Anarchy at the Ballot Box

anarchyballotbox

After the Ron Paul campaigns the term anarchism floated to electoral politics. Especially finding in anarcho-capitalists like Lew Rockwell, Walter Block and Adam Kokesh among their most loyal supporters. Ron Paul was particularly influenced by the radical anarcho-capitalist economist Murray Rothbard whose theories about a free society without a state on the basis of the non-aggression principle and free market economics become a central part of the career and campaigns of the Texas Congressman. But it wasn’t the first political project of anarchist characteristics. The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 had in the past a strong debate between anarchism and monarchism while the organization with the Dallas Accord in 1974 downplay the faction fighting by not mentioning in their platform whether the state should be abolish or not but in the 2006 Libertarian National Convention it happened the  what is known as the Portland Massacre where great parts of the more radical aspects of the platform were erased by the reformers. The Green Party was founded in 1984 had also since its founding anarchists as recounted by longtime activist Howie Hawkins. It was precisely Howie Hawkins who along Murray Bookchin and radical green activists organizing around the ideas of social ecology in the late 80s created the Left Green Network with members of the Green Party who questioned liberal environmentalism. Although in the 90s the project would fall apart it reflexed the post-anarchist ideas of Murray Bookchin like using local elections as a form of direct democracy while he was living in Burlington the greens ran a campaign for city council with a platform of replace city government by neighborhood assemblies. During the Nader campaigns some anarchists were part of the leftist pro-Nader alliance. The anarchists and Nader were not strange bedfellows in fact while the enemies of the state and a friend of good government had a lot of differences they agreements in foreign policy and against corporate welfare put them as allies.

But now without Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, even someone more rothbardian or bookchinite third-party candidate; the electoral possibilities for american anarchists are few in the 2016. On the Democratic side: Hillary is a burocratic liberal imperialist while Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb are not as decentralists as Mike Gravel. On the Republican side: Rand Paul is only liberarian-ish not a rothbardian like his father and the rest just a bunch of neocons. On the Libertarian side: Gary Johnson support for the Fair Tax could lose support from anarcho-capitalists. On the Green side: Jill Stein will be the defacto choice for many left-anarchists although she’s not the most libertarian among the greens. Anarchists could point out that the changes they goals could only be accomplished by working outside the electoral system despite a protest vote for third-party candidates maybe be also option.

But there is a point in between the protest vote that doesn’t end in just voting for a third-party presidential candidate that’s what some had called used the elections as a direct action. In Iceland, Jon Gnarr an anarchist comedian and former punk rocker was elected in 2010 as mayor of the capital Reykjavík in Iceland with a surrealist platform. America is no strange of these kinds of campaigns. Two artists also whom at least at some point identify themselves as anarchists ran eccentrically campaigns. The writer Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City in 1969 with the promise of secede from the state and a radical decentralist platform of community control of the neighborhoods. Jello Biafra the frontman of The Dead Kennedys ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979 with an even more eccentric platform that include made police officers stand for election. These tradition were part of large history of mock campaigns of the New Left like when Yippies ran for president a pig called Pigasus in the Chicago Democratic National Convention of 1968. The discordian writer Robert Anton Wilson more recently ran as write-in candidate for governor of California in 2003 with a platform of replace part of legislature with ostriches. In his song Candidacy, the legendary anarchist folk singer Utah Phillips says:

I am running as an anarchist candidate in the best sense of that word. I have studied the presidency carefully; I have seen that our best presidents were the do-nothing presidents: Millard Fillmore, Warren G. Harding. When you have a president who does things, we are all in serious trouble. If he does anything at all — if he gets up at night to go to the bathroom — somehow, mystically, trouble will ensue. I guarantee that if I am elected, I will take over the White House, hang out, shoot pool, scratch my ass, and not do a damn thing. Which is to say, if you want something done, don’t come to me to do it for you; you got to get together and figure out how to do it yourselves. Is that a deal?

Anarchists are many times dismissed as extremists but in 2016 they would look accurate when political dynasties like the Clintons and Bushes are making America look more a corporate monarchy rather than a democracy. The neoliberal consensus in the Democratic Party and neoconservative consensus in Republican Party are the corporate rule and the military empire. The fact that there are still anarchists active in third-party politics is no coincidence but the protest against the state violence and oppression from the American Empire.

