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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Anti-war right fights to succeed where the anti-war left has failed

I remember some conversations around 2002 and 2003 about how much many of us anarchists in Phoenix hated the way the liberal left was so anti-libertarian when it came to anti-war organizing. Already sick of the antics of the anti-war left, some of us put forward the idea of an anarchist/libertarian alliance against the war and the curtailing of civil liberties.

However, trapped in their silly left-right crap and aided in large part by the liberal actions of the supposedly radical Bring the Ruckus collective here in town, the liberals who had come to dominate the movement didn't see any value in reaching out to the libertarians. At a demonstration, I once even saw liberal organizers demand that the cops disarm some libertarians who came packing to an anti-FBI PATRIOT Act protest. Those folks never came back, of course. Aside from the hypocrisy of a bunch of supposed pacifists asking the heavily armed and violent cops to disarm someone exercising their constitutional rights, it sure looked like a bad move strategically at the time to a lot of us, as we were short of allies to begin with. But now, with the total failure of the left to stop the war, it looks like some on the left are finally beginning to look right instead of left for allies in the fight against the war.

There are some problems, specifically the electoralism of some politicians (Ron Paul) and elements of the libertarian 9/11 Truth movement. And, we have yet to see the development of a direct action ethic amongst the libertarian right when it comes to the war. Of course, the left suffers perhaps even more from this affliction, having just elected an anti-war congress that they can't seem to get to vote anti-war and having repeated the same boring and ineffective protest tactics (if you can call speechifying about Israel a tactic) for five years now. Also, the libertarian right is quite explicitly capitalist, but it is an anti-corporate, anti-elitist sort, so I think there is room there for anti-capitalist anarchists - at least as much as there is on the left, where we are surrounded by our traditional enemies, the big-state communists of all stripes.

The libertarian right also suffers from an overly optimistic assessment of American history. To keep them honest, one frequently has to follow up their romantic rants about the good old days with the caveat "for white men". Nevertheless, the left has never been a terribly comfortable place for anarchists either, to put it mildly. Not fitting on either side too well, who other than anarchists are positioned to address both sides of this movement? As we see the merging of these two movements (or perhaps the abandonment of the leftist side of it for the right), it offers a prime opportunity for us as a movement. Plus, it offers the possibility of encircling the moderate, pragmatist (and electoral) left, which is really the main impediment to truly challenging the war in a broad way.

So, in that spirit, check this article out. It's written from the perspective of a Green, but I think it is still useful to anarchists opposing the war:

Antiwar Libertarians Put Lefties to Shame

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Anonymous Brad Spangler said...

Thanks for posting this! Let me add that this:

"Also, the libertarian right is quite explicitly capitalist, but it is an anti-corporate, anti-elitist sort"

...really gets to the heart of the question of what "capitalism" IS. If you're not familiar with it already, please let me recommend mutualist Kevin Carson's "The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand: Corporate Capitalism As a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege".

Essentially, this points to a critical view of Marx as having failed to recognize that "capitalism" is all about "primitive accumulation" (state conducted transfer of wealth from the productive class to the politically favored class). The result of this state conducted concentration of capital in the hands of the capitalist plutocracy is a set of unjust power relations that may take place in the context of the marketplace (in that the capitalists have unjustly acquired bargaining power), but markets "per se" as voluntary reciprocal exchange are comparatively innocent.

What is to be done? As followup, see Carson's piece Libertarian Forum: A Resource for UnCapitalists?...


"So, it seems to me, we have (in the work of Rothbard and Hess in their leftish phase) the working basis for a revolutionary coalition of free market libertarians and libertarian socialists:

*Syndicalist seizure of large enterprises (the Fortune 500 might be a useful proxy) by radical industrial unions.

*The devolution of government services, as quickly as possible, to local, cooperative ownership.

*The elimination of all corporate welfare and government subsidies, and the provision of roads and utilities on a cost-basis to those who use them (which would of course mean a radical decentralization of the economy, an end to suburban sprawl, and the growth of small-scale production for local markets).

*The nullification of all property titles based on government grants of large tracts of land, never actually appropriated by the grantee's direct occupancy and use; and the homesteading of all such unowned land on the basis of "the land to the tiller."

*The elimination of all legal barriers to the formation of mutual banks, by which working people can mobilize their own low-interest credit for cooperative enterprises, self-employment, etc.

*The elimination of all patent laws, which enable large corporations to cartelize their industries by controlling modern production technology among themselves.

*The treatment of scarce resources like aquifers, fisheries, mines, and old-growth forests as a socially-owned commons, with access regulated by the local community.

*The replacement of environmental and other regulatory laws with cost-based fees for access to natural resources, and common law tort damages for pollution and other impositions of cost.

*A totally free and unregulated market between the worker-controlled large enterprises, consumer and producer co-ops, social service mutuals, family farms and small businesses, and the self-employed.

The final goal would be a society in which (in Benjamin Tucker's words) "the natural wage of labor in a free market is its product," and all transactions--whether trade or gift--are voluntary exchanges of labor-product between producers."

Mon Jun 25, 07:20:00 AM 2007  

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