On the Racism and Pathology of Progressive Left First-World Activism

Why Systems Become Murderous Exploitation Machines

Arguably the three most influential end-point models of political organization are best represented by Adam Smith (capitalism), Karl Marx (socialism/communism), and Mikhail Bakunin (anarchism).1 ,2 ,3 These three men and many other persons who contributed to critiquing, perfecting and adapting or combining these end-point models were unquestionably brilliant, acute, and incisive.

The problem is none of these models has ever been put into practice in a sustainable way. This is because none of these models or their adaptations and combinations can successfully be put into practice by engineering a system for people to inhabit.

For these ideal models to work they must arise from a self-organization in which every individual has both the capacity to recognize when a foundational element of the model is being corrupted by a particular practice and the capacity to intervene to prevent or correct the corruption. With the capacity to intervene comes capacity to recognize.

The American libertarians understood this and inspired a revolutionary constitution that guaranteed the individual the right to intervene (bear arms, free speech, etc.). This libertarianism also nurtured a deep and healthy cultural distrust of governments, institutions, banks, and corporations.

To be sustainable, the above-mentioned socio-politico-economic models and their combinations cannot be imposed and managed from the top but instead must be driven from the base; must be discovered and developed by the individual connected to his/her community, and must be controlled by the individual via personal agency. As soon as the individual has little or no influence to correct the system then there is runaway hierarchical command and control and all the nasty oppressions that this necessarily implies.

For example, all three men mentioned above knew (expressly believed) that capitalism would lead to capital monopoly and the associated predation of the top corporatists and financiers. Smith wanted to prevent this by government and international regulations – although he underestimated the now obvious reality that capital would always evolve to own government. Marx saw world economic monopoly (globalization) as an inevitable consequence of capitalism and he elevated globalization to the status of a natural law. Bakunin saw that Marx’s model could not be applied without leading to the same kind of irreversible hierarchical predation as with capitalism.

Instead of being based on the power of individuals to monitor and correct, applied “capitalism” and “socialism” have been organized from the top, put in place via elite-run social engineering, and have used theoretical concepts of capitalism and socialism to rationalize and justify unrestrained hierarchical control by a dominant elite which has graciously provided illusions of democratic participation via workers’ councils, unions owned by the bosses, and fixed elections of elite-selected candidates.4

Activism to Stop the Exploitation Machine

This brings us to the question of First-World activism. How can individuals best obtain enough power to correct the most destructive aberrations of the present runaway command and control hierarchy of exploitation and oppression?

Here, in my view, two of the most important critics and theorists of First-World activism are Herbert Marcuse (One Dimensional Man) and Ward Churchill (Pacifism as Pathology)5 , 6 their work on the psycho-sociology of First-World activism is as acute and incisive as the works of Smith-Marx-Bakunin on socio-politico-economic models. I must add the canonical work of Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed) geared towards liberation of the most wrenched but, in my opinion, universal and applicable to First-World activism.7 ,8

Marcuse explains in detail the fundamental challenge of activism seated in the relative comfort and relative personal freedom of the modern middle class. Churchill focuses on the main psychological defence reaction of First-World activists challenged by their consciousness of the broad murderous underbelly of the system. Freire simply lays out the universal essence of liberation from a necessarily-oppressive hierarchy, like few others have.

The goal of activism within capitalist and socialist hierarchies is for the individuals (ordinary citizens and mid-level managers) to find ways to effectively challenge and correct the system, thereby flattening the hierarchical pyramid rather than allowing or enabling its otherwise incessant sharpening. The goal of the activist is to increase democratic participation (i.e., direct influence) in all areas of activity and to reverse or impede the otherwise increasing concentration of power.

Optimally, the activist practices direct influence at the point of his/her strongest connection to the economy; at work for the worker, at school for the student, on the street for the homeless person, etc. This is the point at which the system has the strongest grip on the individual, but it is also the point where the individual has the most power against the system’s authoritarian oppression. Expressed as the Freirian mantra – in activism, in the struggle for liberation, “one can only fight one’s own oppression.” Our oppression primarily results from the undemocratic hierarchy that controls our lives.9

As middle class citizens of an empire, if we create an increase in democracy and a reduction of authoritarianism, then those exploited by the empire in the under classes and abroad immediately benefit from a loosening of the system’s grip.

Of course one also supports the struggles across social classes and across national borders and one derives knowledge and inspiration from the struggles of others, but the murderous killing machine will only become more powerful and more ferocious if we do not practice anti-hierarchy activism at the point of our strongest contact with the hierarchy.2 , 3 , 6 , 7 , 10

Of course, this true activism against our own oppression and against hierarchical domination, like any true activism, is an activism that carries the highest potential risk for the individual. One cannot fight an oppressor without exposing oneself to backlash.11 And the best safety net against this consequence of the battle is organization and community.

And Now the Pathology

And this is where the pathology starts. Why lose a good thing? Why risk job loss? Why create tension at work? Why not just get the degree and climb the hierarchy from which one can act? Cannot more be achieved by cooperation? Isn’t confrontation what oppressors do? Won’t we just become oppressors? Etc.

There are a million elaborate and slogan-supported rationalizations to not be an activist and most involve re-definitions of activism in terms of actions that present no significant risk to one’s socio-economic status.

For example, several players pick up the above need in activism to “organize” and substitute the organizing itself for the activism. The latter organizing is not one rooted in necessity for safety and in self-defence but instead takes on the characteristics of a membership drive and an educational program to build shared opinions.

This avoidance often involves the mystical notion of the “critical mass” whereby if enough citizens acquire the same opinion, then this opinion is magically implemented by the system, by some unspecified mechanism never before observed in history. Critical mass is a concept of physics and involves a nuclear chain reaction, but it is only relevant if one has a critical mass of radioactive nuclei – determined individuals prepared to react and create an explosion. It doesn’t work for opinions acquired mainly by reading flyers and watching documentary films.

