Winter Soldier: Just Another Tuesday. From Ryan Endicott, formerly a United States government Marine stationed in Iraq.
The regulatory State versus freed markets and the human future: A quote from Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, via B.K. Marcus at Mises Economics Blog:
To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. … Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community.
—Turgot, Éloge de Gournay (1759), translated by P.D. Groenewegen
All Bizarro News that am unfit to print. In which a argument against an imaginary, Bizarro World version individualism is set to fight with a completely imaginary Bizarro GOP which somehow becamethe party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice(?!). For more on an earlier installment in David Brooks’s concerted efforts to liberate the Republican Party from moral principles that it never held, cf. GT 2009-01-28: How to be social while staying civilized
On intersections, boundaries, and fortifications. bfp, flip flopping joy (2009-05-01): northern territory, sexual activity, teens and police state. In which Ozzie territorial governments set out to create a territorial sex-Stasi to coerce reports of any and all sexual contact by Aboriginal teenagers. Including consensual sex or fooling-around between one teenager and another. Quote:This sort of nation/state targeted monitoring of the sexuality of teens/young people is something most people of color are vividly aware of. When you through in queerness, disability, and nationality (among others), and community expectations, things for especially teen girls of color get even worse. How do we learn, engage in, and trust ourselves to build a healthy fabulous sexuality when from the time we reach reproductive age, the nation/state literally owns the first and final say as to what happens to our bodies? How do we learn to saynooryeswhen the nation/state insists on doing it for us?
We need democratic governments instead of private protection agencies to ensure that political decision-making remain transparent and decision-makers are held accountable to the people: Molly Ball, Las Vegas Review-Journal (2009-05-10): SECRET GOVERNMENT: Lawmakers keep public out as session winds down with most important decisions looming
On planes as prisons and terrorizing assecurity: Jessica Bautista & Kitty Caparella, Philadelphia Daily News (2009-05-12): Blind interpreter detained at Philly airport says he has nightmares from arrest (On which, cf. also GT 2008-05-07: Airport security.)
On legal lynching, part 2. For part 1, see last week, where I said this:When Anarchists propose that all the functions currently controlled by the authoritarian State, including the judgment of cases involving disputes or violent crimes, we are inevitably told that without a State-controlled, hierarchical system of courts, you’d have nothing more than the justice of the lynch mob. This is actually a classic example of statist inversion: by focusing on the dangers that informal and irregular efforts at seeking justice will lead to a disregard for objectivity or evidence, the statist completely blanks out the ways in which formalization and enforced hierarchy oblige government courts to disregard evidence themselves in the name of formal procedures, and to elevate authority above objectivity, by standing on ceremony or respect for turf at the expense of substantive justice. If the state’s plans to murder Troy Anthony Davis are not an example of a slow-motion lynching, what is?To which we will add, this week: Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-18): Prosecutors Blocking Access to DNA Testing In which government prosecutors make active efforts to block access to DNA tests that could potentially exonerate the innocent, all in the name ofyou-had-your-chancejurisdictional turf wars and statist legalfinality.
The police are here to keep us safe. By driving their cruisers at 109 MPH in a 45 zone, on a major commercial thoroughfare, late at night, with no sirens and no flashing lights. Then, when this predictably leads to a fatal crash that kills one of the cops, by lying about it to the media in order to make your dead buddy look like more of a hero, and by arresting the poor innocent man that the cop slammed into at 90 MPH for his allegedly reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 2. Radley Balko, Hit & Run (2009-05-18): Cops Gone Wild, in which cops from around the country celebrate National Police Week in D.C. with wine, weapons, and reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 3. Commentary from Center for a Stateless Society news analyst Tom Knapp (2009-05-18): To Serve and Protect (Themselves)
Name your own salary. Las Vegas Sun (2009-05-16): City, county may lose say in police pay negotiations. Las Vegas Metro is currently working to get a new state law passed which would allow Vegas cops to get a salary set unilaterally by their own boss cop, and then send the bill, whatever it may be, to folks who had absolutely no say whatsoever in the negotiations.
