Here’s an article from Gina Luttrell at Thoughts on Liberty. In one way, the article is a defense of libertarianism against a common rhetorical attack from political status-quo Progressives. In another way, — and for much the same reason, because of the libertarian ideal that it appeals to — it is also a challenge to actually-existing libertarians. This is in many ways what the ideals, priorities and focuses of a sane Liberty Movement ought to be. If what you’re doing doesn’t live up to that, then you need to think more about what you’re doing, and why. Here’s Luttrell, in Tales of a Non-Male, Non-Christian Libertarian:
In the history of mankind, who has been the most responsible for death, destruction, and oppression? Government. States are the entities that wage needless wars to prop up their own economies. Governments are the ones that systematically hunt down and slaughter their own peoples. Governments were responsible for Jim Crow, and it was the laws of the day that condoned, regulated, and perpetuated slavery. Even in our country today, a liberal, Democratic government is responsible for the mass incarceration of millions of people who have harmed no one. It is because of government policies that two people of the same sex can’t share property, have hospital visitation, or in some cases adopt children.
To my mind, and to the mind of many libertarians, the real enemy of the non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-Christian people in this country is not libertarianism, but the government. And when you greatly limit or even, dare I say it, abolish government, you free millions of socio-political minorities.
I will freely, perhaps more freely than most, admit that libertarians royally suck at understanding the societal oppression that faces minorities in our country today. I am about to make a trip to a conference to make that argument to them. They outright deny it in some cases. But not all of them do. I don’t deny that libertarians very often have issues recognizing these problems as legitimate, but there are also scores of them who do and who are developing free solutions for a free world—for everyone. This is not a problem of libertarianism, it is a problem with some libertarians, and it is a fixable problem.
Are there problems with libertarianism as a philosophy? Possibly—but that depends on what type of libertarianism you’re talking about. Libertarianism is a multi-faceted ideology, with a diverse group of adherents who all think different things about what liberty means and how best to achieve it.
AlterNet’s recent article, Why Atheist Libertarians are Part of America’s 1 Percent Problem is mostly remarkably only in how utterly, thoughtlessly awful it is. Of course many political libertarians are conservative tools, and this includes those who are anti-religious. But the bulk of this article is a series of undirected polemical jabs and cheap partisan talking-points attacking Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Penn Jillette and Michael Shermer in the most formulaic and uncharitable possible terms; in general the article might be a candidate for the Ridiculous Strawman Watch, but mostly it is just a demonstration, as Nathan Goodman says, that the author couldn’t pass an ideological Turing test. I do want to mention the following, though — because the pull-quote manages to take just about everything I despise in American liberalism and wrap it up into one tight little package:
Atheists who embrace libertarianism often do so because they believe a governing body represents the same kind of constructed authority they’ve escaped from in regards to religion. This makes sense if one is talking about a totalitarian regime, but our Jeffersonian democracy, despite its quirky flaws, is government by the people for the people, and it was the federal government that essentially built the great American middle-class, the envy of the world.
Yes, indeed. Here is a completely mythical, wildly unrealistic civics-textbook Disney cartoon of how American government works. It has a few kinks here and there in the real world application, but it’s vouched for by the idealistic fantasies of a prestigious racist, expansionist slave-owning Democratic President. You know that it works great because through a stupendous effort of subsidy and social regimentation it has created the most privileged bourgeoisie the world has ever known. America, fuck yeah!
This is what happens when you take corporate liberalism and expose it to gamma radiation. In all seriousness, it is absolutely true that the construction of the white American middle class was one of the biggest and most effective projects of the United States government over the past 80 years. And in every aspect — the world-empire militarization; the cartelized, permanent warfare economy; the border controls; the internal segregation; the subsidized white flight, car culture and Urban Renewal; the Junior-G-man ethos and the law-and-orderist socioeconomic policing; the stock-market bail-outs and the logic of Too Big To Fail; the institutionalization of everyday life and the full-spectrum pan-institutional promotion of patriarchal family, bourgeois respectability and bureaucratic meritocracy — the political manufacture of the white American middle class has been one of the most reactionary, destructive, dysfunctional, patriarchal and racist campaigns that American government has ever waged against human liberty, and the basic justification of every one of its most grievous assaults on the oppressed, exploited and socially marginalized.
Of course the federal government created the great [white] American middle class.To the eternal shame of both.