Following this mythology of critical mass of opinion, organizers note that the 1960s brought out 10s and 100s of thousands of protesters into the streets and falsely conclude that we therefore need only bring out large numbers of protesters to accomplish societal change. They fail to realize that the protesters of the 1960s were protesting as an external demonstration and extension of their real activism at work and in community and that their mass movements included riots that were a serious concern for power that was already overstretched in Vietnam.5 , 12

In the present context of relatively advanced corporate fascism and socially engineered compliance,13 ,14 power knows that even large numbers of peaceful demonstrators will obediently go back to work on Monday morning and will not spontaneously and physically unseat their elected “representatives” or bosses.

Pacifism is the main pathology identified by Churchill. Not the true combatant-pacifism of Gandhi who said that it was better to take up arms than to practice a false pacifism of cowardice,15 but the pacifism of dogmatic non-violence as a substitute for direct anti-hierarchical activism. This pacifism is often accompanied by pathological conflict avoidance and by escapism into religion or ecological sectarianism and by the privileged practice of isolated alternative community building as an escape from the hierarchy of the dominant system. All these reactions were explained by Marcuse.

Other diversions include the amplification of valid but secondary and privileged preoccupations to be oppressed fairly within one’s class. Here I tentatively include: gay marriage, pay equity for women, affirmative action, political correctness activism, co-optation unionism, health care protection activism, ethical investment activism, and so on.

I mean that these struggles are generally rigorously confined by their practitioners in such a way as to protect and reinforce the overarching (workplace) economic hierarchical domination which in turn continues to increase its violent oppression of the included groups and to increase its exploitation of the excluded groups.

Gay marriage activism is a move towards equal treatment for all but is practiced in such a way to increase the state’s hierarchical control of relationships by strengthening rather than reforming the intrusive institution of state marriage; and the married gay couples continue to be oppressed by work and their children by school.

Pay equity activism is equal treatment by the oppressor in the wage slavery enterprise but is generally practiced in such a way as to bring women into the fold without necessarily making the workplace more democratic.

Affirmative action corrects a wrong but maintains the oppressive workplace unless individual employees directly fight against both racism and undemocratic authoritarianism.

Political correctness is an offshoot of pathological conflict avoidance, a desire to isolate oneself from any risk of (verbal) conflict via mental environment oversight rather than a commitment to participatory cultural transformation.

Co-optation unionism, the dominant form of unionism in North America, is a cancerous affliction in which workplace democracy and individual responsibility (e.g., professional or trades person independence) are horse traded away for salaries and benefits, under the threat of global economic “restructuring.” It works hand in hand with power to drive the system towards increased central command and control, towards corporate fascism. It dehumanizes the worker. Instead, unionism could be practiced as an arm in the struggle to democratize the workplace but it almost never is.

Universal health care coverage activism is practiced in a way which further locks us into the insane Big Pharma and technological medicine trap that the medical establishment has driven us into and further moves us away from public health and towards an ignorant dependence on a corrupt profession; whereas it could be an occasion for citizen involvement and for a broad participatory and empowered debate. Instead, it does nothing to put individuals responsibly in charge of health priorities.16

Let me not even address the absurdity of “ethical investment activism,” an oxymoron if ever there were one. It’s up there with the insanity of the corporate plan to make ethanol from food as a substitute for oil which some green anti-CO2 sectarians have supported. (If you don’t want to produce CO2, kill yourself.)17

And so on. Equal treatment activism should be an occasion for anti-hierarchical activism not a substitute for it. That is not what one observes.

Let us not forget lifestyle and consumer choice false activisms, the less extreme versions of isolated alternative community life. I vote with my consumer choices? If we all just consumed responsibly and reduced our carbon footprints, the world could be saved? In fact, all societal efficiency gains are always made up for by increased global consumption. If cars can be made to consume less energy, then there will be more cars… This false activism is a classic guilt alleviation strategy that does nothing to confront the oppressive hierarchy. Instead, it protects the system by diverting individual attention towards inconsequential pursuits.

There are as many creative psychological devices to rationalize and internalize one’s subservience to the oppressor as there are individuals that support the killing machine. Since the killing machine most brutally targets brown people, Churchill proposes that this pathology of pacifism (which enables the killing machine) is a supreme racism, no matter how politically correct one’s language and consumer choices are.

Resilience of the Pathology

The first problem is one of perception.

The single largest barrier to human perception in a hierarchy is the individual’s desire to maintain his/her status within the hierarchy, as measured by economic and class status.

This barrier to perception is so strong that it may as well be physiological. In most circumstances it is just as difficult for a slave to perceive that he/she is a slave as it would be for the slave to see in the ultraviolet segment of the light spectrum. “I need the master because he protects us and organizes the work…” Indeed, the largest practical challenge in Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed is to create circumstances and occasions in the hope that self-awareness of the subject’s oppression will be catalyzed and nurtured.

Similarly, it is virtually impossible for members of the First-World middle class to perceive the depth of their own oppression and exploitation. They reason that they are relatively privileged and therefore cannot be oppressed, and they adopt the oppressions of others; or they blame themselves for all “failures” and difficulties and practice self-destruction; or they displace their need for meaningful work and societal agency with any number of transfers and escapes; etc.

The second problem is one of perception.

Most of all, it is impossible for institutionalized individuals in the First-World middle class to perceive solutions that involve risk, the possibility of losing economic and social status. We have no experience of defending ourselves against our oppression. We only have the experience of an institutionalized existence of compliance where our lives are laid out in stages: school, graduations, diplomas, career development, student debt management, mortgage payments, retirement savings…

In addition to this, individuals subjected to a hierarchy of domination are trained to seek approval and to fit in. They lose the natural tendency to seek truth and instead accept and feed upon the “tapestry of lies” (both right and left) provided and maintained by power and its army of service intellectuals.4 , 18 Information that is contrary to the approved mental environment is considered threatening and is either vehemently rejected or ridiculed. A good example of this response is the vicious cynicism of so-called-progressive left citizens and “activists” that is reserved for “conspiracy nuts” such as the proponents (truthers) of the 911-truth movement.

