The question of Women’s Liberation has always been one of a strenuous nature. Even amongst the broader Left, the role and function of Women’s Liberation has varied greatly. I will set the record straight by first not using the phrase ‘Women’s Rights’; I find this terminology highly frustrating because it tends to assume that women can reach some form of social worth within the existing capitalist framework. Functionally, this is not possible. As capitalist social relations serve to exploit and commodify the toiler, so do they women. Thus, the question is not one of furthering Women’s Rights but achieving Women’s Liberation.
First, let us establish what we mean by Women’s Liberation. What are they being liberated from? Similar to how Labor has been subjected to Capital, women have been subjected to the interests of men; for the former, the course of capitalist social relations, however, the latter has been a subjugation for millennia.
“Bourgeois democracy is democracy of pompous phrases, solemn words, exuberant promises and the high-sounding slogans of freedom and equality. But, in fact, it screens the non-freedom and inferiority of women, the non-freedom and inferiority of the toilers and exploited.” – Vladimir Lenin, Soviet Power and the Status of Women
“Worst of all, it is women who usually have to do, usually alone, all the dirty work of the kitchen and household, work that is unimportant, hard, tiresome, and soul-destroying” – Vladimir Lenin, Soviet Power and the Status of Women
The alienation experienced by literally billions of women today is difficult to swallow. Skeptics will point to the relative advances of women in the 1st World, ignoring the brutal conditions that exist for women in the vast majority of the Earth. Even with these relative advances the position of women still remains one of subservience to male interests in much of the world. World politics, social commentary, and economic action is largely dominated by white wealthy men. Although women perform around 60% of the world’s labor, they own about 1% of the world’s property (source: UNIFEM). This incredible inequality is only compounded upon the dredging social position women are chained to.
Women, throughout history, have largely been treated as little more than glorified cattle by the establishment males. Even the Bible illustrates stories of how women were traded as property between men, married off in the young teens, and victims of horrible sexual atrocities during war and peace time. To be a woman in this world is a daunting task.
This alienation has created a learned helplessness in so many women; where “male leadership” becomes the normative route of escape for many alienated women. This can lead to a life filled with chronic depression, general anxiety, and no hope for self-actualization. In this sense women, even if they in the 1st World have reached some level of material comfort above their 3rd World counterparts, are still normally treated as property of men and suffer the mental and emotional damage that comes with being viewed as a commodity and not a human being.
Now that we recognize the oppressive conditions to which so many women are subjugated, we must begin to explore the nature of this liberation from said conditions. No doubt this means the destruction of gender roles as we know them today. Gender roles must be replaced with a cooperative arrangement of social stewardship and childcare that maximizes effective techniques and respects the equality of men and women.
The key to liberation, whether from capitalist property relations or gender roles, requires us to understand the forces that necessitate these relationships. Similar to feudalism, capitalism established a very dominant male role within society to ensure its own survival. Why male dominance? There are a few reasons for the establishment of male dominance, especially in early industrial capitalism. First, so that property and property rights could be passed through a patrilineal scope. Second, so that the male could be freed to do more labor for the capitalist (and also so the wealthier wives of capitalists could manage the affairs of the household for the male.). And thirdly, so that the means of sexual reproduction could be externally controlled in the favor a comfortable labor supply. All of this begins to explain why as society’s become more ‘affluent’, the clamor for women’s liberation begins to grow. The role of patriarchy within capitalism has degenerated with the course of the Law of Value. Production is no longer so reliant on an expansive growth in labor, namely large families; thus women are beginning to find freedom outside of these gender roles that have dominated their lives for centuries.
Some will say this analysis trivializes the situation of women to be a symptom of socio-economic relations. This criticism, although perhaps partially true, ignores a couple critical elements. First, ALL systemic exploitation within the realm of capitalism can be attributed to the functions of capitalist property relations. Second, the idea that women’s liberation is actually a quest for sexual control illustrates women as static monoliths of history that can only be consumed by a single-issue. This fixedness upon the sexual nature of women is an intellectual dead end. Women must be liberated FROM the defining nature of their reproductive organs in the same way that workers must be liberated FROM their function as cogs within the capitalist machine. This crucial understanding paints the goal of Women’s Liberation to be as vital to the revolutionary movement as the liberation of the working class.
“There cannot be, nor is there nor will there ever be “equality” between the oppressed and the oppressors, between the exploited and the exploiters. There cannot be, nor is there nor will there ever be real “freedom” as long as there is no freedom for women from the privileges which the law grants to men, as long as there is no freedom for the workers from the yoke of capital, and no freedom for the toiling peasants from the yoke of the capitalists, landlords and merchants.” – Vladimir Lenin, Soviet Power and the Status of Women
Understand, this does not mean we wish to replace the female reproductive process with some ludicrous pseudo-science as is portrayed in the dystopian Brave New World. Rather, we wish to reinvent the process of childrearing and stewardship, functions of the female gender role, as cooperative and just processes that reflect the socialist nature of the productive reorganization of society. A reorganization that smashes gender roles and looks upon men and women as human beings, not machines, embodied with a social value that exists outside of their alienating functions within gender fixedness.
The ‘Agent’ of Liberation?
Obviously the question must arise as to who shall do the liberating? As the goal of workers and women’s liberation’s are uniquely related, so is the nature of this agent. In the same way that the toiling class must be the engine of their emancipation, so must women be at the forefront of Women’s Liberation. This should not mean that women fall prey to the Liberal fixation on reproductive rights. There is no doubt, that matters of abortion, contraception, and family planning are of incredible importance to the movement. Yet, women must seek to advance themselves in all points of society, especially in socio-economic relations. This begins with the ultimate goal, the destruction of capitalism.
The importance of women in their liberation cannot be stressed enough. More than a practical point of organizing and mobilizing, the struggle of women, for women, ensures that there is no presence of bourgeois male ‘heroism’ as we saw for so long (and still see) in the sexist Disney movies. Where the heroic and courageous man saves the helpless, ‘damsel in distress’. How disgusting. This false ‘heroism’ must also be resisted in all liberation movements for marginalized peoples. Including depictions of Black Liberation, especially in recent movies such as Spielberg’s Lincoln where the black population is depicted as static and helpless in the face of white oppression; where only white people could save them.
Although, this does not mean that the male feminist has no role in his female comrade’s campaign. The male feminist finds himself in an important position as well. He must not only support women in their liberation, but fight for the original premise of feminism, the equality of the sexes; thus, he must set out for the destruction of gender roles. The male feminist, then, must embody this spirit of cooperation and solidarity in a collective struggle with his female comrades against women’s exploitation; in all facets of society, including his personal life.
Thus the most controversial aspect of Women’s Liberation arises: how personal relationships function within the umbrella of the movement?
Some have suggested polyamory and similar “free love” movements as appropriate models for this movement. The decision to identify with the “free love” community or a polyamorous relationship is a personal one and one that should be respected like all other relationships between consenting adults. However, the fallacy here is to believe that “free love” and polyamory are by nature, aligned with the movement for Women’s Liberation. Similarly, not all monogamous relationships are identified against the Women’s Liberation movement. Let us not confuse a very intimate and personal choice between consenting adults with an attitude towards revolutionary change. Polyamorous men can still be manipulative and oppressive, men in the “free love” community can still be misogynist and sexist. A guiding principle for the male feminist should be the famous quote, “women hold up half the sky” (and according to world labor reports, a bit more than half). The way a male feminist treats his female comrades should always be tempered with the same respect that he treats his male comrades. Especially in an emotional relationship. An attitude of bilateral (or multilateral) cooperation should always supersede some machoist conception of “male leadership”.
What we cannot accept is this tongue-in-cheek mocking of Women’s movements by those on the Left; especially by the so called “manarchists”.
What a joke. A bunch of coffee-shop revolutionaries who come together to discuss how men are so unfairly dominated by a sense of “male disposability”, forgetting the literal millennia of oppression women have faced: socially, economically, politically, and legally.
There is no question that the male gender role must also be destroyed, but the neo-social conservatism of these “manarchists” is detestable. They have taken the right-’libertarian’ stance against social justice and concluded that all feminist movements must be dominated by “white knights” and misandry. This is not the proper way men should articulate arguments against male gender roles. Rather than find solidarity with the feminist movement they would engage in all sorts of subtle misogyny like “slut shaming”. Disgusting.
But unlike the “manarchists”, the traditional social conservatives actually hold influence outside of 4chan.
This is where the fight for Women’s Liberation begins, the social arena. It is the duty of all feminists to bring gender roles into the general public discourse and to propagate the values of a cooperative and truly emancipated society. More so than discourse, grass roots action against misogyny must be waged in every strata of socio-economic and political life. This is the struggle that lays ahead of us and must only be intensified.
“Freedom and equality for the oppressed sex! Freedom and equality for the workers, for the toiling peasants! A fight against the oppressors, a fight against the capitalists…That is our fighting slogan, that is our proletarian truth, the truth of the struggle against capital, the truth which we flung in the face of the world of capital with its honeyed, hypocritical, pompous phrases about freedom and equality in general, about freedom and equality for all.” – Vladimir Lenin, Soviet Power and the Status of Women
Full disclosure: I have known Lauren Smith, one of the subjects of this blog post, for over five years. We are online friends, and I first “met” her through a feminist community I once co-moderated.
An estimated 22 anti-capitalist protesters were arrested on Saturday after police clad in riot gear violently disrupted their march against colonial genocide, which is celebrated each year on Columbus Day. This was the second day of four days of action deemed, “decolonize the new world,” which is aimed at disrupting Columbus Day celebrations.
More than 100 people gathered at Bradley Manning plaza at around 2PM, before taking the streets of San Francisco’s deserted financial district at around 3PM. In between chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Columbus Day has got to go!” and “No justice, no peace! Fuck the police!” officers were splattered with paint. — Political Fail Blog
According to San Francisco police, members of the group were threatened with arrest because they did not ask for permission to protest on public streets and members became violent. (“Officers arrived in the area and were immediately struck by projectiles thrown by members of this group. One officer was struck in the head and sustained non-life threatening injuries.” — SFPD press release) Sympathetic sources argue that the police instigated any violence that occurred during the protest. Personally, I am far more inclined to agree with the protestors than with the cops. Even assuming that some of the protestors were lobbing rocks at the police, it appears that many — if not all — of the cops were wearing riot gear. They were more than protected from a few pebbles or paint in Ziploc bags. As per normal, the police responded with physical violence against the protestors, many of whom were protected only by sunglasses and bandannas.
But hey, it makes sense to me. Rocks win against helmets, while bandannas form an impenetrable forcefield against nightsticks and pepper spray, amirite?
Yes, it is very easy to find out Lauren’s Twitter info and our mutual friend’s info, but I’ve redacted it for my own reasons.
In between then and now, the police and the DA’s office are in the process of fighting with Twitter to get Lauren Smith and Robert Donohoe’s information, tweets released to them, as well as the political affiliations of everyone they are affiliated with, have ever contacted on Twitter, etc. As Lauren tweeted in the above screencap, this is an obvious ploy to create a network of information to use as a tool of political repression against anarchists, anti-capitalists, and other political dissidents.
Crazy talk, amirite?
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is, of course, skirting the real issue at hand, claiming that, “I don’t think that you have a right to privacy when you’re engaged in that type of criminal behavior.” (Because it’s not like that is a pretty fucked thing to say when you work in the damn criminal justice system.)
Smith and Donohoe have filed to quash the subpoena. In the meantime, a support group (Support the ACAC 19) has provided a form fax/email and a script for phone calls. That info is accessible right here. Please, share this link and fax, call, or email the SF DA’s office to pressure them into dropping the charges against the ACAC 19; also, if you have any cash to spare, you can donate to legal funds right here.
(Addendum: You can also email the Misdemeanor Managing Attorney at Wade.K.Chow@sfgov.org and this guy, James.E.Thompson@sfgov.org, who is handling the case for Laura Claster while she’s out of town.)
Whether you are a market anarchist, a communist, or a two party person, I’m sure you can see the frightening implications here. This is a clear move by the state to frighten people out of associating with dissidents, let alone subscribe to those views themselves. This is the exact type of shit that we — as Americans — like to tell ourselves doesn’t happen. Not here, not in this country. We live in a free country, damnit, not Communist China! I’m not somebody who typically shrieks “police state” every time I turn around, but can you really blame someone for thinking we live in a police state?
Conversations with “Free-Market Anti-Authoritarianism” – Part 1
First, I should probably lay some groundwork. What is a “free-market anti-authoritarian”? The reason I might need to explain what they are to some is that you are very unlikely to run into one anywhere but on the internet, and if you do they might go by several different monikers. One of them is “anarcho-capitalists”, but a lot of them hide from that label and choose a myriad of different things to try and distance themselves from it, some even to the point of trying to call themselves socialists. Most will call themselves anarchists though, and with a straight face. This stems from a specific tendency they seem to share, attempts to re-define language. Some do it on purpose, the majority do it because they are reciting definitions exactly as they have been presented to them. In creating a unique language they are able to present a fairly convincing argument for their positions to the uninformed and easily influenced.
This basic critique is sure to raise their ire, and I will point to the reason why shortly. But it is something easily backed up.
For most of us reading this, “anarchism” is a socialist political movement that has been taking place for centuries. It has been plagued by demonization of it’s beliefs and adherents because it stands in opposition to hierarchical relationships. Needless to say this idea has been a thorn in the side of the ruling class since the dawn of “wealth”. But sometime between then and industrialization the serfs, the peasants, became politically and socially aware. They became aware that the division of labor wasn’t equal to the division of power. They became aware of the “classes” and their relations to means of production, first in land and natural resources, and later in the industrialization of cities and factories. For anarchists names like Kropotkin; Most; Bakunin; Goldman; Proudhon; Déjacque; Makhno; Bookchin; Magón; and Marx conjured images in our minds of how society could wipe out those hierarchical relationships between the classes. From those minds a socialist revolution began, a revolution of the people against class. Class warfare was ignited. Anarchism was born.
For the ruling class, the bourgeoisie this was a problem. They had to sell themselves to the masses as the keepers of peace and order. The idea of anarchism had to be presented to the masses as the forces of chaos and disorder. Hierarchical relationships between people and the means of production had to be presented as normal and necessary even god given. And if all these things were the “way of the world” and represent harmony, then anarchism was the opposite of those things. It was chaos. The very definition of the word “anarchy” became “chaos”. But the further definition also came to hold the germ of truth, “no leaders”.
Well, anarchists know that anarchism is a political movement and not just a state of being. But those definitions are good enough for the reactionary masses. And it is from those reactionary definitions that other reactionary forces attempt to link themselves to anarchists. After all, they don’t believe in “the state”, therefore they don’t believe in leaders, therefore they are “anarchists”. So, in using the definition provided by the ruling class, instead of linking it to the actual political movement, they are able to self-identify. The fact that their identity depends on being tied to the bourgeois propaganda against anarchism doesn’t seem to be a problem in the least. And really, turns out to be the least of the problem anyway. The main problem comes from this proclivity to redefine.
The pieces that will follow are from actual conversations with some of these folks…
Next Article – “Conversations with “Free-Market Anti-Authoritarianism” – Part 2: You Damn Commies Don’t Know Nothing!!!”
Who the hell is Joe the Plunger?
I am one year shy of half a century of existence, and I have been blessed/cursed with sharing my birthday with two famous people. One a badge of honor (Ozzy Osbourne), the other a sperm stain in a pair of old boxer shorts of a fat, smelly bastard who hasn’t been laid in 28 years (Joe the Plumber). So as you can see the odds of me ever archive anything of grandeur in this life are 50/50 either way.
I can be a bit of a salad of contradictions, but at the same time I am as biased as fuck, and I make no apologies for it, I do take sides, I consider myself a left wing anarchist, always on the side of the underdog, who hates the system, the status quo, and I fucking hate the rich, whatever all that means i don’t know but sounds good to me.
I am an extreme foreigner and proud owner of a transsexual passport with the following information: Nacionality-Portuguese, Place of birth-Brazil, authority Great Britain, (I have been living in Florida for the past 3 and half years). Don’t get me wrong, its all legit (well almost), and I am happy to provide a birth certificate, but unless you speak Portuguese wont do you no good, specially if you happen to have shit for brains like Donald Trump, (in case you were wondering what kind of fertilizer keeps that thing he calls ‘hair’ alive).
And if you think that my geographic transgender is weird, let me re-assure you, that is only the tip of the iceberg, as nothing about me is normal or conventional. I wish I could say I was a regular guy, but even if Jamie Lee Curtis were to pour ACTIVIA on my crack and have breakfast, wouldn’t make a slightest bit of difference.
In case you haven’t notice, English is my second language and I am bilingual, but with a twist, which means I am fluent in 2 languages at crap level, so therefore I warn you, all mistakes are to be taken as ‘artistic expression’, otherwise fuck you, go and read something else.
I notice here in America, there is this big issue about the use of the ‘R’ word, (amongst a few others), but I have a theory that, as long as you are using it on a first person its OK, because I come to the conclusion I am ‘borderline retard’. This is no word of a lie, I am crap at everything, and if that wasn’t bad enough, I happen to be the most prehistoric living being in modern times.