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Identity Politics of the Right

williamtemple

Last week the CPAC was held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. CPAC also known as the conservative Woodstock is the annual major gathering of grassroots conservative activists in America, despite the presence of some Bush supporters from K Street. While a lot of buzz was focus on Scott Walker the anti-labor Wisconsin governor and increasingly hawkish Republican presidential candidate even National Review attacked the darling of the Club for Growth whose problems don’t seem to be his lack of a college degree rather his lack of real foreign policy credentials. The Straw Poll winner was Rand Paul who was able to win because of an important presence of libertarian college students that on most issues disagree with the GOP. One wonder what could happen if Rand Paul loses the nomination. Brink Lindsay vice president of the Cato Institute said in the Bush years that conservative movement with the exclusion of libertarians had become identity politics of the right for angry straight middle age white males.

While there is some speculation that Jeb Bush could get Latino voters because his wife is Mexican and his pro-immigrant positions however probably Hispanics distrust of the GOP anti-immigrant base could cost high for the former governor of Florida. Ted Cruz is a Hispanic senator from Texas however the grassroots favorite seems to be at odds with most Latinos with his anti-immigrant remarks. Ben Carson is an accomplish Afro-American neurosurgeon however without dealing with issues like police violence or the War on Drugs it seems difficult for him the get the support of the Afro-American community. Scott Walker, Rick Santorum and other contenders would had even more problems with minority outreach. The Ron Paul movement was very diverse especially against a homogenous GOP establishment. Now his son is the only Republican candidate who can appeal to Blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, Asians and other minorities. His anti-interventionism is attractive across the board and his criticism of police power is welcome when the minorities are whom suffer the most from these kind of violence.

If in the 90s Pat Buchanan was able to change his nixonian views on foreign policy despite that he wasn’t even able to change his nixonian views on police power. To their credit the paleoconservatives of rothbardian influence also known as paleolibertarians like Justin Raimondo are among the most prominent critics of the Police State. Rand Paul also made a call for demilitarize the police.

Immigration is another hot issue for libertarians over CounterPunch Tom Barry argued that the neoconservatives are not the only anti-immigrants in the right. In fact Ron Paul was suspected to be a restrictionist until more recent times when Tom Tancredo had denounced Dr. No for not being in favor of deportations. His rallies are much more diverse of any Republican meeting or Libertarian Party convention. His college supporters don’t share the confederate nostalgia of some of the elder Paul supporters.

I am skeptic at some degree of Rand Paul despite my sympathy for his criticism to War on Drugs and the prison system since I think some of his hawkish statements to please to most establishment wing GOP could made him walk a dangerous path in the case of being elected. Sadly with the most hawkish Democratic front-runner in years Paul could look like a dove in front of Hillary. Without Paul the GOP would become just identity politics of the right.

On the Democratic side liberal identity politics had become just a way to get more votes but if liberals were really concern about people of color they weren’t backing the drones in the Middle East that kill innocents in the desert neither backing a War on Drugs that in Latin America endanger especially the poor indigenous population.

An Empire abroad means an Empire at home that’s why Imperialism and racism are connected meaning that real social justice struggle is not for liberal identity politics instead is to build a diverse coalition for dissent against the liberal interventionist and neocon alliance.

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Jesse Walker on Libertarianism, Anarchism and more

jesse&stalin

Jesse Walker is books editor of Reason. He is author of the books Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America  and The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. Here is interview with him.

How did you become a libertarian?

I’ve always had an anti-authoritarian side, but I didn’t really become a libertarian until my teens. My parents are liberal Democrats, and I had absorbed that outlook as a kid, moving further leftward as I got older. Around the 11th grade or so, I started reading free-market economists and found them persuasive, even as some of my other opinions were not what you’d commonly hear from a pro-market person at all. I remember telling a friend, “I think I’m getting more left-wing and more right-wing at the same time.”

What’s your relation with anarchism and how you see the relation between
anarchism and libertarianism today?

Reading the anarchists was part of that teenage evolution. I was interested in radical change, but I didn’t want any kind of radicalism that would lead to something like the Soviet Union, so it was natural that I’d check out writers like Peter Kropotkin and Benjamin Tucker and Colin Ward. One anarchist book that helped steer me towards economic individualism was Ursula LeGuin’s novel THE DISPOSSESSED — probably not the effect she meant for that book to have, but it’s not a completely crazy reading of the text. The protagonist does shake up a stultifying society by bringing in a little competition.