Information that would cause the First World middle class activist to question his/her no-risk-to-status response to perceived (and transferred/displaced) injustices or to question the value of his/her longstanding investment in the particular adopted no-risk-to-status response to the perceived injustices is denied entry and attacked.19 It cannot be perceived as something that is potentially true. The truthers themselves, for example, can delve into off-the-charts considerations only because this information is not threatening to them: They have adopted the belief that simply uncovering the truth and exposing it and explaining it can produce the needed change, if only a critical mass of informed citizens can be achieved via cyber space and public event or media activism.

All in all, truth is not compatible with approval and individuals subjected to a hierarchy of domination have little regard for truth. The substitute of choice is “like-mindedness”. This is why so-called-progressives hold “education” in such high regard. They intuitively understand that flyering and documentary films (etc.) are effective ways to sway institutionalized citizens into a given variety of like-mindedness.

There is almost no realization among First World activists of Freire’s praxis of liberation via fighting one’s own oppression as the only way to uncover the truth about one’s life.

Conclusion and the Vitality of the Right

We should despise both the authoritarian Right which leads to corporate fascism and the paternalistic Left of socialism and communism which leads to communal castration and death of the individual. Both Rght authoritarianism and Left paternalism depend on and produce control hierarchies. All hierarchies are violently oppressive by nature.7

First World citizens cannot significantly contribute to the needed anti-hierarchy activism and will only accommodate power and protect the killing machine as long as they are unable to authentically perceive their own oppression by the same hierarchy that is violently oppressing us all because the obedience training of school, the indoctrination of graduate and professional schools, and the complete control of the worker by the finance-corporate economy are unmistakably violent processes that deprive us of our humanity.

In this regard, the Right is more effective than the Left. Left progressives mistakenly see their privilege as proof that they are not oppressed. In fact, their “privilege” is only the reward for accepting to be violated in making them into gatekeepers and supporters of the hierarchy. Intuitively they know that effective activism could compromise their “privilege.”

The Right activists, on the other hand, root their politics in individual rights and see themselves as threatened by structures and changes that would remove their individual rights. In this way, they are closer to the true impulse of the anti-hierarchy activist and therefore represent a formidable instrument of power when they are manipulated.

Leaving aside the religious fanatics on the Right that would impose their beliefs on us all and the political correctness fanatics on the Left that would impose their beliefs on us all, American libertarianism has deep roots and is a powerful potential ally of anarchy-inspired anti-hierarchy (pro-democracy!) activism.

To my reading, American libertarianism is not an insignificant fringe movement and probably has not been co-opted to the same degree as fringe left anarchism. Dedicated anti-hierarchy activists, the only hope for significant First World contributions to liberation, would do well to ally themselves with libertarians and to participate in the societal discourse about the place of libertarianism in society.

Damn yes, own guns, no required schooling, no bank bail outs, no head office corporate decisions, voluntary taxation, accountable politicians, no insurance company controls, accessible cost-recovery-interest community-bank loans to individuals, coops and small businesses, no party-selected candidates, no wars abroad, no surveillance or personal information gathering, complete transparency in public and corporate affairs, no prohibition of any substances, no personal lifestyle and work choice criminalization, voluntary personal safety decisions, no restrictions on growing your own food, decriminalized assisted (or not) suicides, no legal or government bankruptcy protections for creditors (people first), health freedom, no barriers to work, no corporate or government controlled media, only community-controlled corporations…

A consistent application of libertarian principles anchored in individual freedom could go a long way to dismantling oppressive structures.

  1. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, 1776. []
  2. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848. [] []
  3. The Basic Bakunin – Writings 1869-1871 by Mikhail Bakunin. [] []
  4. For a discussion of the illusions provided and maintained by power see the essay “Some big lies of science” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010. [] []
  5. One Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse, 1964. [] []
  6. Pacifism as Pathology by Ward Churchill, 1986. [] []
  7. Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, 1970. [] [] []
  8. Need for and Practice of Student Liberation” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010. []
  9. For an explanation applicable to the professional work environment see “Disciplined Minds” by Jeff Schmidt, 2000. []
  10. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, 1980. []
  11. Activism and Risk – Life beyond altruism” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2007. []
  12. For example, see Understanding Power – The indispensable Chomsky by Noam Chomsky, 2002. []
  13. Canadian Education as an Impetus towards Fascism” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009. []
  14. G20-Toronto and lost sovereignty — A critical examination of the role of the CCLA” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010. []
  15. Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi” by Norman G. Finkelstein, 2009. []
  16. See note-4, “Some Big Lies of Science”, for a discussion of the “medicine is health” lie. []
  17. Taking CO2 Seriously” (essay) by David F. Noble and Denis G. Rancourt, 2007. []
  18. Against Chomsky” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2008. []
  19. The Activist Wars” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009. []

Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured and Full Professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. While he was at the University of Ottawa, he supported student activism and opposed the influence of the Israel lobby on that institution, which fired him for a false pretext in 2009: LINK. Read other articles by Denis.

42 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Jonas Rand said on August 5th, 2010 at 12:03pm #

    Very interesting but the “9/11 truthers” are not telling the truth about so many real conspiracies that exist, instead preferring to dwell on the non-existent and irrelevant concept of 9/11 as a conspiracy and the insane, eschatological ramblings of Alex Jones. Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “political correctness activism”. It is indeed necessary to focus on analyzing and deconstructing the hierarchies that our society has imposed, but other struggles, i.e. gay rights (not specifically marriage but eliminating the homophobia and heteronormativity in our society) are more than just parochial. They contribute towards equality. I am unsure as to whether you are criticizing labor equality struggles (workplace democracy) or “equal pay” such as for women and men. Workplace democracy struggles are very significant, one example of which is the worker occupations in Argentina in the early 2000s.