The Gangsters in Blue come to Philly. Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-01): Update on Bodega Raids by Rogue Philly Narcotics Unit Balko asks, apparently non-rhetorically,Why did no one in the department ask why anCome on, really? The reason is that the State as such is essentially irresponsible, and this kind of thing is Standard Operating Procedure forelitenarcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?elitenarc squads. There’s a lot here to justify outrage, but very little to justify surprise.
On terror-famines for the international narco-crats. Jacob Sullum, Hit & Run (2009-04-30): U.S. Intensifies Campaign to Wipe Out Afghan Economy. Cf. GT 2004-11-20: The tall poppies and GT 2007-01-13: The tall poppies, part 2.
Austro-Athenian Virtue Ethics versus Moral Fictionalism. Neverfox, Instead of a Blog (2009-05-17): Pulp Non-Fiction
How political control of schools produces terrible textbooks. Tamim Ansary, Edutopia (November 2004): A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education. (Via B.K. Marcus, lowercase liberty (2009-05-18): What’s wrong with textbooks?)
On dialectical jujitsu: Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-19): How to annoy a conservative
Ownership failures, not market failures Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-05-01): Markets, the poor & the left. Dillow makes two really important distinctions: one of them the familiar left-libertarian distinction between freed markets, on the one hand, and actually-existing corporate capitalism, on the other; the other a less familiar, but very important, distinction between market processes and patterns of ownership. Quote:In many ways, what look like ways in which markets fail the poor are in fact merely ways in which a lack of assets fail the poor.Exactly; and the many cases where there are not reallymarket failures,but ratherownership failures,have everything to do with feudal, mercantile, neoliberal, and other politically-driven seizures and reallocations of poor people’s land, livelihoods, and possessions — and nothing to do with genuine market exchange.
Againsttax-and-regulatereformism, and in praise of a thriving black market economy: Crispin Sartwell, eye of the storm 2009-05-18
Law among the pirates. Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-05-19): To Live Outside the Law You Must Be Honest
Package-dealing portable double-key encryption for web browsing and web mail: Chris Acheson (2009-05-05): Firefox Portable + GnuPG + FireGPG = CryptoFox. (Via @H+ [2009-05-20], via Human Iterations 2009-05-21.)
On freeing the MHD3 and all political prisoners. By way of follow-up to the recent report on the bullshit arrest and jailing of the Motorhome Diaries crew, see Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-15): Jones County Sheriff’s Department Falsely Arrests MHD Crew, which recounts the full timeline of their arrest, jailing, and release. See also Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-17): Thanks for springing the MHD3 from Jones County (with Allison Gibbs), Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): The “Grumbling Old Fart” Addresses Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge’s Statements, Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): MHD on Freedom Watch
Don’t vote. Secede and repudiate. Stewart Browne, Strike the Root (2009-05-18): A New Strategy For Liberty - Part 2: Secession in Three Easy Steps
You saypissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hairlike it’s supposed to be a bad thing… Kevin Carson @ Mutualist Blog (2009-05-21): An Open Letter to Keith Preston, Mike Gogulski @ nostate.com (2009-05-21): Taking sides on the right to be a complete jackass, Darian Worden (2009-05-21): Perverts Versus Preston, and Brad Spangler (2009-05-22): Bigotry and Revolution
Boston Anarchist Reading Group. Jake, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-17): Anarchist Reading Group at the Boston Anarchist Picnic! June 6th, 2009
Iconoclasta for Colombian anarquistas: Revista Iconoclasta - Anarcol, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-15): New anarchist periodical in Bogota - Iconoclasta. More information online at http://prensaiconoclasta.entodaspartes.net/.
New subscriptions. Anarchy in the Garden
Posts Tagged ‘D.C.’
December 17th, 2008 is the 6th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
The commemoration began from the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project’s memorial and vigil for the victims of the Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. Since then its purpose has expanded to a memorial for, and protest against, all forms of violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in thesex industry.
