Anti-Fascism and Protest Culture

Anti-Fascism and Protest Culture

By Paul Dutton (tamus4ss)

I’ve been quite involved with radical politics for about 4+ years now, fighting for the causes I love – namely against racism, authoritarianism, and collectivism. After I had gathered enough confidence in my own convictions regarding the importance of radical and un-terrified liberalism, I began to heavily involve myself in local organization around those causes. Eventually, much of this activism would culminate in one grand event, the December 6th protests at Texas A&M University of “suit and tie neo-Nazi” Richard Spencer, of which I was a main organizer.

There were a few different main approaches to the December 6th protests: an official TAMU “Aggies United” event, a Silent Protest (which was the main one I publicly organized and supported, for reasons I’ll simply link to here), general areas for people to loudly protest, and finally pre-organized Anti-Fascist (antifa) action. The only thing that I can praise universally for all these approaches was that people showed up, at least. Beyond that, I have some pretty severe reservations on conduct with regards to direct action.

The “Aggies United” event ultimately told me the following – that the university was more interested in protecting their reputation than the students who are the target of Spencer’s rhetoric. Outside of that event, most people who showed up brought signs, their voices, and lots of emotion. This is a totally understandable response, but one that really causes me anxiety. Without a well distributed localized knowledge base regarding the particulars of what exactly is happening, spontaneous events are prone to ordering themselves quite randomly, and in an unfocused manner. As counter-protestors arrived (pro-Spencer), students would flock over like moths to a flame to release their anger . At every moment that emotions could be “cathartically” expelled, the opportunity was grasped. When police arrived, students would flock to their presence out of curiosity or leave in fright – escalating the risk of violent outbreaks.

From what I observed, students were soaking in their new surroundings in which the more radical groups flying black and red and everything in between were a strong sight, and they felt obligated to idolize them for their organized and incredible display against Spencer and his supporters. They then regurgitated those ideas, chants, and general aesthetic as a learning mechanism or to simply virtue signal to others new radical commitments, without serious consideration of those ideas.

If we want people to continue to show up and fight the good fight, we need to understand how we attain and shape mass appeal and discourse. I don’t feel comfortable with the modern antifa movement becoming a seemingly reactionary movement (as they’re already fighting neo-reactionaries). I want individuals to thoroughly investigate what’s happening, and apply that against a firmly grounded system of ethics in order to make decisions.

It seems to me that the best option alongside continuing education efforts en masse is to look at the people who are figureheads in the fight against fascism, and to hold them accountable for bad ideas and practices. By holding antifa responsible for shaping mass discourse we can shape the future and further dialogue on the proper role of force in society both by the State and with regards to antifa action on the ground.

As a final note, anti-communism is as important to me as antifa. The Hammer & Sickle and subsequent “gulag” jokes are deathly, and any anti-individualism is a vast cruelty against autonomy and voluntarily based institutions. The proliferation of such ideology is incredibly dangerous, and its promotion to the casual protest attendee is something that is incredibly troubling. I do not want one State to replace another: a cycle of infinitely reforming bodies that are never radically addressed and hopefully abolished. For these reasons, I must be highly suspicious of antifa.

I encourage the reader to look into prefigurative politics such as agorism and other ways to illuminate a healthier path to victory. Punching random MAGA hat wearers, or causing mass property damage as was done in DC and recently at UC Berkeley is not something that I think is justified, nor useful, though fighting fascism needs to be done. There is a pressing need to look at violence in our society; at the very least, I hope that this piece opens some questions for people who are new and old to protesting, and that it calls to those who feel left out of this war to organize around the things they care about in the name of justice.

Advertisements

A Universalistic Vision of Anarchism

VdC

The following is an excerpt from Voltairine de Cleyre’s essay “Anarchism”, originally published October 13, 1901 in Free Society. It represents the latter half of her political development and her eventual acceptance of anarchism without adjectives.

I have now presented the rough skeleton of four different economic schemes entertained by Anarchists [socialism, communism, individualism, and mutualism]. Remember that the point of agreement in all is: no compulsion. Those who favor one method have no intention of forcing it upon those who favor another, so long as equal tolerance is exercised toward themselves.