  2. David Silver said on August 5th, 2010 at 6:54pm #

    Bettering the human condition has nothing to do with a hierarchy centralization anarchy but rather the relationshiop ic and race and
    how leaders mesh the two in struggle It’s asas backwards. Pathology d0esn’t social, political or cultural dysfunctin, it’s rather the sikness , greedand corruption causes Pathology.I am causes conscouness and tinking and not the other way around

  3. lichen said on August 5th, 2010 at 7:08pm #

    I bet that racist right wing anarchists who intentionally harm the environment and choose to live in hateful, conventional communities will appreciate your stroking of their egos and telling them that they are better than everyone else. I hope you like your gas-guzzling poverty-preserving tea party people, and will continue to enjoy that 50 years in the future when much of the earth is no longer livable because you couldn’t listen to those ‘pesky’ green people. The three people you name are all mindless dogmatists and ideologues, who would strongly approve of lashing out your hate on pre-selected targets whom you condescend to and making racist remarks about. They are nothing.

  4. JoeJ said on August 5th, 2010 at 8:35pm #

    First let me say that this is a very interest thread.

    Many years ago I attended a Libertarian Party meeting — for the most part the people there wanted the freedom to do destructive things to themselves and others – most wanted to be free to do drugs – one there was a member of the Man Boy Association.

    That is hardly grand ideology to build a rational forward going scheme for living.

    Only a new ideology that actually improves the lives of the masses of people should have a chance to succeed in the future.

    Making life safe for the fringes of culture should not be the goal of new culture.

  5. Jonas Rand said on August 5th, 2010 at 8:51pm #

    Denis Rancourt is an anarchist, but he’s far from a militia/Tea Party/right-libertarian type. Here, however, he refuses to consider the significant contributions that certain struggles, such as gay rights, make in advancing equality in our society. Within a hierarchical state framework, there are certain things that one can do to help create equality in society. Promoting awareness of environmental destruction and pursuing conscious living choices (middle class or not) are positive activities. Green capitalism as peddled by BP, whose executives should be put in prison, along with other companies who pollute but pretend to be environmentally friendly, is not a solution at all. However, it is integral that struggles for the rights of minorities and people of color, in the workplace and elsewhere, are fought. The term “politically correct” is often used by the Tea Party and other assorted right wingers who want to find a way to insult anti-racist activists, LGBTQ activists, leftist intellectuals and feminists. They are antipathetic towards those who hold such ideas for their insistence on justice for victims of discrimination in society. Using this term causes me to believe that you too are antipathetic to individuals and groups that hold such positions, though I wouldn’t think you would do so for the same reasons as a pro-gun militia nut. You seem a little more intelligent than this.

  6. Maien said on August 5th, 2010 at 10:14pm #

    Jonas, I did not get the message that Mr Rancourt was refusing “to consider the significant contributions that certain struggles, such as..” . I understood that he made an effort to point out two separate issues, a new perspective for the consideration of readers.

  7. Jonas Rand said on August 6th, 2010 at 1:06am #

    JoeJ, that is a different kind of “libertarianism”, a right-wing exploitative form of “libertarianism” which has almost no sense of ethics and embraces unbridled individualism and competition. In the United States, the term is used to mean this self-centred ideology which favors unrestricted competition rather than a nonhierarchical society that is free of economic class, stratification and discrimination. The latter, which can also be called “anarchism”, is what was initially meant by the term “libertarian”, and how it is used in Europe, from what I understand.

    Anarchists should reclaim the term “libertarian”, so that it shall no longer be used by a bunch of right wing kooks who espouse views similar to those of the racist crackpot Ayn Rand.

  8. lichen said on August 6th, 2010 at 2:52pm #

    Yes, essentially it is a rejection of all new politics; environmentalism, gay rights, children’s rights, feminism, men’s issues, etc. in favor of the same old 19th century ideology, which I’m sure does quite easily play into the far-right ‘libertarian’ frauds. Paradoxically, a university professor is so against the middle class that he wants to institute voluntary taxes and take away regulation of insurance companies.

  9. Deadbeat said on August 6th, 2010 at 7:45pm #

    Denis Rancourt writes …

    To my reading, American libertarianism is not an insignificant fringe movement and probably has not been co-opted to the same degree as fringe left anarchism. Dedicated anti-hierarchy activists, the only hope for significant First World contributions to liberation, would do well to ally themselves with libertarians and to participate in the societal discourse about the place of libertarianism in society.

    Interesting article. There were places where I was in agreement however I would not describe American libertarianism as anti-hierarchy activism. The Libertarians are very much pro-Capitalism which is very much pro-hierarchy. It is their relative privilege that gives them the appearance of “freedom”. I do agree that they are much less co-opted than the Left but that is because Libertarians have been not been corrupted by Zionism like the Left is.

    The problem with Mr. Rancourt’s analysis is he succumbs to ignoring the elephant in the room — that of Zionism and its corruption of the Left.

  10. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 2:04am #

    Deadbeat That is true about ‘libertarianism’, though I disagree about Zionism and some of the people you have named as Zionists like Naomi Klein have never, to my knowledge, said such a thing (unlike Chomsky, who is open about it). American ‘libertarianism’ as described by JoeJ above is different from anarchism in that it is exploitative and unethical.

    Lichen: There is no such thing as “right wing anarchism”. What you are describing is libertarian right-wingers like Milton Friedman and the so-called “anarcho-capitalists” (an oxymoron in itself) who peddle tea party nonsense. I don’t see his entire article as being filled with such things, as I am familiar with some of Prof. Rancourt’s other writings and thoughts. However, some of their rhetoric pervades the article. I see this as a knee-jerk reaction to the co-opting of some of the Left by centrists, as exemplified by many of the people at the recent Netroots Nation conference in Las Vegas. Granted, it isn’t an advisable reaction, as left anarchism has not been very much “coopted” by anything else, but I agree with some thoughts espoused in this article. It is, if anything, an interesting read.

  11. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 2:15am #

    Other parts of this article are extremely quirky, such as the idea of “Damn yes, own guns”, which might as well be spouted off by Charlton Heston or any other “Get-cher-gun-Johnny” member of the NRA. If this is under the justification that “under a statist society, the state uses violence against us, so why shouldn’t we have that right as well”, well okay, but if this is his ideal world, where guns are freely bandied about and used to shoot on sight, well that is not my concept of a “stateless society”. Also his condemnation of “personal lifestyle and work choice criminalization” scares me, as it can lead to measures regulating pollution and rampant environmental destruction by companies or individuals being denounced. He could have even possibly wanted that to be included. Changes in “lifestyle” should come about through the changing of our culture to one of peace and coexistence with nature rather than unrestricted destruction of nature.

