Counter Culture

May 23, 2010

Allison Kilkenny writes:

The free market can’t provide solutions to many social problems. As Oliver Willis (sarcastically) put it, “instead of boycotting [the] bus, rosa parks should have been an entrepreneur and started her own bus service. let the market decide.” Therein lies the problem with Libertarian [sic] philosophy. Social minorities aren’t in a position to start their own businesses, and they are frequently at the mercy of state and private business policies. We can’t all be the CEO of BP. Most people live on the other end of the social spectrum, like the poor fishermen, standing on the Louisiana coast, waiting for the oil to hit the shore.

First things first. Repeat after me: Rand Paul is not a libertarian (or a big-L Libertarian, for that matter).

Next, a history lesson. Rosa Parks was standing up to state laws, not the bus company per se. It was precisely the existence of the government’s laws that prevented the free market from having any chance of working in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

Alex Strekal (Brainpolice) asks, “What is Mutualism?”

Charles T. Sprading’s 1930 Mutual Service and Cooperation provides what I think is a pretty useful answer (HT Shawn Wilbur). Read the rest of this entry »

In a new post, Gene Callahan expands upon his recent theme of “rejecting ideology,” particularly with respect to libertarianism. At one point in the comments, he made a statement that I found interesting:

Given the existence of people who disagree, the libertarian claim to be uniquely ‘non-aggressive’ is bogus — libertarians will not aggress against those who accept their political system, and will aggress against those who don’t — just like every other political doctrine.

Is he making a variation of the classic (and flawed) “argument from disagreement” for relativism? I wasn’t sure, but it seemed to me this might be the key to getting a grasp of his argument. I decided to ask for clarification:

So what? Are you implying that truth is relative? Is that what all of this talk about “rejecting ideology” means, i.e. that you’ve come to accept a sort of radical relativism about justice?

You’ll only see my questions here, however, since they disappeared. Callahan seems to be having some trouble with the comments on his blog randomly going away.

That’s Unpossible!

May 14, 2010

Gene Callahan confesses to a problem he sees for “ideological anarchism”:

But consider the institution of private property, which anarcho-capitalists [sic - only them?] often hold out as ‘peaceful’ and ‘voluntary,’ as opposed to the ‘violent’ and ‘coercive’ State. Well, it is true that private property is peaceful – just so long as everyone agrees to follow the same property rules, in other words, its peacefulness depends upon its voluntariness. But the latter is often absent. Many, many times, people fail to agree on just who owns what – and then private property turns violent and coercive. Let’s say you believe wild lands should be free for all to roam, while I believe I own some woods in which I employ my truffle pigs. If this difference of opinion cannot be resolved, and the issue is of some importance to each of us, one of us will wind up coercing the other to accept his point of view.

The State is either peaceful and voluntary or violent and coercive in just the same way and for just the same reasons. As long as everyone agrees to and follows the State’s rules, there is no need for violence and coercion. It is only when there are disputes over the rules, or an unwillingness to follow them, that violence ensues.

…government can exist without coercion in the exact same way and to the exact same extent that private property can exist without coercion: to the extent everyone voluntarily respects its rules.

But what if it is not possible to “voluntarily respect [the state's] rules” or for the state to “exist without coercion”? Read the rest of this entry »

Charles Johnson, Gary Chartier, Steven Horwitz, Sheldon Richman, and Roderick Long at APEE's Free-Market Anti-Capitalism panel in Las Vegas, 13 April 2010

Rape, OK!

May 13, 2010

TRIGGER WARNING This post and its links contain information about sexual assault and/or violence against women which may be triggering to survivors. Read the rest of this entry »

What a Bunch of…

May 1, 2010

I’ve always had my doubts about Francois Tremblay, although other anarchists tried to talk me out of it. But now it seems that my suspicions were in fact warranted. Look at this page criticizing C4SS’ first online course. You’re going to double-take when you see this:

Can anyone now doubt of their evil intentions, to propagate capitalism and portray it as Anarchism?

Now keep in mind, his blog is called CHECK YOUR PREMISES. And his main approach here is to jump to conclusions! There is absolutely no indication that he bothered to ask anyone involved with the course or that he watched the introductory lecture that provides extensive qualifications about the choice of text. In fact, he completely overlooks the work of Gary Chartier, the instructor, opposing capitalism. Can anyone now doubt his evil intentions, to propagate disinformation and portray it as fact?*

* I, of course, don’t think Francois has evil intentions. This was parody designed to show the absurdity of this kind of intellectually lazy attack on people doing good, solid work for anarchism. If I had a few bucks (people used to say “nickel” but inflation…) for every assigned text in school that had nothing to do with the instructor’s own views, I take my wife out for a long session at Kaito Sushi. Osusume wa nan desu ka.