I am a school dropout with a 6th grade level of education, and a self certified disabled, you see I don’t have a drivers license (what the fuck am I doing in the United States?). To most people a car is a form of transportation, to me its a wheelchair with a chauffeur. To most people there are short term disability or long term disability, in my world there are short distance disability or long distance disability, (where can I find a health insurance that can cover this kind of shit, I wonder). I am a recovering alcoholic/drug addict who looks like somewhere between a gay Hare Krishna and Moby on crystal meth.
Moving to the USA became part of my recovery, after one too many binges I decided to get married with an obese woman with no front teeth I met online, (stick around it gets better), and for the entire duration of the marriage I have been cheating on my wife with my right hand, (I told you it gets better), as I am hardly in the position of playing the field on foot. She works in Walmart, and I am a house husband. If you keep the movie ”The tourist’ in mind, she is not exactly Angelina Jolie, and the closest I get to Johnny Depp is by having the bone structure and chisel features of Captain Jack Sparrow’s ass taking a shit.
My whole present situation, wasn’t exactly my best laid plan, but was necessary to save my life, and even thought we don’t have a relationship per ce, she was responsible for saving my life, and for that I am eternally grateful, and if nothing else we have a civilized existence. But apart from an up to date passport and a marriage certificate, I don’t exist. I don’t have a bank account, N.I. number, cellphone (not even a crap one), medicare, Obamacare, fuckyoucare, Netflix account, Dollar General discount card, library card, right to vote, and no I don’t get no government hand outs or any kind of welfare or foodstamps. So for as long as I assume that the first amendment still includes me I am using it to express how I see the world from the gutter level, bottom line is, my mess I deal with it, its no ones fault but my own for my lot, I make no apologies for it, and please don’t pity me I am not worth it. I too have some teeth missing that I have to pull them out myself with my own fingers. So now you know what I mean when I say in a world separated between 1%, 99% and 47%, I am the jack shit %.
Thanks to my wife’s internet connection and computer, I do have: An email address (hurrah), facebook page (double fucking hurrah), twitter account (talk about spoiled bastard here) and that’s all I need to have a column here in this fine site. If no one lives a live as colorful as mine, its obvious no one looks at the world the way I do. This is a place for all my pet peeves, psychotic hatreds, banal and vulgar rants about anything and everybody, but in a funny way, because my background is stand up comedy, presently trying to do sit down comedy, there’s already lots of great people writing serious stuff, my aim is comical, without swaying away from my true convictions and beliefs, if you want to know what those are you have to wait for the Joe the Plunger Manifesto coming up next, just be prepared as I am ready to plunger some serious shit out. I also have air in my lungs, love in my heart, 37 cents and a dick the greets me every morning with a bonner (then I take a leak and goes away, but that another story). Last but not the least the 2 things that gives me strength in keeping on going in this life; my sense of humor and my 2 beloved dogs Sasha and Ozzy, a Chihuahua and a Maltese I found abandoned that bring me so much joy. The kicker is, they are both register, fixed, all shots in order, in other words all the paperwork that I don’t have.
And if all this is not enough to amuse you, finally on a more positive note, if I wasn’t weird enough, then there is my sexuality, I happen to be an heterosexual who had to come out of the closet. From a very young age I realize that I was attracted to women abundantly soft and much older than me. Add to the impressionable age a catholic upbringing and matters really get complicated. You see folks, my priest was a real cool man, who wasn’t into altar boys, but older women too, and he was servicing quite a few that were looking for salvation from the holy cock, so that made him my silent mentor, until he got found out and had to be transferred to avoid scandal, from then on I was left to my own devices. Somehow I just knew that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ suited me just fine, and there was no way in hell I was telling anyone that behind close doors I was masturbating to the cover of Supertramp’s ‘Breakfast in America’. From then on it was Libby who show me the way to the American dream, fuck the big car, the big house, or the tax exile on the Cayman islands, the pursuit of happiness became 60 something waitresses with big tits.
Nowadays I am out and proud, and very comfortable with my own laws of desire, after all I am Portuguese and a recovering alcoholic, therefore I like women like I like Port wine, vintage and full body, and to me Kathy Bates is the sexiest woman alive and I find her stunningly beautiful, to put this in a way you might understand better, Kathy Bates is the Angelina Jolie of my sexuality, and the older she gets the hotter she becomes, so much so, that I wonder if I was the only guy watching ‘Harry’s Law’ with a synchronized erection on my nipples. I still can’t believe the show was cancelled, what a tragedy, fond memories I have watching the show, specially the second to last episode in which Harry tells one of her associates the she is ‘sizzling hot’, and me rooting for her, ‘I know Baby, I know… Sit on my face and call me Titanic’.
One last thing I would like to point out about my sexuality, and its the fact that the boundaries are very well defined, so to one side you have the age of consent, (my age of consent) which means bellow 50 its paedophile territory and I don’t go there, on the other side after Betty White its the ‘Platonic necrophilia’* scene, and I don’t indulge there either, too kinky for me, now what lies in between is nirvana, but instead of ‘smell like teen spirit’, its more like ‘smells like jurassic pussy’. And the beauty of it, as I get older it gets easier, I don’t have skeleton’s in my closet… I have a necrophiliac sex shop.
The inspiration for this column came to me via the 2 of the biggest imbecile’s living in America today, Ted Nugent and Joe the Plumber, I mean these 2 morons are even more primitive than me, if they can do it, so can I. As I said before and make no apologies for it, I absolutely hate rich people and right wing politics, and with the election fever going on what can I say. Not that I like Democrats either but I can’t help to have a soft spot for Mister President Obama on the fact that he made history. The first ever black… Portuguese dog in the white house, he’s responsible for it, and that makes him my homie by association, so I fell compelled to give him a helping hand, as I see he is struggling a bit, and he really needs someone with a view point from the ghetto (in my case the gutter). All I ask in return is for the President to tell me where he got his generic birth certificate, so I can get one for myself in order to become a candidate for presidency in 2016. Fuck the politics, we all know they don’t do shit, all I want is a free ride to the Olympics in Rio… Are you kidding me??? Brazilian wax vintage pussy? sign me up, I’m in. I can’t wait to dance in the streets of Copacabana singing ‘The granny from Ipanema’
JOE THE PLUNGER FOR PRESIDENT 2016 YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE
I’M JOE THE PLUNGER AND I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE
* Platonic necrophilia – For those of you not familiar with the scene, its the people who use ancestry.com as a dating site.
Seriously, just die.
When the state collapses and there are no more police to protect you, guess who dies first? Not the capitalists. Not the politicians. Not even the stormfront.org crowd. Pedophiles. I, and other anarchists like me, will kill every goddamned pedophile on the face of the planet the first day there are no police to protect them from us. Because that’s what police do: they protect pedophiles from people like me.
And the first pedophiles to die will be those who appropriated anarchist communities, verbiage, etc, to further their pedophilia, as if it were somehow acceptable amongst anarchists. It isn’t. We’re coming for you motherfuckers. Die now and save yourself a lot of pain. You people are sick fucks, and appropriating our movement to your twisted goals is unacceptable. So we’re going to kill you as soon as the state falls.
I think it’s important to take a moment to make this distinction. Anarchism is a well-thought-out revolution leading to a well-thought-out lifestyle, free of oppressive/coercive hierarchies. It is an implementation of true freedom that leads to peaceful co-existence and cooperation.
Anarchy is an implementation of true freedom without any other facets. Lacking the thoughtfulness and cooperative/voluntary structures of anarchism, it is a moment of chaos which occurs when hierarchies crumble and there are non-anarchists present.
I say non-anarchists but what I really mean are people ill-equipped, mentally and intellectually, to think for themselves in all aspects of life without an authoritarian structure in place to think for them. Faced with the sudden loss of that authoritarian structure, these people are prone to descend into chaos until either someone educates them, someone imposes a new authoritarian structure upon them, or the unsustainability of chaos catches up with them.
Anarchy unfortunately has a tendency to welcome new authoritarian structures, as many of those people will be seeking new structures to think for them at the same time as their own behavior is erratic and their lifestyles are unsustainable.
What anarchism promises is a non-authoritarian structure that can be put in place, or even transitioned into, to avoid anarchy and the chaos which accompanies it. It’s about sustainable structures which withstand the test of time. Finally, it’s about enabling the people – both mentally and physically – to prohibit and crush any authoritarian uprisings that may seek to once more oppress them, rather than going on to seek out such structures and willingly submit to them.
Because at the end of the day, there are way more poor people who’ve been oppressed by capitalism for way too long than there are anarcho-capitalists. Is your propertarian ideology really worth being put up against a wall for?
First, a disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an anarcho-capitalist, but I have a fair number of friends who do. I’m fairly well-versed in ancap theory as well as theories from which it sprung forth (traditional anarchism and classical liberalism) as well. I’m approaching this subject from an anarcho-capitalist perspective in order to critique some common statements made by self-professed anarcho-capitalists, and address what I see as one of the core problems of ancap theory and one of the most common ways in which ancaps tend to contradict themselves, as I value intellectual consistency in general.
So first, let’s talk a little bit about some legitimate and illegitimate actions when a tenant with whom you’ve contracted to pay you rent in exchange for use of a structure you built fails or even passively refuses to do so.
Legitimate actions when someone ceases to pay you “rent”:
- Cease to provide services which you provided such as maintenance/repairs.
- Cease to provide third-party services which you had provided prior, such as utilities or trash removal.
Illegitimate responses to someone failing to pay you “rent”:
- Use force to kick them from their home because you claim “ownership” over it.
- Contract with the state or some other entity capable of greater force than you are personally capable of to do so.
- Initiate force or coercion in any other manner.
See, initiating force and coercion are, by my libertarian standards, a bad thing. I often refer to myself as a libertarian anarchist because I value the core belief of libertarianism: the non-aggression principle. The non-aggression principle clearly states that one should not initiate force or coercion. Pretty simple, straight-forward stuff there. By any sane definition of libertarianism, the act of eviction; that is, of using force to remove someone from their home because they have failed to pay you for use of their home, is absolutely unlibertarian. The notion that such a failure (or even passive refusal) to pay constitutes an initiation of force is an absurd notion, with no basis in reality.
Given the standard anarcho-capitalist rhetoric regarding property rights and self-ownership, it strikes me that ownership of one’s own self (inclusive of body, mind, etc) is by far the most critical property right and the one from which all others spring forth. This makes a great deal of sense, as an inability to hold ownership over yourself – your own free will, that is – essentially invalidates any other rights you may have, including any property rights.
Thus I am unable to escape the conclusion that even by their own logic, anarcho-capitalists are unable to support the notion of forcible eviction of tenants who fail or even passively refuse to pay rent. Since the bodily autonomy of the tenant is related to their self-ownership, while the absentee ownership claims made by the landlord over the rental property are far removed from the landlord’s own bodily autonomy and self, clearly the bodily autonomy of the tenant must receive a higher priority in terms of what rights must be respected by others and hence take precedence in such a case. This seems pretty cut and dry to me, but maybe it isn’t to everyone. Maybe some folks who believe in property rights actually value absentee ownership claims over bodily autonomy in such a case. Fair enough.
So let’s look at this from another critical perspective, as well. Rothbard’s Ethics of Liberty states that responses to violations of one’s rights must be proportional. If I snag a cheap spoon from your house, you can’t cut off my hand; you can simply demand recompense in the value of the spoon or something else effectively proportional to the value of the spoon which I wrongfully took from you. If I slap you across the face, leaving only very temporary harm, you can’t permanently maim me in response (such as to crush my skull), you can simply take action proportional to a face slapping. Seems fair and reasonable, right? Rothbard’s statement obviously applies to property rights, as well, however. Thus when someone violates a rental contract by failing to pay, certain measures are, by Rothbard’s own assertions, absolutely justified. As above, one may cease providing maintenance or other services that were specified in the rental contract. That said, the initiation of physical force in order to remove the tenant from the property is clearly not proportional to a simple failure to pay rent in accordance with a contract. Claiming that physical force is an appropriate and proportional retaliation to failure to uphold a business agreement would quickly lead to usurers with scimitars chopping off hands – and human history does speak of such people, justified by societies which felt violence was an appropriate response to failure to meet contractual obligations monetarily.
Therefore, based on one or both of these arguments, I don’t see how any anarcho-capitalist can feel justified in claiming that evictions for passive non-payment of a contractual obligation are a legitimate response.
Finally, let me leave you all with this gem: Hooker Visits the Rich Capitalist
It seems that, at times, some people confuse anarchism and anti-statism. Anarchism is defined by anarchists as an opposition to oppressive/coercive hierarchies. This does not mean that anarchists oppose, say, a group of workers in which one work has been given the responsibility for making a schedule – while in this example, a hierarchy (a power imbalance) clearly exists in which a smaller number of people (in this case, the sole individual who is making the schedule) has some authority over a larger group of people (the rest of the workers in the collective), the individual was chosen to do so and given such responsibility freely by the other workers. No coercion was present in the decision-making because all workers are equal in the collective overall.
On the other hand, forcing someone to participate in a group and obey arbitrary rules of that group is clearly oppressive. Further, when someone has no choice but to participate in such a group (regardless of how many such groups one can choose between!) the decision to participate in such a group is based entirely on coercion. There is no reasonable means by which someone in modern society can live free of a state; states have claimed control over every acre of land that exists on earth. Thus, even though there is a “free” choice between states under which one may live – including a variety of legal systems from representative republics like the US to constitutional monarchies to theocratic rule such as sharia republics, there is no ability to simply opt out. This ability to opt out is key to free societies, and without it, nothing is really free. Likewise in economic terms, until one can effectively opt out of participation in a market and in all markets (such as by living the life of a subsistence farmer without any economic market interactions with any other individual or collective), that market can never be considered a free market.
Hierarchies which are directly oppressive must be clearly and obviously opposed by anarchists. Hierarchies which are “voluntary” but still based upon indirect coercion must also be opposed and stamped out by anarchists. This post attempts to focus on the largest and most heinous example of the former. There are two alarming trends amongst anarchists. Amongst some anarchists, a tendency towards associating anarchism with anti-statism and anti-statism alone, while ignoring other forms of oppression, specifically indirect oppression and hierarchies based upon coercion which is less obvious but still clearly exists. Relationships such as boss and worker, or landlord and tenant fall into this category. Though one may freely enter into a land rental contract, their choices are often so limited by economic circumstance, specifically, the hoarding of land claims, that they have no choice but to do so. That they can choose between one landlord and another is irrelevant. On the other hand, you have those who are opposed to such coercion yet see the oppression of the state not as an enemy but as a potential tool for quashing such oppression. Thus, the other alarming trend is the tendency towards anarchism that makes exceptions for the state when opposing oppression.
Two well-known philosophers, both relatively modern, come to mind when thinking of this sort of exception-making: Noam Chomsky, oft-beloved on the left, and Murray Rothbard, the mind behind modern anarcho-capitalism. Both of these individuals have, despite claims of anarchist sympathies, made exceptions for the state in one regard or another, and both are guilty of the two primary sins which anarchists often commit when acting as apologists for the state:
1> Claiming that the state can be a force for some good, even if it is overall evil, and hence promoting its continued existence; and
2> Claiming that some inherently oppressive policies and conditions which are enforced by the state today would continue, enforced by a free people, in anarchism.
In the case of 1, the problem is quite obvious. In the case of #2, however, the problem is somewhat less so – and we must, in order to properly lay criticism upon statements of that nature, accept a very important notion: that anarchists are not simply opposed to the state, and that anarchists do not simply want a world where people run amok implementing whatever sort of tyranny they so choose. Thus, the anarchist must stand up and say “I am not willing to allow one free man to oppress another, in the absence of the state.” This is an important declaration, and that a large number of people are willing to both make it and stand behind it, is key to the sustainability of an anarchist society.
While the state is the most obvious and clearly oppressive example of a hierarchy in which people are forced to participate. There is no ability to opt out; one can only seek to live as freely as possible, either by avoiding the agents of the hierarchy, by participating in it in an attempt to blend in and be left alone, or by actively opposing it. Thus we must be mindful that compromising with the state is not acceptable as anarchists, regardless of how charismatic a politician may be. We must remember that voting is a waste of time, that all political means – no matter how much we may appreciate and agree with the motives – are inherently oppressive, and that we have to defend those we dislike as vigorously as we defend ourselves in order to create and sustain a free society.
In summation, I posit the following: Anarchism is not mere anti-statism: there is much more to it than that. However, for an anarchist to suborn the state in any way is for her to abandon anarchism as entirely as if she were to support landlordism, wage slavery, or any other form of oppression. The means do not justify the ends for the anarchist, lest we simply become the new boss, same as the old boss, as has been the case for so many revolutionary tyrants throughout human history.
Feminism doesn’t speak for me. Feminists often claim that they speak for all gender oppression. They claim to be true gender egalitarians, and that they’re opposed to heterosexism, transphobia, and discrimination against men, in addition to fighting against gender oppression targetted at AFAB [Assigned Female At Birth] people. They also quite commonly make the point that “men” don’t understand the oppression that women face, and that all “men” are sexist. That’s right. Every single one. So I have to ask feminists: if you’re sure that I don’t understand your oppression (and I suspect you’re right about this, at least some of the time), then how can you claim to understand mine? How can you lay claim to the territory of fighting oppression against AMAB [Assigned Male At Birth] people while simoultaneously proclaiming “men” the oppressor? How come, if you really care as much about issues affecting men (for example, domestic violence where the victim is a man), then you never use gender-neutral pronouns when discussing violence?