  12. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 12:35pm #

    Jonas Rand. You describe the right wing anarchistic Capitalism found on LewRockwell.com. They claim to be libertarian. It is the Jewish brand of libertarianism were the individual is free to do most anything, as long as it is contractually done. Unfettered Capitalism is its main theme. It is thegreed is good type of libertarianism.

    The left wing brand of libertarianism wants freedom for the individual who wants to do things that are considered anti-social. The personal freedom to do drugs, have sex, and rebellion against authority are their main theme. No society can function if a large segment of people are self destructive.

    There is a third brand of libertarian who is not greedy and who wants to live a responsible life without government control. You have to look to early America to see a model of this type of libertarian. Most of these people lived with a idealistic good neighbor Christian philosophy. Because of their idealism, they functioned and flourished without the dark hand of government.

    You cannot have a free mainstream culture without personal idealism. Only when libertarianism embraces personal idealism as its most important theme will it gain a mainstream following.

  13. lichen said on August 7th, 2010 at 4:31pm #

    Personally, I don’t want to go back to early america; I want a new constitution for the 21st century, and to perhaps move up in life as a civilized country–a place that provides guaranteed housing, free college education, free healthcare to everyone, living wage jobs for all in democratic cooperatives. And I want regulations–I want pesticides to be done away with, for toxic pollution and misuse of land to be made illegal, I want clean water not contaminated by industry. None of the christian idealism of early america brought us to that; and I don’t have the same limited imagination as these teaparty people in middle america do; I’d like something more than this deluded stagnation where corporations will inevitably take the place of the state and with worse consequences imo.

  14. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 5:06pm #

    lichen – and you propose to do this by law?

    You are a dreamer – and you dream dreams of oppression – it is you who has no imagination.

    You and most of humanity has benefited from the freedom created by the American Revolution – because of it, life is getting better every day for more and more people. Is the progress uneven – does it go up and down in different places – yes! But to junk the whole thing for total state control is insane – that has been tried and it has miserably failed.

    How sad that you are blind to all this – your post shows a deep hate – not a hopeful rational understanding of the progress of the human condition.

  15. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 5:42pm #

    I’m sorry JoeJ, but the American Revolution was a bourgeois and radical right-wing movement that only represented aristocrats, almost all participants and beneficiaries of the Revolution owned slaves or were simply oppressed peasants forced to participate because of impoverishment (the income gap remained after independence). The US Constitution, today recited, worshiped and interpreted like a holy book, supported an aristocratic form of politics and religion mixed together. There needs to be a new, better, living constitution – one that supports democracy, community control over resources, and workers’ control; one that restricts the greed of corporations and the oppression of people. One thing about the existence of the State is that the State itself is an illegitimate construct of oppression — which is why I support its abolition. Classes must be eliminated, the populace must control their fate and communities their resources. Possessions should be in common and the environment cannot be destroyed in the interests of the short-term hegemony of companies and governments, or human beings will no longer be able to live on this Earth (upon which we are completely dependent).

    JoeJ – what is your political affiliation?

  16. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:07pm #

    Jonas Rand – my affiliation is with volitional Christian philosophy – I am not a R or D or L. When I vote – I vote defensively.

    I believe in free neighbors and the local volitional affiliations that grew into multiple local future providing organizations (enterprises) – that is the only way to bring a none forced prosperity to society.

    Forced good is an oxymoron. It doesn’t work, it has never worked, it will never work.

    Those who advocate force for good – need to show where it ever worked.

  17. teafoe2 said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:12pm #

    How delightful:) I now find myself more in agreement with Lichen than his critic. I don’t see where this post of his shows any “deep hate”. To me it shows an understanding of the true character of the “American Revolution” and the bs about “Christian Idealism”.

    Neither do I see where Lichen is advocating “total state control”. In my opinion, that charge amounts to erecting a strawman.

    Joe J seems to be caught up in a dreamworld, a fantasy of an “America” that never existed. These Christians of his functioned and flourished sans the “dark hand of government” only as long as they didn’t need the help of His Majesty’s redcoats or Gen. Washington’s troops to keep the “redskins” in their place.

    Howard Zinn isn’t my favorite historian, but a quick read of his People’s History of the US might help Joe J emerge from his misery. Of course most of Zinn’s findings were anticipated by Herbert Aptheker but nowadays nobody gives any credibility to “Stalinists” like him and Paul Robeson:) The Foners, Eric and Phillip are also excellent authorities on US history.

    Somebody in an earlier post made some really amazing and wildly false statements about Friere and Marcuse, both of whom were highly original thinkers. I myself value Friere’s work more than I have that of Marcuse, at least I think so; it’s been decades since I’ve cracked either’s books. But I remember enough to know that person didn’t know what she/he was talking about.

  18. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:41pm #

    Freedom will come after this Earth is no longer allowed to be ravaged by companies, and communities must control themselves without social hierarchy or class. Additionally, people’s control over themselves and community-based democratic collective governance (NOT simply voting!) should exist to replace the state. Social justice can be accomplished through transparent governance by communities, and moves ought to be made to eliminate discrimination in favor of tolerance and active acceptance. Prisons never were the solution and better solutions can be implemented on a community level. Most important, however, is that social and economic hierarchy (capitalist class system) is abolished in favor of democratic organization and organized labor controlling the means of production and collectively benefitting from the value of their labor.

    As Teafoe2 said, and I don’t always agree with everything he says, the “Christians” of the American Revolution were murderers and slaveowners whose government was authoritarian. Left-wing libertarians (anarchists) are not all about “sex-drugs-rock-and-roll”, though it does not harm others and it violates personal and individual rights to prohibit such things as degeneracy. However, AIDS protection is necessary, and if you think that is fascist/un-Christian/etc. tell that to people in sub-Saharan Africa, or people who suffered in African-American ghettoes. Also, while I do value Freire’s views over Marcuse’s (assuming you mean Paulo), Zinn was not a Stalinist and didn’t support the Soviets as much as Robeson.