I’m opposed to prostitution as an industry, on radical feminist grounds. I frankly have very deep and sharp differences with the organizers of the event, and I’m iffy at best towards the rhetorical framework ofsex workas a whole, for reasons that are way beyond the point of this post). But so what? The day is an important one no matter what differences I may have with the organizers. Real steps towards ending the ongoing daily violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in thesex industryare more important than that; here as much as anywhere — probably more than anywhere else — women’s lives are at stake.
You can read the rest at the original post. Any serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women, means a serious commitment to ending violence against women who work in the sex industry. All of it. And that means any kind of violence, whether rape, or assault, or robbery, or abduction, or confinement against her will, or murder. No matter who does it. The one image of violence against sex workers that the malestream media never tires of repeating is the roving madman, cutting women down in the streets. But roving madmen come in a lot of shapes and sizes and uniforms. It may be a serial killer. But it may be a pimp. Or a trafficker. Or a john who imagines that paying for sex means he owns a woman’s body. Or, lest we forget, it may be a cop who believes that his badge, and his victim’s status in the system of patriarchal sex-class, makes absolutely any kind of sexual predation or physical torture a cop’s prerogative and nothing better than what the victim deserves. Or, lest we forget, a cop or a prosecutor or an immigration control freak, who calls the violence of an assault, restraint, and involuntary confinement anarrestor asentenceunder the color of The Law. The Law has no more right than anyone else to hurt women or shove them around.
No matter who does it, this kind of violence — violence against peaceful people whose work, whatever you think of it, is honest work for willing customers, and is a way to get by, and doesn’t do one thing to threaten or violate the rights of a single living soul — violence against women who are made vulnerable by the violence and the killing indifference of the State — violence against women practiced in the name of enforcing patriarchal sex-class and misogynistic hatred forovertly sexualwomen — is wrong, absolutely wrong, and it has to stop. Immediately, completely, and forever.
In Las Vegas tonight, SWOP-Las Vegas is holding a vigil:
Reminder! TONIGHT in Las Vegas…
Join SWOP-Las Vegas to commemorate December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers!!
Wed, December 17th
Meet at The Center: 953 E. Sahara Ave., Suite B-31, Las Vegas, NV, 89104. (In the Commercial Center) Phone at The Center: 702-733-9800
We will memorialize those sex workers who have lost their lives, and honor those who are missing. We’ll also make signs for the vigil.
We will hold a vigil in The Center parking lot with candles and then take our signs and red umbrellas to Sahara, where we will walk towards the strip. We will have masks for those who wish to use them. Afterward, we will return to Commercial Center to eat Thai food! Yum!
For more information, email us at info(at)swop-lv.org or call us toll-free at 1-866-525-7967, ext. 701.
In Washington, D.C., sex workers’ freedom and harm-reduction groups are coming together for a National March for Sex Workers’ Rights:
Advocates from across the nation will converge to mark the 6th Annual Internatinal Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW). We are calling for an end to the unjust laws, policing, shaming and stigma that oppress our communities and make us targets for violence. We will both honor the lives of sex workers whose lives have passed and celebrate our vital movement. SWOP-USA, Different Avenues, HIPS, SWANK, Desiree Alliance, and many allies in harm reduction and social justice welcome your support. Join us as we march on Washington to demand human rights!
I wish that I could attend an event tonight but I will be away, traveling. In commemoration of the day, in memory of the 48 women murdered by Ridgway, and in solidarity with the living, I have contributed $120.00 tonight to Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, a harm reduction group that provides counseling, safety resources, clothing, and food to prostitutes on the streets of the Washington, D.C. area, and $120.00 to Alternatives for Girls, whose Street Outreach Project provides similar services out of a van along the Cass Corridor in downtown Detroit. For other groups that provide similar resources and mutual aid, you can check out the links at the end of my original post.
May we all live free in the glory and joy of life that every human being deserves.
—Daisy Anarchy, I deserve to be safe
Remember. Mourn. Act.