I recently read a pamphlet put together by an anarcha-feminist collective addressing sexism in the anarchist/radical/revolutionary movement. In virtually all of the pieces addressing violence, sexism, domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment, each and every single piece focused exclusively on issues where the victim was a “woman” and the perpetrator was a “man.” This erasure of AMAB victims of sexual and domestic violence, from the anarchist side of the spectrum, no less. What can we expect from feminists who are not even interested more generally in anti-oppression causes? That erasure of AMAB victims is common in feminist circles and literature, however.
So just what about a movement to advocate for AMAB people? Do AMAB people who are victims of domestic violence deserve equal access to resources such as shelters where they and their children can be safe from a violent spouse? Do they deserve access at all? Should AMAB rape victims be given the same support that AFAB victims are, or should we keep the problem in the closet; relegated to the realm of jokes about buttrape in prisons and altar boy molestation?
Sure, we have the “MRA movement” now, but it’s hardly a movement at all. I’ve never seen them speak out about anything other than family law issues, and those aren’t my issues, nor are they the issues which I see as being most dramatically destructive in the lives of AMAB people. I’m interested in addressing my own problems and concerns and likewise creating an inclusive movement that addresses the problems and concerns of others, as well. So far, the “MRA movement” has failed to do that. It’s been a bunch of white dudes complaining and whining to eachother about their ex-wives and child custody settlements. I’m an activist, and that isn’t activism. The feminist movement has tons of gains under its belt: real tangible victories which have served to enhance the lives of AFAB people. These MRA folks have nothing to show for their blogging and whining. I want results. I want domestic violence shelters for AMAB people. I want queer men accepted by modern society – even poor urban minorities. I want to call the state out and stick it to them when they hold policies akin to the rhetoric coming out of the Westboro Baptist Church. Finally, let’s face it: the existing “MRA” circuit doesn’t talk about queer men. Which is a shame, because queer men face more oppression in daily life than most AMAB people.
Another issue worth considering is trans-women. I have come to most-often use the term AMAB when defining the specific people whom this movement seeks to represent the interests of, and that includes trans-women. Trans-women are women. Despite that fact, all too often they are ignored, dehumanized, and thrown under the bus by modern feminist movements. We seek to represent trans-women and their needs as well, as an underserved group with regard to fighting against gender oppression. As the modern feminist movement primarily/exclusively represents AFAB people, transwomen are welcome in the masculist movement.
Another goal which I have in mind is to form a broad coalition with feminists and others who oppose oppression. In order to oppose gender oppression, we should team up with those promoting the advancement of intersexed and AFAB people as well, with the ultimate goal being an egalitarian society free of all oppression.
I think the first thing we should do is to start asking the tough questions. How does the availability of resources for male victims of sexual and domestic violence affect how we are able to deal with these issues? How do sexual harassment issues affect us in school, at home, and in the work-place? How can we move towards acceptance of queer AMAB people in the way that queerness is now far more culturally acceptable for AFAB people? How does stereotypical masculinity in racial minority communities impact AMAB people in those communities who just don’t fit in? Why is sexuality a driving force for masculine self-esteem? There’re lots more, too. Lets tackle them together and begin to address the issues.
So I think that what AMAB people in general need to do is stand up and simply declare: “feminism doesn’t speak for me.” Then we need to move towards creating a masculist movement that does. I’ve got an idea for a campaign we could take on, too. As mentioned above, the FDA currently regulates blood donations. They have a regulation, in place since the 1980s, which essentially says that any AMAB person who has ever had sex with an AMAB person is banned for life from donating blood. This is an awful regulation, laced with “gay plague” thinking, put in place because of rampant homophobia. It’s an easy victory in today’s political climate, and a big victory against a homophobic federal regulation is just what out fledgling movement could use to take off! Who’s with me?
Join us over on facebook at Masculism!
Tags: amab, amab people, Anarchism, Anarchist, anarchists, Anarchy, assigned male at birth, feminism, gender equality, gender oppression, males, masculism, masculists, men, mens rights, movement building, trans-women, transmen, transwomen
George Donnelly recently posed the question “Are you opposed to bad people (statists)? Or bad ideas (statist philosophy)?”
Let me start by saying that George is a principled guy, and I have a lot of respect for him, and for his views. He’s a very genuine individual. In this case, however, I tend to disagree. I don’t disagree entirely. Specifically, I agree with George that ad hominems are pretty useless in general, and Vicki makes some very valid points as well in her follow-up to George’s original post. It’s important, however, to consider the other side of the story here.
Statists, you see, are not just a big bundle of ideas and thoughts for us to convert. They are real human beings, and one thing that all human beings do is take actions. For most people, their actions or inaction are guided by their individual ideological affiliations, their morality, perhaps their religious or cultural beliefs, ideas introduced by their families, or by pop culture, or any number of other things. Statism is, quite clearly, an ideology. It’s an ideology which advocates not just violence on a global scale, but the initiation of violence against innocent people on a massive and global scale.
So obviously, we want to try and educate these people that there are alternatives to this violence: anarchism, a system of cooperation, community, and voluntary egalitarian interaction is one very obvious alternative which perhaps a majority of those reading this are adherents to. Teaching statists about anarchism, and about how it would be better for them and for others than the statist system which they’ve been indoctrinated into, is a laudable goal. I do it. Many of you probably do, too. Jim Davidson does it. George Donnelly does it. We all have our own ways and means, of course, but a majority of us are doing it, at least on a small scale, in some way, though our means may differ.
Just because, however, we are [and should continue to be] reaching out to these people does not mean that they are not, as of now, our enemies. In many cases, quite the opposite is true. If an anarchist sees someone on the street being attacked by police, the least they’re going to do is video the event or get someone on-site who can. At most, they might step in and try to defend a civilian from the state. The same is not true of an average statist. Statists, after all, support the state for ideological reasons. Police are agents of the state, hence placing those police and a given statist walking down the street on the same side in the conflict. The statist is the enemy of the innocent person being beaten, and the statist is the enemy in an even more tangible way of an anarchist who may choose to video the event or step in to defend the victim.
Furthermore, statists, because of their ideology of statism, feel justified in using the state as a means by which to enforce their own preferences on people around them. If the state currently supports their preferences, they will report violations of them to the state; for example, if you are smoking marijuana on your porch and a statist sees you, that statist, if they are opposed to marijuana smoking, can and will call the police to assault and cage you. The statist is an enemy of the individual trying to peaceably relax in his own home, and has indirectly initiated force – using the strong arm of the state – against them. On the other hand, if the statist’s views are not currently enforced by the state, the statist will lobby the state to do so in some manner. Prop 8 in California is a good example of this: some homosexual couples were allowed to marry, so statists took up the cause to ban those marriages in California. They succeeded in doing so, creating further inequality at the hands of the state. Those statists were enemies of those innocent queer couples. Another good example is abortion. How many statists are enemies of any woman who may want to get an abortion? Will they succeed? Right now, they seem to be gaining ground.
It’s always important to consider context. Ideology alone, as a context, is thoroughly debatable, and terms such as ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ seem not to apply because these are abstracts, they are thoughts and ideas. Within the context of living beings, however, we add actions to the mix; actions driven by ideologies. Thus in the context of statists, it is important to understand that they are, in fact, our enemies by their actions.
In one of the more memorable passages in Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith contemplates the inevitable doom that will follow from the first entry which he is preparing to make in his diary. The act was not illegal, he reflected — there were no laws in Oceania — but its discovery would nevertheless result in ten years in a forced labor camp.
If your tastes tend more to the lowbrow, there’s that great line from National Lampoon’s “Vacation”: “It ain’t illegal. Hell, I oughta know — I’m the sheriff!”
We see an increasing number of instances in the United States and the “Free World” in which citizens can be punished without any specific legal pretext.
To take one example which has been around for a while, there is no written law against carrying large amounts of cash on one’s person, nor any specific statutory definition of the threshold at which the amount of money one carries becomes a criminal offense. Nevertheless, anyone stopped by a police officer and found to be carrying thousands of dollars in cash will be presumed a drug trafficker of some sort, and their money seized according to the usual procedure of “civil forfeiture.”
When ballot measures to decriminalize or liberalize marijuana laws clear all the hurdles and are voted into law, as often or not the cops just quietly ignore them. For example, last October Los Angeles County, California Sheriff Lee Baca baldly stated that he would continue to arrest pot users even if Proposition 19 (which would have legalized it) passed. Baca’s “argument” was that it is still criminalized by federal statute, and that federal law supersedes state law.
Even as explained by the state’s own pet jurists, of course, this was utter nonsense. The functionaries of a state are not bound to enforce federal law. The practical effect of a measure legalizing pot, had it passed, would simply have been to tell the feds to enforce their own law. It would have withdrawn California’s state and local cops from the enforcement effort and dismantled the whole apparatus of interjurisdictional drug task forces. But none of that matters. Because if a cop wants to enforce a “law” badly enough, he’ll make one up.
Just about every week, Radley Balko reports on someone being arrested for filming cops, on the pretext that they’re “hindering apprehension,” “interfering with police business,” or “violating the wiretap laws,” or some such bull-hockey. Never mind that there’s no actual law criminalizing the act of recording public functionaries performing public duties in a public place, or that there’s even a law on the books specifically exempting such activity from the wiretap statutes.
If you’re willing to fight it out before judges or police commissioners, for weeks or months, you may or may not get a decision overruling the cop’s actions. But in the meantime you’ve had your camera (and maybe your nose) smashed, spent time in a holding cell, had your name dragged through the dirt, and maybe lost your job. And meanwhile, the cops just keep on doing it anyway. I mean, seriously, they can kill innocent people and wind up on paid administrative leave pending a wrist-slap, so how worried do you think they are about breaking a camera and roughing up some dirty effing hippie?
As I write, functionaries within the US national security apparatus are busily looking for any pretext on which Julian Assange — an Australian citizen — can be extradited from the United Kingdom. All three are ostensibly countries which share the common law tradition’s procedural protections of the accused, and which pay a great deal of lip service to the “rule of law.”
Yet nobody can state, in anything resembling clear terms, a plausible explanation of just what law Assange is supposed to have violated. Treason? He’s not a U.S. citizen. Espionage? If publishing classified documents leaked by someone else is a crime, please explain the difference between Wikileaks’ publication of the leaked diplomatic cables and the New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers. So far they’ve failed to torture Bradley Manning into testifying that Assange suborned the leaked documents from him.
But if one expedient doesn’t work, they’ll try something else. The law doesn’t really matter. If the spooks, cops and prosecutors want to get somebody bad enough, they’ll come up with a bespoke “law” to tailored to their needs. The custom manufacture of pretexts is a cottage industry for them.
In practice, the law is whatever they say it is.
Workers solidarity movement has one of the best articles about policing and law I have read in quite a while. It really hits the issue hard and concise:
The police force is the state’s physical and intimidatory means of maintaining a desired status quo in society; one of socio-economic divisions and inequalities. Alexander Berkman stated that crime “is the result of economic conditions, of social inequality, of wrongs and evils of which government and monopoly are parents”. On the one hand we have the state, politicians, bosses and capitalists, who thrive on vast amounts of money and power. Instances of white collar crime, fraud and embezzlement that are actually investigated and brought before the courts are rare (they make up a small percentile of overall economically motivated crime). Most crime, and thus policing action, targets individuals and communities that suffer greatly from social and economic deprivation. In the last decade, crime has increased in areas like Tallaght and Blanchardstown. Drugs have devastated these communities, and economic and property related crimes have soared. Policing action in these areas, to quote Berkman again, “can only punish the criminal. They neither cure nor prevent crime. The only real cure for crime is to abolish its causes, and the government can never do that because it is there to preserve those very causes”.
Read The Full Article: Thinking About Anarchism: Policing and the Law
This brings me back to the argument I often get when speaking out against police. “It’s only the bad cops.” No, it’s not the rogue bad cops I oppose but the good law abiding cops. They are the crux of the state together with the military they provide the force necessary to rule a people by the initiation of force and violence.
Every morning as I drive to work I gas my car up with fuel we have murdered to obtain. I think of how our cheap oil is only possible by the slaughter of the state. Every morning I drive on the highways monitored by armed state employees I think of how frustrating it is to have to drive on the state monopolized roads. I often question if the natural anarchist order or even the order of a free market would lend to 3 mile per hour architecture instead of the 60 mile per hour architecture of suburban sprawl. I am an urban dweller who works in the suburbs. I like my city. I like being able to walk up the street to the store to grab some groceries. It seems a waste of not only oil, but also my money every time I spend it on driving the great lengths that sprawl demands.
I can’t help but think of the environmentalist concerns of oil and resources. I often wonder if the state had not put so much money and effort into catering to this type of lifestyle would it be so common? The state built up the roads, subsidized and promoted a certain complacent suburban lifestyle. Before such a thing happened in the mid 2oth century the tendency was to build up not out. This is seen in our major cities which seem to see their growth before stuff like LBJ’s Interstate Highway Acts. Perhaps creating forms of public transportation would be manageable for entities outside of the state if the sprawl were not present. They certainly were present before all the highway acts. In fact here in Kansas City all the rails were removed after the highway acts. This was a project paid for by large car manufacturers.
There was a time where the urban center was the dwelling place for the rich and upper class. The structure of convenience made more sense. The poor and needy were often stuck out in suburban and rural areas. This seems to have turned around completely. I guess you just better keep praying these gas prices don’t go up. Pray the U.S. doesn’t loose any of it’s wars. Pray we can kill a few more for cheap gas, so we can maintain the state subsidized way of life.
Interview with A Syrian Arab Republic Anarchist
Major uprisings that shook the Arab world in Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt now has surprised everyone. It is without doubt one of the most important events in our time that sends a clear message that there is no place in this world are destined to be just a playground for the dictator is powered by imperialism. Found to be too authoritarian regimes such as the Ben Ali regime has been unable to completely in the face of a united people determined to fight and struggle. People who are young revolution, workers, unemployed, poor, and who today constitute the image of the region, and sent chilling messages to the gangs, which sits in Washington and Tel Aviv. Did not have all the weapons collected by the Mubarak regime and not all support the American military force sufficient to prevent the protest that is growing. It shows the power of the people and the working class when they unite, and show the political potential of ordinary people in the creation of dual power and a clear liberal instinct and is prove to the world that we are in the process of revolutionary change. www.ahewar.org/m.asp?i=1385 We had a quick conversation with our comrade Mazen Almaz km from Syria, Editor Blog www.ahewar.org/m.asp?i=1385 anarchist, who spoke about the importance of this great movement of political
Question 1 – It seems that every sudden tidal wave of mass protests shaking the foundations of repressive regimes in place since a long time in the Arab world … Have there been any indicators that the protests would have occurred?
C – one of the interesting things with regard to this revolutionary wave widening spread in the Arab world, is that it broke out just when you do not expect any person. Before the outbreak of mass demonstrations in Egypt a few days and described the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Egyptian government is stable, but today there is nothing stable in the region: masses rising up everywhere and expect the worst repressive regimes. There are things in common in these major events and did not notice that it is not the regimes themselves, and not statesmen and intellectuals do not even, it was anger there, covered, Escth suppression States, poverty and unemployment are increasing everywhere But local governments and the Bank both believed that Yemen to keep that anger under control. We now know how wrong they were
Question 2 – What is the importance of the emergence of Tunisia Ben Ali?
C - It is only the first step in the sequence of events that will follow. This has meant that it can be to the people, the people were rebellious, they can challenge oppression and to win. It is too early to talk about the final status yet, the situation is still very complicated now, but people realized the actual power and are still in the street, so the conflict is still open to all possibilities are many
Question 3 – Where to extend the revolution yet? What are the countries which now face the possibility of mass uprisings?
C - we can now say with confidence enough that it could be anywhere, is the following. May be Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and hot spots of the revolution, but we must keep in mind that it will be a major impact Egyptian revolution everywhere, beyond all expectations of the worst tyrants and their supporters everywhere
Question 4 – What is the actual impact of the revolution in Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. military support in the world?
C - Egypt is the largest country in the Middle East and its strategic role is very important. It is one of the pillars of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Even if the current system to remain for some time or the system next pro-Western, the pressure of the masses will always be there anymore. In short, the United States, a main backer of the current system, will be hit hard by the revolution of the Egyptian masses
Question 5 – What is the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in these protests? And what is the role of the old guard to the left?