 Actually, John Sutherland Productions. Sutherland spent three years as a director for Disney before he went on to produce propaganda films for the D.O.D. and then for Harding College (on a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation). ↩
The websites have been temporarily suspended by their web hosting company, Bluehost, because of a spurious takedown notice apparently sent by the attorney J. D. Obenberger, apparently on Janssen’s behalf. According to the lawyer’s takedown notice to Bluehost, “Your hosting customer, who operates http://s4ss.org, decided to embarrass Oliver Janssens in the worst and most effective way - by words out of his own mouth. Words of his own creation which, when reduced to the tangible medium of a FaceBook page, acquired a copyright. recognized by the United States Copyright Act and international conventions
concerning copyright.” In other words, Obenberger claims that S4SS (and apparently C4SS, even though C4SS’s website never even quoted Olivier Janssen’s name) ought to be legally censored for truthfully reporting the man’s own words about Muslims and immigrants. Specifically, his words when he wrote — on Facebook — “HHHhas the balls to say that, thanks to our welfare state, our genetic pool is fucked. Exactly my thoughts. The only reason the Muslim parasite can breed at a 10 times faster pace than us. Totally love this guy.”
Olivier Janssens is a bigot, a bully, and now would like to add “censor” to his list of credentials, with a lawyer e-mailing legal threats and spurious takedown notices to C4SS and S4SS’s web host.
In the meantime, Nazi Punks Fuck Off. If you are willing and have the web space, please consider re-posting a copy of the statement below on your own site, so that we can spread the word, and make it clear that we will not isolated, intimidated or silenced by bigots using these copy-fascist tactics.
Content warning. Please be forewarned that the post exposes the activities of a group of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant racists, and it quotes comments made by them that include extremely disturbing discussions and brutal racial slurs.
From the inception of Students for a Stateless Society we have strived to provide a space to learn about liberty and engage in projects to further its cause. We seek to provide a networked structure that will allow for maximum autonomy of our chapters while fostering maximum inter/intra-chapter participation, communication and coordination. Although we do not ‘own’ the S4SS ‘trademark’ we feel it is necessary to emphasize that we do decide for ourselves which individuals, groups and chapters we recognize as being part of our network.
For the last few months we have been observing a rapid change of subject and tone in the discussions held at the facebook group of the S4SS chapter in Belgium; Students for a Stateless Society UGent. The atmosphere present in that group is becoming increasingly hostile towards fellow liberty-advocates, liberty-oriented organizations, and –most clearly- those of the Islamic faith. In accordance with our organizational orientation which states:
“3. S4SS spaces are safe and valued spaces. We are dedicated to not only identifying agents of aggression, but dissolving institutions of oppression.”
We feel S4SS U-gent is not representing this orientation in their structure or discussions. In fact we feel they are actively promoting oppression of Muslim minorities, as evidenced by the following facebook-conversations:
Everaert: According to Lode Cossaer and his fellow Trotskyists it is “redundant to talk about the problems in the Arab world” and “we should focus ourselves on signs of hope.” I propose sending him on a one way trip to Syria. He can go and ignore the bullets and beheadings (they’re redundant anyway), and look for hope. Surely he won’t return. That kid won’t even survive reality.
Arnaert: Cossaer denies reality? Behold the most important attitude of the left!
Everaert: Reality is redundant, so not relevant and pointless. Bleri Lleshi = Lode Cossaer (ed. Bleri Lleshi is a leftist Belgian philosopher, documentary filmmaker and political scientist who focuses on things like identity, equality and neo-liberalism)
Janssens: It would be relevant enough if you know that the SPA/PS (Leftist political parties in Belgium) are growing in power because of the muslims, and that the Arab world is helping them accomplish this. Unless his hope is is ‘not being beheaded in 20 years because he is a Christian’.
Verdyck: He has no capital and his ambition to work for the government all his life.
Xavier Everaert, Brecht Arnaert, Olivier Janssens and Yannick Verdyck share very islamophobic viewpoints as visible from the above conversation. Let us be clear; We do not believe the Muslim world is helping leftist political parties gain power. Muslims are individuals with their own thoughts, their actions and political beliefs are not a result of their skin color or belief in a certain deity. Additionally:
Jacobs: Funny how the result of ‘inter-cultural dialogue’ always comes down to giving Muslims more advantages while Catholics get doused in shit every day by our regime’s media.
Janssens: Enough is enough.
Arnaert: I don’t think they’re taking it far enough. I think western names like John, Peter and Paul are quite upsetting as well.
Verdyck: And of course, everyone who thinks this will cause trouble between original-Belgians and muslims is obviously a xenophobe.
Everaert: Guns. Guns to kill all those sand-niggers and their servants like Lode Cossaer, just like the animals they are.