Here’s Gary, from the intro lecture:

The point of the course is to introduce you to anarchism, not exclusively or primarily the variety of anarchism laid out by the Tannehills…Again, we are using this book…not because it’s perfect but because it’s a useful conversation starter and is readily available. You can question and you can challenge the Tannehills…as much as you like. We are not reading a sacred text; we are exploring one illustrative proposal. And your goal, especially in a course about anarchism, is not to submit to the authority of the author…Your goal is to think critically and reflectively…

What a wonderful idea!

Happy May Day

May 1, 2010

I saw the machines, the things that men had made to ease their burden, the wonderful things, the iron genii; I saw them set their iron teeth in the living flesh of the men who made them; I saw the maimed and crippled stumps of men go limping away into the night that engulfs the poor, perhaps to be thrown up in the flotsam and jetsam of beggary for a time, perhaps to suicide in some dim corner where the black surge throws its slime.

I saw the rose fire of the furnace shining on the blanched face of the man who tended it, and knew surely as I knew anything in life, that never would a free man feed his blood to the fire like that.

I saw swarthy bodies, all mangled and crushed, borne from the mouths of the mines to be stowed away in a grave hardly less narrow and dark than that in which the living form had crouched ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day; and I knew that in order that I might be warm — I, and you, and those others who never do any dirty work — those men had slaved away in those black graves, and been crushed to death at last.

I saw beside city streets great heaps of horrible colored earth, and down at the bottom of the trench from which it was thrown, so far down that nothing else was visible, bright gleaming eyes, like a wild animal’s hunted into its hole. And I knew that free men never chose to labor there, with pick and shovel in that foul, sewage-soaked earth, in that narrow trench, in that deadly sewer gas ten, eight, even six hours a day. Only slaves would do it. I saw deep down in the hull of the ocean liner the men who shoveled the coal burned and seared like paper before the grate; and I knew that “the record” of the beautiful monster, and the pleasure of the ladies who laughed on the deck, were paid for with these withered bodies and souls.

I saw the scavenger carts go up and down, drawn by sad brutes, driven by sadder ones; for never a man, a man in full possession of his selfhood, would freely choose to spend all his days in the nauseating stench that forces him to swill alcohol to neutralize it.

And I saw in the lead works how men were poisoned; and in the sugar refineries how they went insane; and in the factories how they lost their decency; and in the stores how they learned to lie; and I knew it was slavery made them do all this. I knew the Anarchists were right — the whole thing must be changed, the whole thing was wrong — the whole system of production and distribution, the whole ideal of life.

And I questioned the government then; they had taught me to question it. What have you done — you the keepers of the Declaration and the Constitution — what have you done about all this? What have you done to preserve the conditions of freedom to the people?

Lied, deceived, fooled, tricked, bought and sold and got gain! You have sold away the land, that you had no right to sell. You have murdered the aboriginal people, that you might seize the land in the name of the white race, and then steal it away from them again, to be again sold by a second and a third robber. And that buying and selling of the land has driven the people off the healthy earth and away from the clean air into these rot-heaps of humanity called cities, where every filthy thing is done, and filthy labor breeds filthy bodies and filthy souls…

You have done this thing, gentlemen who engineer the government; and not only have you caused this ruin to come upon others; you yourself are rotten with debauchery. You exist for the purpose of granting privileges to whoever can pay most for you, and so limiting the freedom of men to employ themselves that they must sell themselves into this frightful slavery or become tramps, beggars, thieves, prostitutes, and murderers. And when you have done all this, what then do you do to them, these creatures of your own making? You, who have set them the example in every villainy? Do you then relent, and remembering the words of the great religious teacher to whom most of you offer lip service on the officially religious day, do you go to these poor, broken, wretched creatures and love them? Love them and help them, to teach them to be better? No: you build prisons high and strong, and there you beat, and starve, and hang, finding by the working of your system human beings so unutterably degraded that they are willing to kill whomsoever they are told to kill at so much monthly salary.

This is what the government is, has always been, the creator and defender of privilege; the organization of oppression and revenge. To hope that it can ever become anything else is the vainest of delusions. They tell you that Anarchy, the dream of social order without government, is a wild fancy. The wildest dream that ever entered the heart of man is the dream that mankind can ever help itself through an appeal to law, or to come to any order that will not result in slavery wherein there is any excuse for government.

- Voltairine de Cleyre, “The Dawn-Light of Anarchy”

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