- GT 2008-11-19: Gynocide: violence against women in prostitution in Las Vegas
- GT 2008-11-11: R.I.P. Duanna Johnson
- GT 2008-10-24: Ending State violence against women in prostitution in San Francisco
- GT 2008-06-30: Law and Orders #8: Memphis cop Bridges McRae “exceeds expectations” by punching Duanna Johnson repeatedly in the face with handcuffs over his knuckles for failing to stand up on command in the booking area at 201 Poplar
- GT 2008-03-10: Rapists on patrol (#2)
- GT 2007-12-21: Rapists on patrol
- GT 2005-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
First things first. Do you know any individualist anarchists, agorists, mutualists, left-Rothbardians or others on the libertarian left in or nearby any of the following metropolitan areas, who might be interested in getting involved, or getting more involved, in local activism and organizing? (If that description matches you yourself, that’s good enough, too.)
- Charlotte, North Carolina (or North Carolina more broadly)
- Denver, Colorado
- Lawrence, Kansas
- Washington, D.C.
If so, please drop me a line with their contact information. I have some requests from prospective local organizers who are looking for people to start locals for the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. I would love to be able to put them in touch with anyone locally who might be interested.
Which brings me to my broader topic. In principle, one of the great things about a decentralized outfit like the Alliance of the Libertarian Left is that it’s easy for supporters to organize new locals and begin building alternatives in their own community. Since there’s no central bureaucracy you need to ask for permission and no paperwork to fill out, all you need to do is find people in your hometown, declare yourself a cell of the A.L.L., and start working on actions and projects in your own community. That’s a pretty low barrier to entry. ButJust organize in your own community!is a bit easier said than done. One of the downsides of a decentralized outfit like the Alliance of the Libertarian Left is that there’s little in the way of a ready-made structure or resources for people to find each other, or to know how to move the organizing forward once a core group has managed to find each other. If we’re going to do this decentralism thing, one of the things we’ll have to do is to work out decentralized methods of making these resources available to new organizers who want or need them.
Recently I’ve gotten a number of e-mails from people who are looking for local ALL contacts, or who want to start an ALL but need help with some of the logistics (for example, with getting web space for their group). In order to help make it easier to start up new locals, I’m proposing that we establish an ALL Ad Hoc Global Organizing Committee. In fact, it’s so ad hoc, that I’ve already started it: http://libertarianleft.org/.
The purpose of the Organizing Committee is to serve as a clearing-house for currently active ALLies to help put other ALLies in touch with each other and to provide some information, some advice and some resources that will help people get going on local organizing. Any and all ALLies who are interested in participating are invited to do so. Here’s a couple ways that you can help right now.
Help us network to put local ALLies in touch with each other — I’ve set up an Organizing Committee listserv for two purposes. One purpose is to do some brainstorming and scheming about methods of outreach and resources for newbie organizers to make available through the Organizing Committee website or by other means. (About which, see below.) The other important function is to for us to network so that we can help prospective local organizers find other people in their own neck of the woods. If you happen to know a lot of libertarians or anarchists outside of your hometown (or know people who know a lot of libertarians and anarchists outside of your hometown), you can help out a lot just by signing up to the list as a sort of activist matchmaker — so that if someone gets an inquiry from an ALLy in Walla Walla, say, we can check in with each other to see if anyone knows good contacts in Walla Walla.
Brainstorming useful resources, information, and advice to make available through the page — for example, there’s currently a rudimentary page for helping solitary local left-libertarians find ALLies in their area for the purposes of organizing an ALL local. The page currently consists of a landing-pad that encourages them to e-mail members of the organizing committee, along with Shawn Wilbur’s ALL Frappr map as a means for people to find each other based on geographical location. What it could use are some links to useful resources and some concrete advice on other ways to get the word out. What would you suggest for things to add to this page, either in terms of services that existing ALLies can directly offer, or links we can point to, or advice we can give, on finding other like-minded people in your community?
More generally, what would you like to see on the Organizing Committee website as a whole? What kind of services can we offer that would be most useful to you, or to prospective local organizers? What kind of information and advice do you think would help out the most? Let’s discuss in the comments section.