I was sympathetic to a lot of what I was reading in those books, which isn’t to say I embraced every position they took. I remember reading an Alexander Berkman book in high school and nodding along with a lot of what he said, but also thinking that his arguments about crime drying up under anarchy seemed pretty vague and naive. And his argument that productive property should be held in common because all labor is social was…well, let’s just say I thought a few steps in the argument were missing.

Getting to the second half of your question: The relationship between anarchism and libertarianism is that they overlap. Not all libertarians are anarchists and not all anarchists are libertarians, but there’s an intersection.

Ron Paul had a strange coallition of supporters that I like to call the
Rainbow Coalition of the right. Could this coalition survive after Ron
Paul?

It already is, isn’t it? I mean, Paul’s still around, but he isn’t running for anything, and his various sorts of supporters are still finding things to work together on. And not just the stuff they associate with Ron Paul.

Left libertarianism had great icons like Karl Hess with his project of
libertarian communes, Robert Anton Wilson with his anti-authoritarian
literature and SEK III with his counter economic. How do you see its
present?

There are many different definitions of “left libertarianism” out there, not all of them compatible with each other. But these days when I hear the phrase “left libertarian,” the first group that comes to mind are the C4SS people. They’re certainly the group most likely to simultaneously be fans of Hess, Wilson, and Konkin. Though even there you can see separate threads that under other circumstances might not be closely entwined. There are libertarians who are interested in C4SS-style economics but who aren’t so crazy about their cultural concerns, and vice versa.

At any rate: Broadly speaking, the project of combining libertarianism and the radical left is probably more popular right now than it’s been since the ’70s. The Internet has made it a lot easier for people with those leanings to find each other, and a lot of them did just that, especially after the Ron Paul boom of 2007-08 brought a lot of new people into the libertarian movement.

El Alto and Kurdistan are according to your wrintings radical examples
of self organization. Could these mean that anarchism is working well?

I don’t think I’ve ever described Kurdistan as a radical example of self-organization. I wrote Anarchy in Kurdistan that mentioned the Bookchinite experiments out there, but it didn’t try to assess how well they’re working. It linked to both supporters and skeptics and let readers muddle through the contending accounts for themselves.

I certainly hope the supporters are right. While I’m not a huge Murray Bookchin fan, Bookchinism is certainly far preferable to the other major ideological contenders in that corner of the world.

El Alto is another matter. The self-organization there, and in other places built by urban squatters, is pretty amazing. And yes, it really is very anarchistic, though of course it’s embedded in a larger statist system.

After writing The United States of Paranoia. Do you think libertarians
are more paranoid than regular americans?

We tend to be more paranoid about the government, and we tend to be less paranoid about the things that the government is paranoid about. So let’s call it a wash.

Are you thinking in write another book?

Yeah, but I’m not ready to talk in public about it yet. I’m still doing some preliminary reading and figuring out if there’s a full book in the idea.

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Anarchists for Nader

voteralphNader is not the usual suspect when it comes to talks about cutting government and size of DC power but with his new book Unstoppable: The Emerging LeftRight Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State he is putting back his dream of a citizens coalition against corporations. Could we really talk about a “libertarian” Nader.  Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com endorsed in 2004 with his Old Right Nader and in 2008 with his Naderism in defense of liberty is no viceIn both enndorsements there was toughtful reflection on Nader platform like anti-interventionism and anti-corporate welfare. There were even some anarchists than make the point for vote for Nader in past elections. The radical polical band Rage Against the Machine featured him at their music video of JustifyBut the reality was that outside paleolibertarian or left-wing anarchists circles for mainstream libertarians members of the Libertarian Party, Cato, Reason and other libertarian or at least libertiarian-leaning organizations and publications Nader was the enemy even with his presidential campaigns in which he ran against the Washington establishment that he knows so well and that with good reasons fear him. He was against the perpetual marriage between Big State and Big Corporations that ended in Big Government. In a recent interview he told that he would cut half of Washington programs, he always was opposed to bad federal programs (No Child Left Behind, Patriot ACT, even some public housing programs). He recently presented his book at Cato and was interviewed by Nick Gillespie at Reason. He is working seriously in a progressive-libertarian alliance against war, survelliance and corporatism. He is not a libertarian and he never pretended to be one but he has done more for fighting against the Washington Leviathan than the phonies like “small government imperialists” like Rick Perry, Newt Gingrick and other crony capitalists on the right or the fake “progressives democrats” like Charles Rangel on liberal side. I found the picture above in a blog where a comment said about the “Vote Nader” anarchist graffiti that Nader name wasn’t going to be on the ballot box in the election. A presidential candidate campaigning in states where he couldn’t get any votes was quite interesting from an anarchist perspective. Maybe the anarchists where right a vote for Nader was a vote against the two-party system. Does libertarians could realize the naderite dream of a Grand Alliance against corporate-state-militar industrial complex? Only the future would tell us.

