Posts Tagged ‘Effluvia and Ephemera’

Rad Geek Speaks: “Ask An Anarchist!” THURSDAY, at the Vegas Anarchist Cafe. Las Vegas, Nevada, 1 April 2010, 6:00pm

This week, at the Vegas Anarchist Cafe — specifically, THURSDAY, 1 April 2010Vegas ALL will be sponsoring a special Ask An Anarchist! event with ALLy Charles Johnson. Ask An Anarchist! is a freewheeling Q&A session, where A-Cafers, guests, the anarcho-curious and anyone interested in a conversation about the idea of a stateless society, all get the chance to fire away with any question they care to ask about Anarchy, Anarchism, or Anarchists. As our handbill puts it:

re you curious to learn more about Anarchy, Anarchism, or Anarchists? Have you got questions about Anarchist ideas, the history of Anarchism, how Anarchism has affected mainstream culture, Anarchist solutions to contemporary social problems, or how Anarchists believe that a free society would work without government? Want to know whether the picture of Anarchism that you’ve gotten from the mainstream culture is accurate or based on misconceptions? Want to try and stump an Anarchist? Bring all your burning questions this Thursday, and our speaker will do his best to answer any question you care to ask. Come on in and fire away!

This event is for anyone curious about the ideas of philosophical Anarchism, or interested in conversation. All are welcome to attend.

The Q&A session will run from 6–7pm. An informal meet-up and discussion will follow from 7–8pm. f you’re in the Vegas area (or even if you’re not), it’d be great to see you there. If you know anyone around abouts who might be interested in a talk about Anarchism, or a chance to find out more, then please do forward the announcement on to them.

  • WHAT: Ask An Anarchist! Q&A with Vegas ALLy Charles Johnson.

  • WHERE: Weekly Anarchist Cafe at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza (4550 S. Maryland Pkwy, right across the street from UNLV), Las Vegas, Nevada

  • WHEN: This Thursday, 1 April 2010, 6:00pm – 7:00pm. The regular A-Cafe informal meet-up and discussion will continue after the talk, from about 7:00pm to 8:00pm.

  • WHO: Anyone curious about the ideas of Anarchism, or interested in conversation.

Hope to see y’ALL there!

See also:

Rad Geek Speaks: “Ask An Anarchist!” TOMORROW, at the Vegas Anarchist Cafe. Las Vegas, Nevada, 3 September 2009, 6:00pm

ALLies,

In honor of the first anniversary of the weekly Vegas Anarchist Cafe, and in connection with the opening of a new school year on UNLV’s campus, Southern Nevada ALL has helped organize a line-up of special programming for the A-Cafe’s Free Speech Soapbox Series.

This week — specifically, TOMORROW, Thursday, 3 September 2009 — Anarchist Cafe will feature the second event, during the first hour of the meeting, from 6:00–7:00pm. I will be hosting a freewheeling Q&A session, called Ask An Anarchist!, which will give A-Cafers, guests, and random looky-loos the chance to fire away with any question they may have about Anarchy, Anarchism, or Anarchists. As our advertising handbill puts it:

Are you curious to learn more about Anarchy, Anarchism, or Anarchists? Have you got questions about Anarchist ideas, the history of Anarchism, how Anarchism has affected mainstream culture, Anarchist solutions to contemporary social problems, or how Anarchists believe that a free society would work without government? Want to know whether the picture of Anarchism that you’ve gotten from the mainstream culture is accurate or based on misconceptions? Want to try and stump an Anarchist? Bring all your burning questions this Thursday, and our speaker will do his best to answer any question you care to ask. Come on in and fire away!

This event is for anyone curious about the ideas of philosophical Anarchism, or interested in conversation. All are welcome to attend.

The Soapbox event will run from 6:00–7:00pm. An informal meet-up and discussion will follow from 7:00–8:00pm. If you’re in the Vegas area (or even if you’re not), it’d be great to see you there. If you know anyone around abouts who might be interested in a talk about Anarchism, then please do forward the announcement on to them.

  • WHAT: Ask An Anarchist! Q&A with Vegas ALLy Charles Johnson.

  • WHERE: Weekly Anarchist Cafe at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza (4550 S. Maryland Pkwy, right across the street from UNLV), Las Vegas, Nevada

  • WHEN: This Thursday, 3 September 2009, 6:00pm – 7:00pm. The regular A-Cafe informal meet-up and discussion will continue after the talk, from about 7:00pm to 8:00pm.

  • WHO: Anyone curious about the ideas of Anarchism, or interested in conversation.

Hope to see y’ALL there!

See also:

Rad Geek Speaks: a talk on Anarchism and its ideas TOMORROW, at the Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe. Las Vegas, 27 August 2009, 6:00pm

ALLies,

In honor of thefirst anniversary of the weekly Vegas Anarchist Cafe, and in connection with the opening of a new school year on UNLV’s campus, Southern Nevada ALL has helped to organize a line-up of special programming the A-Cafe’s Free Speech Soapbox Series, to offer some opportunities for kick-starting some engaging conversations about Anarchy, about the ideas of Anarchism in theory and practice, and about how Anarchist ideals of free association, mutual aid, DIY social change, decentralized resistance, and direct action can apply to our struggles, passions, and dreams for our own community here in Vegas.

I’m happy to announce that for the first event, which will be held at this week’s A-Cafe on Thursday 27 August 2009, I will be giving a special talk, **What Is Anarchism? to discuss the ideals of Anarchism in theory and practice, the meaning and reasons for Anarchism’s opposition to the state, the benefits of a society without rulers or domination, and correcting common misconceptions and replying to common objections about Anarchism, Anarchists, and Anarchy. For anyone curious about the ideas of philosophical Anarchism, or interested in the conversation.

  • WHAT: Talk by Vegas ALLy CHARLES JOHNSON on WHAT IS ANARCHISM?

  • WHERE: Weekly Anarchist Cafe @ the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza (4550 S. Maryland Pkwy, right across the street from UNLV)

  • WHEN: This Thursday, 27 August 2009 6:00pm - 7:00pm. The regular A-Cafe informal meet-up and discussion will continue after the talk, from about 7:00pm to 8:00pm.

  • WHO: Anyone curious about, or interested in conversation about, the ideas of Anarchism.

If you’re in the Vegas area (or even if you’re not), come on out for what I hope to be an engaging back-and-forth, and a good kick-start to the conversation about Anarchist ideals in our community. It’d be great to see you there. If you know any friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else around abouts who might be curious or interested in conversation about Anarchism — whether they are themselves (A)s or not — then please do forward the announcement on to them

As always, the Anarchist Cafe will begin on Thursday at 6:00 PM. The talk will begin shortly after 6:00 and run for about 45 minutes, with time set aside afterwards for Q&A and conversation. After the formal Q&A has ended, we’ll continue with our usual informal chat until the end of the A-Cafe at 8:00pm.

This week’s presentation is part of the Free Speech Soapbox Series at Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe — a series of presentations, speeches, programming, and free speech 4open mics for the first hour of the weekly A-Cafe (6:00–7:00pm). Future Soapbox events are already being scheduled; if you’re in Vegas, or will be passing through, and are interested in giving a talk yourself — or know someone you’d be interested in hearing talk — about an issue you care about, a project you’re working on, a local group you support, or a how-to for a skill you’d like to share with fellow Anarchists — this is your time and we all have something to say or do that can help out our ALLies. Contact us for more details or to sign up.