  19. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:50pm #

    teafoe2 – finding the American Revolution to be an ugly event in human history requires great dishonesty.

    I think you stance requires both an irrational hate and the false pretence of superiority.

    I do not think that anything I can write will change your mind one iota.

    I have stopped arguing with racists – it is impossible to get between a racist – his hate and his false sense of superiority.

    I guess the same must be said of communists.

  20. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:52pm #

    Enterprises are not natural constructions, but corporate ones. Hopefully, human beings on this Earth will form a more socially just society where governance is erected by the people of the world, throughout communities, where the Earth is not depleted for guns and bombs. I have been accused of being everything from idealist to fascist to Red Commie, but it does not negate the fact that good, popular, benign governance is possible. A society can be formed, not under the control of a “leader” or a human that has control and the ability to oppress another, or a religion, or even a state, but by communities. I would consider myself a Libertarian Socialist but ideas, debates, and people are greater than labels alone. Simply put, I feel that communities should rule themselves and collectively run our society with agreement and active participation by people for the benefit of all who live upon this Earth. Social justice and participatory education should prevail over punishment, authority (hierarchy) and harm. Capitalism is an unethical system that ravages this Earth, depleting it and risking the loss of everything upon which we as humans depend. Faiths, religions, belief in god a, b, c, or spiritual system x, y, z, should not be ruling over each other, nor should any human being. …

  21. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:53pm #

    Oh don’t play that I have heard it a hundred times before. Are you sure your name is Joe J and not Joe McCarthy?

  22. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:55pm #

    Jonas – please what does this mean?

    “Additionally, people’s control over themselves and community-based democratic collective governance (NOT simply voting!) should exist to replace the state.”

    community-based democratic collective governance (NOT simply voting) ????

  23. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 6:59pm #

    Jonas – what is your affiliation – are you a communist?

  24. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 7:09pm #

    I am a left-libertarian who would identify myself most with the tendencies of anarchist communism or libertarian socialism. Maybe you would consider that the ultimate evil. I am also a 14 year old boy.

    What the quote above indicates is that I believe that communities should meet and decide their political fate, in something similar to Haudenosaunee clan and community councils though not replicating that model. Collective communal decisions should take precedence over individual thoughts and people within communities should meet to hold all-inclusive talks where thoughts are free and so are people. Everyone should have a voice but communities, all being equal, should decide without leaders or hierarchies.

  25. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 7:11pm #

    Also, nobody made an accusation of racism, unless you were comparing DV commenters to communists and/or communists to racists.

  26. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 7:11pm #

    Also, nobody made an accusation of racism, unless you were comparing DV commenters to communists and/or communists to racists, which, if you were, was not exactly clear.

  27. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 7:26pm #

    Jonas – sorry I missed this post. ” I would consider myself a Libertarian Socialist but ideas, debates, and people are greater than labels alone.”

    I more or less agree with these goals. “Simply put, I feel that communities should rule themselves and collectively run our society with agreement and active participation by people for the benefit of all who live upon this Earth. Social justice and participatory education should prevail over punishment, authority (hierarchy) and harm. ”

    But I do not agree with this. “Capitalism is an unethical system that ravages this Earth, depleting it and risking the loss of everything upon which we as humans depend.” Whatever natural resources business uses goes to consumers making their life better. How can that be bad? People have to live. What – are people to shrink back to the cave never touching the Earth? How many caves are there?

    I am not a Capitalist (meaning money) — but I do believe in free association enterprise. Every organization needs a leader – I think that the leader must serve at the pleaser of a supermajority of all the participants in the enterprise.

  28. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 7:35pm #

    Jonas – Yes — I am comparing garden variety racists to garden variety commies — the both look down their noses at other people. They both think that they are superior to others. They both want to subjugate others to their will. Both are bad people. You must agree??????????????

    Also, nobody made an accusation of racism, unless you were comparing DV commenters to communists and/or communists to racists, which, if you were, was not exactly clear.

  29. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 7:46pm #

    Oh god. I did not analyze this fully.

    “…the right wing anarchistic Capitalism found on LewRockwell.com…is the Jewish brand of libertarianism were [sic] the individual is free to do most anything, as long as it is contractually done. Unfettered Capitalism is its main theme…[Left libertarianism] wants…the personal freedom to do drugs, have sex, and rebellion [sic] against authority are their main theme. No society can function if a large segment of people are self destructive. There is a third brand of libertarian who is not greedy and who wants to live a responsible life without government control. You have to look to early America to see a model of this type of libertarian. Most of these people lived with a idealistic good neighbor Christian philosophy. Because of their idealism, they functioned and flourished without the dark hand of government.”

    There is hatred toward Jews here (yes, Milton Friedman was a Jew, but so what? Wasn’t Kit Carson, the man who starved thousands of Navajo and marched the rest to their deaths, a Christian?) as well as a condemnation of libertarianism, excluding classical liberalism, as being degenerate. You paint left-wing libertarians as a bunch of rowdy punk outcastes but refuse to take our ideas seriously. Capitalism is an inherently unethical system, and hierarchical systems are desensitizing and dehumanizing. The classical liberals were very abusive and did not care about the poor as long as they continued to be subjugated, docile, and obedient worker bees for the system. Additionally, what gives the right of “early (White) America” to invade a continent that contained highly well-organized societies and even some sovereign states (Kwakiutl, the Inca and Aztec Empires, Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Mayans), imposing European laws, just to steal natural resources? As are all authorities (including Native American ones), the Europeans’ domestic and settler governments were based on violence and invaded the foreign territory. Instead of trying to peacefully settle into their society, the Europeans simply invaded. Is this ideal?

    “Every organization needs a leader…” – not true as evidenced by, for example, Abahlali baseMjondolo.

    “Whatever natural resources business uses goes to consumers making their life better. How can that be bad?”