Finally, I’d like to mention that, as part of the Organizing Committee effort, I (Rad Geek) am making subdomains and webhosting space available to ALL locals that need them. If you are organizing, or hope to organize, a local ALL chapter, and you want web space for your group (to make contact information available, to provide some information about what A.L.L. is all about, to put up news and announcements, to provide an online landing-pad for people who see flyers or other literature that you might distribute around town, etc.), then I can hook you up. You will get use of a subdomain name of your choice (in the format
yourhometown.libertarianleft.org), and, if you need it, I can provide you with free web hosting space on my own web servers. As long as traffic remains relatively low, the hosting will be completely free. If in the course of the Revolution traffic should spike to the point that I need to upgrade my servers or Internet connection to handle it, I would just ask a small cost-price-based fee to help handle the upgrade—good mutualist practice, and far less than anything you’d get from buying a commercial web hosting plan. (Solidarity economy and all that.)
One of the things that I said in my speech about ALL to the Libertarian Party of Clark County, which was deliberately provocative and carefully worded, wasI am here today to bring you two messages. So let me cut to the chase and deliver both of them right now. They are the point of this entire talk, and I can put them both in ten words or fewer. Here’s the first: Las Vegas will be free soil in our own lifetimes. And the second is: We are all going to make it happen.That may seem ridiculously optimistic, given the immensity, the scope, the pervasiveness, and the ruthlessness of the many-headed monster we call the modern State. I try to discuss a bit in my speech why it is not overly optimistic, focusing on the second claim — that we all, meaning not ALL or the Libertarian Party, but just about everybody in Las Vegas — can and will take part, if those of us who care about these things play our cards right, through the use of populist organizing, coalition building, direct action, and counter-economics.
But another thing that I didn’t focus on much, which I’d like to mention, is the importance of the first thing I said, when I said Las Vegas will be free soil. I said that, and not something else (the U.S. will be free soil;the word will be free soil) because I think that’s an achievable goal. It’s not that I don’t want the whole U.S., or indeed the entire earth to be free soil; it’s not even that I think either couldn’t be free soil in the forseeable future. They could; I hope they will; if I can help, I will. But Las Vegas is where I live, and where Southern Nevada ALL intends to act, and I think it’s immensely important to begin there, and not to sell yourself on the idea that action has to be directed against the largest possible targets, or, more importantly at trying to strike some decisive blow at those targets that will somehow defeat Power everywhere and forever. Real empires almost never fall that way, unless they are conquered by some outside force, usually another rising empire, and for anarchists that’s not an acceptable option. So we need to think about getting the empire to crumble, not to implode, and to help it along by chiseling wherever and as hard as we can. If we win, it will crumble in some places faster than it will crumble in others. The basic problem is that a central aim of the imperial State has always been to get people to forget, effectively, about their neighborhood, their friends, their family, and everything else actually around them, and to understand theirhomelandin strictly political terms, in terms of a flag and a set of lines on the map and a capital hundreds or thousands of miles away. If anarchists ever want to get anywhere, we’re going to need to break that link, to pry people’s notion of home from out the talons of the State and its notion of political citizenship. Which strategic point brings me to a really excellent recent post by Jeremy at Social Memory Complex (2008-06-13), which is working towards some of the analysis that goes along with:
Or does our whole approach to this dissonant national endeavor need retooling?
I think it does. Is the lobbyist-driven agenda of corporations, special interests, and political culture really any less distant than U.S. foreign policy? Do we have any authentic control over the decisions in our society that affect us? Or are we just treated as fungible units of polity that have only to be deftly mobilized by public relations wizards in pursuit of an agenda fundamentally alien to us? What, in other words, is the difference between our powerlessness within the borders of the U.S. and the powerlessness endured by the residents of Iraq and Afghanistan?
Instead of contrasting our experience under our government with that of its foreign victims, we might do well to compare the experiences. We’ve been taught from a very young age to distinguish American citizenship from that enjoyed by citizens of other countries, chiefly by virtue of our unique institutions of governance. But it is these same institutions that are being built in Iraq: a democratic, constitutional government with corporate control and obedience to international capital, with an established U.S. military presence to ensurestability in the region. These features are proving just as confounding to their freedom as their American counterparts are for us.