Remember, also, that none of these schemes is proposed for its own sake, but because through it, its projectors believe, liberty may be best secured. Every Anarchist, as an Anarchist, would be perfectly willing to surrender his own scheme directly, if he saw that another worked better.

For myself, I believe that all these and many more could be advantageously tried in different localities; I would see the instincts and habits of the people express themselves in a free choice in every community; and I am sure that distinct environments would call out distinct adaptations.

Personally, while I recognize that liberty would be greatly extended under any of these economies, I frankly confess that none of them satisfies me.

Socialism and Communism both demand a degree of joint effort and administration which would beget more regulation than is wholly consistent with ideal Anarchism; Individualism and Mutualism, resting upon property, involve a development of the private policeman not at all compatible with my notions of freedom.

My ideal would be a condition in which all natural resources would be forever free to all, and the worker individually able to produce for himself sufficient for all his vital needs, if he so chose, so that he need not govern his working or not working by the times and seasons of his fellows. I think that time may come; but it will only be through the development of the modes of production and the taste of the people. Meanwhile we all cry with one voice for the freedom to try.

What does this mean for us in the 21st century? Does it mean that we should endorse every ideology claiming to be “against authority”? Of course not. Does it mean that we should be open to a wider array of allies in the fight against oppression? Maybe. Does it mean that we should be a little more respectful and a lot more loving with one another despite sincere disagreements? I think definitely.

I think that de Cleyre’s vision of a more universalistic anarchism is a reminder to be humble, tolerant, and optimistic. Humble enough to admit that our knowledge of the optimal post-state system is limited, and being willing to change our minds if necessary. Tolerant of the diverse needs and preferences that will appear in the absence of illegitimate hierarchies, and the various social and economic arrangements that will also emerge. And optimistic that people cooperating together peacefully will be able to solve the many challenges we face, and will work to create a brighter future that will meet the dreams and desires of a vast array of individuals and communities.

I’ll end with de Cleyer’s inspiring words:

And then, to turn cloudward, starward, skyward, and let the dreams rush over one…painting endless pictures, creating unheard symphonies that sing dream sounds to you alone, extending sympathies to the dumb brutes as equal brothers, kissing the flowers as one did when a child, letting oneself go free, go free beyond the bounds of what fear and custom call the “possible,” – this too Anarchism may mean to you, if you dare to apply it so.

Gun Control: Race, Gender, Class, and Liberty

Gun Control: Race, Gender, Class, and Liberty


Following the tragic event at Umpqua Community College, where a 26-year-old gunman opened fire in a classroom leaving 10 people killed and another 7 injured, it is understandable that U.S. gun culture and state gun control are fresh on people’s minds.

When moving forward after events like this, I believe it’s important to avoid reactive measures that could potentially have even greater consequences than the tragedies themselves (e.g. War on Drugs, PATRIOT Act, etc.). What follows is a selection of articles over the years from across the political spectrum that touch on the usually ignored topic of gun control and discrimination in its many forms.*

gun2

The Secret History of Guns by Adam Winker

Gun Rights Benefited Black Americans During the Civil Rights Movement and Still Do by Sheldon Richman

A Socialist Take on Gun Violence, State Violence, and Workers’ Right to Self-Defense by Monica Hill

Yes, Please by Charles W. Johnson

Gun Control, Surveillance and Trans Resistance by Dean Spade

Seen and Unseen by Rodrick Long

Gun Control: A Left Libertarian Critique by Nathan Goodman

Is There a Right to Own a Gun? by Michael Huemer

The Panthers Were Right and Reagan Was Wrong on Gun Control by Anthony Gregory

An Anarchist Case Against Gun Control by Chris Cararra

Shaneen Allen, Race and Gun Control by Radley Balko

Gun Control, Mental Illness, and Black Trans and Lesbian Survival by Gabriel Arkles