    See Hole in the Ozone Layer. Deforestation as well as mass mining have hurt the ecosystems and made them extremely sensitive. Mass deregulation and corporate eco-egotism under Reagan made it possible for corporations to do basically anything they want to the environment. Also, guns are the result of mined metal. Do we really need so many guns?

    “What – are people to shrink back to the cave never touching the Earth? How many caves are there?”

    For hundreds of years before contact with Europeans, there was neither cave-dwelling nor environmental degradation amongst the Haudenosaunee and Kayapo people. There are modern-day alternatives, for example, withdrawing from our oil addiction and transitioning to community-run cooperatives producing sustainable forms of energy. Ideally, they would be created to be suitable for the environment around a specific region, e.g. wind and geothermal energy in deserts. Certain people advocate returns to uncivilized, primitive life – see the obviously hypocritical Primitivism.com for example. I happen to think they are morons, and most anarchists would probably agree.

  30. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 7:49pm #

    No I don’t agree about Communists. All of them are not bad people who want to subjugate people to their will.

  31. teafoe2 said on August 7th, 2010 at 8:19pm #

    Jonas, I guess my sentence construction wasn’t very clear; Herbert Aptheker was like Robeson a lifelong member of the CPUSA, as well as a great and groundbreaking historian. I didn’t mean to imply that Zinn was a “Stalinist”; of course he was an icon of the “Democratic Socialists”, and overly friendly to pro-Israel views, “in my opinion”:)

  32. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 8:20pm #

    Oh thank you for explaining it wasn’t clear to me. Maybe that’s just me. I am a child, you know…

  33. teafoe2 said on August 7th, 2010 at 8:25pm #

    “I am a child, you know”: Jonas if I ever find out you’re putting me on…

  34. Jonas Rand said on August 7th, 2010 at 8:32pm #

    I’ve been accused of that before, and I’m afraid that I am not a fake, though a certain individual has stated this based on false evidence (not for malicious purposes, though). Sadly, while the original person who made the accusations has stopped and is actually quite a friendly person, others have continued to repeat the falsehood. Maybe I should just refrain from reiterating it; I initially admitted it to erase confusion as to particular actions that may be considered atypical of adults.

  35. JoeJ said on August 7th, 2010 at 9:00pm #

    Jonus – ” Capitalism is an inherently unethical system” – “unethical” ?? That is a statement, not a fact – please explain. I have worked for many firms – I don’t think any of them were unethical – imperfect yes – but not inherently unethical.

    ” “Every organization needs a leader…” – not true as evidenced by, for example, Abahlali baseMjondolo. ” — hmm, my ignorance of the entity is overwhelming – please enlighten me.

    ” As are all authorities (including Native American ones), the Europeans’ domestic and settler governments were based on violence and invaded the foreign territory. ” What territory on this earth is not occupied by someone other than its beginning inhabitants? Is not humanity naturally aggressive? Has not humanity begun to change for the better in the last century?

    “Deforestation as well as mass mining have hurt the ecosystems and made them extremely sensitive.” Are we here to serve nature? Or is nature ours to use?

  36. teafoe2 said on August 7th, 2010 at 9:12pm #


    sorry, don’t follow you. “accused” of what? refrained from reiterating what “falsehood”?

    if your aim was to “erase confusion” you have failed miserably, at least in my case. which may be considered atypical of adults or anyone else. so far as I’m concerned go ahead and be anybody you want to be. None of my business or anybody else’s unless you want it to be.

    “if I ever find out you’re putting me on…” is an old bebop era oneliner copped from Steve Allen who probably got it from Thelonious who probably got it from Prez.

    Same era as Red Foxx’s “And FEEDLEBAUM…” or the one about the bebopper who asked the waitress “what kind of pie do you have”, whereupon she replied “the pie’s all gone”, to which the bebopper responded “crazy I’ll have two pieces!”

    “And it’s Vomit, coming up on the inside. And it’s Birdshit, on the rail. Clap hands, here comes Charlie… And FEEDLEBAUM…”

    Next class will be on Lord Buckley’s “Here Come De Naz”.


    I do think it’s important for each succeeding generation to have a sense of the past, of the major achievements of those who have been real gone before:)

  37. lichen said on August 7th, 2010 at 10:28pm #

    I agree with you Jonas–what you’ve described is largely my vision of the world as well. I’m also very strongly committed to expanding children and youth rights; I think people of all ages should have a say in our democratic communities.

    The american revolution involved force and imposed laws in it’s aftermath by a small aristocratic elite that enslaved other people; that is for certain. If that force was good, then surely desegregation, living wage laws, child labor laws, banning agent orange or cluster bombs, even by force and through law, is certainly commendable. It is also clearly hateful and superior to claim that the american revolution is better than, for instance, the Cuban revolution, which contained lots of great communists that I personally would not imply were racist bastards. In other words, I find Joej’s philosophy completely untenable and full of bizarre holes. But I guess that’s what happens when you blend politics with religion.

  38. hayate said on August 7th, 2010 at 10:36pm #

    The above may come across as ott, but I’m thoroughly disgusted with what I’ve encountered at so-called Jewish progressive sites on the web. They have consistently shown themselves to be more concerned with ethno-chauvinism than with solving the zionist problem. It just bloody amazes me the gymnastic intellectual gyrations these crypto-zionists will perform in order to delay the inevitable.

    Give it up guys. We need to live in peace, for everyone’s sake. You’re disgusting racist, power games are obsolete.

    And so are you.

  39. Deadbeat said on August 7th, 2010 at 10:42pm #

    Jonas Rand writes …

    Deadbeat That is true about ‘libertarianism’, though I disagree about Zionism and some of the people you have named as Zionists like Naomi Klein have never, to my knowledge, said such a thing (unlike Chomsky, who is open about it). American ‘libertarianism’ as described by JoeJ above is different from anarchism in that it is exploitative and unethical.

    My take on Naomi Klein is that she is a Chomskyite. So let’s define what a Chomskyite is.