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The libertarian leninist

alexcounterpunch

For a foreigner like me is still strange how in America the left had manage to survive with the constant sign of defeat on the front, more strange even is try to understand liberalism as leftism. Keynesianism re-distribution had clearly a very different way of solve the problems of society than socialism in general or marxism in particular. Even socialdemocratic programs couldn’t be implemented with the current political system, sorry Chris Hayes. But even if there were some people that fight for a real left for example Ralph Nader a left winger with Old Right nostalgia and Chris Hedges although he too sounds almost as puritan socialist. Alexander Cockburn was different, the former editor of CounterPunch was more left-winger than both Nader and Hedges and at the same time more right-winger than both of them by being in favour of gun rights and militias with more sympathy for libertarians and less hope in State. His death in 2012 gave a empty feeling in the left that was fragmented in CPUSA style voting for the lesser evilism Obama while others maybe more commited to a real change were voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party or maybe the more idiosyncratic campaigns of Rocky Anderson or Rosanne Barr. The relation of Cockburn and Green Party wasn’t the best one even if sometimes he had fundraising with them but he was a naderite with no much sympathy for Cobb in 2004 and in 2008 even while in the past had defending Cynthia McKinney for her foreign policy positions he was another time pro-Nader after Republican primaries when he had some sympathy for Ron Paul or even says a few good things about the populist appeal of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, the bêtes noires of liberals that year. He even go as far as to saying he will vote for Laura Bush over Hillary Clinton. He was a radical more than anarcho-syndicalist or anarcho-libertarian or as I read some time at The American Conservative, one commentator said he wasa stalinoid writing in Chronicles”, the paleoconservative journal that was also his last home of Alex. The Nation editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel never liked the criticism of liberalism and never read the newsletter founded by Cockburn named CounterPunch probably the best outlet of the Left, not a magazine in the traditional sense. CounterPunch was a like a Free Spech board in a university campus. From red-state rebels like Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair to Reaganite populist Paul Craig Roberts to marxists like Louis Project even to libertarians like Sheldon Richman, columnist for Reason and former fellow at the Cato Institute.

His writings are among the journalists who most had influenced me. I was susprised by an attack of the The New Republic in the form of book review of his latest book A Colossal Wreck. The ad-hominen attack was silly. Cockburn was never a “trot” neither homophobic. He was a writer with sense of humour. He was of radical scottish born, irish by nationality with a B.A. at Oxford but american by choose since he come there in the 70s. He was a leninist more than marxist, some form of libertarian rather than liberal. He was radical or if I could say I libertarian leninist. A revolutionary against the state, the corporations and hipocresy. Three things that sadly characterized the American Left in these times. But maybe new young radicals could embrace his anti-keynesianism and realize that politics is all about power. The legacy of Alex for the radical journalists of tomorrow is that with the exact punch at the exact time even the system is going to fall apart.

