Walker, <cite>Jesse Walker: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2011-03-11)</a>. <q>The word &quot;Godzilla&quot; was trending on Twitter this morning, as an army of would-be wits reacted to the catastrophe in Japan with identical wisecracks. The joke is dumb and tasteless. But it&#39;s actually worth taking a moment to think about Godzilla right now, because what happened last night illustrates an important...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-03-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2011/03/15/the-rasta-man-vs-the-state">The Rasta Man vs. the State. Jesse Walker, <cite>Jesse Walker: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2011-03-15)</a>. <q>Joseph Diliberti -- identified by the L.A. Times as a &quot;veteran, Rastafarian, flutist and iconoclast&quot; -- is locked in a battle with the government over some weeds. No, not the kind of weed you&#39;re thinking of. Tony Perry of the Times reports: What started out in 2004 as a $27,000...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-03-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1927">did you see what i did there with Machine of Death?  I BELIEVE THAT IS CALLED "SYNERGY" <cite>Dinosaur Comics</cite> (2011-03-25)</a>. <q>archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - cute - search - about← previousMarch 25th, 2011nextMarch 25th, 2011: As always when I mention specific dates or people in the comic, they're dinosaur versions: dinosaur 17th century, dinosaur Titanic (scaled up to fit dinosaurs), dinosaur sleeping beauties; it's hard to imagine...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2011-03-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.sq-skim.com/">VeriFone Must Be Scared Shitless About Square. John Gruber, <cite>Daring Fireball</cite> (2011-03-09)</a>. <q>VeriFone, a large payment processing corporation, has launched a full-on hit job against Square: Today is a wake-up call to consumers and the payments industry. Last year, a start-up named Square introduced a credit card reader for smartphones with the goal of making it very easy for anyone to accept...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2011-03-25.)</em></p></li>

Ignorance and Markets

This is an unsigned editorial from the January 2009 issue of Philosophy (vol. 84, no. 327). Submitted for comment, without much commentary from my end. (Yet.)

Editorial: Ignorance and Markets

It may not be true that no one predicted the recent crash in the financial world. But it is certainly true that most well-informed observers and participants, including most importantly those who believed they were actually running things, were caught unawares. If they had been aware, they would have been able to avoid the worst consequences, at least for themselves, and even profit from the situation.

The 2008 financial crash has been compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall, in that just as the one signalled the end of an uncritical belief in socialism, at least of a centralised sort, the other signals the end to an uncritical belief in markets.

Let us leave aside the point that the markets of 2008 were actually heavily regulated in all sorts of ways, and so hardly unfettered. There is in fact an interesting parallel between 1989 and 2008 in one significant respect. Both events were largely unforeseen.

In one sense this is encouraging. For all our knowledge and technology there is much, even in human affairs, which is unpredictable and uncontrollable. This is, in a sense, judgment on hubris. It can also be liberating, particularly for those who do not see themselves as masters of the universe.

But should 2008 be seen as a decisive moment as far as belief in markets is concerned? Much will depend on what is meant by a market, no easy question when, as already mentioned, no markets to-day are unfettered, and are not likely to be in the foreseeable future.

We should, though, not forget that for followers of Adam Smith, such as Hayek, one of the main philosophical arguments in favour of markets was precisely the unpredictability of human action and of events more generally. From this perspective markets are not seen as perfect predictors, which there cannot be. But in situations of uncertainty they are seen as the most efficient and least hazardous way of disseminating information in a society and of responding to what cannot be predicted. It would be somewhat paradoxical if a failure of prediction was in itself taken to be an argument against a system which takes unpredictability as its starting point.

— Philosophy 84 (2009), 1. Cambridge University Press.


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