C - A very important thing with regard to these demonstrations and protests is that they are completely spontaneous and may be launched by the masses alone. It is true that different political parties joined them later, but the overall struggle was largely an expression of self-autonomy of action of the masses. This is also true with regard to the political Islamic groups. You may think that these groups that any future elections would come into power, but with the masses raging in the streets, this will be difficult, I believe that the public would reject undergo a second of any repressive regime, but even if this happens, will not people accept that this time they just followers only, and memories that lie nearby in the mind and refreshing to the heights of freedom struggles that they have earned. You can not force any easily this time to force them to undergo any kind of repressive regimes. Everything else should have to keep in mind is that in times of revolutions, people become more open to liberal and anarchist ideas, and that freedom is the prevailing idea at the time of the revolution is not authoritarian. It embodied some of the groups, the ugly face of the Stalinist state socialism! For example, featured former Tunisian Communist Party (formal – Renewal Party, the translator) as well as the ruling party of the regime of Ben Ali’s government, formed after the overthrow of Ben Ali himself! A group of other authoritarian Tunisian Communist Workers Party, has actively participated in the demonstrations, but only to reveal contradictions: he called for the party at the same moment escape Ben Ali to the formation of committees or boards of local defense of the Revolution, only to adjust quickly changed his mind and calls for a constituent assembly and Houmt new. A similar thing happens almost in Egypt, there is a left-wing reformist groups, such as the Progressive Unionist Party assembly, and other groups of left-wing revolutionaries authoritarians. I can not speak exactly about the role of our comrades Allasultoyen and the rest of the liberals – there is current communist Majalsi growing tendency to side – because of the interruption of communications with them, but I must stress once again what I said earlier that these revolutions were essentially making the masses. Tunisia play in the trade association for the local strong play an important role in the later stages of the revolution. I want to talk in some detail for the local committees set up by the masses, which is one of the most impressive manifestations of the revolutionary do. In the face of looting initiated by the secret police often, people form these committees of genuine democratic institutions, a real competitor to the authority of the ruling elite and authoritarian institutions. There are two governments in Egypt today: the People’s Committees and the Mubarak government by hiding behind the tanks and guns Askarha. This occurs in a region accustomed only to dictatorships and Alsultuyat. This is a great thing Wim regard to revolutions, they change the world with amazing speed. This does not mean that it has been winning the conflict, on the contrary, this means that the real conflict has already begun
Question 6 – to sum up all this, what is your opinion of current events? What do you think it stands for?
C - it’s the beginning of a new phase, the masses rise up, for the sake of freedom, authoritarian regimes reeling, it is certainly the beginning of a new world
By: Scott F | Jan 16, 2011 Featured
What is Left-libertarianism?
It is libertarianism synthesized with leftism. It is the awareness that the two are not contradictory or opposites on a spectrum but properly understood are the same.It should be clear from the beginning left-libertarians reject the statism of traditional leftists.Many do not consider such individuals to be leftist.Merely left-libertarianism is the understanding that libertarianism leads to leftist conclusions – that libertarianism is a philosophy from which to view the causes and solutions to traditional leftist concerns such as bargaining power,bosses or corporations.To use Gary Chartier’s phrase it is “socialist ends by (free) market means”.
Central tenets of left libertarianism.
- ‘Subsidy of History’ .Further awareness of how history has had no golden ages and elites have benefitted from statism in past while average person has suffered due to state e.g. in the Industrial Revolution.
- The political class.The State has throughout history to present day acted to artificially privilege the rich,corporations, landlords and employers(The political class) at the expense of everyone else particularly the poor, employees,women, black people,foreigners, tenants,small businesses,the self employed, unions and the like(the exploited class).Following from this left-libertarians are on the side of the downtrodden and the marginalized.
- Two Kinds of Government intervention. As Kevin Carson says there’s two kinds of government intervention.Primary which are privileges such as subsidies to the rich etc.Secondary which the government puts in place to hide the injustice of primary intervention and make the system seem humane e.g. minimum wage,welfare etc yet which remain harmful as ever.
Concern for the downtrodden.Furthermore concern for the downtrodden follows from left-libertarian opposition to aggression against innocents.Those aggressed against- the oppressed- are just one group of the downtrodden.
- Current Distribution of wealth and land.Following from the previous link, the recognition that current distribution of wealth and land is largely due to state intervention whether that be barriers to entry or statist privilege and that just because someone is wealthy need not mean they achieved it themselves and just because someone is poor does not mean that they make bad lifestyle choices.Following from this understanding we must reject classist prejudices.
- Belief in Anarchist Pluralism.This is a belief that various legal and political arrangements would exist in anarchy ranging from back to nature communes,co-ops, collectives to voluntary socialist federations and so one.No one arrangement would and should dominate.Anarchist arrangements will compete and finally truly be put to the test.
- Opposition to Thin libertarianism and belief in Thick libertarianism.Left libertarians are not arguing that there should be a set moral creed for libertarians but also that morality is not irrelevant.It is worth discussion in anytime there is a discussion of rights.We should always keep in mind that while there may be a right to do X that does not imply that it is morally right to do X.Even prominent ‘thin libertarian’ Walter Block is really thick.He speaks of religion as potentially being a bulwark against the state and that it is important for libertarians to support it when it does so.This is thick libertarianism.There are many kinds of thickness varying in degrees and one can belief in one kind while rejecting another.One kind is the basic left libertarian position that while opposition to aggression against innocents is vital and necessary ,it is not sufficient.Left-libertarians broaden the scope to include cultural matters such as structures of domination and dehumanization.
- Belief in ‘Thickness from grounds’- A kind of thickness.This is values which lead you to libertarianism or are implied as part of it, that lead to a concern for wider issues.An example of the links here would be:- concern about aggression leads to general concern for others .Concern for others leads to concern about dehumanization.Concern for dehumanization and about aggression leads to concern for the marginalized and downtrodden of which the aggressed against are one group.
- Belief in Thickness from consequences- As Charles Johnson explains it “there may be social practices or outcomes that libertarians should (in some sense) be committed to opposing, even though they are not themselves coercive, because (1) background acts of government coercion are a causal precondition for them to be carried out or sustained over time; and (2) there are independent reasons for regarding them as social evils.”Examples of this are sweatshops,’contract feudalism or authoritarianism arising from land ownership.
- Rejection of conservative baggage of traditional libertarianism.Historically classical liberalism defined itself largely in opposition to state socialism.Libertarianism with it’s opposition to state socialism during the progressive era and the cold war has done likewise.This is due to unfortunate alliances with the old right and conservatives.Libertarianism has unthinkingly and knee jerkedly embraced evils in the name of opposing state socialism as a package.Libertarians have engaged in the fallacy of package dealing here and in doing so have accepted evils which socialists of all stripes-statist and anarchist- rightly oppose.Left-libertarians seek to help the philosophy of libertarianism shed this baggage.This baggage can be seen in opposition to leftist language and concepts or the belief that voluntary socialism is impossible- an argument that likewise can be turned back on the arguer.Also this tendency is exhibited in anarcho-capitalist selective re-reading of history to downplay or exclude elements of classical liberalism/libertarianism which came close or even were left-libertarian.
- Opposition to Vulgar Libertarianism.Kevin Carson Defines Vulgar Libertarianism as the tendency to falsely believe that X condition holds because the actually corporatist we live in is a free market.An example would be to say workers who have horrible working conditions should just quit.This ignores the extent to which workers bargaining power is reduced by statism.
- Anti-corporate.There are many left-libertarian criticisms of corporations.But the most basic is that corporations are defined by (1) state granted limited liability and (2) corporate personhood. (1) It is an error to think left-libertarians oppose limited liability per se.More correctly,we oppose state grants of limited liability which amounts to the state legally privileging a company owner ,manager or higher staff (especially corporations) to be exempt from prosecution.This is not a free market contract because the state is enforcing this against non agreeing third parties.It is essentially a kind of social contract.Now it is true this can sometimes be ignore by the state when pressing for prosecution but this is rare.(2) Left-libertarians oppose corporate personhood which is the treating of a corporation- an organization as if it is an individual with rights as an individual.It’s true individuals in a corporation have rights but the organization itself does not.This is an epistemological error and one which should he gross to libertarians who favour individualism.These two criticisms lead left-libertarians to the conclusion that corporations are products of statism and could not exist on the free market or at very least would be very improbable.Important to note is that corporations are defined by thesr two privileges, a company missing the latter one is just a artificially privileged company not a corporation but left-libertarians oppose these all the same.
- Seperation of management and ownership.At very least, left-libertarians think this can be problematic and at most think it is immoral or a violation of rights.
- Unions are not inherently coercive.Unions have been co-opted at times by the state.Left-libertarians oppose this.We believe in unions that work for left-libertarian goals and seek to level the playing field between employer and employee.
- Belief in Strategic Thickness ,that is values that would help lead to and maintain a free society.
- Reduced/limited Bargaining power. The state limits job opportunities by instituting barriers to entry such as licenses and monopolies.Thus workers either cannot be self employed or independent contractors or the numbers of individuals taking up such kinds of employment are vastly reduced.This means that workers do not have much ability to turn down job offers ,look for better working conditions such as hours,oppose boss petty authoritarianism or argue for benefits such as child care.Workers are stuck with what there is,so the employer holds all the power in their relations.The State is the enemy of the worker.
- Solutions to reduced bargaining power.Possible solutions include Workplace democracy,Worker Self management, collective bargaining,labour organizing,work to rule, go slows etc.
- Ambiguity in labour contracts allows employers to take advantage of employees reduced bargaining power and require things not specified in the contract.
- ‘Contract Feudalism’.Reduced bargaining power means that employees can do little when employers extend their authority into the private lifes of workers such as preventing criticism of the company on social networking sites.Kevin Carson calls this ‘Contract Feudalism’.Employer authority is extensive and all embracing.
- SweatShops.Due to reduced bargaining power which results in workers reduced ability to seek better worker conditions sweatshop workers have limited options.They are not choosing the second best option nor even the best option but the best option ALLOWED by statism.
- Poverty. While libertarianism has always emphasised how statism causes and maintains poverty, left-libertarianism are strongly in favour of making sure it is not forgotten in case status quo apologetics or classism enter in.The state’s cause and maintenance of povety is extensive resulting twofold:- statist privileges and statist intervention which holds down the poor.The group most harmed by statism at any time is the poor.The State is thus the enemy of the poor.
- Pro-migrant.Culturally, left-libertarians are pro-migrant which follows from concern for the downtrodden( and opposition to xenophobia) since often migrants come into a country due to state created poverty or war.Left-libertarians view the most flourishing society as one in which their is a variety of groups and cultures.Left-libertarianism is on the side of the migrant.
- Opposition to I-it relationships which result in dehumanization- that is treating of individuals as objects, as lacking in free will and determined by their group- Examples of these include sexism,racism,classism,xenophobia, transphobia and homophobia.
- Statism on the side of the bigot.Since we don’t have free markets , to some degree employers are protected from suffering from loss of profit due to discrimination because of state reduction of competition and corporatism.Walter Block is wrong.
- Authoritarianism due to land ownership. At minimal concern about how land ownership might be used to mistreat or control others.At most ,outright opposition to land ownership for this very reason
- Equality. The Belief that large wealth disparity is due to the mix of statist privilege and barriers to entry and that minus these in a free market, wealth and land would be more widely distributed and wealth would be less inequal.The Free market is a form of wealth redistribution.It is inherently corrosive to wealth concentration and inherently leftist.
- Artificially large firms. Firms have two forces involving their size:- economies of scale and diseconomies of scale. The vulgar libertarian analysis assumes current size of firms is due to serving the needs of the masses.This is claimed because it is said that certain factors reduce production by unit and allow for increase of firm size.These are economies of scale.Diseconomies of scale are factors which limit the size of firms such as costs,transport etc.The vulgar analysis is mistaken because it assumes a free market which is what this clear law applies to.The situation as left libertarians point out is more complex in the current corporatist atmosphere.An analogy will help illustrate. Imagine a set of scales.On the right side is economies of scale and on the left, diseconomies. The way it would work in a free market ,is the right will become weighted by economies and the left weighted by diseconomies( both factors are always in play ) until the left diseconomies outweights the right economies.But in Corporatism, statist privilege artificially reduces if not in some cases eliminates diseconomies on the left side of the scale and adds extra economies of scale onto the right side.The result of this is artificially larger firms.Absent these factors in a free market,firms would have clear diseconomies and thus would be smaller to some extent than currently.
- Fewer firms. Statist privileges allow firms to grow to artificially large sizes while barriers to entry reduce smaller businesses entering the market to compete or prevent their entry in the firstplace(the unseen of barriers to entry) The result of this is fewer bigger firms- the traditional leftist complaint.Thus it follows the solution to this problem is not statism since it is the cause.
- Prices. Since on a free market, competition tends to result in lowered prices and better quality goods and services with statism hampering if not at times eliminating competition completely then these two tendencies do not hold currently and we have artificially higher prices and artificially lower quality goods and services than we could have.You might say this doesn’t seem to be true.Things seem to be get better all the time.While it seems this way ,things could be much better in a free market.
- Rent. By artificially creating scarcity via barriers to entry for example rent control or zoning and statist privilege, statism results in reduced supply of land while demand remains the same.The result of this is artificially increased prices in buying or renting land and artificially high rents.
Artificially increased overheads.The state artificially raises overheads.Overheads are the costs of running a business.The costs are raised by such things as the cost of filling tax reports, complying with regulations etc. clearly now to deal with those requires large bureaucracy in businesses.Smaller businesses and individuals have a harder time to keep up with these costs so artificial overheads reduce their amount or actually exclude them from the market -especially in the case of the poorest.
I would be happy to see others follow in my path and write their own manifesto’s either following my general outline or not.
Hopefully my explanations are full enough to generate more understanding of what left libertarians believe.
As an anarchist I constantly face a demand from critics to prove anarchy will bring utopia. The conditions to reach anarchy people claim are utopian. Many ask how the absence of a government will solve problems the government has failed to solve. This shows the complete lack of understanding for what it is we are working to obtain. How will anarchy end crime? How will anarchy end rape or murder?
The claim that anarchy will end crime, rape or murder was never one I made and I do not know many anarchists who have made that claim. Can anarchy have more crime? That is doubtful seeing that the majority of murder is done in the name of the state. What about interpersonal violations or crimes? Will it curb or end those? There is a problem and a misunderstanding with this question. How will anarchy end or cure any ailment of society? It won’t bring many if any solutions. The push for state is often under the guise that they will end these problems. The push for anarchy is an acceptance of the fact that we can better our lives and that by embracing more murder and violence we will accomplish little. How does a constitution, a republic or democracy solve problems? It does not and can not.
Let us look at democracy. How does a democracy deal with murder? Democracy does not end or deal specifically with murder. Only solutions implemented through a democracy are what some look to for an answer to the given problem. The democratic system does not bring a solution to the table with it, this is true of a constitutional republic or any form or rule. They are corporate systems not solutions. The people involved invent what they see as a solution and implement it under the conditions of democracy. The same is true of anarchism. The same people will work within a stateless society to bring a solution to the table and implement it. The absence of a state is not an assurance of utopia, but a condition that is more ethical than the use of force to implement the solutions we create. I Anarchy is not utopia any more than a republic or a democracy are. It is the ethical approach to order society. If one fails to see the ethical dilemma of the rule of force I will not address this here, you might start with: A Case Against Government: State Violence.
To solve many crimes we can begin to look at new systems that bring about results. We do not all have to cling to the same model. There are forms of alternative dispute resolution such as contract ratings, Dispute Resolution Organizations, restorative justice and more. We are not limited to these. The positive of this concept in anarchy as opposed to in democracy is that the 51% can keep the solutions they feel are proper while the other 49% can look to the solution they feel is proper and works best for them. These do not claim to have the utopian edge of being the one and only solution. Unlike the state it embraces the idea that there may be fault with our solutions so we should be able to move on when one solution fails us.
Ending the state is not the solution to all things. It does solve some problems. It addresses the extortion racket that fuels the state. It addresses the murder justified by the state. It addresses the unjust caging of human beings. To create a stateless society we must reject the notion that it is honorable for some to commit those crimes. That being said, there will be a plethora of problems that will exist without the state. Those problems are not to be minimized or overlooked. I am sure if you are a skeptic of anarchism you can name plenty of issues you have concerns about. The goal is not to just eliminate the state and leave problems unaddressed. Nor is it to deny the presence of those problems.
We must work on stateless solutions. The most common objections I get are those of police and a justice system as mentioned before. The beauty of a stateless society is that we have the multiple options that can co-exist. Do they exist naturally? Not all. This is why we must begin to build and improve on those alternative solutions. When one has a grievance they often turn to the existing state justice system. If that system fails them they only have that one system. As that system has proven to fail over and over we have nowhere else to turn. Obviously it does work for some to some extent. It does not work for all.
In a stateless system the process we see here is relevant to any other process or solution we create. Now we no longer have the system monopolized. We have other alternatives to turn to as one fails us. When I speak of competing solutions this is the aspect I am seeking. Perhaps the Dispute resolution does not work in every situation and a need to look towards restorative justice will arise and be available. We begin to look at how now we have a way to expel the entity that does not work because we can begin to go to the ones that do. The tendency to cling to the idea that one form of resolution is superior to having alternatives is the more utopian ideal. Anarchism is an acceptance that the one cure to the illness is not enough. It is the acceptance that there is no one answer and that other solutions do exist. They will fail and we will have to move to alternatives. In the state when you are failed by the state you often have no other alternative. It is the state, the final, the end all.
Is Anarchy utopia? No, but it is not the solution. To see anarchy as the solution or as utopia is a lack of comprehension of what anarchism is. It is a challenge once again to strike the root of problems and to create new and civil solutions. It is a challenge to improve current and proven alternatives building on those and moving further on theoretical alternatives. We can build a civil anarchist society, but we must build it.
By Davi Barker This was originally posted at Examiner.com. Comments on the original are appreciated.