Arm the Mentally Ill by Kelly Vee

The Rifle on the Wall: A Left Argument for Gun Rights by The Polemicist

How Gun Control Hurts Minorities by Nathan Goodman & Meg Arnold

The Social Justice Case for Preserving the Second Amendment by Liz Wolfe

A (Brief) People’s History of Gun Control by Kevin Carson

In The Wake of Orlando, Gays Should Arm Themselves: Otherwise…We’re Sitting Ducks by Tom Palmer

Gun Control’s Racist Reality: The Liberal Argument Against Giving Police More Power by Alex Gourevitch

The History of LGBT Gun-Rights Litigation by David Kopel

Gun Control’s Racist Past and Present by Creede Newton

Why Some Members of the Far Left Advocate Against Gun Control by Elizabeth King

The L.G.B.T. Case for Guns by Nicki Stallard

Why Black People Own Guns by Julia Craven

Gun Control and Class Struggle by Socialist Appeal

The Trans Women Turning to Firearms for Survival by S.E. Smith

Obama’s Gun Control Ableism by T. J. Scholl

The (Really, Really) Racist History of Gun Control in America by Jane Coaston

This Queer Gun Club Is Standing Up to Violence Against the LGBTQ Community by Zachary Zane

Who Goes to Prison Due to Gun Control? by Anthony Gregory

Why the Left-wing Needs a Gun Culture by Lorenzo Raymond

This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible by Charles E. Cobb Jr.

Gun Control, Structural Racism, and the Prison State by Nathan Goodman

Liberatory Community Armed Self-Defense: Approaches Toward a Theory by scott crow

In Response to Far Right, LGBTQ Gun Group Hits Firing Line by Michael Hill

Black Gun Owners Speak Out About Facing a Racist Double Standard by Tessa Stuart

The Liberal Desire for Gun Control is Going to Get Us Killed by Dr. Bones

Feel free to comment with additional material I may have missed relating to these topics.

*Note: This is NOT meant to be a case for or against certain measures of gun control. This is meant to shed light on specific factors that are usually absent from this discussion. 

A Woman’s Place Is in the Revolution

A Woman’s Place Is in the Revolution

When pointing to statistical evidence of patriarchy, many people immediately look to those in power. 103 women hold seats in congress, a record number but nevertheless a disproportionate minority. Many feminists argue that to rid society of the patriarchy we need to do a better job of electing powerful women. Meanwhile, people continue to cede power over their own lives to the State. The State is a patriarchal institution, controlled by men with the interests of men in mind.  Its function is maintaining its own power and upholding the status quo. With a State that inevitably attempts to dominate our bodies and our minds, feminists must recognize that the way to defeat patriarchy is not to join or cater to the State, but to take its power away and return it to ourselves.

womenrevolutionAnarcha-feminist Emma Goldman wrote in Anarchism and Other Essays, “Anarchism stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion and liberation of the human body from the coercion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. It stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals…” Anarchism is naturally complementary to feminism.  If feminism aims at crushing the antiquated and evil cultural notion that women are property, it is a means for women to liberate and empower themselves, so they can finally live as free individuals. Statist feminism, the attempt to liberate women through the State, is futile because it relies on a patriarchal institution to go against its very nature and uplift those it inherently oppresses. The struggle for women’s rights requires us to free ourselves from the chains of patriarchy, not to learn to live with them.

The central planning of the State negates the lived experiences of individual women by attempting to treat them as a class or a category, rather than as individuals. The last thing women need is old white men in Washington discussing their reproductive rights. State-enforced patriarchal norms are evident in restrictions on abortion, standardized maternity leave (different women have different needs), and prescriptions for birth control which limit their accessibility. Patriarchy also seen in restrictions on employment, from professional licensing requirements to bureaucracy to zoning laws that make it difficult for women to work for themselves. The State prevents women from lifting themselves up and puts them at the mercy of their bosses and legislators, who are also usually men. Women continue to look to the State for help without realizing they are signing a contract with their oppressors.