Hope to see y’ALL there!

See also:

Rad Geek Speaks: “Ask An Anarchist!” TOMORROW, at the Vegas Anarchist Cafe. Las Vegas, Nevada, 5 March 2009, 6:00pm

The Vegas Anarchist Cafe is an informal meet-up for networking, building community, and doing some outreach for anarchists in Las Vegas, organized by Southern Nevada ALL and other local anarchists. The Anarchist Cafe is a place for people to meet, discuss ideas and make contacts in a low-pressure environment without a formal activist business agenda. (However, if you want to start up a group or a project that will have a formal activist business agenda, A-Cafe is a great place to meet people and get information on local groups.) We used to meet every Wednesday; in order to be able to reliably reserve a meeting room at our venue we’ve switched to meeting every Thursday, 6:00–8:00pm at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at Running Rebel Plaza (4550 S. Maryland Parkway) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This week — specifically, TOMORROW, Thursday, 5 March 2009 — Anarchist Cafe will feature an event in our Free Speech Soapbox Series during the first hour of the meeting, from 6:00–7:00pm. I will be hosting a freewheeling Q&A session, called Ask An Anarchist!, which will give A-Cafers, guests, and random looky-loos the chance to fire away with any question they may have about Anarchy, Anarchism, or Anarchists. As our advertising handbill puts it:

Are you curious to learn more about Anarchy, Anarchism, or Anarchists? Have you got questions about Anarchist ideas, the history of Anarchism, how Anarchism has affected mainstream culture, Anarchist solutions to contemporary social problems, or how Anarchists believe that a free society would work without government? Want to know whether the picture of Anarchism that you’ve gotten from the mainstream culture is accurate or based on misconceptions? Want to try and stump an Anarchist? Bring all your burning questions this Thursday, and our speaker will do his best to answer any question you care to ask. Come on in and fire away!

This event is for anyone curious about the ideas of philosophical Anarchism, or interested in conversation. All are welcome to attend.

The Soapbox event will run from 6:00–7:00pm. An informal meet-up and discussion will follow from 7:00–8:00pm. If you’re in the Vegas area (or even if you’re not), it’d be great to see you there. If you know anyone around abouts who might be interested in a talk about Anarchism or radical labor organizing, then please do forward the announcement on to them.

See also:

Left-Libertarian Engagement

  • Lew Rockwell’s recent interview of Naomi Wolf for his podcast — the scare quotes are there because it quickly turns into a very two-sided conversation, and works very differently from a conventional interview — is really remarkable, and a paradigm for the kind of engagement that could build a vibrant libertarian Left. Naomi Wolf is not my favorite feminist, and Lew Rockwell is certainly not my favorite libertarian, but this is great stuff. Naomi Wolf now says she thinks she’s been a secret libertarian for many years in many, many ways and mentions that she’s feeling increasingly sympathetic toward radical libertarianism; she insists on the importance of challenging both Democratic- and Republican-sponsored power grabs, and expresses sympathy for the libertarian case for abolishing federal control over schooling. Rockwell does a tolerable job of explaining the libertarian case against the Fed as a instrument of class warfare, does a good job of cautioning against premature jumps into statist political action, and comes out that the conservative movement has been an engine of fascism for the past 50 years. Also, Wolf has some great material at about 23:45 in the interview about the way in which media producers deliberately encourage false-alternative shouting matches and instruct their guests that serious deliberation is not good television.

  • Socialist Alexander Cockburn writes a libertarian article for the Buchananite newsjournal The American Conservative, discussing the ongoing bipartisan assault on civil liberties, in which he points out the continuity between Clinton’s and Bush’s anti-terrorism and drug war rackets, decrying Social Security Numbers and the Kelo decision, while praising the defense of the individualist reading of the Second Amendment in Heller.

  • There’s been a lot more discussion of Roderick’s Corporations Versus the Market piece on Cato Unbound. Roderick’s Keeping Libertarian, Keeping Left replies to the initial responses from the Danny Bonaduce of the Blogosphere, Steven Horwitz, and Dean Baker. Roderick’s Owning Ideas Means Owning People makes the case for libertarian radicalism against Intellectual Protectionism (indeed, for a position even more radical than those advocated by Cato minimal-statist Tim Lee and by anti-IP, but pro-governmental Leftist Dean Baker).

    Yglesias, in reply to Roderick and Steven Horwitz, says he is a bit puzzled by pragmatic arguments for left-libertarianism, based on the claim that markets do more for human flourishing than government programs, writing: If this means that the absence of governance à la Joseph Stalin is a more important determinant of our well-being than is, say, the existence of unemployment insurance then, yes, of course this is true. But the question facing government programs is not whether they are more or less beneficial than the existence of a market economy, the question is whether the programs are more beneficial than would be the absence of programs. Roderick does a great job of responding to Yglesias (as well as to some another reply by Dean Baker) here. Let me just add a bit more about the fundamental problem with Yglesias’s proposed methods for assessing whether or not a given government program is warranted.

    The problem here is that Yglesias seems to be treating this as a ceteris paribus comparison: as if the right question to ask is whether people would be better off with the government program in place or in a situation which is exactly identical, but without the government program.

    There are two problems with this. First, unless there is some strong reason to believe that ceteris will stay paribus in the absence of a government program, the real alternative is between a government program and market alternatives to that program. So, for example, Yglesias mentions ex ante environmental regulations. But he rigs the match by apparently comparing outcomes with ex ante environmental regulations to outcomes from a market situation which is basically the same as the present, but in which corporate polluters are free to go on polluting with impunity. An un-rigged comparison would be one between ex ante environmental regulations and free market means of addressing pollution that the ex ante regulations have either directly suppressed or crowded out — like the use of pollution nuisance suits or a more robust use of free market grassroots activism, through boycotts, sustainability certification, social investing, and so on. Maybe these kind of tactics would not be as effective as ex ante regulation, or maybe they would be more effective; but in either case, this is the comparison that actually needs to be made, and as far as I can tell Yglesias hasn’t given any argument to support a claim that market methods would do worse. Indeed, there’s some good reasons to think that they might do better. Since freed-market methods are by their nature decentralized, and not dependent on political lobbying or electioneering, they are also not subject to the same problems of regulatory capture by those who can put a lot of money and political influence behind their interests.