For those interested in the science behind authoritarian sociopathy no studies are more poignant, or more chilling in their ramification than the Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Experiment. But their sentiment was perhaps best expressed by Thomas Jefferson in an often overlooked passage of the Declaration of Independence:
“All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
After World War II the world stood in shock and horror as the details of the Holocaust came to light. Jew, Gypsies, Homosexuals and virtually anyone deemed an enemy of the state were put to death by the Nazis. The constant, even robotic refrain from these soldiers during the Nuremberg Trials was “I was just following orders.” And as the world cried, “Never again!” Stanley Milgram, a Yale University psychologist asked, “how did this happen in the first place?” The Milgram Experiment was designed to measure the willingness of otherwise psychologically healthy people to obey the unethical orders of an authority figure. His shocking results were published in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.
In the Milgram Experiment participants were divided into “teachers” and “learners” and placed in separate rooms. They could communicate, but could not see each other. The experimenter instructed the “teachers” to read questions to the “learner” and if they answered incorrectly to administer an elecro-shock of ever increasing voltage. Unknown to the “teachers” was that the “learners” were actually plants and the electro-shocks were fake. The “teachers” were the actual subjects in the experiment. After a few volt increases the “learner” began to object, to bang on the walls, and complain about a heart condition. After some time the the “learner” would go silent. If the subject asked to stop the experiment for any reason he was given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter to continue. “Please continue,” “the experiment requires that you continue” “you must constinue,” etc. Most continued after being told that they would not be held responsible.
Of the experiment subjects 65% administered the experiment’s maximum massive 450-volt shock even though every subject expressed some level of objection in doing so. Some began to laugh nervously. Others offered to refund the money they were paid for participating in the experiment. Some exhibited signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner. But the vast majority were willing to administer a lethal jolt of electricity to a complete stranger based upon nothing but the verbal prodding of a scientist in a lab coat. None of those who refused to administer the deadly shock insisted that the experiment itself be terminated.
The Stanford Prison Experiment was a study conducted by Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo to determine the psychological effects of prison life. Participants were screened to be otherwise stable and psychologically healthy and assigned randomly as either “prisoner” or “guard” to live in a two week long prison simulation in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Guards were given uniforms, mirrored glasses to prevent eye contact, and wooden batons meant only to establish status. Prisoners were dressed in smocks and addressed only by the numbers they were issued. Guards were instructed only to keep a fixed schedule, and that they should attempt to make the prisoners feel powerless, but could not physically harm them.
The experiment was halted after only six days.
After a prisoner revolt on the second day guards began to display cruel, even sadistic behavior. A system of punishment and reward soon followed including, spraying disobedient prisoners with fire extinguishers, depriving them of bedding or restroom privileges, forcing them to go nude and locking them in “solitary confinement” in a dark closet. After the initial revolt, and a brief hunger strike, prisoners on the other hand developed submissive attitudes, accepting physical abuse, and readily following orders from the “guards” to inflict punishments on each other. They even engaged in horizontal discipline to keep eachother in line. One prisoner began showing signs of mental breakdown after only 36 hours, yet they stayed even though they were all made aware that they could stop the experiment at any time. As Zimbardo explained, both prisoners and guards had fully internalized their new identities.
Zimbardo ultimately halted the experiment when he realized that his judgement had been compromised by being sucked in to his role as “Prison Superintendent” and allowed abuse to continue that could be considered torture. His recent book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, details his findings and how they relate to the torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.
Ethical concerns raised by these results have made it illegal to repeat these experiments. In fact, under current ethical guidelines the State makes it very difficult to study the psychology of power and authority at all. Still, there have been some more recent studies that flesh out the findings of these classic experiments which we will be discussing in Part 2, on honesty, Part 3 on compassion and Part 4 on integrity.
What is clear to me from these experiments is that human nature is not evil, but essentially adaptive. If you take an otherwise good person and invent for them a role that incentivizes evil they will adjust to their new circumstances. And if you internalize “obedience to authority” as a core personality trait you will become capable of the worst forms of murder, and tolerant of the worst forms of abuse.
This is continuing off of the earlier post White Power White Privilege I left with some questions that will be answered most likely in the next post. This one is going to expand on more of the concepts that I touched on in White Power White Privilege.
I received a comment outside of the site that said the article White Power White Privilege sounded like ‘Class Envy’. As I stated before there is a desire to dismiss the issues brought up. ‘Class Envy’ dismisses it on many levels. The phrase rejects that there is a race issue and embraces this norm. If it does not reject it then the phrase simply ignores it with a conveniently dismissive catch phrase. Furthermore it embraces the ‘is ought’ fallacy. It accepts that there is a class disparity and places blame on the lower class in putting blame on the the lower class by assuming there is a negative in opposing class by dismissing it as ‘envy’. This brings about an anti-government fallacy. I am an anarchist. I am not naive enough to believe the answers lie in eliminating government, but in how we address the issues outside of the violence of a state. The anti-government fallacy is that if we end government the problems magically disappear. This anti-state misconception believes that the current disparities are proper and their presence in the dismissal of state action in that area is right or just. The right wing and many other groups are full of this mindset and still cling to the violent force of the government.
This once again goes back to the idea that they only see government as beneficial to their wants and not to the wants as others. None of this questions the ethic or morale of ordering society in the archaic means of violence and force. The only evolution that has occurred in the thousand years of government is that the swords turned to guns, the soldiers took off metal armor and put on blue or green depending on who they are directing the force at and the cages are build with more modern materials. So the mindset that what was should still be and what is ought to be still remains. There is often no desire to address the issues that plague us until the issue impacts the individual directly. What the state has failed to do so far is to rectify many of the issues, and it has failed to come up with any resolution outside of the initiation of force.
To solve the issues we have to strike the root. We often treat the symptoms of the disease instead of attacking and eliminating the disease. We see cough drops as the sure to strep throat because it temporarily subdues the telling sign of the disease. As others look on they do not hear the cough and assume there is no sickness. The root is seen only as government by many libertarians. I am not claiming government is the sole problem. I am not claiming every action of the government has been evil. I have always pointed to the unethical nature of government. Based on this there are other relationships outside of the state that fit that unethical nature. It is our responsibility to point those out and to oppose them as we do when it is within the state. There is a tendency to excuse the action of a business or a corporation that acts in a manner that the state acts by some, Kevin Carson has rightfully coined the tern Vulgar Libertarianism to address this group. The vulgar libertarian often presents a world of tyranny only by private business and not by private business working with the state. I do see many of the Ayn Rand ‘libertarians’ in this fashion, but I do not want to group all of one group in this insulting category. On the other side there is also the desire for some to excuse such violations on personal levels. I can most immediately see this within race and gender issues. There is a hierarchy of race and gender.
The sad reality is that often the victim is left to defend themselves. Look at the civil rights movement. It wasn’t a movement of the patriarchy fighting for the rights of individuals who were being abused and murdered. It was the victims who stood up and opposed the way they were treated that started it all. All too often the victim is given the blame. The rape victim is attacked for their actions or dress leading up to the rape. This is seen with phrases like ‘she was asking for it” or ‘she should not have been’. It is sad but this is the reality of how much of society currently reacts. We hear the word ‘illegal’ used constantly to blame the migrant for the abuse that the state heaps on them.
We looked at power held over others outside of the context of a state. I wish to point out a conflict of focus and language that occurs. The greater libertarian movement and anarchist movement focuses on relinquishing power and giving up power. When you approach a group that has had power taken from them and preach about how you wish for people to give up power you are more than likely going to loose them. Why would they wish to sign up for giving up more power? One group often is attracted to messages of empowerment which sound like a contradiction to what the anarchist or libertarian preaches on the surface level.
To go further in this direction look at the rhetoric of the libertarian. Freedom, liberty and rights are three words thrown around quite a bit by some. These are the same phrases used by the slave masters used to justify their way of life. These words were perverted by the oppressor. This brings us to the problem of white male anarchism and libertarianism we must confront once again. We have a movement using the rhetoric of the oppressor in race and gender. The greater movement is dominated by white males. Is it a shock that this movement is more appealing to this narrow group? This is historically the people group who has promised such things and delivered the exact opposite.
We must face this reality. We are stagnant and narrow minded. Many of us are stuck in these egocentric world views which hinders the progress we could make.
Reality is that people are concerned with immediate needs. If one is hungry, thirsty, cold or oppressed their concern will be meeting those immediate needs. They will not be as immediately concerned about people being slaughtered in the middle east. Why would one be concerned with ending the state or creating a stateless society in the long term when they don’t know where their next meal will come from if it does come at all? No, I am not speaking specifically about poverty & hunger. I am saying that the issues that hinder and confront many are issues we seem to not give a shit about. Cato is busy trying to tell people they need to let corporations run the world. Reason is telling us we need more porn.
In the first article we briefly looked at how this divide exists. This time I intend to state that we need to begin to acknowledge this. We need to look for it in culture, society and what we say or put out there. We will only be able to grow if we look at the truth. Do not fear the truth it will not hinder you unless you are in a battle to suppress truth which leaves you in the same category as the oppressor and the state. I challenge you to look for it everywhere. Watching T.V. do we see how our lives should look even on commercials? You should be white suburban and middle class. This is the norm.
Start bringing up the issues of gender and race. Start challenging people even those you agree with. We need to start asking tougher questions. We need to start truly tackling this stuff at the root. We will be tackling more soon in the next part of this series. I wish to tackle more on race, gender, immigration, culture and poverty. There is much more for us to tackle here. We must stand there, look the cold hard truth in they eyes, see it for what it is and not back down when it is uncomfortable or ugly.
Many can not remove their concept of a state from their concept of order or protection. This makes statelessness difficult for those people to comprehend. On the other hand many get caught up in the idea that I am promoting a ‘destruction of the state’ which is not entirely true. We do not destroy our way to a stateless society. The state is a system of destruction, it is the negative, we are the positive. We build our way to a stateless society. I somewhat addressed this in my article on how to obtain anarchy, but I feel this idea of destruction verses construction needs to be addressed.
I may be wrong about this, but I only see three ways to lead a revolution or change. The three ways are:
- Political - working within the system to somehow make the system commit suicide.
- Violent - using the means of the state to reach a new rule.
- Non-Violent – We resist and build the society we wish to have outside of the state.
The first two I have many issues with. The first I do not believe will work at all. The second is not acceptable for it will make us essentially what we oppose. It will turn us into an order that achieves it’s order and maintains it through the use of force. This is the big difference here. The means by which we should obtain Anarchy is not by attacking and tearing down the government. I will go into further details on those in another post. I want to focus a bit on the third option which I see as the only acceptable option.
The task of taking on the United States Empire is overwhelming. This can be said of many states. They have many stolen resources and stolen capital. So, we are not in a movement to take on any government from inside or outside. Our task is more manageable and reachable. It is something we can do. We must not approach it as if we are going to take on the many tyrants that exist. We have a much more simple task of simply creating the type of society we wish to live in outside of the state where we currently are.
There are many tools. We must implement them as we can. This has begun. One way it has begun is with the Free State Project. (I may disagree with them on many fronts it is one place we see a movement of some sort.) Some are taking the localization concept and using it to their advantage to create a community that is not friendly to the state to begin to work outside of the state. Some may choose to stay in the place they are and reach their community to gain support and to build up stateless solutions within their community.
The idea of non-violent resistance brings up images of Gandhi or hippies for many. There may be some shared concepts, but the methods and forms must be drastically different. We do not have the task of putting flowers in our hair. We do have the task of creating stateless alternatives to the solutions of the state as well as the corporations that submit to the state. We must re-claim the fruits of our labor by ending the theft which we do by not submitting to taxation, and by migrating from functioning within state systems to functioning within voluntary systems we are creating.
Monsanto has almost monopolized our food supply. We pull away and produce our own food and exchange it freely without the state. The state has monopolized force. We create stateless forms of protection and defense. We cut off the state and all friendly with the state. As we grow and gain support, support for the state will dwindle. Those are just a few areas we can begin to do this. Some of these battles will eventually take place in the courts and on the turf of the state from time to time. This must be approached in a case by case manner. But this will occur as the state attempts to aggress upon the alternatives we are building up.
We do not look to end the ‘welfare state’ that may be damaging if it abruptly ended. We work to build alternatives to provide outside of the state. We do not work to end warfare, but to end the support for warfare. We work to cut off the funding and to cut off the so-called authority. We build until the state is smaller than our society working outside of the state. At which point the state is held accountable for it’s actions and aggressions on a case by case manner as we would hold one another accountable. At this point what remains of the state we do not work to attack or war with. We put it under the same standards we expect for ourselves. We do not accept the initiation of force by any one, including the state.
The thing here is that we are not looking to function all at once in a stateless manner, but we are creating that stateless society while the state stands. Those who fear the end of the state will still have the state, as they slowly come to see the better alternatives and abandon the state. This is more like building a skyscraper than going to war. We begin by placing the foundation. After we have built our foundation we begin to lay out the basic structure of a stateless society. Some may be off crafting the furniture and other elements that will go in this skyscraper. Then as this progresses we put up walls, ceilings, floors, stairs etc… Eventually people are carrying the furniture into the skyscraper. At this point we have created a solid stateless society within the occupied territory.
This form of change will take dedication, hard work and a willingness to apply ones self. It means changing society as we know it. This means the very ways we gain our income and how we interact on a daily basis will have to change. We can not be lazy in this. We must be working to impact society around us and gain support from those around us. We must create workable solutions that reach our communities and then we will gain the support of those around us.
The other beautiful element of this is that the paradigm wars can be put aside. We will be working to meet needs and to produce and maintain the product of our labor. This will be an appealing aspect to many. They will join as we show an alternative to the current depression. We will gather strength by providing for people. We will gain strength through production as opposed to destruction. As the current system enters into theft and violence to gain it’s desires people will reject this for the alternative that is not squandering the fruits of another persons labor and attacking people to force them into submission.
We do not all have to agree on the same dogma or philosophy. We just have to begin to produce and function outside of the state.
This is a post from Arm Your Mind for liberty!
There are lots of conferences in the liberty world, but none are dedicated to advancing agorism. Until now! Agora I/O is a new un-conference where you’ll find the greatest people, ideas and tools for advancing the stateless society. You don’t want to miss this, and you don’t have to! Agora I/O is exclusively online, so you can participate from anywhere an internet signal reaches. Plus it’s free!
Agora I/O connects you live with the most exciting and innovative doers in anarchism and agorism twice each year in an online setting with audio, video and text communication tools. Participation is maxed out because there’s no charge to join in the conversation. No traveling, no hotel rooms, no conference fees, no hassle. Just space to learn the latest tactics for advancing complete liberty. That means critical mass for conversations that advance the agora.
Agora I/O advances the conversation on the stateless society not only by creating a free market in relevant knowledge but also by being an experiment in anarchy itself. The Agora I/O vision is for an anarchic event where order arises spontaneously. We issue the call to action. We field at least one full slate of speakers. But others can do the same. Anyone can speak and participants can choose which speakers they will engage with. The Agora I/O team will identify topics we want presentations for, recruit speakers and highlight our favorite speakers, but that won’t mean others can’t present as well. Call it coopetition!
Now that you know what Agora I/O is, I need your help. I have three quick questions and if you’ll answer them, it would really help me out. Take this short survey. If you want to discuss them in the comments, too, here they are:
- What topics would you like to learn about at Agora I/O?
- Who would you like to see present at Agora I/O?
- When is the best weekend for the first Agora I/O?
What’s an Unconference
Why is Agora I/O an unconference? Good question! (1) There are no fees! (2) You choose the topics. (3) Presentations are selected by participants and not by organizers (it’s open to everyone). (4) Anyone can present and compete for participants. And more!
Any live streaming technology should be feasible for Agora I/O but I like Ustream.TV. It’s easy to work with, free and scales to a huge number of participants. With Ustream.TV, you can speak into your webcam while thousands watch you live and chat about what you’re saying. It’s impressive. It can record your presentation and sync it to YouTube so others will enjoy it later. There is no cost to broadcast with Ustream.TV.
We need funding for the website, volunteers, marketing and, most importantly to pay presenters. This is an agoristic enterprise after all! We’ll sell sponsorships, t-shirts and take donations. How can you profit from Agora I/O?
Please let me know your reaction to Agora I/O in the comments below. The Agora I/O concept is still in development, so your comments can have a huge impact. Oh and don’t forget to take the short survey here. Thanks!
“Why am I the slave of Man? Why is my brain said not to be the equal of his brain? Why is my work not paid equally with his? Why must my body be controlled by my husband? Why may he take my children away from me? Will them away while yet unborn? Let every woman ask…”There are two reasons why,” answered in her and these ultimately reducible to a single principle — the authoritarian supreme power GOD-idea, and its two instruments — the Church — that is, the priests — the State — that is, the legislators… These two things, the mind domination of the Church and the body domination of the State, are the causes of Sex Slavery.”
– Voltairine de Cleyre in “Sex Slavery”
Voltairine de Cleyre’s passionate yearning for individual freedom was nowhere more evident than in her writings on feminism (then called the Woman Question) and nowhere more at home than the anarchist movement. The anarchist feminist movement of the late 19th century was truly a haven in the storm for women who longed to be free of the strictures of the stifling gender roles of that time. Unlike most women in socialist and mainstream feminist organizations of the time, the anarchist feminists were not afraid to question traditional sex roles. Anticipating the 20th century feminist idea that the “personal is the political,” they carried the anarchist questioning of authority into the personal realm as well. “The women who embraced anarchism,” writes historian Margaret Marsh, “worked to restructure society as a whole, but they also wanted to transcend conventional social and moral precepts as individuals, in order to create for themselves independent, productive and meaningful lives.”