Verdyck: I have never been able to find the difference between Mein Kampf and the Koran, but according to Lode Cossaer and Joelle Milquet there is definitely a difference. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in German, that xenophobic nationalist!
Let us highlight Everaert’s comment: “Guns. Guns to kill all those sand-niggers and their servants like Lode Cossaer, just like the animals they are.” Do we really need say more? In no way can you call this critical of religion. This is pure racism. S4SS is supposed to provide safe spaces for students of all sorts, including individuals with minority religious and ethnic backgrounds. In addition this comment is a threat to initiate violence against peaceful people; S4SS should not associate itself with people who make threats to the life and liberty of others. If this wasn’t enough, here is more:
Janssens: HHH (ed. Hans Herman Hoppe) has the balls to say that, thanks to our welfare state, our genetic pool is fucked. Exactly my thoughts. The only reason the Muslim parasite can breed at a 10 times faster pace than us. Totally love this guy.
Kint: Truefax. A virus can’t survive without a host.
Kint: My problem is that mohammedan promise 5 times a day that they will chop my head off, and that I have to pay for them to do this.
Kint: Under normal circumstances people like that would be institutionalized, or better yet: deported. Because the kuffar (unbeliever) keeps paying to finance and maintain that fascist death-cult. Stop welfare checks and the problem is solved.
Kint: Mohammedans who do not promise this are not good mohemmedans. The ‘existence’ of the so-called moderate muslim is irrelevant in this discussion. The question is: what side will the moderate muslim take when all hell breaks loose?
Kint: Servititude is the worst. Breivik had the idea.
Kint: Mohammedans must practice Jihad in multiple ways. One of the techniques is to soothe the Kuffar to sleep by becoming ‘moderate’ or becoming your friend.
Everaert: ‘I know friendly muslims, so there is no problem” , how cute.
Everaert: I know how you will defend yourself. You will convert and collaborate and decapitate your mother and father because your moderate friends ask you nicely, just like in Syria.
Kint: Collaborators of islamofascists will be the first targets. The fear has to spread to the other side. http://wiki.artikel20.com/
Kint: Moderate muslims are a fiction created by Mohammed himself. They are the first wave of the Jihad. The anthrax in your carpet. This is where the discussion ends for me, you are in a deep comatose sleep. You won’t care if your head is removed. Insh’allah! (ed. If god wills it!)
Everaert: First point is to get rid of collaborators like you because we have the suspicion that you will pick their side. Just like the liberals have picked the side of the salafists in the middle-east, is there any reason to think why they won’t do that here?
Again, there is no conspiracy of world domination by which ‘the Muslims’ are seeking power. Suggesting that people are automatically part of a plot just because of their religion or ethnic ancestry is racism. Also, posting references to kill-lists set up by racist groups does not qualify S4SS UGent as a safe space, which S4SS chapters should be.
We would like to take the opportunity to point out the continuous hostility towards Lode Cossaer, president of the Murray Rothbard Institute in Belgium. Throughout multiple conversations he has been ridiculed, verbally attacked and his life has been threatened. As S4SS members we feel deeply ashamed that personal attacks like this have happened in a chapter that we consider part of our network. If you’re reading this, Lode, we would like to apologize for not taking action on this at a sooner date. We empathize with the possible fear and under appreciation you feel because of S4SS UGent.
In response to the evidence provided above we have decided to dissociate ourselves with S4SS UGent as well as the members that most prominently voiced racist opinions and threats; Xavier Everaert, Brecht Arnaert, Olivier Janssens, Yannick Verdyck and Peter Kint. We suggest that the members of S4SS UGent who are not part of its racist core to start a different chapter, a safe and valued space, so that the idea of a stateless society may continue to grow in their university and their country.
Finally, we would like to provide the opportunity for anyone else to sign this message with or without additional comments. As a closing statement let us reiterate our orginizational orientation:
The Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS) agree to the following four design principles:
1. “Student” does not mean subservient, submissive, or subordinate. A student is anyone who desires knowledge. A student can be either a teacher or a learner.
2. A stateless society is anarchy. Students have a right to contribute to and have a voice in the institutions they participate or constitute. As anarchists we will actively pursue and support hierarchy dissolving and mutual aid projects. Our time as students is not a time of passivity or mindless discipline, but a time for activity and creativity.
3. S4SS spaces are safe and valued spaces. We are dedicated to not only identifying agents of aggression, but dissolving institutions of oppression.