    Second, Yglesias also more or less explicitly suggests that, when you’re deliberating over whether to favor government programs or freed-market alternatives, any given government program ought to be assessed in isolation from all the others (on a case-by-case basis). But of course libertarian Leftists have repeatedly stressed the importance of seeing particular social or political processes in the context of how many different processes interlock and interact with each other. So, for example, as Roderick has repeatedly stressed, if you want to know about whether to prefer unfettered free markets or regulatory command-and-control in financial markets, it doesn’t make sense to compare a rigged market where finance capital is tightly regulated and can reasonably expect government bail-outs in case of failure to a rigged market where finance capital is loosely regulated but can still reasonably expect government bail-outs in case of failure. Whether the latter or the former turns out to have better results is a question we could debate, but the important point, from a left-libertarian point of view, is that it would be more interesting and fruitful to compare the rigged markets to a free market with neither ex ante regulation nor bail-outs. Similarly, if we are looking at environmental regulations then we have to consider not only market alternatives to ex ante environmental regulation; we also have to consider other government programs which may indirectly contribute to environmentally destructive practices — like subsidizing corporate centralization and capital-intensive production; or stealing land from homeowners and small businesses for large, polluting manufacturing plants, garbage incinerators, and other forced-modernization boondoggles; or subsidizing fossil fuel dependence; or highway-driven suburban sprawl — and whether the absence of those other programs, taken together with the absence of ex ante environmental regulation, would make freed-market alternatives to ex ante environmental regulation even more palatable than they would be when considered in isolation. (For some similar points in the context of health care, see GT 2007-10-25: Radical healthcare reform.)

    Meanwhile, Roderick’s article has also prompted a lot of discussion outside of Cato Unbound, most notably interesting but misguided replies from Peter Klein, Will Wilkinson, and an extremely ill-conceived response by Walter Block and J.H. Huebert. I’ve already discussed Block’s and Huebert’s comments, with a focus on their distortion of my own expressed views (cited favorably by Roderick) on radical labor unionism.. There’s a lot of fascinating exchange among Klein, some other right-libertarians and agnostic-libertarians, and a number of libertarian Leftists in the comments thread on Klein’s article; note especially the exchange among Araglin, Klein, P.M. Lawrence and others over the legitimacy and viability of the corporate form, limited liability, etc., under freed markets, and this short comment by Jesse Walker: It seems clear to me that, at the very least, the “more local and more numerous” claim is correct, if not in every sector than certainly in the economy as a whole. Removing occupational licensing laws alone would unleash such a flood of tiny enterprises — many of them one-man or one-woman shows, sometimes run part-time — that I doubt the elimination of antitrust law and small-business setasides would offset it. Especially when large businesses have proven so adept at using antitrust and setasides for their own purposes. […]. (Jesse promises a more detailed follow-up at Hit and Run; I look forward to it.)

    Meanwhile, as promsied, Roderick has added his own (detailed, excellent) reply on most of the points raised by Klein, Wilkinson, Huebert, and Block back over at Cato Unbound, entitled Free Market Firms: Smaller, Flatter, and More Crowded.

    Read the whole damn thread. It’s great.

  • On the activist front, this past Monday, New Jersey ALLy Darian Worden announced a new series of Alliance of the Libertarian Left outreach flyers and subversion squares available from the NJ ALL website. Enjoy! (I also think there will be some interesting news in the near future about ALL in Southern California, England, Denver, and some new activities for ALL in Las Vegas. But I’m not going to tip my hand more than that in public, just yet. If you’re curious — and especially if you are in one or more of those geographical areas — drop me a line in private.

View images tagged “Missing the Point” …

Here is a picture of a person dressed up as V from V for Vendetta holding a sign that reads "Government: Obey the Constitution"

(Taken from the MeetUp profile page of a local Ron Paul aparatchik.)

ALL you need to know about organizing is what you can learn on the web

Alliance of the Libertarian Left Ad Hoc Global Organizing Committee

ALLies,

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.)

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. But Just 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.)

Onward.

Re-usable Anarchy and A-Cafe updates

Here’s a couple of updates on local anarchist organizing in Las Vegas.

First, follow-up on the A-Cafe. As I mentioned a few days ago:

We’re starting a Las Vegas A-Cafe. (By we, I mean both Southern Nevada ALL and some other local anarchists I’ve contacted. Look out, we’re conspiring.) The Anarchist Cafe is intended as an informal gathering for anarchists (of all stripes, sects, and creeds) to meet and talk with each other—which is free-form enough to allow people just to meet up and hang out if they want to hang out, but y also where they can talk some shop, spread some news, and float some ideas for action. The idea comes from events in Califas (SoCal, NoCal). For the time being, we’re being rather literal by holding the event in an actual coffee house, because they have good meeting space, comfy chairs, and don’t expect us to do anything more for it than buy some of their drinks. Hopefully the first meeting will bring together some new faces and old.

We did heavy flyering on Monday, a little on Tuesday, and quite a bit more on Wednesday. Due both to planning and to some accidents of who was available when, pretty much all of our flyering was concentrated on UNLV campus and the neighborhoods immediately surrounding. About half of the flyers were put up were ALL flyers on police brutality and taxation. About half were advertisements for the A-Cafe specifically. (The latter had the advantage of an eye-catching circle-A, and a specific action item — attending the meeting.)

Here’s the results.

  • The flyers got some attention: the Southern Nevada ALL website got about 350 unique visits on Monday, about 180 on Tuesday, and about 210 on Wednesday.

  • The A-Cafe went well. Based on past experience, I figured ahead of time I’d count the event as a success if we got a few of the old folks together and made at least one or two new contacts. As it turned out, we had three ALLies (including myself) and one other anarchist we’d already met with pass through the room. We made five new contacts, passed out quite a bit of ALL literature and flyers (including multiple copies to a couple people who were planning to distribute them to friends). We also got in contact with three others who could not make the first meeting but are interested in future events and local organizing. So count this as quite the success, if we can make something of it.

The Cafe itself mostly involved introductions, passing around some small sheets we are using to build a contact list and poll people about the projects they’re interested in working on. A couple of the people who attended were interested in anarchist ideas but not committed anarchists, so we talked about the basics of anarchism with them; and chatted up those who were already committed anarchists about possible local projects.

The next meeting of the Las Vegas A-Cafe will be:

Wednesday, September 3
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza
4550 S. Maryland Parkway

As before, if you are in the Las Vegas area (or you know someone who is) and are interested in the A-Cafe or in Southern Nevada ALL, be sure to come, or to let the interested parties know about it. (You can use Vegas A-Cafe’s Tell-a-Friend form, if you like.) I should be at the A-Cafe on Wednesday, and I hope that several other ALLies will be there too. If you’re interested but can’t make it to the face-to-face, by all means drop us a line so we can put you on our contact list.

The next question then, is, now that introductions are out of the way, what future A-Cafes will involve, at least for those who have been at least one A-Cafe and met other folks already. A large component is supposed to be informal, based on chatting with each other rather than having some kind of agenda to work through. Partly because that kind of thing is boring as hell, and partly because, insofar as it serves a purpose, it only serves a purpose for groups with a much more well-defined set of projects than A-cafe, which is mainly just intended as a space for people to meet each other, network, and have a bit of pleasant and possibly useful conversation. But it will definitely help to have some kind of prompts to get people talking with each other, and potentially things for people to work on individually or in small groups, if that’s what they want to do. Any suggestions? If so, I’d definitely appreciate any proposals down in the comments section….