Today it is hard to imagine how difficult and stifling the lives of women were a century ago. Without the right to vote, women had few legal rights. Married women could not dispose of their own property without the husband’s consent, could not sign contracts, sue or be sued, nor did they have any custody rights. The father’s right as a parent superseded the mother’s, violence against the wife was sanctioned; marital rape was an unheard of concept. Sentimentalized Victorian attitudes about the role of women as keepers of the hearth who must put the needs of husband and children above their own kept most women limited almost exclusively to the roles of wife and mother.
Since few economic opportunities existed for single women, let alone married ones, there was tremendous economic as well as cultural pressure to get married. The few job opportunities that existed were poorly paid, often with unpleasant conditions. While middle class women might be able to obtain jobs as teachers or nurses, most working class women were relegated to dismal sweatshops and grim factories where they worked 10 to 12 hours a day in harsh conditions.
Puritanical sexual mores also conspired to keep women in their place. Sex outside of marriage was considered shameful and the idea that women might actually like sex was simply not even imagined outside of radical and bohemian circles. Access to birth control and abortion was virtually illegal and very limited.
It was in this context that the anarchist feminists rebelled against conventional American culture as well as government, demanding not the vote as did the more mainstream feminists, but something far more sweeping and radical — an end to sex roles, the right to control their own lives and destinies completely, the right to be free and autonomous individuals.
Voltairine de Cleyre’s Role
Though Emma Goldman is the anarchist feminist best remembered today, Voltairine’s role as an advocate of liberation for women was second only to Emma’s in the turn-of-the-century American anarchist movement. From the 1890′s till her death in 1912, Voltairine spoke and wrote eloquently on the Woman Question in individualist anarchist journals such as Moses Harman’s Lucifer and Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty, as well as communist anarchist journals such as The Rebel and Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth. These writings on feminism were among Voltairine’s most important theoretical contributions.
Voltairine’s feminist writings began in 1891, a year after the birth of her son Harry, a child she did not want and did not raise. Adamantly in favor of women’s reproductive rights but unable to have an abortion because of her precarious health, her experience as a reluctant and unmarried mother sharpened her feminist consciousness and helped impel her exploration of the Woman Question. Her ambivalent relationship with Harry’s father, James Elliot, ultimately unhappy and embittering, was another experience that no doubt significantly colored her views on marriage, motherhood and childbearing.
Voltairine de Cleyre’s Social and Psychological Legacy
Questioning traditional marriage
Voltairine’s importance as a feminist rests primarily on her willingness to confront issues such as female sexuality and the emotional and psychological, as well as economic, dependence on men within the nuclear family structure. Though a few other writers, most notably socialist feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, dealt with issues of the family and women’s economic dependence, much of the organized women’s movement of that time was far more wrapped up in the issue of women’s suffrage. Mainstream documents such as the Seneca Falls Declaration had raised important issues about the nature of marriage and several prominent feminists, including John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor, even entered into written marriage contracts to repudiate existing law and custom, but Voltairine’s radical anarchist individualist philosophy took the analysis of marriage a step beyond.
Voltairine and the anarchist feminists did not just question the unfair nature of marriage laws of that time, they repudiated institutional marriage and the conventional family structure, seeing in these institutions the same authoritarian oppression as they saw in the institution of the State. Though some, like Lillian Harman, daughter of anarchist publisher Moses Harman, were willing to participate in non-State, non-Church private wedding ceremonies and others, like Voltairine, denounced even the concept of a private ceremony, all were united in their opposition to State-sanctioned and licensed marriage.
Voltairine, while not rejecting love, was among those most vehemently opposed to marriage of any kind, a theme best explicated in “Those Who Marry Do Ill.” In an age when men had almost total control over the family as well as the wife, when most women were economically dependent on men, and when women’s chief duty was to her husband and family, even to the point of self-sacrifice, Voltairine understandably viewed marriage as slavery, a theme she developed further in “The Woman Question.”
Voltairine’s fierce advocacy of individual autonomy, “the freedom to control her own person,” was the cornerstone of her denunciation of marriage, an institution that she saw as crippling to the growth of the free individual. “It is the permanent dependent relationship,” Voltairine writes in “The Woman Question”, “which is detrimental to the growth of individual character to which I am unequivocally opposed.” This advocacy led her to a position more radical than all but the most radical of contemporary women — a call for separate living quarters. Seeing dependency as a sure way to lose one’s individuality, she even advised against living together with the man one loves in a non-marriage love relationship if it means becoming his housekeeper.
This desire for autonomy, “a room of one’s own,” a separate space to grow and explore one’s own individuality, though appearing as early as the late 18th century writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, is a theme still being examined today among mainstream feminists. However, though many feminists may now eschew formal marriage in their love relationships (at least till children come along), relatively few of them have been willing to emulate the example of feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir when she decided not only not to marry her livelong lover, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, but to live separately from him as well. Voltairine would have understood her motivation very well, not only because of the issue of individual autonomy but also because she believed that love could only be kept alive at a distance. Though many feminists have thought about the potentially negative psychological effects of living together in a love relationship, the issue is still very much alive, often unresolved in individual women’s lives, and certainly deserving of more consideration.
Opposition to the economic dependence of women
An integral part of the anarchist feminist opposition to institutional marriage was their belief that the chief source of women’s oppression within marriage was their economic dependence on men. This was a theme explored frequently by many anarchist feminists in the pages of anarchist journals such as Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty and Moses Harman’s more avowedly pro-women’s rights Lucifer. In “The Case of Women vs. Orthodoxy,” Voltairine asserts that material conditions determine the social relations of men and women, suggesting that if economic conditions change, women’s inequality would disappear. Though she, like her compatriots in both the communist and individualist camps, deplored the wretched living conditions of the working classes in the big cities and had a negative view of the capitalism of that time, Voltairine blessed capitalists for making women’s economic independence possible. As unpleasant as the jobs might be, at least they were jobs actually available to women, a rarity in that time.
The relevance of Voltairine de Cleyre’s views on marriage today
In today’s more socially enlightened times, Voltarine’s opposition to marriage and even living together may seem anachronistic and unnecessary. We need not, however, espouse living alone to see that her stance raises important questions about the extent to which individual autonomy is possible in a relationship that involves not only living together but the inevitable compromises of family life. Is it possible to maintain individuality within the confines of family obligations? Are family obligations distributed equitably or is it the wife or mother who must inevitably bear the major burden of responsibility for childcare and household work and the husband or father the major economic burden? Is the division-making power distributed equitably or is the one who is most economically independent the one who has the most say? Can autonomy be maintained if either the woman or the man is economically dependent? In a conflict, how can a woman maintain her autonomy without sacrificing either others in the family or herself? That issues are still a problem in many modern households is clear from studies such as sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift, which shows that women still do most of the domestic cleaning and childcare even when they have jobs outside the home.
Though such questions have been explored by contemporary feminists, the issues raised are far from settled. This is not merely a matter of such superficial questions as “can a woman have it all?” that surface frequently in popular women’s magazines. It is a fundamental question about the nature of the family structure as we know it. Though the issue of autonomy is a much discussed theme within feminist writings, the questions raised by Voltarine’s analysis are far from being resolved in actual practice within the family.
Nor do such questions deal with another fundamental and related issue raised by the anarchist feminists: should the State be involved in the institution of marriage? A few feminists have commented on the legal and often unknown and unwanted baggage that comes with the State license but most have not confronted the question of why the State has the right to set the terms of what is essentially a private relationship and whether this interference results in more harm than good.
Living her beliefs
Though Voltairine was a founding member of Matilda Joslyn Gage’s Women’s National Liberal League in 1890 and, in 1893, a principal organizer of the Philadelphia Ladies Liberal League, she admonished women not to invest their hopes in organized movements. Like Emma Goldman, she believed that independence for women was best achieved by individual acts of rebellion. We must act “by making rebels wherever we can,” by living our beliefs. Nor can we expect anything from men, she warned. The precious freedom of individual autonomy is not easily gained. “The freedom to control her own person” has to be wrested from men, she says in another of her feminist essays, “The Gateway to Freedom.” “I never expect men to give us liberty. No, women, we are not worth it, until we take it.”
This ability to put into practice what she preached was an important contribution of Voltairine’s. “She also lived in conformity with her feminist principles” writes Marsh ” which forced those who came into contact with her to confront her philosophy in concrete not just abstract.” Though anarchist men accepted in theory the idea of economic independence combined with sexual liberation, Voltairine points out in “Sex Slavery,” that even some of those who repudiate the State still cling to idea that they are the heads of families, that women’s place is in the home. Many, such as Victor Yarros, a frequent contributor to Liberty, still expected the traditional division of labor within the home. Voltairine herself had personal experiences with this unwillingness on the part of some men to apply libertarian principles to home life, struggling with lovers in her life who were unwilling to treat her as an equal and ultimately rejecting them.
The discrepancy between theory and practice, between alleged advocacy of equalitarianism and actually more conventional behavior is a battle that is still being fought today, not just in conventional society, not just in the homes of mainstream feminists, but in the personal and even political lives of anarchists and libertarians. Mainstream and libertarian women alike still struggle with the issue of division of responsibility for childcare and housework, issues of autonomy and dependence, while many of the men deny, ignore or fail to come to grips with such issues. While few libertarians or anarchists today are so boldly retrogressive as to take the position openly, the notion of inherently determined gender roles is not totally dead nor is the anarchist family necessarily egalitarian. Such issues are even still being debated, for example, on individualist libertarian Internet discussion groups. Meanwhile, many libertarian magazines still subtly neglect issues that are associated with women, i.e., social welfare, reproductive rights, and worldwide oppression of women while at the same time claiming they are in favor of women’s rights. Though the communist anarchist feminists have explored the application of the political to the personal in considerably greater depth than the individualists, they too complain about the gap between theory and practice in their camp. Voltairine’s willingness to live out her principles can therefore serve both as a model and a challenge to today’s feminists, whether mainstream or anarchist, liberal or libertarian.
Questioning traditional sex roles
Radical as her other feminist essays were, “Sex Slavery” is, in important ways, the most radical of all. It is an essay that is both striking in its modernity — expounding on the “constructed crime” of pornography, marital rape, sex role socialization, and the double standard — and breathtaking in its still radical rejection of both Church and State.
The impetus for this essay was the arrest of Moses Harman, the editor and publisher of Lucifer: the Lightbearer, the leading freelove/anarchist/feminist journal of the time. Running afoul of the stridently prudish, pro-censorship Comstock Act, which provided stiff prison terms for anyone who knowingly mailed or received “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” printed material through the mail, Harman had been arrested for printing a letter in 1886 in which the word “penis” was used. In this letter, a Tennessee anarchist named Markland, reporting a letter he had received, decried a case of marital rape in which the wife, still recovering from post-childbirth vaginal surgery, nearly hemorrhaged to death because her husband forced himself on her. For this “crime,” Harman eventually spent two years in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
As with many other anarchists of the time, Voltairine was vehemently opposed to the lack of rights that women suffered within institutional marriage. Though she was not active in the so-called Free Love movement (the membership of which greatly overlapped the anarchist movement), she advocated similar positions of freedom for both women and men to choose whomever they wanted for sex partners and the right of women to seek sexual satisfaction for themselves. Carrying the anarchist rejection of coercion into the realm of the personal, she agreed with Harman that when a man forces himself on a woman, even if they are married, it is still rape.
In this essay, Voltairine also attacks the idea that sex roles are inherent in human nature, seeing them as the result of socialization. In a comment that reminds us that we haven’t come as far as we sometimes think, she notes that little girls are taught not to be tomboys and boys aren’t allowed to have dolls. “Women can’t rough it like men,” she queries. “Train any animal, or any plant as you train your girls, and it won’t be able to rough it either.” Many enlightened parents today may talk about nonsexist childrearing but Barbie Dolls and GI Joes still crowd the shelves of toy stores everywhere, suggesting that the struggle against culturally imposed sex roles that Voltairine decried is a battle yet to be won.
Nor is the idea that gender roles are the result of socialization practices rather than genetics a battle that has been won. Voltairine observed in “The Case of Women vs. Orthodoxy” that men of the “scientific ‘cloth’” can be obstacles to women’s freedom. If women are ever to have rights, she declares, they must not only pitch out the teachings of the priests but also those of the men “who hunt scientific justifications for keeping up the orthodox standard.” Though most feminists would agree with Voltairine that these roles spring from training rather than biology, the idea that “anatomy is destiny” keeps resurfacing in other quarters in newer, more sophisticated, and seemingly scientific guises.
Voltairine’s astute observation of a century ago is no less relevant today. The use of “science” to justify traditional gender roles has remained constant since her time, only the particulars have changed. Where once scientists claimed that males are smarter than females because males have larger brains or that males are more rational because they have larger parietal or frontal lobes, now it is claimed that males are more dominant than females because of differences in sex hormones and brain structure. Where once Freud claimed that women are morally inferior to men and inherently masochistic, now the psychiatric establishment subtly perpetuates the idea that women are more maladjusted and irrational than men through the use of questionable diagnostic categories such as Masochistic Personality Disorder and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the “bible” of the psychotherapy community). Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Her observation not only reminds us that science has been used against women in the past, it reminds us to be alert for its misuse in the present.
Voltairine de Cleyre’s Political Legacy
In “Sex Slavery,” we find Voltairine’s most radical position of all, a position that not only differentiated her from most of the mainstream feminists of her day but today as well — Voltairine’s denunciation of the twin roles of the Church and the State in oppressing women. Declaring that “We are tired of promises, God is deaf, and his church is our worst enemy,” she pointed out how it colludes with the State to keep women in bondage.
The Church teaches the inferiority of women while the State-constructed crime of “obscenity” keeps people like Moses Harman from telling the truth about the slavery of marriage. The State, she also believed, keeps women and men from having economic independence through its protection of monopoly capitalism and the subsequent detrimental effect on the ability to earn a living.
Though Voltairine was not alone in her denunciation of the pernicious role of religion in oppressing women, most of the criticisms were not welcomed by more conventional feminists. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Women’s Bible, issued in 1895-1898 and Matilda Joslyn Gages’ Women, Church and State were both indictments of Christianity as destructive of women’s rights. Neither book, however, was well-received within the mainstream women’s movement of the time. The freethought movement, while abounding with women who criticized religion and its detrimental roles on both women and society, was also outside the mainstream.
Though there are feminists today such as Mary Daly, who criticize the Catholic Church, or Sonia Johnson, who criticize the Mormon Church, relatively few are willing to denounce the idea of religion per se or discuss its role in oppressing women. A few feminist writers such as Katha Pollitt and Barbara Ehrenreich have been willing to declare that they are atheists but it has mostly been left for women outside the feminist mainstream to strike modern blows against religion and the Bible as harmful to women in books such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Woe to the Women and journals such as the secular humanist Free Inquiry.
Left inadequately explored within the mainstream of feminism today are the many questions that Voltairine’s analysis suggests. What is the role of religion in keeping women “in their place?” Are conventional religions inherently sexist? How can the misogynist content of the Bible be reconciled with feminist ideals? Are palliatives such as allowing women to be ministers enough? Voltairine’s pointed analysis reminds us that this important area of social belief merits continued serious attention.
Most radical of all in a feminist context is Voltairine’s anarchism itself. Few feminists today, even the most radical, are willing to explore the role of the State in oppressing women. Then as now, anarchists differ as to exactly what that oppression consists of, but modern anarchist feminists of all philosophical persuasions agree that the State is women’s enemy. The communist and social anarchist feminists believe that the State protects capitalism, which in turn exploits women. The individualist anarchist feminists believe that the State has fostered economic oppression and institutionalized gender role stereotypes through laws that restrict women’s choices, for example, protective labor legislation (which perpetuates the idea that women are weak) and protect men’s interests at the expense of women.
What the anarchist feminists are calling for is a radical restructuring of society, both in its public and private institutions, a step the mainstream is not yet willing to take. Marsh put the essentially conservative nature of mainstream feminist political ideology this way: “Although late 20th century feminists recognize that political and legal rights wrested from the state have not resulted in fundamental equality,” she writes, “they emphasize ERA and anti-discrimination statures because this can be accommodated without fundamental changes in the structure of society.”
Contemporary anarchist feminists contend that mainstream feminists are unwilling or unable to recognize the authoritarian nature of the modern state as just another form of patriarchy. Mainstream feminists, say the anarchist feminists, would have to give up too much if they acknowledged that the power of the State is no different in form than the power of patriarchy. “To anarchist feminists” writes Howard Ehrlich, “the state and patriarchy are twin aberrations.” Nor have modern feminists come to grips with the role of the State in perpetuating not only legal inequality but traditional sex roles and power relationships as well. Instead mainstream feminists merely confine themselves to asking for more and more government intervention, more and more laws. Directing their criticisms mainly against conservative Republicans, these feminists insist that if they can just change the administration, they can use the power of the State to remake things in a way that would be better for women. Anarchists see it very differently. In “Government is Women’s Enemy,” the authors write “If we pass laws that force our values on others, we are no better than men who have forced their values on us through legislation.” Power is power and coercion is coercion, whether wielded by an individual man against his family or by a government against its people, say the anarchists. And for the anarchists, coercion is always a moral wrong.