Through overwhelming military force, claims of moral privilege, and alleged threats - not unlike the P.R. which allowed the U.S. to conquer the west and the south in the 19th century and frame it asliberation- the U.S. government is imposing a democratic government and a market economy on an unwilling people. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is also continuing to ratchet up the police state at home even as it practices martial law in Iraq. Just as there were Tories and other people loyal to the crown during the American Revolution, the federal government finds plenty of lackeys in the fifty states, Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed throughout the world to do their dirty military or paramilitary (law enforcement) work. Legislative creep and sheer audacity constantly expand the scope of lawful authority, defining down the degree of liberty an individual can expect to enjoy. Participation in the decisions that affect us is framed as a set of predetermined choices provided by the establishment rather than a direct say at the local level. And all of these features bring more and more of the world under direct control of Washington - both the world within U.S. borders and the world outside them.
For it is into Washington, in the District of Columbia, that all the spoils of these policies flow. The D.C. metro area is among the fastest growing in the nation, despite having no productive civilian industry to speak of (except perhaps I.T., but no more than any other city if you discount government contracting). Not only is it the seat of governance for the country, it is the clearing house for the international policy of most nations. By enticing Americans to “work within the system” to influence policy, citizens legitimate the process by which power and authority are steadily concentrated. An entire lobbying industry has sprung up from the need to have some say in this process; doing business in the empire has a high cost of entry, and once you get a seat at the table it’s plunder or be plundered. As more people see D.C. as the place where decisions are made, rather than local governments or foreign capitals, the amount of money and people pouring into the city will continue to grow, while localities and other countries become bureaucratic appendages of D.C. policy.
But it’s not just that Washingtonians rule over an overseas empire; it’s that domestic U.S. territory is increasingly treated as part of the conquered territory, rather than as the source of state legitimacy. Sure, we have elected representatives we send to D.C. from all over the country, but experience shows that only in the rarest of occasions do they not adopt the Beltway outlook of going along to get along with the system. Instead, theyplay the gameto bring home as much of the spoils of empire (taxation and government contracts for further imperialism) as possible. In the process, they cease to represent their constituents in D.C., preferring to represent the Washingtonian agenda in their respective localities. They become little Paul Brehmers, advocating policies that promote the more effective rule of the domestic and foreign empire. They measure success in terms of how they can coax or coerce the locals into compliance with necessarily foreign interests.
If it is policies in Washington, D.C. that are changing this country into an empire, it is inaccurate to label the empireAmerican. Clearly, the vast majority of Americans are not participating in it, but are merelypreferred subjectsin territory as occupied as that in Iraq and Afghanistan. […] If the decision-making bureaucracy, military might, and economic clout are all based in Washington, doesn’t it make sense to call this system the Washingtonian empire, rather than conflating it with the disenfranchised subjects in the fifty states? It’s no more an American empire than it is an Iraqi or Afghan one.
The Washingtonian Empire is the largest, richest, most powerful, most hierarchically distributed, and most subtly maintained in history. It is so successful that it has even managed to proceed with its agenda without much notice as to its true nature. We should stop trying to get people to take responsibility for the decisions of a foreign city-state, because this only encourages the conflation of their American identity with an alien one.
By drawing on our revolutionary, anti-colonial legacy, we can frame the American political experience as one of historically consistent subjugation. We can then find common ground with other victims of American imperialism while articulating an authentically decentralist agenda.
Make sure you read the whole thing, especially Jeremy’s very salient discussion of the impact of this kind of analysis on strategy.