Second, I’ve received some requests for editable versions of the flyers that ALL has used in its two flyering events. I’ve been dragging my feet a bit, in part because distributing editable content over the web is actually somewhat more complicated than distributing print-ready content. Basically, because print-ready PDFs are designed to be portable — that’s what the P in PDF stands for — and so carefully embed all the data that you might need to reproduce their content exactly. Editable formats don’t provide the same guarantees. But, I realize that editable versions will be much more useful to those of y’ALL who are outside Vegas than a print-ready version that you’d have to use physical cut-and-paste to customize for local needs. So, here is what I’ve done. From here on out, each new action that we post to the Southern Nevada ALL website will have a Re-use section at the bottom of the page, which will include editable copies of all the files we used to produce the material for that action, as well as any auxiliary files that you need to download to make the whole thing work. All of the materials that Southern Nevada ALL has already distributed so far for Tax Day and Radical Re-orientation are now available in their original, editable OpenDocument Text format (which you should be able to edit with OpenOffice.org Writer, Google Docs, and most open-source office software). These flyers all make use of at least one custom font face not included with your operating system; the fonts are all freely available for download, though. Here’s the full set of the fonts you might need (in TrueType format):

And, once you’ve got those fonts downloaded and installed, here’s the full collection of flyers and handbills that we’ve used. I’ve also included a copy of the short form we used for the networking project — for contact information and polling about interest in local projects — in case you might find that useful, too. As usual, all of this is copylefted and made freely available for your re-use. (It would be a courtesy to add a small attribution to Southern Nevada ALL somewhere if you should re-use the flyers we made while changing the contact information. I’d also love to hear about it if you use the designs in your own agitprop. But it’s not like I’m going to sic the Anarchy Police on you either way.) Enjoy!

Flyer:
How Government Works (#1)
Flyer:
How Government Works (#2)
Flyer:
Taxes Pay For Torture (#1)
Flyer:
Taxes Pay For Torture (#2)
Flyer:
Taxes Pay For War (#1)
Flyer:
Taxes Pay For War (#2)
Flyer:
Your Money Or Your Life!
Flyer:
Your Tax Dollars At Work (#1)
Flyer:
Your Tax Dollars At Work (#2)
Flyer:
Cops are here to protect you. (#1)
Flyer:
Cops are here to protect you. (#2)
Flyer:
A-Cafe invitation
Handbills:
Vegas Anarchy handbills
Handbills:
Las Vegas Anarchist Networking Project

Onward.

ALL I need to know about the Revolution is what I heard in Vegas

ALLies,

As promised, here is (finally) the text (more or less) of my speech at the Libertarian Party of Clark County. There was a scheduling mix-up, so I got about half the time I expected in which to speak; parts that are struck out are parts that I omitted in the interest of time. I should note that, if you’re not familiar with public speaking, reading from a more or less completely prepared script like I did can be both a crutch and a handicap at the same time; if you’re nervous it provides a guaranteed route from where you are to the end of the line, but having it ready at hand also encourages nervous tics, including obtrusive glances down to the sheet, that can really detract from the reading. In my own case, I’m fairly familiar both with talking from notes and with reading prepared papers, but the written-out script was mainly the result of time pressures, and, since I didn’t have time to rehearse it, and also found out, too late to do anything about it, that I wouldn’t have a lectern to make my glancing at the sheet less obtrusive, I know my delivery suffered a bit because of it. The best thing to do in your local groups is, no doubt, to try to make sure you have enough time to meet beforehand and practice your talk. Anyway, on to the content:

I 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. And when I say We all, I don’t just mean the people in this room. I don’t just mean the people in this political party, either. I don’t mean the people in my own organization, the Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left. I mean all of us, everybody. The LP and Southern Nevada ALL and you and me, yes—but also our friends and our neighbors and our fellow workers. I believe that in my lifetime, all of us in Las Vegas will rise up and we will make ourselves free of the oppression and exploitation inflicted upon us by government laws, government regulation and regimentation, government cops, and government bureaucrats—local government, county government, state government, federal government, and transnational governing bodies like the UN, WTO, and IMF. We will become free because we have, individually and cooperatively, made ourselves ungovernable. We will do this with or without the cooperation of the rest of the world, and whether or not the political powers that be have been persuaded of the truth and virtue of the freedom philosophy; if the souls of politicians and political institutions can be cured, then that will make it so much the easier, but even if they cannot, we can and we will make it no longer worth their while – no longer even sustainable – for them to rule us against our will. We can and we will dump the bosses and the bureaucrats off our backs—politically, socially, economically—and we will stand upright, in control of our own destinies.

I’m saying these things today because I think they are important. I think they are important because they seem impossible, and yet they are true. It’s easy to doubt that Las Vegas can be free—really, totally free—in our own lifetimes. Government is big. Government is everywhere. Government consumes somewhere between one third and one half of every dollar that you make. Every dollar that you make and every dollar that you spend is itself part of the world’s largest and most powerful government monopoly—the government-centralized banking cartel and its fiat money monopoly. City government patrols every street. The federal government of the United States is the richest, most technologically advanced, and most militarily powerful organization in the history of the world. The two major parties, which thoroughly dominate the electoral process at every level, show no real signs of wanting to roll back government in any major area of policy, or even to contain it at its current levels; no matter whether a Demopublican or a Republicrat candidate wins, the party in power is more or less guaranteed to aggressively push government further and further into our lives. It’s easy to get dizzy just looking at the size and scope of government. It’s easy to lose hope entirely in the face of such an enemy. And it’s just as easy, and just as destructive, in the long run, to lose hope by deferring it, by concluding that freedom is only for our children or our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren, that it takes a long and slow process of chipping away at the edges of invasive government, in the hope that, after the next several four-year election cycles, we might begin to get a little freer, and we might be able to contain or even roll back government a little, leaving the rest of the task for future generations. I am here today to say that that’s not good enough. I am here to say that freedom is much closer than any of us think, if we fight for it, and if we know where to take that fight. And I am here today to ask you all to get into that fight by having the hope to believe in, and the courage to say some things that are both crazy and true.

Well, O.K., then. Now that I’ve said all that, let me back up a bit, so that I can give you an idea of where I’m coming from, and then come back around to the details of where I think we can go from here. My name is Charles Johnson. I’m here on behalf of a new radical libertarian project called the Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left. I write for a weblog called the Rad Geek People’s Daily, at radgeek.com. I’ve been a libertarian writer, activist, and organizer – both inside and outside of the Libertarian Party, especially the Libertarian Party of Alabama – since about 2001. Since 2000, I’ve also been a writer, activist, and organizer for many groups and causes within the radical Left and the radical feminist movement. Depending on where you are coming from, that may or may not seem strange; it may even seem incoherent. I think that with the right understanding of both the Freedom Movement and of the radical Left – or, rather, the right understanding of the particular tendencies within the Freedom Movement, and within the radical Left, that I am working in – it won’t seem that way anymore. But I’ll come back to that in a bit.

First, I want to say a few words about Southern Nevada ALL. We are a new organization, a local chapter of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, which also has active chapters in Kansas City, Richmond, Virginia, and a new chapter forming in the Chicago area. The locals are autonomous and work together as equals: there’s no big central ALL office that tells local chapters what to do, but we keep in touch with the locals in other towns and we share our experiences and our materials, which each local chapter can adapt to the conditions in its own community. We use the ALL name because our groups have certain principles and strategic priorities in common with each other. Let me try to break down what some of those are. The Alliance of the Libertarian Left believes in….