Most people make decisions based on self-interest; that is, they make decisions to better their own position by weighing the perceived costs and benefits of each option.  This seems like common sense, but what people often forget is that politicians are no exception. Public choice theory says that politicians make decisions like other human beings. Just watch House of Cards 11119684_1021104334585862_827888837_nto see what I mean. Public choice theory explains why voters are so often disappointed in their elected officials. Politicians make the decisions they need to make to maintain their power by catering to special interests, following party lines, and securing campaign funds. They are not in Congress because they care about bettering the lives of Americans but because they care about themselves. Understanding public choice theory helps us understand why the government run by men will never free women. Politicians work to secure their power by convincing people that they need the government to do things for them. To paraphrase Harry Brown, the government breaks our legs, hands us crutches, and expects a thank you. They do not have our best interests in mind, and it is foolish to expect them to. Rather than asking for better crutches, women must crush the hand that breaks us and liberate ourselves from the fists of patriarchy.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of feminists wearing shirts that say, “A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate,” which is a play on the phrase, “A woman’s place is in the home.” Politicians, or women who empower themselves by oppressing other women, are not worthy role models. Women should draw inspiration not from war criminals and tyrants, but from real revolutionaries. Revolutionary women are women who stand up for themselves and take their power back. They do not seek to make friends with the patriarchy, but to destroy it where it stands. They are women like Emma Goldman, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Lucy Parsons, and Voltairine de Cleyre. Revolutionary women lead the fight for our rights boldly and are not afraid of a little controversy. Feminists should knock down patriarchal institutions, not depend on them. Revolutionary women do not find themselves drinking coffee with old white men in Washington, directing our lives, but instead on the front lines of a social movement that encourages self-direction. A woman’s place is not in the House or in the Senate, passing laws that increase women’s dependence on the patriarchal State. A woman’s place is in the revolution.

11117339_1021104407919188_756427945_n

It’s ok to be absolutist about markets

In embracing markets as the key organizing force behind the social order, libertarians are quick to become absolutists about markets. The division of labor, commercial activity, entrepreneurship, private enterprise, and the price system all  become central to the libertarian’s idea system. And rightfully so. We are correct about markets. They are crucial, indeed required, for the social order to be one characterized by mutually beneficial, peaceful interaction and not by a warlike race between violent, competing interests. Contra our detractors, markets encourage social cooperation, not individual isolationism.

The primary motivating factor to be against statism, government democracy, and central planning is that it achieves precisely what socialists claim markets lead to: the division of society based on competing factions, all fighting for the reigns of power. But the market is a force for social good, not social destruction. The state, whose origins are found in conquest and robbery, is the biggest perpetuator of the forces of social destruction.

When the institutions of society are enveloped by those who represent incompatible interests (such as one class aiming to rob or exploit another), the social order breaks down. It rewards the barbaric, violent, unjust, and base instincts of humans. Voluntary organization and the division of labor, on the other hand rewards the utmost moral activity of humans: the concentration of our productive efforts into something that is simultaneously rewarding to your own happiness and to the lives of others; the treatment of your fellow people as ends in themselves rather than objects to be manipulated for the furtherance of your interests.

When power and force is centralized, even monopolized, by an entity with an arbitrary claim to decision making, it inevitably puts those with the most lust for power and least amount of moral fortitude at the top of the pyramid of power. Those people who are better at manipulating, lying, and using others for their ends are hailed as leaders and saviors. The market process, on the other hand, limits the power of those individuals through the accountability inherent in free and open competition. Instead, the market process incentivizes cooperative behavior; action that is conducive to your own self interest is inextricably tied to serving the interests of your community and society.

But this doesn’t mean the market anarchist project is one of valuing only market values in all human interactions. Rather, we are concerned with the institutional structure that the social order operates in. And as political theorists, we all have ideas about the background conditions that enables the social order to flourish the most. Merely favoring a certain institutional structure to another doesn’t commit one to favoring the norms that underline those institutions in every context or individual decision.

Being for markets doesn’t mean I only value the traits of entrepreneurship, commercialization, pricing, or whatever else can be said to be a specifically market value. These are not the only goods for human flourishing. In fact, they are just the beginning of that story. If anything, my support for markets is tied to my belief that the institutionalization of markets (private property, prices, division of labor, etc) promotes a much  more comprehensive and encompassing conception of the human good; one that involves friendship, family, virtue, art, reason, pleasure, self-esteem, and recreation. My belief is the principles of voluntarism in the political sphere (anarchy) best enables people to achieve their own, individualized conception of the good in their own lives.