Voltairine de Cleyre’s feminist writings are a rich source of thoughtful analysis which raises provocative questions that need to be seriously considered by contemporary feminists. Voltairine and the 19th century anarchist feminists, unlike most feminists today, never failed to understand that the State is inherently hierarchical and authoritarian. The recognition that the State is the enemy of women is the political legacy of Voltairine de Cleyre and the questioning of the authority relationship in traditional marriage and the insistence on individual autonomy of women is her social and psychological legacy. It is a legacy that deserves to be both read and seriously explored.
There are two ways of considering society. According to some, the development of human associations is not subject to providential, unchangeable laws. Rather, these associations, having originally been organized in a purely artificial manner by primeval legislators, can later be modified or remade by other legislators, in step with the progress of social science. In this system the government plays a preeminent role, because it is upon it, the custodian of the principle of authority, that the daily task of modifying and remaking society devolves.
According to others, on the contrary, society is a purely natural fact. Like the earth on which it stands, society moves in accordance with general, preexisting laws. In this system, there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as social science; there is only economic science, which studies he natural organism of society and shows how this organism functions.
We propose to examine, within the latter system, the function and natural organization of government.
THE NATURAL ORDER OF SOCIETY
In order to define and delimit the function of government, it is first necessary to investigate the essence and object of society itself.
What natural impulse do men obey when they combine into society? They are obeying the impulse, or, to speak more exactly, the instinct of sociability. The human race is essentially sociable. like beavers and the higher animal species in general, men have an instinctive inclination to live in society.
Why did this instinct come into being?
Man experiences a multitude of needs, on whose satisfaction his happiness depends, and whose non-satisfaction entails suffering. Alone and isolated, he could only provide in an incomplete, insufficient manner for these incessant needs. The instinct of sociability brings him together with similar persons, and drives him into communication with them. Therefore, impelled by the self-interest of the individuals thus brought together, a certain division of labor is established, necessarily followed by exchanges. In brief, we see an organization emerge, by means of which man can more completely satisfy his needs than he could living in isolation.
This natural organization is called society.
The object of society is therefore the most complete satisfaction of man’s needs. The division of labor and exchange are the means by which this is accomplished.
Among the needs of man, there is on particular type which plays an immense role in the history of humanity, namely the need for security.
What is this need?
Whether they live in isolation or in society, men are, above all, interested in preserving their existence and the fruits of their labor. If the sense of justice were universally prevalent on earth; if, consequently, each man confined himself to laboring and exchanging the fruits of his labor, without wishing to take away, by violence or fraud, the fruits of other men’s labor; if everyone had, in one word, an instinctive horror of any act harmful to another person, it is certain that security would exist naturally on earth, and that no artificial institution would be necessary to establish it. Unfortunately this is not the way things are. The sense of justice seems to be the perquisite of only a few eminent and exceptional temperaments. Among the inferior races, it exists only in a rudimentary state. Hence the innumerable criminal attempts, ever since the beginning of the world, since the days of Cain and Abel, against the lives and property of individuals.
Hence also the creation of establishments whose object is to guarantee to everyone the peaceful possession of his person and his goods.
These establishments were called governments.
Everywhere, even among the least enlightened tribes, one encounters a government, so universal and urgent is the need for security provided by government.
Everywhere, men resign themselves to the most extreme sacrifices rather than do without government and hence security, without realizing that in so doing, they misjudge their alternatives.
Suppose that a man found his person and his means of survival incessantly menaced; wouldn’t his first and constant preoccupation be to protect himself from the dangers that surround him? This preoccupation, these efforts, this labor, would necessarily absorb the greater portion of his time, as well as the most energetic and active faculties of his intelligence. In consequence, he could only devote insufficient and uncertain efforts, and his divided attention, to the satisfaction of his other needs.
Even though this man might be asked to surrender a very considerable portion of his time and of his labor to someone who takes it upon himself to guarantee the peaceful possession of his person and his goods, wouldn’t it be to his advantage to conclude this bargain?
Still, it would obviously be no less in his self-interest to procure his security at the lowest price possible.
COMPETITION IN SECURITY
If there is one well-established truth in political economy, it is this:
That in all cases, for all commodities that serve to provide for the tangible or intangible needs of the consumer, it is in the consumer’s best interest that labor and trade remain free, because the freedom of labor and of trade have as their necessary and permanent result the maximum reduction of price.
That the interests of the consumer of any commodity whatsoever should always prevail over the interests of the producer.
Now in pursuing these principles, one arrives at this rigorous conclusion:
That the production of security should, in the interests of the consumers of this intangible commodity, remain subject to the law of free competition.
Whence it follows:
That no government should have the right to prevent another government from going into competition with it, or to require consumers of security to come exclusively to it for this commodity.
Nevertheless, I must admit that, up until the present, one recoiled before this rigorous implication of the principle of free competition.
One economist who has done as much as anyone to extend the application of the principle of liberty, M. Charles Dunoyer, thinks “that the functions of government will never be able to fall into the domain of private activity.”**
Now here is a citation of a clear and obvious exception to the principle of free competition.
This exception is all the more remarkable for being unique.
Undoubtedly, one can find economists who establish more numerous exceptions to this principle; but we may emphatically affirm that these are not pure economists. True economists are generally agreed, on the one had, that the government should restrict itself to guaranteeing the security of its citizens, and on the other hand, that the freedom of labor and of trade should otherwise be whole and absolute.
But why should there be an exception relative to security? What special reason is there that the production of security cannot be relegated to free competition? Why should it be subjected to a different principle and organized according to a different system?
On this point, the masters of the science are silent, and M. Dunoyer, who has clearly noted this exception, does not investigate the grounds on which it is based.
SECURITY AN EXCEPTION?
We are consequently led to ask ourselves whether his exception is well founded, in the eyes of the economist.
It offends reason to believe that a well established natural law can admit of exceptions. A natural law must hold everywhere and always, or be invalid. I cannot believe, for example, that the universal law of gravitation, which governs the physical world, is ever suspended in any instance or at any point of the universe. Now I consider economic laws comparable to natural laws, and I have just as much faith in the principle of the division of labor as I have in the universal law of gravitation. I believe that while these principles can be disturbed, they admit of no exceptions.
But, if this is the case, the production of security should not be removed from the jurisdiction of free competition; and if it is removed, society as a whole suffers a loss.
Either this is logical and true, or else the principles on which economic science is based are invalid.
It thus has been demonstrated a priori, to those of us who have faith in the principles of economic science, that the exception indicated above is not justified, and that the production of security, like anything else, should be subject to the law of free competition.
Once we have acquired this conviction, what remains for us to do? It remains for us to investigate how it has come about that the production of security has not been subjected to the law of free competition, but rather has been subjected to different principles.
What are those principles?
Those of monopoly and communism.
In the entire world, there is not a single establishment of the security industry that is not based on monopoly or on communism.
In this connection, we add, in passing, a simple remark.
Political economy has disapproved equally of monopoly and communism in the various branches of human activity, wherever it has found them. Is it not then strange and unreasonable that it accepts them in the security industry?
MONOPOLY AND COMMUNISM
Let us now examine how it is that all known governments have either been subjected to the law of monopoly, or else organized according to the communistic principle.
First let us investigate what is understood by the words monopoly and communism.
It is an observable truth that the more urgent and necessary are man’s needs, the greater will be the sacrifices he will be willing to endure in order to satisfy them. Now, there are some things that are found abundantly in nature, and whose production does not require a great expenditure of labor, but which, since they satisfy these urgent and necessary wants, can consequently acquire an exchange value all out of proportion with their natural value. Take salt for example. Suppose that a man or a group of men succeed in having the exclusive production and sale of salt assigned to themselves. It is apparent that this man or group could arise the price of this commodity well above its value, well above the price it would have under a regime of free competition.
One will then say that this man or this group possesses a monopoly, and that the price of salt is a monopoly price.
But it is obvious that the consumers will not consent freely to paying the abusive monopoly surtax. It will be necessary to compel them to pay it, and in order to compel them, the employment of force will be necessary.
Every monopoly necessarily rests on force.
When the monopolists are no longer as strong as the consumers they exploit, what happens?
In every instance, the monopoly finally disappears either violently or as the outcome of an amicable transaction. What is it replaced with?
If the roused and insurgent consumers secure the means of production of the salt industry, in all probability they will confiscate this industry for their own profit, and their first thought will be, not to relegate it to free competition, but rather to exploit it, in common, for their own account. They will then name a director or a directive committee to operate the saltworks, to whom they will allocate the funds necessary to defray the costs of salt production. then, since the experience of the past will have made them suspicious and distrustful, since they will be afraid that the director named by them will seize production for his own benefit, and simply reconstitute by open or hidden means the old monopoly for his own profit, they will elect delegates, representatives entrusted with appropriating the funds necessary for production, with watching over their use, and with making sure that the salt produced is equally distributed to those entitled to it. The production of salt will be organized in this manner.
This form of the organization of production has been named communism.
When this organization is applied to a single commodity, the communism is said to be partial.
When it is applied to all commodities, the communism is said to be complete.
But whether communism is partial or complete, political economy is no more tolerant of it than it is of monopoly, of which it is merely an extension.
THE MONOPOLIZATION AND COLLECTIVIZATION
OF THE SECURITY INDUSTRY
Isn’t what has just been said about salt applicable to security? Isn’t this the history of all monarchies and all republics?
Everywhere, the production of security began by being organized as a monopoly, and everywhere, nowadays, it tends to be organized communistically.
Here is why.
Among the tangible and intangible commodities necessary to man, none, with the possible exception of wheat, is more indispensable, and therefore none can support quite so large a monopoly duty.
Nor is any quite so prone to monopolization.
What, indeed, is the situation of men who need security? Weakness. What is the situation of those who undertake to provide them with this necessary security? Strength. If it were otherwise, if the consumers of security were stronger than the producers, they obviously would dispense with their assistance.
Now, if the producers of security are originally stronger than the consumers, won’t it be easy for the former to impose a monopoly on the latter?
Everywhere, when societies originate, we see the strongest, most warlike races seizing the exclusive government of the society. Everywhere we see these races seizing a monopoly on security within certain more or less extensive boundaries, depending on their number and strength.
And, this monopoly being, by its very nature, extraordinarily profitable, everywhere we see the races invested with the monopoly on security devoting themselves to bitter struggles, in order to add to the extent of their market, the number of their forced consumers, and hence the amount of their gains.
War has been the necessary and inevitable consequence of the establishment of a monopoly on security.
Another inevitable consequence has been that this monopoly has engendered all other monopolies.
When they saw the situation of the monopolizers of security, the producers of other commodities could not help but notice that nothing in the world is more advantageous than monopoly. They, in turn, were consequently tempted to add to the gains from their own industry by the same process. But what did they require in order to monopolize, to the detriment of the consumers, the commodity they produced? They required force. However, they did not possess the force necessary to constrain the consumers in question. What did they do? They borrowed it, for a consideration, from those who had it. They petitioned and obtained, at the price of an agreed upon fee, the exclusive privilege of carrying on their industry within certain determined boundaries. Since the fees for these privileges brought the producers of security a goodly sum of money, the world was soon covered with monopolies. Labor and trade were everywhere shackled, enchained, and the condition of the masses remained as miserable as possible.
Nevertheless, after long centuries of suffering, as enlightenment spread through the world little by little, the masses who had been smothered under this nexus of privileges began to rebel against the privileged, and to demand liberty, that is to say, the suppression of monopolies.
This process took many forms. What happened in England, for example? Originally, the race which governed the country and which was militarily organized (the aristocracy), having at its head a hereditary leader (the king), and an equally hereditary administrative council (the House of Lords), set the price of security, which it had monopolized, at whatever rate it pleased. There was no negotiation between the producers of security and the consumers. This was the rule of absolutism. But as time passed, the consumers, having become aware of their numbers and strength, arose against the purely arbitrary regime, and they obtained the right to negotiate with the producers over the price of the commodity. For this purpose, they sent delegates to the House of Commons to discuss the level of taxes, the price of security. They were thus able to improve their lot somewhat. Nevertheless, the producers of security had a direct say in the naming of the members of the House of Commons, so that debate was not entirely open, and the price of the commodity remained above its natural value. One day the exploited consumers rose against the producers and dispossessed them of their industry. They then undertook to carry on this industry by themselves and chose for this purpose a director of operations assisted by a Council. Thus communism replaced monopoly. But the scheme did not work, and twenty years later, primitive monopoly was re-established. Only this time the monopolists were wise enough not to restore the rule of absolutism; they accepted free debate over taxes, being careful, all the while, incessantly to corrupt the delegates of the opposition party. They gave these delegates control over various posts in the administration of security, and they even went so far as to allow the most influential into the bosom of their superior Council. Nothing could have been more clever than thus behavior. Nevertheless, the consumers of security finally became aware of these abuses, and demanded the reform of Parliament. This long contested reform was finally achieved, and since that time, the consumers have won a significant lightening of their burdens.
In France, the monopoly on security, after having similarly undergone frequent vicissitudes and various modifications, has just been overthrown for the second time. [De Molinari was writing one year after the revolutions of 1848 – Tr.] As once happened in England, monopoly for the benefit of one caste, and then in the name of a certain class of society, was finally replaced by communal production. The consumers as a whole, behaving like shareholders, named a director responsible for supervising the actions of the director and of his administration.
We will content ourselves with making one simple observation on the subject of this new regime.
Just as the monopoly on security logically had to spawn universal monopoly, so communistic security must logically spawn universal communism.
In reality, we have a choice of two things:
Either communistic production is superior to free production, or it is not.
If it is, then it must be for all things, not just for security.
If not, progress requires that it be replaced by free production.
Complete communism or complete liberty: that is the alternative!
GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY
But is it conceivable that the production of security could be organized other than as a monopoly or communistically? Could it conceivably be relegated to free competition?
The response to this question on the part of political writers is unanimous: No.
Why? We will tell you why.
Because these writers, who are concerned especially with governments, know nothing about society. They regard it as an artificial fabrication, and believe that the mission of government is to modify and remake it constantly.
Now in order to modify or remake society, it is necessary to be empowered with a authority superiior to that of the varous individuals of which it is composed.
Monopolistic governments claim to have obtained from God himself this authority which gives them the right to modify or remake society according to their fancy, and to dispose of persons and property however they please. Communistic governments appeal to human reason, as manifested in the majority of the sovereign people.
But do monopolistic governments and communistic governments truly possess this superior, irresistible authority? Do they in reality have a higher authority than that which a free government could have? This is what we must investigate.
THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS AND MAJORITIES
If it were true that society were not <>naturally organized, if it were true that the laws which govern its motion were to be constantly modified or remade, the legislators would necessarily have to have an immutable, sacred authority. Being the continuators of Providence on earth, they would have to be regarded as almost equal to God. If it were otherwise, would it not be impossible for them to fulfill their mission? Indeed, one cannot intervene in human affairs, one cannot attempt to direct and regulate them, without daily offending a multitude of interests. Unless those in power are believed to have a mandate from a superior entity, the injured interests will resist.
Whence the fiction of divine right.
This fiction was certainly the best imaginable. If you succeed in persuading the multitude that God himself has chosen certain men or certain races to give laws to society and to govern it, no one will dream of revolting against these appointees of Providence, and everything the government does will be accepted. A government based on divine right is imperishable.
On one condition only, namely that divine right is believed in.
If one takes the thought into one’s head that the leaders of the people do not receive their inspirations directly from providence itself, that they obey purely human impulses, the prestige that surrounds them will disappear. One will irreverently resist their sovereign decisions, as one resists anything manmade whose utility has not been clearly demonstrated.
It is accordingly fascinating to see the pains theoreticians of the divine right take to establish the superhumanity of the races in possession of human government.
Let us listen, for example, to M. Joseph de Maistre:
Man does not make sovereigns. At the very most he can serve as an instrument for dispossessing one sovereign and handing his State over to another sovereign, himself already a prince. Moreover, there has never existed a sovereign family traceable to plebeian origins. If this phenomenon were to appear, it would mark a new epoch on earth.
… It is written: I am the Maker of sovereigns. This is not just a religious slogan, a preacher’s metaphor; it is the literal truth pure and simple. it is a law of the political world. God makes kings, word for word. He prepares royal races, nurtures them at the center of a cloud which hides their origins. Finally they appear, crowned with glory and honor; they take their places.***
According to this system, which embodies the will of Providence in certain men and which invests these chosen ones, these anointed ones with a quasi-divine authority, the subjects evidently have no rights at all. They must submit, without question, to the decrees of the sovereign authority, as if they were the decrees of Providence itself.
According to Plutarch, the body is the instrument of the soul, and the soul is the instrument of God. According to the divine right school, God selects certain souls and uses them as instruments for governing the world.
If men had faith in this theory, surely nothing could unsettle a government based on divine right.
Unfortunately, they have completely lost faith.
Because one fine day they took it into their heads to question and to reason, and in questioning, in reasoning, they discovered that their governors governed them no better than they, simply mortals out of communication with Providence, could have done themselves.
It was free inquiry that demonetized the fiction of divine right, to the point where the subjects of monarchs or of aristocracies based on divine right obey them only insofar as they think it in their own self-interest to obey them.
Has the communist fiction fared any better?
According to the communist theory, of which Rousseau is the high-priest, authority does not descend from on high, but rather comes up from below. The government no longer look to Providence for its authority, it looks to united mankind, to the one , indivisible, and sovereign nation.