    A Chomskyite are [typically Jewish] left-wing poseurs that sell the “U.S. Imperialism” as a means to deflect analysis away from American Jewish Zionism.

    I have to be distinct here because Mr. Hammond cutely shifted “American Zionism” to “Christian Zionism” giving the impression that they are the dominant configuration of American Zionism.

    Ms. Klein is best recognized for her book The Shock Doctrine: Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Clearly with the current crisis of Capitalism her book published in 2007 would seem to have been exceptionally timely and for this she is getting a lot of notice and air time given to her primarily by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

    HOWEVER there is a big problem.

    Ms. Klein did NOT write the book as a prophecy of the financial crisis which a lot of folks on the Left assume. She wrote the book as a “primer” on the “War on Iraq” in order to sell — NOT the “War for Oil” canard which by that time was getting a good deal of criticism by James Petras but to sell that the “War on Iraq” as a “NEOLIBERAL” project.

    In other words, Ms. Klein transposed her valuable and trusted experience from witnessing the struggles against neoliberalism in Latin America to the “War on Iraq” in order to maintain the shift of any focus AWAY from Zionism to something else. That something else was neoliberalism.

    There was yet another problem however. Her boogieman for the “War for Neoliberalism” explanation was the soon to be late Milton Freedman. Fortunately however old Milton Freedman was alive long enough to have publicly state his opposition to the “War on Iraq” from the start.

    Alas THE contradiction!

    Before I started to question the “War for Oil” axiom I accepted Ms. Klein’s explanation and saw her live on tour. So I’m quite aware of her explanations and the timing of her book.

    The war on Iraq was never a neoliberal project. Iraq was not invaded so that Paul Bremmer could impose an “oil law” on Iraq. Typically neoliberal takeovers do not involve the entire U.S. military. Just read John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hitman to see how it’s really done.

    Klein’s book and explanation was bogus but I’m sure with all the MONEY rolling in and exposure it was worth misleading activists under the guise of “dissent”.

    Also off-topic, Klein is not a socialist. She a big believer in a “mixed” economy which technically makes her a LIBERAL.

    After Klein’s ‘s Schlock Doctrine: Disaster ACTIVISM she was well compensated in typical Chomskyite fashion for successfully diverting attention from Zionism. Her being a regular “go to celebrity” on DN! which is pretty much of parade of Chomskyites is yet another dead giveaway.

    Is Klein a Zionist? I don’t know. However Klein certainly sold out to Zionism. Which is why I have lost respect for her and do not trust her.

  40. JoeJ said on August 8th, 2010 at 12:14am #

    lichen – I used the word philosophy – Christian philosophy – not Christian religion – the educated know the difference. Philosophy and politics flow together like milk and honey.

    “In other words, I find Joej’s philosophy completely untenable and full of bizarre holes. But I guess that’s what happens when you blend politics with religion.”

  41. mary said on August 8th, 2010 at 3:15am #

    ‘The middle class citizens of the empire’ quoted in the article, along with the citizens of all the other countries in the West, have stood and watched production of their requirements transferred to China.

    This is what life is like for the Chinese workers.

    And Now for Some Good News

    We’ll never know the names of all the people who paid with their limbs, their lungs or their lives for the goodies in my home and yours

    By Johann Hari


    At first, this isn’t going to sound like a good news story, never mind one of the most inspiring stories in the world today. But trust me: it is. Yan Li spent his life tweaking tiny bolts, on a production line, for the gadgets that make our lives zing and bling. He might have pushed a crucial component of the laptop I am writing this article on, or the mobile phone that will interrupt your reading of it. He was a typical 27-year-old worker at the gigantic Foxconn factory in Shenzen, Southern China, which manufactures i-Pads and Playstations and mobile-phone batteries.

    Li was known to the company by his ID number: F3839667. He stood at a whirring line all day, every day, making the same tiny mechanical motion with his wrist, for 20p an hour. According to his family, sometimes his shifts lasted for 24 hours; sometimes they stretched to 35. If he had tried to form a free trade union to change these practices, he would have been imprisoned for 12 years. On the night of 27 May, after yet another marathon-shift, Li dropped dead.


    From communism to capitalism and then whence for China?

  42. GLebowski said on August 11th, 2010 at 7:17pm #

    I dunno; as far as I’m aware of, libertarianism is pretty uniquely defined in the USA. Not many other places think of libertarians like the US libertarians do. The US is too full of its own legend; all these historians nitpick about the formation of a society over little more than 200 years, a society that is stained and tinctured with a hell of a lot of Europe and very very little home-spun linsey-woolsey. As far as I can see, US libertarians are in it for themselves. Their basic premises come out of the baked hippy movement of the 70s when it was all cocaine and ZZ Top. Looking like mountain men and getting all countercultural also led these poor people down the path of least resistance. Having too much access to Big Valley and Dallas didn’t help. When you base your philosophy on being a gonzo a la Hunter Thompson, what you have is a selfish bastard, not a libertarian. Their idea of personal responsibility and freedom is “don’t harsh my buzz, dude.” Discipline and social responsibility to others doesn’t fit the hedonistic lifestyle. Because they’re from the 70s, and stuck in the 70s, the air guitar Hendrixes are now the ruling class. They decided that the lure of stock options in the dot-com bonanza made them superstars, and a few of them made out like bandits with Microsoft. That makes the libertarian.

    But it’s only about their liberty. Fuck anybody else’s liberty; that’s not their problem. Just don’t harsh my buzz, dude.

    US Libertarians like to get down with Ayn Rand, or think themselves Richard Brautigans. On their yoga mats, they’ve turned the mystical yoga tradition into Disneyland. Now it’s a multi-billion dollar business, and that came straight out of India with the swami Rajneesh. Hey, it’s personal fulfillment! Of course, that’s all that matters. Personal. Fulfillment. Run over anybody who doesn’t “respect” that. That’s liberty. Absolutely anything goes. Hey, me fuck your spouse? Liberty. Me cop your retirement fund? Liberty. You snooze, you lose.

    Not one shred of decency. That I’ve found. Among US libertarians.