4. All chapters of S4SS, to be considered active, must have at least one volunteer “point of contact” that can be reached by interested students or encouraging chapters. There is no limit to the number of S4SS chapters that can be on any one campus – swarm and take over!
Olivier Janssens and his crew deserve to be exposed. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, both for what they said, and for stooping to use the state censorship of “Intellectual Property” law to retaliate against those who exposed what they said. Please spread the word, and keep copies of this statement alive. We can’t give in to this kind of shameful legal intimidation and censorship.
I know in the past I’ve been down on electoral politics and maverick candidates as a means to political change. But man, this guy sounds pretty awesome. I hope he runs for President in the next election, so we can have a chance to change this Administration’s increasingly repressive policies.
This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. I will provide our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists, without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more National Security letters to spy on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is convenient.
White House opposes defense funding bill amendment.
The White House opposes an amendment to the defense funding bill that would restrict the National Security Agency’s ability to collect communications data, press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Tuesday evening.
We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools, Carney said, referring to the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act put forward by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and backed by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), among others.
This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process, Carney said, with no hint to the irony of speaking about a secretive program in such terms. We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.
Of course the President opposes this attempt at a minor restriction on unbridled Executive power. He is the President.
And when you elect a progressive President, you’re going to find that the fact that he is President is always of much greater practical significance than the fact that he claims to be progressive.
Here’s a story for August. One of the things that the progressive President does with the NSA surveillance apparatus that he does not want to hastily dismantle is to target, monitor, and retaliate against dissident journalists.
Leaker Edward Snowden accused the National Security Agency of targeting reporters who wrote critically about the government after the 9/11 attacks and warned it was unforgivably reckless for journalists to use unencrypted email messages when discussing sensitive matters.
Snowden said in an interview with the New York Times Magazine published Tuesday that he came to trust Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who, along with Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, helped report his disclosure of secret surveillance programs, because she herself had been targeted by the NSA.
“Laura and [Guardian reporter] Glenn [Greenwald] are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures,” Snowden said for the article, a profile of Poitras.
Snowden didn’t detail how Poitras was targeted by the NSA surveillance programs he disclosed, but suggested the agency tracked her emails and cautioned other journalists that they could be under surveillance.
Another thing they do with that, as you may recall, is to use it to provide secret leads and evidence for the DEA to double down on the U.S. government’s insane war on drugs
A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial.
Judging From Prosecutions, Obama is 80 Percent Worse Than Bush on Medical Marijuana
According to a new report from California NORML, over 335 defendants have been charged with federal crimes related to medical marijuana in states with medical marijuana laws. Despite Barack Obama’s promises of prosecutorial restraint in this area, 153 medical marijuana cases have been brought in the 4¼ years of the Obama administration, nearly as many as under the 8 years of the Bush administration (163). In other words, Obama is averaging 36 medical marijuana prosecutions a year, compared to 20 a year under his predecessor. And although Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly claimed the Justice Department is not targeting suppliers who comply with state law, the DOJ has targeted many facilities that were in full compliance with local laws and regulations.
The overwhelming majority of these cases, 259, involve California dispensaries. California NORML also counts at least 31 cases in Montana, 15 in Nevada, 12 in Michigan, 10 in Washington, six in Oregon, and two in Colorado. Nine out of 10 cases concluded so far have resulted in convictions, with 158 defendants receiving prison sentences totaling more than 480 years. About 50 are in federal prison right now, while others await sentencing or have been sentenced but have not begun serving their time yet.
I had a joke that I used to run in these features that played off our Progressive Peace President’s 2008 campaign slogan, which was to close off these posts with some variation on The more things Change…. It seemed funny to me at the time. It’s not as funny to me anymore. Because in fact things have not stayed the same, at least not on this front. While campaigning as an alleged supporter of civil liberties — while promising to roll back the abuses of the Bush Administration’s war cabinet — while promising to dial down the rampant drug war and the criminalization of young men of color — and while making one grandstanding lie after another, Obama’s government has spent the last five years actively making the situation worse for civil liberties, and for drug war targets, than it was when he entered office. This Progressive administration’s wholehearted embrace of an authoritarian security state, and expansion of the very policies and programs that they had condemned in the Bush administration, has been aided and abetted by many professional-class Progressive voters and commentators, who have excused this Administration’s policies, vilified its critics, and pragmatically embraced its institutionalization of unchecked executive power. By any standard of individual liberty, social equality, or plain old humanitarian compassion, his record in office has been appalling, and those who promoted this Presidency as a means of improving political conditions ought to be embarrassed and apologetic in light of the practical outcome.