  1. Radicalism – we pull no punches, and we make no compromises, in our presentation of the freedom philosophy. We don’t shy away from emotional and controversial issues, either. We are anarchists, not limited-governmentalists; we are extremists, not moderates; and we’re not afraid to say so.

  2. Populism – we believe that libertarianism is for everybody, and the people who have the most to gain from, and the most to contribute to, the movement, are the people who are the most downtrodden, the most thoroughly oppressed and exploited, in our current social and political regime.

  3. Solidarity and social justice – we believe in many of the goals associated with Progressives or the statist Left today – anti-racism, anti-imperialism, gay liberation, feminism, environmental sustainability, radical labor solidarity, and many of the other commitments that are commonly grouped together under the heading of social justice. Unlike state Leftists, we believe that these goals can and should be achieved by free people in a free society, using free association and cultural activism to change existing social and material conditions, without getting government regulations or bureaucracies involved. We intend to achieve Lefist goals through libertarian means.

  4. Non-electoral social change – we are not affiliated with any political party or any candidate for political office. We do not try to achieve change by petitioning the politicians currently in power, or by trying to replace them with other, better politicians. There’s a place for that kind of activism, but lots of other organizations – including the Libertarian Party – are already working on it. If we tried to do it, we wouldn’t be very good at it, so what we specialize in are other means of social change: mass education, targeted persuasion, non-violent direct action, and the creation of alternative institutions that counter or bypass the State.

I’ll have more to say about all of this later. But for now, let me say a few things about what Southern Nevada ALL has done so far, and where we are going from here.

Right now we are a new organization, and we are in the process of getting our bearings, making contacts, and looking for allies. Southern Nevada ALL’s first public action was a bit of guerrilla education that we did on Tax Day, April 15th – by posting these flyers around town in Las Vegas, mainly on UNLV campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods. The action had two immediate goals. First, to get out a radical anti-tax message that would appeal to anti-authoritarians of all stripes, and also specifically to anti-war Leftists. Second, to get our name out and let likely new ALLies and contacts know that we were forming this new organization. I consider it to have been a smashing success – at least, insofar as it ended up almost tripling our membership (growing from the two founders, David Houser and myself, to five members after the flyering), and laid the groundwork for future actions. I’ll come back around to talk about those in a minute.

First, though, I want to say a few things about non-electoral methods for social change, and then about the Left.

I’m not about to deny that electoral politics – voting, party-building, running better candidates – has some role to play in making social change. I think it has played a very important role in the past, and that it can play a very important role in the future – both through efforts to destabilize or reorient the major parties, as with Ron Paul’s campaign within the Republican Party, and also through efforts to create alternatives to the two-party system and open up new spaces for libertarian ideas, as with the Libertarian Party. What I do want to stress today is that it’s important for us not to limit ourselves to electoral politics. There are all kinds of ways that social change happens, and electoral politics is only one of them. While it can be a very powerful method, it’s also a very difficult one, and a time consuming one, and a slow one. So while I encourage you all to do whatever you find it worth your while to do through electoral politics, I am here to stress the need to add other forms of activism to your toolbox. If we are going to become free in our own lifetimes – and I believe that we will – then relying on electoral politics alone will never be enough. After all, running candidates and voting can only effect a change once you have managed to convert 50%+1 of the electorate over to your position; there’s very little room for accomplishing small changes on the margin. It also imposes a very rigid and quite slow schedule on making social changes: you only have a shot at changing anything for one day every two to four years. And an elections-only strategy necessarily excludes large numbers of people – including especially the very people that are the most thoroughly oppressed by the current political regime, who have the most to gain from a fight for freedom – people like drug war prisoners, and illegal immigrants, who are legally excluded from voting at all. If we want to make lasting change within our lifetimes, we will need to adopt some other methods of social change – methods that don’t have to wait on the next election, methods that don’t have to wait on 50%+1, and methods that can be for everybody, with or without a permission slip from the State.

To give you an idea of what I mean, let me tell you a couple stories.

[Spokane Free Speech Fight, 1910]

I know this story more or less by heart, so I told it off the cuff instead of writing it out. If you haven’t heard it told before, my version was just a slightly shortened version of Utah Phillips’s version. —R.G.

There are a lot of ways of doing direct action. Here’s a recent one that I read about, from a group of middle-schoolers in Readington, NJ. [Pennies work-to-rule in Readington, NJ]

Another special kind of direct action that I want to mention, which is very important to the ALL and to many other libertarian Leftists, is the concept of counter-economics. Counter-economics is the underground practice of radical libertarian theory. Counter-economics means creating your own, unregulated institutions, independently of the State, in which you profit by ignoring or defying the institutionalized requirements imposed by the government and by the business establishment. Counter-economics builds alternative institutions through illegal black markets, and quasi-legal grey markets. And counter-economics is everywhere: it’s the unlicensed pharmacist slinging drugs to willing customers on the street corner. It’s the illegal immigrant dodging government border controls and then working under the table, without turning over the fruits of her labor to the IRS. It’s the waitress building up a nest egg from cash tips that she doesn’t report to the IRS. It’s e-gold and the Liberty Dollar and the Ithaca Hour producing durable currencies as an alternative to the Fed’s fiat money monopoly. It’s your cousin downloading free MP3s on his college network, in defiance of government-enforced copyright monopolies. It’s a grey market outfit like Food Not Bombs, where activists cover their own food costs and provide hot meals to homeless people by dumpster-diving surplus food from grocery stores (which is still fresh enough to eat, but no longer fresh enough to sell under existing government food regluations), cooking it, and serving the food for free in public spaces like parks.

It’s important to see that this kind of black market and grey market activity is itself a form of direct action, no less than filling the jails, and no less than a sit-in or a work-to-rule action. One of the ALL’s chief goals is to promote freedom through direct action, including through counter-economics, to encourage people who haven’t gone counter-economic yet to support the legitimacy and the importance of counter-economic businesses, and to encourage people who are already engaged in counter-economics to become self-conscious and organized counter-economists – that is, to see that what they are doing is not only personally profitable, but also politically valuable, and to see themselves as part of a larger movement to evade, undermine, and ultimately eliminate the invasiveness of the State.

One of the great advantages of counter-economics is that it’s one of the few forms of political activism in which people can strike a blow for freedom without having to become something that they are not, and which most people never will be – that is, die-hard, self-sacrificing activists who have a perfect grasp on libertarian philosophy and consistently make the right policy decisions. Counter-economics puts libertarianism into practice naturally; a practicing counter-economist is a practicing anti-statist as a matter of day-to-day business, whether or not she understands the whole philosophical theory that backs up her practice. And counter-economics also does something that almost no other form of political activism does: it produces direct, immediate profits for the person practicing it (because she makes money she wouldn’t otherwise be able to make, or keeps money she wouldn’t otherwise be able tokeep, or gets goods and services she wouldn’t otherwise be able to obtain). Part of the reason I said that I believe that we are all going to be part of Las Vegas becoming free soil is because I believe that if we take this fight not only to the electoral arena, but also to the streets, in the form of self-conscious direct action and counter-economics, we will have a tool at our disposal which will empower the most marginalized and least privileged people to join the struggle, and which will also make fighting for freedom the most selfish and most profitable thing for people – especially poor and oppressed people – to do.