Let me just add that one of the most important dimensions in which to emphasize the nature ofAmericaas occupied territories is the connection with the daily lives of the most thoroughly oppressed and exploited people under the bootheels of the United States government and its praetors and proconsuls: especially black people, brown people, poor people, immigrants, people labeled crazy, women (especially the women most marginalized and criminalized by the government and civil society), etc. etc. etc. During the 1960s, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and many other New Left liberation groups explicitly linked the conditions and struggles of people in the brutally police-occupied, white-controlled ghettoes of the U.S. — which were founded in slavery, lynch law, apartheid, and immiserating land grabs, which were treated politically as presumptively criminal, unruly elements of the body politic, to be reformed, contained, or eradicated; which were regimented and patrolled on every street corner by the occupying paramilitary forces of the white government — with the conditions and struggles of colonized peoples throughout the so-called Third World, recognizing that just because the lines on the map separated Harlem and Watts from Johannesburg and Nairobi, the people in each had far more in common with each other than any of them had with the handful of white men sitting in the halls of power in D.C., in London, and elsewhere. The false dignity of a morally and practically meaningless imperial citizenship was dismissed; in its place was offered self-understanding for people facing the violence of colonization and solidarity with people rising up against Power in their own homelands throughout the world. In the 1970s, Detroit feminists elaborated the thought by pointing out that, in an important sense, women throughout the world constituted aFourth World,which faced subjugation and colonization at the hands of petty patriarchs and male States, whether those sites of colonization were located in the capitals ofFirst,SecondorThird Worldregimes. Anarchists can and should learn these lessons well, and take the thoughts to their logical completion, by showing how the State, just as such, always and everywhere, operates as a colonizing force, against all its subjects, and for the profit of the handful of beneficiaries who constitute the ruling class. (Of course, the fact that it operates like this against us all does not mean that it operates this way against all of us to an equal degree. The point here is not cheap sympathy; it’s solidarity, especially with those who are the most trodden upon by this monster State.)
While the legacy of 1776 is worth understanding and learning from, and an important weapon to turn against the power in Washington; but so are many other things, and I think it is vital for the Libertarian Left to take up and learn from this tradition in articulating our anti-imperial theory and practice.
There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!
—Last words of August Spies (1887-11-11), immigrant, anarchist, and Haymarket martyr
Today is May Day, or International Workers’ Day, a holiday created by Chicago workers—most of them anarchists—to honor the memory of the Haymarket martyrs and to celebrate the struggle of workers for freedom, for a better life, and for control over the conditions of their own labor. It was created during the radical phase of the struggle for an eight-hour day: after legislative campaigns by the Knights of Labor and the National Labor Union failed, labor radicals in Chicago — organizers like Albert Parsons, Lucy Parsons, August Spies — declared that workers should take matters into their own hands, in the form of direct action on the shop floor. Workers would no longer try to get an eight-hour day by promising a useful and compliant voter base in return for patronage from politicians. To get an eight-hour shift, workers would make their own: in many shops, workers in the International Working People’s Association would bring their own whistle to work and blow it at the end of an eight hour shift — at which point most or all of the workers on the floor would just get up and just walk off, like the free people they were, whether or not the boss demanded more hours of labor. At the height of the struggle, they organized a General Strike, in defiance of the bosses and in spite of repeated violence from the Law.
Today is also the third annual day of rallies, strikes and marches against the criminalization of immigrant workers. A day which immigrant workers have chosen for actions against the bigotry of nativist bullies, the violence of La Migra, and the political system of international apartheid, as contemptible as it is lethal. A day to proudly proclaimWe are not criminalsandWe are not going anywhere,to demand the only political program that recognizes it — open borders and unconditional amnesty for all undocumented workers.
And it is a joy for me to read that today is also a day of strikes against the bosses’ war in Iraq, which will shut down all the sea ports on the west coast of the United States, as an act of defiance against the State war machine and against the worthless political opportunists who promise to end it while voting, over and over again, to sustain it:
Amid this political atmosphere, dockworkers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have decided to stop work for eight hours in all U.S. West Coast ports on May 1, International Workers’ Day, to call for an end to the war.
This decision came after an impassioned debate where the union’s Vietnam veterans turned the tide of opinion in favor of the anti-war resolution. The motion called it an imperial action for oil in which the lives of working-class youth and Iraqi civilians were being wasted and declared May Day ano peace, no workholiday. Angered after supporting Democrats who received a mandate to end the war but who now continue to fund it, longshoremen decided to exercise their political power on the docks.
The Longshore workers have the explicit support of postal workers in New York and San Francisco, and I hope this will be only the beginning of ongoing, widespread industrial action to end a war that political action — even after two election cycles, after hundreds of millions of dollars, after countless hours of lobbying and electioneering, after a change in government, and with the backing of an overwhelming supermajority of the populace — has proven completely incapable of ending.