The whole point is that we want the social order to take place in the background of market conditions, partly for reasons of efficiency and partly for reasons of morality. But entwined with these is the recognition that a market order allows for the utmost freedom and individual choice, and that the other social forces that are not based on the market norms themselves (gift economies, mutual aid, social activism, etc) are more free and effective with the backdrop of the specifically market institutions.

These periphery values aren’t reason to lessen my absolutism about markets. Rather, they enforce the case for markets and are a reason to strengthen my absolutism. Nothing less than full market anarchism. 

 

What are the top 5 most important issues for libertarians?

I have a strong affinity for lists and ranking things so lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what the most important problems are from a libertarian perspective. Libertarians have a whole ton of problems with modern institutions and society but just which are the most pertinent? My friend, Thomas Michie posed a similar question on Facebook, so I decided to write up my top 5.

1. War

I tend to be a bit harder on war than the average libertarian as both an anarchist and a pacifist. I’ve long been against pre-emptive war, interventionist foreign policy, and standing armies. I’ve also recently started to identify as a pacifist, in the sense of being against war, not any individual instance of self-defense, as I found Bryan Caplan’s “Common-Sense Case for Pacifism” strikingly compelling and…well, implied by basic common sense.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise I think war is the most important issue for libertarians. In fact I think it should be the most important political issue for anyone with a conscious and I don’t think it’s particularly close. It’s obvious that war is the biggest threat to humanity. It causes the most destruction, damage, chaos, and death than any other institution we have. This is even more apparent after the 20th century; the era, as Jeffrey Tucker calls it, of the “total state.” The century where totalitarianism was widespread and mass murder was common. The time period with more war than peace. The amount of pure awfulness caused by war was, and will continue to be, unmatched. The problem of war and foreign entanglement is further complicated by technological advancements such as nuclear weapons and biological warfare. These issues, to me, only give us further reason to be adamant that war is not, and never will be, on the table.

My preference for peace underlines all my political thought. My support for strong private property rights, markets, and the division of labor are all strongly based on my belief that these institutions are favorable towards peaceful resolution and social cooperation. My disgust for states, monopoly, and centralization are all rooted in my belief that those institutions are more conducive to war-making and make peace less likely and/or more difficult to maintain. A large reason I’m an anarchist is that I think markets are a levelling force; that competitive forces create accountability and checks and balances. That is, that markets, especially in the legal and defense industries, would promote non-violent conflict resolution by forcing firms to internalize all their costs. The state socializes the costs of war and intervention through taxation and inflation, making war much easier to pursue. If there were, instead, competitive forces governing the defense sector, the costs to violence would be obvious and apparent, and therefore serve to make war less appealing.

But even if you aren’t an anarchist, war is still the most awful thing ever. Even if you don’t think that abolishing the state is the best answer, common decency says that war is just the plum worst and should be avoided. This is something all libertarians ought to agree on, even if we all have slightly different conclusions about what really prevents war most effectively. Is it a market in defense? Is it a minimal state with no standing army? Is it a non-interventionist foreign policy? These questions are vital as they address the biggest threat to human life and flourishing on the planet, but regardless of how we all answer those questions I hope we all have the same end or intent in mind: peace.

I think there is a bonus reason why this issue should be especially important for libertarians: we have been historically too soft on this issue. Many historical libertarians and a few big modern libertarian organizations have been entirely too easy on mass murder. They have either said things friendly to certain instances of war making or outright advocated for war. To further drive the point home and to make up for our predecessors past mistakes, libertarians today ought to make war our biggest concern, bar-none. We need to be unwavering and principled in our opposition to war lest we go down in history as another hypocritical, failed social movement. The libertarian movement needs to be synonymous with the peace movement.

2. Foreign Policy

See 1.

3. Non-interventionism. 

See 2.

4. Mass Murder. 

See 3.

5. Peace. 

See 4.