Now, of course, there’s a downside to direct action, and especially to counter-economics: it can be dangerous. Nobody in ALL saying that you should get out there and start your own multimillion dollar heroin ring. (If you have started one, anyway, I’m not about to talk about it, and I’d rather you didn’t tell me about it. The first rule of a counter-economic business is, you don’t talk about a counter-economic business.) I’m the first to acknowledge this, and also to acknowledge that that means we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the counter-economic basket. I don’t think we should put all our eggs in any tactical basket. Counter-economics is important, and other forms of direct action are important, but so are a lot of other things. For the LP, that can mean electoral politics. For Southern Nevada ALL, it means mass education and targeted persuasion – through our flyers, through literature drops, through our website, through public speaking events like this one, and by creating alternative institutions (which I’ll come back to later) for distributing information and views through new channels. Neither education alone nor direct action alone will bring about victory; but when they are put together, each can become much more powerful than they were alone. Educating the people at large about libertarian ideas, and trying especially hard to persuade a handful of people who are especially open to radical politics, can make direct action much more powerful by creating the above-ground and underground networks of supporters that direct action needs to be successful. On the other hand, putting libertarian ideas into practice through direct action also reinforces education and persuasion, and makes them much more powerful than they would be on their own: people are much more likely to get involved, and to stay involved, in a project that leads to concrete action and real results. Libertarian talk accomplishes little if libertarianism remains nothing more than a talk shop; but talk can accomplish a hell of a lot when talk pulls people towards public and private action, and when public and private action get more people talking.

Now, some words about the Left. From the mid-20th century onward, movement libertarians have mostly conceived of themselves as the enemies of the Left (and vice versa), and the radical Left especially. Many libertarians came directly out of Right-wing or conservative movements (such as Young Americans for Freedom, the Republican Party, or the Right-wing talk radio scene). Libertarians mixed fairly freely with, and often worked with, small-government conservatives, and, even when they criticized conservative forms of government intervention (especially socially conservative policies, such as the Drug War or anti-abortion laws), they generally reserved their harshest words and most of their political activism for Left-liberal politicians, for redistributionist government social programs such as welfare and food stamps, and for social justice organizations like the anti-sweatshop movement and labor unions.

Well, to be clear, I for one have no problem attacking Left-liberal politicians, or government welfare programs. I oppose all efforts to expand the scope and power of government, and all forms of government-directed regimentation of trade or redistribution of wealth. But it is important to realize that criticizing the political means that many Leftist reformers have adopted over the past century doesn’t necessarily involve criticizing the ends that they adopted. And it is just as important to remember that the relationship between libertarians and the Left has not always been so chilly on either side. If we distinguish radical Leftists – think the Industrial Workers of the World, or Students for a Democratic Society, or the Black Panthers, or Noam Chomsky – from establishment liberals – think Albert Shanker or Teddy Kennedy or the AFL-CIO – then we’ll find that, while the establishment liberals have always been rock-ribbed defenders of the State, the radical Leftists – especially the radicals of the late 19th century, early 20th century, and, for a few years, the New Left of the late 1960s and early 1970s – have been some of the fiercest critics of the welfare-warfare State, as opponents of imperialism and COINTELPRO domestic surveillance, and also as proponents of people-powered, grassroots projects that provided mutual aid directly to people in the community, without any government welfare bureauracy. (Teddy Kennedy pushed for government welfare and healthcare. The Panthers argued that black people should forget about the government bureaucracy, and served voluntarily-funded free breakfasts in the ghetto instead—while they derided government welfare as a means of alienating poor blacks from their own community and keeping them dependent on the white man’s government.)

Similarly, there was a time when libertarians saw themselves not as the enemies of the Left, but as the most radical and consistent part of the Left. Nineteenth century libertarians such as Lysander Spooner and Stephen Pearl Andrews came out of the radical wing of the Abolitionist movement, and, after the Civil War, allied themselves with other culturally and politically radical movements against political and social privilege – including the labor movement, the anti-racist movement, the freethought movement, and First Wave feminism. The individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker, whose magazine Liberty was one of the most influential libertarian publications in America from the 1880s through the first decade of the 20th century, described his position as Absolute Free Trade; … laissez faire the universal rule, but he and his circle also routinely identified themselves as socialists – not because they were setting themselves against the ideal of the free market, but rather because they were setting themselves against actually existing big business. They argued that a handful of men exercised control over finance, capital, and (thus) the daily lives of ordinary workers, not because of free market processes, but rather because of plutocratic government economic regimentation and government-granted monopolies – especially the Big Four monopolies of government centralization and regulation of banking for the benefit of finance capital, government protectionist tariffs for the benefit of industrial fat cats, government-granted monopolies on the use of ideas through patents and copyrights, and government seizure of control over wild and unused land. The Tuckerite individualists saw the invasive powers of the State as both the root of, and the reason for, the dominance of Big Business and entrenched capitalists over smaller competitors, workers, and cooperative shops. And they suggested that the Freedom Movement should strike at the root of the problem by organizing workers into countervailing organizations such as boycott leagues and labor unions to expose, challenge, resist, and ultimately simply to bypass the economic regulations that the State and the bosses were conspiring to impose on them by force. In the early 20th century, American individualists like Dyer Lum and immigrant anarchists like Emma Goldman fought for much the same vision, and their influence produced one of the largest and most influential labor unions of the early 20th century – the Industrial Workers of the World, which viewed government planners and bureaucrats as the tools of the bosses and the enemies of workers, and who urged workers to look not to the government, but to themselves, through the creative use of free association, agitation, direct action in the workplace, voluntary strikes, union solidarity, and voluntary mutual aid between workers, which would bypass the State, and create alternative, non-coercive institutions like union hiring halls and workers’ co-ops, which would build a new society within the shell of the old.

If the labor movement is statist today, it is only because it is now what State regulation and patronage have made it. The I.W.W. was targeted for massive government repression during the 1910s and 1920s, most notoriously in the Wilson administration’s World War I political prosecutions and the later Palmer raids, in which Wilson’s goon squad rounded up, jailed, and deported thousands of I.W.W. unionists and other anarchists, solely on the basis of their political beliefs. In the 1930s, a conservative, pro-government wing of the labor movement collaborated with the Progressive business class and the New Deal pro-government liberals to create the modern National Labor Relations Board system, in which centralized, establishmentarian unions like the AFL-CIO have been granted government privileges in organizing and negotiating, in return for submitting to extensive government regulations on the methods and goals that they can adopt. These new laws served as both a subsidy for conservative unionism as against radical competitors like the I.W.W., and also as a form of insurance that the subsidized labor unions would not do anything that fundamentally challenged the fundamental principles on which the state-corporate system and the interventionist political regime were founded.