This is May Day as it is and ought to be. A Day of Resistance against the arrogance and power of bosses, bordercrats, bullies, and the Maters of War, who would harass us, intimidate us, silence us, exploit us, beat us, jail us, deport us, extort us, and do anything else it takes to stop us from coming into our own. A day to celebrate workers’ struggles for dignity, and for freedom, through organizing in their own self-interest, through agitating and exhorting for solidarity, and through free acts of worker-led direct action to achieve their goals, marching under the banners ofWe are all leaders hereandDump the bosses of your back.A day to remember:
There Is Power In A Union
There is power, there is power,
In a band of working folk,
When we stand
Hand in hand.
—Joe Hill (1913)
Radio Bilingüe has a list of immigration marches and rallies across the country today. I plan to be at the mitin in Las Vegas tonight:
- Las Vegas immigrant rights mitin (rally)
- Tonight, May 1, 2008, 7:00 PM
- Federal Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd S.
Meanwhile, in the news, some useless idiot is wandering around Washington proclaimingLaw Day, accosting hundreds of millions of complete strangers to tell them to put onceremoniesin praise of his own power to do the beating, jailing, deporting, etc. In Istanbul, organized workers marched to Taksim Square in defiance of the Turkish government, which has declared their free assemblyillegal,and which has deployed government riot cops to attack them with firehoses and tear gas. In Harare, organized workers are holding rallies today to call attention to the devastating effect of the government’s hyperinflationary money monopoly on workers’ wages—and an apparatchik of the Zimbabwean government—one of the most violently anti-worker governments in the world—is taking the opportunity to wear a concerned expression and assure thatGovernment would at all times endeavour to make sure that workplaces were monitored through inspections to minimize hazards that might injure or kill them.(No word yet on whether thehazardsthe inspectors will be inspecting for include the Zimbabwe Republic Police or the Central Intelligence Organization.) We must never forget what this band of creeps and fools is doing their best to remind us of — that the State is the most deadly weapon of our enemies, and that it is a weapon that we will never be able to wield for ourselves without chaining ourselves to politics and destroying the very things we meant to fight for.
In this season and in these days, in the midst of Babel during its most raucous festival—when so much of what we see and hear are the endless shouts of professional blowhards who know of no form of social change other than political change, and who know of no site of political change other than the gladiatorial arena of electoral politics, and who seem to know of no form of electoral politics other than polling, horse-trading, and endlessly shouting about a series of nomenklatura-contrivedissues,which boil down to little more than a media-facilitated exchange of racist, sexist, ageist, and authoritarian barbs among the nomenklatura-approvedserious candidates—it’s important to remember that, in spite of all the noise and spectacle, the most significant events for labor and for human freedom are happening in the streets of cities all over the country and all over the world, where workers are organizing among themselves, demanding their rights, fighting for their lives, and defying or simply bypassing the plutocrats and their so-called laws. In the U.S.A., while the punch-drunk establishmentarian labor movement reels from one failure to another, some of the most dynamic and successful labor struggles in the past few years have been fought by a grassroots union organized along syndicalist lines without NLRB recognition, using creative secondary boycott tactics which would be completely illegal if they had submitted to the regulatory patronage of the Wagner-Taft-Hartley system. There is a lesson here—a lesson for workers, for organizers, for agitators, and anti-statists. One we’d do well to remember when confronted by any of the bosses—whether corporate bosses or political, the labor fakirs and the authoritarian thugs styling themselves the vanguard of the working class, the regulators and the deporters and the patronizingfriends of laborall:
Dump the Bosses Off Your Back
Are you cold, forelorn, and hungry?
Are there lots of things you lack?
Is your life made up of misery?
Then dump the bosses off your back!
—John Brill (1916)
Happy May Day, y’all.
- Scott McLemee, Crooked Timber 2008-04-30: All Out for May Day
- Gulf Stream Blues 2008-05-01: Labour Movements CryMayday!