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The X-Files, anarchism and conspiracy theories

thetruthisoutthere

The X-Files was in the 90s one of the most watched TV shows. The science fiction program was basically ralling against the US government and its alliance with the aliens to take back the planet. The show was surprising for his time and several academics were writing about it success not only lefties sociologists also classic liberal Paul Cantor, professor of literature at the University of Virginia. It was not long ago in the Cold War there was censorship to politically incorrect television and it best the sense The X-Files was that. But it was in a different sense than liberal series that promote the idea of conservatives as the enemies. The real enemy of the was the state, but not in the sense in conservative sense either but Tom Piatak had argue that it was the most closely a paloconservative show in Hollywood. I still agree with Paul Cantor in the sense that the series was beyond left and right. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were moderate characters not interesed in the idosyncratic commentary of the social life in the 90s. The series was not libertarian at least in traditional way, the series was critic of corporations near to the state as a part of an even vast conspiracy. In what could had been easy the result of Robert Anton Wilson script the series always was delightful by its offbeat humour and mystery. The plot wasn’t free market friendly but neither it was to socialist or progressive ideas, in fact there was a brief critic of the Soviet enemy, in the name of Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) a russian-american portrayed as a traitor. The show tend to be oppose to open borders, multiculturalism but had sympathy for JFK, MLK and other left-wing figures.

In the episode Je Souhaite when Mulder was speaking to a genie they talk about the crisis of world is caused by the excess of the human desire an almost anti-capitalist statement in the early 2000 after the boom of the marketing era. Another episode its even more enigmatic Kaddish which deals with anti-semitic assesination, the topic of race violence was in height at the 90s. In First Person Shooter not even the geeks of The Lone Gunmen were capable of dismiss the danger of some technologies.

Back to the main characters Fox Mulder was a patriotic anarchist someone willing to fight in the state but for the love of his country not to a government that he distrust. Fox Mulder looks like a New Left and Old Right hero a kind of FBI version of SDS leader Carl Oglesby. Some people argue that The X-Files was a surprise even Duchovny tells the history at last year New York Comic Con that he was reluctant to believe that a series like that could be filmed. But as the Ron Paul campaign, people were tired of government opression want just to dream in free world maybe but only maybe the system realized with the time that a fundamental part of the american ethos the love of liberty was missing for most part of the culture. But unlike Cantor I don’t think these is the time of classic liberalism, in fact The X-Files was more philosophical anarchist than libertarian. Perhaps these time is also like that.

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The Green Decentralist

mattfuniciello

Matt Funiciello is the Green Party candidate for the 21st Congressional District of New York, which includes Adirondack Park. But unlile many greens he is in favor of the Second Amendment. He is in other positions more near to the Green Party platform like with his suupport of a Single Payer Heath Care, raise the minimum wage and end corporate welfare. But as a baker and small bussiness owner (he owns and runs the Rock Hill Bakehouse in South Glens Falls and the Rock Hill Bakehouse Café in Glens Falls) he had an interesting particular take on some issues that greens don’t mention so much lately. Decentralization. He is in favor of a Food Democracy by supporting real farm policy that in his platfom say is “Support local and organic farming. Cut subsidies to big agribusiness. Rebuild a publicly-owned regional infrastructure to support local farming.”

Funiciello is also reaching out not only to progressives but to conservatives and libertarians. In a long interview with PBS he spoke about the common goals with libertarians and the Tea Party insurgence which are upset over corporate takeover of the country. He is against the Military-Industrial-Spying State. He is not a pacifist but believes in reducing military spending and bring to the troops home to secure the nation. He wants to defense the citizens rights of privacy and stop the surveillance collection of data from the government. He is in favor stop using taxpayers money for polluting projects like fracking. He speaks about a rulling elite that had nothing in common with the workers of the district and only remains in power with the status-quo of the two-party system. In the convention of the Green Party of New York he speaks about being the only candidate who really could represent the disctrict in which he had lived since his childhood.

Funiciello who also had been a longtime progressive activist who had been involve in antiwar protests with Vienam veterans. Along with his workers he is a supporter of labor rights. A true populist alternative. He recieved the endorsement of Ralph Nader who called him “Democacy’s baker.” The progessive icon had said that Funicello “speaks the language of community-owned economies and self-reliance. He also walks the talk, by buying New York State wheat for most of his breads.”

Nader had talked for a while now of a Left-Right alliance and for people following these blog is clear by my posts before that I’m a great fan of both that idea and Nader himself. In my modest opinion Matt Funiciello is the most interesting candidate in these year. His contenders are a liberal Democrat filmmaker Aaron Woolf who had reluctant in speaking to the press and a conservative Republican Elise Stefanik who worked as a staff for George W. Bush and Paul Ryan. Both were the primary choices of their party stablishment. I believe Matt Funiciello could be the choice of the people in 21st Disctrict of New York.

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