The reality is that, through government regulation of the labor movement, export subsidies, the Big Four monopolies, government support for regulations that benefit entrenched market players, and through corporate welfare (whether in the form of direct monetary pay-offs, or in the form of land seized, Kelo-style, through eminent domain), big corporations like General Motors have benefited at least as much from government patronage as big unions like the UAW. Yet libertarian criticism of the magntes of state capitalism is hardly expanded into criticism of all businesses as such; while many 20th century libertarians have written as if the labor movement did not exist before the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935, and as if the faults of existing conservative unions are a sort of original sin for which all labor unions ought to b condemned. This difference in treatment is no doubt closely connected with the emphasis many 20th-century libertarians placed on defending the free market against the attacks of Communists and other state socialists. While they were right to argue that existing modes of production are distorted by government intervention, should not be even further distorted by increasing government regimentation, this insight was often perverted into the confused belief that existing business practices – the way that Wal-Mart does business, say, or the way that Nike treats its workers in third-world sweatshops – are themselves the natural outcome of an undistorted market. But these practices did not emerge from a free market in the first place; they emerged from a market already heavily distorted by government intervention. The answer, then, is clearly less government, not more; but there is also good reason for libertarians to condemn the economic distortions that already shape the state-capitalist labor market, and to promote anti-statist models of labor organizing as an essential part of the libertarian defense of free markets.

It’s for precisely these reasons that those of us in the ALL support wildcat unions and state-free forms of voluntary mutual aid, and look back to the history of those radical Leftist efforts that organized the oppressed and made use of people-power to challenge, resist, or simply bypass the State – such as the I.W.W.’s free speech fights. Or the nonviolent civil disobedience campaigns against British imperialism in India and against government Jim Crow laws in the Southern United States. Or the Jane network in Chicago, in which radical feminists learned how to perform simple first-timester abortions, and provided safe, affordable illegal abortions to hundreds of women in Chicago years before Roe v. Wade. Or the Black Panther Party’s efforts to replace white-controlled government policing and government welfare in black neighborhoods with community-based, non-governmental mutal aid and self-defense. And so on.

So, with these tools in hand and with these examples in mind, what can we do?

As I mentioned, Southern Nevada ALL is a new organization, and what we have done so far has focused on getting our name and our basic message out, on networking and making contacts, and on preparing a base for future activism. Our choice of present and future actions has been guided by a particular understanding of the situation in Las Vegas, and of the place where we can best fit ourselves into the existing activist scene. Southern Nevada ALL can act as a partner for, and as a sort of interface between, three different groups of activists within the Las Vegas area, each of whom we have some significant differences with, but also many overlapping interests: first, voting libertarians such as y’all in the Libertarian Party, and the movement that has grown out of the Ron Paul MeetUps; second, other non-electoral, anti-statist activists, especially Black Flag anarchist groups and projects; third, Leftist social justice groups working on issues such as immigration, civil liberties, police brutality, abortion rights, or the decriminalization of sex work.

Our role and the issues we have chosen come from our analysis of the particular situation here in Las Vegas. There’s clearly a tremendous thirst for anti-war, radical libertarian ideas in Las Vegas – as demonstrated by the groundswell of support for Ron Paul this past year, in direct opposition to the old guard of the state Republican Party. And also as demonstrated, in a different way, by the massive turn-out for immigrant freedom marches two years ago, on May 1, 2006. But this interest has not yet been converted into effective action, and there is a danger that, when election season ends five months from now, and the excitement of campaigning fizzles, a lot of that interest and that organizational energy may dissipate back into the background. We believe that at this point it is vital to reach out to energized, creative activists, and give them a channel for their enthusiasm and their activism that doesn’t require them to wait four more years before they see any action. Now is the perfect time to advance non-electoral methods of social change, and the building of alternative institutions that don’t revolve around multiyear election cycles, in order to keep the push for freedom going beyond the end of the election season.

And here in Las Vegas, the peculiar issues that we face have informed our decision of what sorts of groups to work with and what sort of issues to stress most in our activism. We have chosen to focus most closely on issues that intimately affect the lives of ordinary people in Las Vegas – such as police brutality (especially relevant, in light of the heavy police presence in Las Vegas and the recent string of brutality complaints lodged against the Henderson police), freedom from government border restrictions (especially relevant in a town with as large an immigrant population as Las Vegas, and where so many turned out for immigrant freedom marches only two years ago), and the collusion between politically-connected real estate developers and government interventions such as eminent domain and politically-driven development schemes (especially relevant in a town so thoroughly dominated by the Convention Board and other private-public partnerships, not to mention a town which has been hit so hard by the collapse of a government-driven real estate development bubble).

With that in mind, since our Tax Day flyering on April 15th, Southern Nevada ALL has also:

  1. Done literature drops of left-libertarian pamphlets around town, getting our message out on labor solidarity, freedom of immigration, voluntary mutual aid, how government creates and entrenches urban poverty, and so on, using these pamphlets – from William Gillis’s excellent Market Anarchy zine series, and a Vegas Anarchy series of our own;

  2. Done some low-level networking and outreach events with this chapter of the Libertarian Party, the United Coalition for Im/migrant Rights, and local feminist and gay liberation organizations;

  3. Started holding informal dinner meetings of ALL members and sympathizers, for networking, talking shop, and launching new projects. (The next one is planned for June 18th; if you’re interested, I’ll hook you up with the details later tonight.)

  4. Participated in the May Day immigrant rights rally at the federal court house in Las Vegas, where we called for the decriminalization of all peaceful immigrants.

  5. Worked together with other organizations to help build the infrastructure for anti-statist and social justice activism in Las Vegas – by creating a listserv for all libertarians in the Las Vegas area, and by helping to organize, and marching in, the United Coalition for Im/migrant Rights’s March for the DREAM on May 23rd.

We are just getting started. Our plans for projects in the immediate future include:

  1. We will distribute literature more widely, both through contacts with other anti-statist and social justice groups (like the LP and UCIR), and also through literature drops in stores and public spaces.

  2. We are planning a second, wider flyering event, focused on police brutality. (This will be coordinated with distributing pamphlets on police brutality, connecting it with the legal privileges involved in government policing, the militarization of police, and the effects of the racist War on Drugs.)

  3. Over the longer term, we intend to use Southern Nevada ALL as a spring-board for creating alternative institutions that will help us more effectively push for freedom, and help create a more vibrant activist community within Las Vegas. In particular, we plan to help re-organize a couple of projects which have mostly lapsed over the past few years – a Las Vegas Independent Media Center, which will provide an open, grassroots publishing forum for anti-state and social justice activists in the Las Vegas area, and which will create new channels for information and analysis outside of the mainstream local media; and also revitalizing the Las Vegas chapter of Food Not Bombs, which provides a grey market, counter-economic form of mutual aid outside of the State welfare bureaucracy and the corporate food market. As Food Not Bombs becomes more stable and sustainable, we plan to regroup and begin to talk about other grassroots mutual aid projects, in order to take stock of what’s most needed in the community, and what sorts of projects present the most transformational opportunities.

Each of our plans and projects is a fairly small undertaking, especially when you compare it to the size of the problems that we face. But I am confident that these small pieces, loosely joined together, can serve as the building blocks for something much larger. Something which I believe Southern Nevada ALL will be an important part of, but in which we all will have a role to play, and in which our power standing shoulder to shoulder will be much greater than the power any of us have separately. Electoral politics can pressure the powers that be and soften up their will to strike back at us. Education can create public support for freedom and make it dangerous or disastrous for government to try to strike back. Direct action, combined with education, and when carried out through a large and vibrant network of people-powered Leftist and anti-statist organizations, can and will make us ungovernable – without depending on petitioning or begging, and without depending on the good will of the powerful. I believe that it can be in our hands sooner than any of us realize, if we make full use of non-electoral, radical, populist methods to create alternatives to the State, to bring everyone into the struggle, and to take direct action against government oppression. That’s a fight we can begin right now, by reaching out to our friends and neighbors and our activist comrades. We don’t need to wait until the next convention or the next election. We don’t need to wait for sympathetic politicians. We can take the power into our own hands. And when we do, we will become free.