Here is what the communists, the partisans of poplar sovereignty, assume. They assume that human reason has the power to discover the best laws and the organization which most perfectly suits society; and that, in practice, these laws reveal themselves at the conclusion of a free debate between conflicting opinions. If there is no unanimity, if there is still dissension after the debate, the majority is in the right, since it comprises the larger number of reasonable individuals. (These individuals are, of course, assumed to be equal, otherwise the whole structure collapses.) Consequently, they insist that the decisions of the majority must become law, and that the minority is obliged to submit to it, even if it is contrary to its most deeply rooted convictions and injures its most precious interests.
That is the theory; but, in practice, does the authority of the decision of the majority really have this irresistible, absolute character as assumed? Is it always, in every instance, respected by the minority? Could it be?
Let us take an example.
Let us suppose that socialism succeeds in propagating itself among the working classes in the countryside as it has already among the working classes in the cities; that it consequently becomes the majority in the country and that, profiting from this situation, it sends a socialist majority to the Legislative Assembly and names a socialist president. Suppose that this majority and this president, invested with sovereign authority, decrees the imposition of a tax on the rich of three billions, in order to organize the labor of the poor, as M. Proudhon demanded. Is it probable that the minority would submit peacefully to his iniquitous and absurd, yet legal, yet constituional plunder?
No, without a doubt it would not hesitate to disown the authority of the majority and to defend its property.
Under this regime, as under the preceding, one obeys the custodians of authority only insofar as one thinks it in one’s self-interest to obey them.
This leads us to affirm that the moral foundation of authority is neither as solid nor as wide, under a regime of monopoly or of communism, as it could be under a regime of liberty.
THE REGIME OF TERROR
Suppose nevertheless that the partisans of an artificial organization, either the monopolists or the communists, are right; that society is not naturally organized, and that the task of making and unmaking the laws that regulate society continuously devolves upon men, look in what a lamentable situation the world would find itself. The moral authority of governors rests, in reality, on the self-interest of the governed. The latter having a natural tendency to resist anything harmful to their self-interest, unacknowledged authority would continually require the help of physical force.
The monopolist and the communists, furthermore, completely understand this necessity.
If anyone, says M. de Maistre, attempts to detract from the authority of God’s chosen ones, let him be turned over to the secular power, let the hangman perform his office.
If anyone does not recognize the authority of those chosen by the people, say the theoreticians of the school of Rousseau, if he resists any decision whatsoever of the majority, let him be punished as an enemy of the sovereign people, let the guillotine perform justice.
These two schools, which both take artificial organization as their point of departure, necessarily lead to the same conclusion: TERROR.
THE FREE MARKET FOR SECURITY
Allow us now to fromulate a simple hypotheitcal situation.
Let us imagine a new-born society: The men who compose it are busy working and exchanging the fruits of their labor. A natural instinct reveals to these men that their persons, the land they occupy and cultivate, the fruits of their labor, are their property, and that no one, except themselves, has the right to dispose of or touch this property. This instinct is not hypothetical; it exists. But man being an imperfect creature, this awareness of the right of everyone to his person and his goods will not be found to the same degree in every soul, and certain individuals will make criminal attempts, by violence or by fraud, against the persons or the property of others.
Hence, the need for an industry that prevents or suppresses these forcible or fraudulent aggressions.
Let us suppose that a man or a combination of men comes and says:
For a recompense, I will undertake to prevent or suppress criminal attempts against persons and property.
Let those who wish their persons and property to be sheltered from all aggression apply to me.
Before striking a bargain with this producer of security
, what will the consumers do?
In the first place, they will check if he is really strong enough to protect them.
In the second place, whether his character is such that they will not have to worry about his instigating the very aggressions he is supposed to suppress.
In the third place, whether any other producer of security, offering equal guarantees, is disposed to offer them this commodity on better terms.
These terms are of various kinds.
In order to be able to guarantee the consumers full security of their persons and property, and, in case of harm, to give them a compensation proportioned to the loss suffered, it would be necessary, indeed:
1. That the producer establish certain penalties against the offenders of persons and the violators of property, and that the consumers agree to submit to these penalties, in case they themselves commit offenses;
2. That he impose certain inconveniences on the consumers, with the object of facilitating the discovery of the authors of offenses;
3. That he regularly gather, in order to cover his costs of production as well as an appropriate return for his efforts, a certain sum, variable according to the situation of the consumers, the particular occupations they engage in, and the extent, value, and nature of their properties.
If these terms, necessary for carrying on this industry, are agreeable to the consumers, a bargain will be struck. Otherwise the consumers will either do without security, or else apply to another producer.
Now if we consider the particular nature of the security industry, it is apparent that the producers will necessarily restrict their clientele to certain territorial boundaries. They would be unable to cover their costs if they tried to provide police services in localities comprising only a few clients. Their clientele will naturally be clustered around the center of their activities. They would nevertheless be unable to abuse this situation by dictating to the consumers. In the event of an abusive rise in the price of security, the consumers would always have the option of giving their patronage to a new entrepreneur, or to a neighboring entrepreneur.
This option the consumer retains of being able to buy security wherever he pleases brings about a constant emulation among all the producers, each producer striving to maintain or augment his clientele with the attraction of cheapness or of faster, more complete and better justice.****
If, on the contrary, the consumer is not free to buy security wherever he pleases, you forthwith see open up a large profession dedicated to arbitrariness and bad management. justice becomes slow and costly, the police vexatious, individual liberty is no longer respected, the price of security is abusively inflated and inequitably apportioned, according to the power and influence of this or that class of consumers. The protectors engage in bitter struggles to wrest customers from one another. In a word, all the abuses inherent in monopoly or in communism crop up.
Under the rule of free competition, war between the producers of security entirely loses its justification. Why would they make war? To conquer consumers? But the consumers would not allow themselves to be conquered. They would be careful not to allow themselves to be protected by men who would unscrupulously attack the persons and property of their rivals. If some audacious conqueror tried to become dictator, they would immediately call tot heir aid all the free consumers menaced by this aggression, and they would treat him as he deserved. Just as war is the natural consequence of monopoly, peace us the natural consequence of liberty.
Under a regime of liberty, the natural organization of the security industry would not be different from that of other industries. In small districts a single entrepreneur could suffice. This entrepreneur might leave his business to his son, or sell it to another entrepreneur. In larger districts, one company by itself would bring together enough resources adequately to carry on this important and difficult business. If it were well managed, this company could easily last, and security would last with it. In the security industry, just as in most of the other branches of production, the latter mode of organization will probably replace the former, in the end.
On the one hand this would be a monarchy, and on the other hand it would be a republic; but it would be a monarchy without monopoly and a republic without communism.
On either hand, this authority would be accepted and respected in the name of utility, and would not be an authority imposed by terror.
It will undoubtedly be disputed whether such a hypothetical situation is realizable. But, at the risk of being considered utopian, we affirm that this is not disputable, that a careful examination of the facts will decide the problem of government more and more in favor of liberty, just as it does all other economic problems. We are convinced, so far as we are concerned, that one day societies will be established to agitate for the freedom of government, as they have already been established on behalf of the freedom of commerce.
And we do not hesitate to add that after this reform has been achieved, and all artificial obstacles to the free action of the natural laws that govern the economic world have disappeared, the situation of the various members of society will become the best possible.
You can find more and the source post at the Molinari Institute here.
Can the Captialism vs. Communism paradigm be challenged just as so many of us have found the flaw in a left-right paradigm? I was once like most Americans, I opposed socialism and communism. I knew that capitalism was the only way because that was just a fact. It was one of those unquestioned facts. Just as some fall into the ‘capitalism is evil’ or ‘free markets are evil’ I was doing the ‘socialism is evil’. As I expanded my philosophy to reject the state completely I began to look at other concepts. I started to see flaws in capitalism. I started to look at ideas within socialism. I was adamant about bashing on the left – right paradigm, but the free market – socialist paradigm was sacrosanct.
Over time I would discover Proudhon and the concept of Mutualism. I began to associate more with Mutualism than with the capitalist – communist paradigm. I want to challenge all of those. I do not want to outright reject any, but I do wish to look at each one for it’s merits and flaws as we should. Can or will I pull out every merit or flaw in this article? No, that is not possible. I simply wish to guide the conversation in new directions. At this point I am really liking the two terms ‘Free Market Socialist’ or ‘Free Market Syndicalist’.
I love some ideas that come out of the Anarcho-Capitalist camp. They offer many practical solutions. Often these solutions can be used outside of a rigid Capitalist situation. These groups tend to overlook the hierarchy and power over others that is made possible in a Capitalist society. There is potential in the power side of the free market for power to corrupt. This is true for any form of power. This is also true of a socialist system. Every example we currently have of socialism or capitalism is within the confines of the state. So looking to history for the answers is not what we are doing. History has pitted these two against each other aggressively.
Now up to this point I have loosely used socialism and communism interchangeably as well as capitalism and free market interchangeably. I would like to say that there are real differences, but I am trying to speak more on lines of this paradigm that seems to exist between two polarized sides. The Free marketer is often the capitalist friendly and the socialist is also often communist friendly. This is not always the case. I do acknowledge vast differences.
We should look at the positives and benefits of each system and use what works. It’s that simple. If we are constructing a stateless society who is to say that there will be one way everything is ran to begin with? In our construction of a stateless society why can we not build diverse alternatives and drift towards the systems that work? So, to pick elements of a free market that are positive and to pair them up with elements of socialism would tend to make sense. Pruning what is counter productive to our goals or what is contrary to our means will be a process. When I say ‘our means’ I most specifically refer to non-aggression as the critical means, but also an absence of rulers, domination of others or hierarchy.
I am not going to get into tearing down capitalism, communism, free markets or socialism. I do wish to point out that each has it’s critics and each points to a potential of each becoming counter to the means we seek to work within. Each points out potentials of forming tyranny or hierarchy and other such fearful situations. There are some who would focus on the ownership and power present in state capitalism. They would point to the potential for landlords as well as wage slavery and other potential abuses by those who have used a capitalist system to gain power over others. Is seems that many of it’s defenders would take a stance that is the market is a form of power in the ‘voting with dollars’ concept. The consumer is empowered to end the company. The later I stand by firmly. The element I feel we can take most specifically from the free market is the power of the consumers, or the people to dictate the survival or success of a corporate entity. The empowerment of the common worker is the element we can pull from a free market. How can that fit with socialism?
I want to now go to the idea of property rights. This is one idea that people will fight over for generations, possibly even in our stateless society. I am going to look at the basic idea that the product of ones labor is their property. The worker owns their property. Under this idea I feel that the basic form of a company or corporate entity that we should try to build towards should by a syndicate. It seems to me that if the product of our labor is ours then we can best represent property rights through a socialist form of syndicates on a free market. To gain through basic wage labor is to benefit from the property of another. In this manner I can agree that this is one way property can be theft as Proudhon stated. The positives of a free market focus should not be to gain power for one over others, but to return power to each and every one of us essentially ending power over one another.
This is all very basic at this point, and I wish to expand on much of this in the near future, but there are a few other ideas I want to throw into the mix here. The first being a divide in property rights philosophies. When we achieve a staeless society it is Utopian to believe that we will all suddenly agree on the definition of natural rights, property rights or any of the other concepts that divide will suddenly be agreed upon. To take a realistic approach on these we will have to accept the idea that people will remain divided. Under this reality it is safe to assume that different solutions will be present falling under each of these divergent philosophies, and that over time they will work through forms of litigation to iron out the differences in how to cooperate in a stateless society.
My neighbor on the right could be a part of a syndicate that creates cars on an assembly line for people. This system could have socialized resources for protection, health, defense and other such needs being met through that syndicate. My neighbor on the left could be a potter. His trade is not one where he works in a large group, and this has found his needs through a market that is free in that manner that if offers many choices to suite the needs of most concievable situations. He could go to co-ops and other socialized resources that have risen in the community to meet such needs, or he could have shopped around to fins a company or syndicate that provides those needs at a fair market price. Through a process of achieving this stateless society we iron out the specifics necessary to meet needs of people and to provide to fit the needs of all. There is no one solution for anyone, after all this is Anarchy. Anarchy, not chaos, so the forming of a social structure that honors non-aggression. Without rulers we are free to meet our needs and be liberated by those who would take our property, opportunities and livelihood.
We must not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ when it comes to any concept of the structure of society. We must not measure them by the ideas of the past, but look to the possibilities of the future. Why would we throw out every idea of socialism or a free market? Why not look at what parts seem to be positive and what is negative and focus on the liberty afforded in a voluntary society to create what it is we are able to create? If we can begin to think outside of the state why can’t we think outside of the economics of the state also? I am declaring that under economic structure we should be willing to criticize every structure and form that exists just as some of us would criticize every form of state and power. We should also not be naive enough to throw out realities and true solutions.
I’m going to do some more reading and research and I will get back to this topic.
I think the first book I am reading in search of some clarification on this topic is one by Kevin Carson, Studies In Mutualist Political Economy. You can read it with me and follow me down this path. I am interested in seeing what he has to say about a Political Economy. I’ve read Marx, Rothbard, and some Proudhon and my fill of Austrian economists.
I was recently speaking with a friend who is an actor. I use that gender specific because it is the term she uses for herself. She told me that many agencies do not represent people of color or anyone that is not white. They claim they do not handle ‘alternative casting’. This ‘alternative casting’ is really anyone that is not fitting a certain white image. Hollywood is full of hypocrisy. They often claim to be somehow more liberal than thou and turn around to display the opposite. They churn out endless tripe. The only way some of the mindless drivel they crank out is even profitable is through copyright. This is an entire industry built around the presence of a state. The reality is that Hollywood would not be the massive profit maker it currently is without the guns of the state to go after people who do not pay these large corporations money. Copying is not theft. If you steal you take someone from someone else. They have something you take possession and they no longer have possession of this thing. Copying is copying.
Many claim that this industry is being devastated by file sharing. Let us assume for a minute that the ability to file share is devastating the industry. It seems to mostly be devastating the lawyers and corporate bureaucracies, but we will assume that the elimination of copyright or intellectual property may devastate more that them. People often assume that what is ought to be. This is not the case. If the elimination of coercive force to maintain an industry does drastically alter an industry then the industry was built on an immoral foundation to begin with. Maintaining the status quo is what the arguments for copyright depend on. They assume that we must maintain the current way of doing things.
As an anarchist I see that the current way of doing things depends on violent force and victimization of human beings at the hand of the state. Just because someone puts a great deal of effort and work into something does not automatically entitle them to a cash reward. I put a great deal of time and money into my writing and I receive not a dime. I actually pay to do it and to maintain my site Gonzo Times. I do not sue when I find that people have read my work. I am wanting people to read my work. Media will not die out when copyright ends even if the industry is destroyed. If there are devastating effects to the industry then media will still be produced. Without the gun to our heads as the only means of income the media will most likely improve. I see many local productions that do not make much money at all. It is often these plays and smaller productions that have the most value. They are often ones who are fighting to get a message with some solid content out to the public. Without the competition provided by the power of the state media with some value will begin to compete with the mindless drivel that Hollywood currently churns out.
The reality is simple. The current business model relies on violent force to demand payment and to keep others from producing competing material. It is required so that the film, music or writing is not copied. Outside of all the utilitarian arguments for and against intellectual property the true foundation of the discussion is simple. Is it right to use violence to get your way? No. Now one who is a utilitarian statist can really take any side on this argument they see fit, for the statist has little problem with the threats of the state. This makes mainstream entertainment unsustainable in it’s current form. Whatever form it takes it must be one of where the means to the end is ethical. In the process media will find it’s little law of the jungle may just apply to itself. Create something of value or starve. I have no problem with these wealthy actors and actresses not making the millions they currently make. I have no problem with thinking that a few lawyers and bureaucrats may have to get jobs farming or producing something of value rather than leeching off of the people. I have no problem if the famous powerful directors loose some power and have to create their media out of love for the media and not love for the almighty dollar.
The copyright, intellectual property debate is not one of how do we maintain what exists, but what comes next. In a world where it seems more and more like there is nothing new under the sun we must ask what is new? We are used to Television programs and cinema in theaters being released for home viewing. As technology changes we should not just ask how it will be distributed, but also ask how the media will be produced. What does it mean for the struggling artist when the wealthy and powerful are loosing their power? Far too often I hear people saying that we can maintain the current system of production of film with new means of distribution. I don’t believe the current model will work without the state. Art and film must be approached in new ways.
I have friends who put much effort into producing short films. They must promote and distribute them themselves. What would it look like if the playing field were equalized by the abolishing of the state? They are proof that production will not end without the massive wealth behind it all. I am proof that writers will write without massive financial backing. Many do find financial success outside of the massive legal bureaucracy. We must look at what works outside of Hollywood and the system, let’s start there instead of fighting to maintain an archaic failing system. You don’t have to have Hollywood change do this, you just have to make it. You make the art, you write the books and we will together change the way things are done by showing that the system is a thing of the past. We already see much of this going on online. We already see creative commons and other forms of questioning of intellectual property. This is a fight and a movement we must stand by. You can start by little things like getting rid of your windows or OSX and by installing a Linux distro like ubuntu. Begin to support and find art and media with intention. Make informed decisions about the media you are consuming and how you are consuming it. Promote with your dollars what you feel you should support. It is up to us to bring about the changes. The system will only attempt to conserve it’s current way.