Thank you for your time, and your very gracious offer of a forum in which to speak. I’ll be glad to take any questions you may have and to talk some more about anything that you’d like to hear more about.

All power to the people!

As far as success goes, the discussion following the talk was lively and interesting. We got a certain number of folks staring at me like I was from Mars, which I expected, but also a fair amount of interest and sympathy, and we made a couple new contacts who may be good prospects for ALLies or fellow travelers. I hardly convinced the entire LP of Clark County to join the Revolution, but I hardly expected to, and I’d call the whole affair a reasonable success, given my goals for the talk. As far as lessons for the future go, the main ones that I’m keeping in mind for myself, and which you may want to keep in mind if you’re going to give a similar talk, are the following:

  1. The most interested people will always seek you out after the talk, but if you want to get a little something into everybody’s hands — e.g. pamphlets, contact sign-up sheets, handbills, etc. — don’t count on people to come up to your table for anything. Remember to hand it around at the start, if you possibly can.

  2. Because of time pressures, some sections of the talk drew pretty heavily from material that I had already written elsewhere for print publication. Historical references are important but I intend to make the talk for future events somewhat less bookish, somewhat more attuned to my speaking style, and somewhat more present-oriented.

  3. Go to some meetings beforehand so that you can scope out the audience and the space. If you make an appointment at one meeting, to give the talk at a later meeting, and there’s a substantial time period between the meeting where you made the appointment and the meeting where you’ll speak, make sure that you touch base (on whatever pretext; information, double-checking, follow-up, whatever) with the people who will be in charge at the meeting where you give your talk. I went to LP meetings beforehand but neglected to do the follow-up contacts I should have done; as a result there was some unclarity about who they were expecting to give the talk, and I wasn’t confident enough from a previous paper trail to speak up. Touching base more often would have resulted in having more time for the talk. (On the good side, having attended previous meetings gave me a much better sense for who I was pitching to and how to pitch it.)

  4. Keep your audience well in mind. This talk is pretty directly calculated for voting libertarians, like LP members or Pauliticos. If you want to talk to social justice groups, antiwar groups, lefties, and so on, obviously you will want to cover much of the same ground, but probably from a different angle of approach.

  5. Remember that, especially for a new radical effort like ALL, for any large group you are really looking for only a handful, maybe only one or two, new contacts in a much larger audience. Make sure that you have a gaff for anybody who bites — contact sheets, handbills, literature, and especially a well-defined upcoming event (like the dinner meeting, or even better an action that you’re planning) — to pull in likely new ALLies. But don’t worry if many in the audience give you the blank stare. You’re not there for them, except to give them some notional idea of your existence. You’re there for mass education and targeted persuasion, and the one or three or five potential ALLies or fellow travelers in the audience are your target.

Anyway, as I said, I consider the talk to have been a reasonable success and a good start. I hope that we can continue giving talks like this to other local groups in the future.

Other ALLies who are thinking about hitting up local groups for similar talks should feel free to appropriate, repurpose, and re-use the material in this talk.

Have y’ALL given any talks for your local chapter of ALL, or made any plans to give talks in the future? Let me know in comments. I’ll be glad to discuss any questions you might have about how my talk went, and to use the blog to talk up any talks that you have given or will be giving in the future.

Rad Geek Speaks: a talk on the Southern Nevada ALL TOMORROW, at Libertarian Party of Clark County meeting. Las Vegas, 3 June 2008, 7:30 PM.

The Southern Nevada chapter of ALL has been busy over the past few months doing some outreach, literature drops, and making contacts with the local networks of anti-statist and social justice activists. In addition to our April 15 Tax Day flyering action, and some informal get-togethers, Southern Nevada ALLies have also:

  1. Done literature drops around town, using William Gillis’s excellent Market Anarchy zine series, and a couple of Vegas Anarchy pamphlets of our own (more on that, soon, I promise) using a version of his template adapted to our local situation;

  2. Put on a small networking and outreach event for the Libertarian Party of Clark County’s last monthly meeting, to get our name out and pass out some literature;

  3. Participated in Las Vegas’s May Day rally against the criminalization of peaceful immigrants; and

  4. Worked together with the Las Vegas United Coalition for Im/migrant Rights to help them organize and promote the 23 May March for the DREAM.

As a result of our outreach event last month, I have been invited the give a talk about Southern Nevada ALL, and left-libertarianism more broadly, at the next meeting of the Libertarian Party of Clark County, TOMORROW, Tuesday 3 June 2008. The meeting will last from 7:30 PM to about 9:00 PM; the LP hosts an informal coffee-klatsch (or bier-klatsch, or whatever) sort of meet-and-greet after the meeting from 9:00 PM onward. I plan to pass out some literature, give a prepared talk — about 1/3 about Southern Nevada ALL itself and what we do, about 1/3 about anarchist and left-libertarian goals broadly, and about 1/3 about direct action, counter-economics, and other means of effecting social change outside of electoral politics — and then to field some Q&A. Mild-mannered and uncontroversial as I may be, I hope for some lively discussion.

Here are the details on the event:

  • WHAT: Talk by Charles Johnson on Southern Nevada ALL, left-libertarianism, and non-electoral activism
  • WHEN: Tuesday, 3 June 2008, 7:30 PM
  • WHERE: Boomerang’s, 6650 Vegas Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada; located on the corner of Vegas Drive and Rainbow Blvd.

One logistical note for those in the area: Boomerang’s is way out on the edge of town; it takes me about half an hour to get their by car. If anyone wants to go but needs help with transportation or wants to carpool, get in touch with me either privately or in comments, and let’s see what we can work out.

For the record, Southern Nevada ALL does not work through electoral politics and is not affiliated with any political party or candidate. But the talk should provide a good opportunity to do some outreach, get our name out, pass out some literature about ALL and left-libertarianism, and maybe find a few new ALLies or fellow travelers. It’s also a good chance to practice some good old soapboxing, and if it goes tolerably well, I hope that we can use it, or something like it, as a model for outreach and talking with other groups — voting libertarians, organized Pauliticos, non-libertarian lefty social justice groups, social anarchists, etc. — with whom we have significant differences but also substantially overlapping interests, and amongst whom might be possibly find a few new ALLies or at least fellow travelers.

It will also be a good opportunity for anyone in the area who’s interested in learning more about ALL to do so, independently of how much or how little interest they may have in the Libertarian Party specifically. So if you know anybody in Las Vegas, or in the area of southern California, southern Nevada, or northwestern Arizona, more broadly, who might be interested — whether or not the Libertarian Party is particularly their thing (after all, it’s not particularly my thing, either, but I’m happy to talk with and work with them on many issues of common concern) — then please do forward the announcement on to them.

More to come soon; watch this space.