STIGMERGY: The C4SS Blog
War Anarchic: Boudica

Roman incursions into Britain began with Julius Caesar between 55-54 B.C.E. with two separate attempts. The first invasion (55 B.C.E.) was launched on the grounds of supposed support from the Britons towards the Gallic tribes against the Romans during the Gallic Wars (58-50 B.C.E.). This first attempt ended in failure, loosing their cavalry boarded on ships due to bad weather and constant guerrilla attacks by the Britons forced a stalemate. The second invasion (54 B.C.E.) proved more fruitful for the Romans and Caesar as they managed to fight their way to the river Thames as well as establishing a number of treaties and trade partners with local tribes living in the south-eastern parts of the territory. 

It wouldn’t be until about a hundred years later that Rome would even attempt to set foot in Britain again. When it did return in 43 AD under the Roman emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus it would be with much greater success. Rome had wanted access to Britain for some time due to rumors of great material wealth, both in metals and food that were always in need by the large, imperial government of Rome. It would be under these conditions that Boudica of the Iceni tribe would rise to become queen of her people and lead a brutal insurrection against Roman occupation. 

The Romans invaded Britain when Boudica was around eighteen years old, having either previously or within recent times married their husband Prasutagus, whom may have been related to the then king of the Iceni, Antedios. Meanwhile their neighbors to the south in the Catuvellauni tribe, in alliance with other tribes, waged a guerrilla campaign against the Roman army. After a successful battle against the Catuvellauni lead rebellion Claudius established a legionary fortress located at Camulodunum, now modern day Colchester in Essex, as well as the submission of eleven British tribes, including the Iceni under Antedios. 

In 47 AD Ostorius Scapula replaced the first, previously established Roman governor of Britain. Ostorius arrived to the territory under guerrilla attacks and as such, decided to disarm the British tribes, including the Iceni. This was seen both as a threat and an insult to the Britons Celtic traditions and as such rebelled. However, this rebellion would fail and at some point Antedios would die, leaving Prasutagus and Boudica as king and queen of the Iceni. The Romans seized more land around Camulodunum to establish a colonia of veteran Roman soldiers, resulting in the enslavement and execution of many local tribes in an attempt to expand Roman influence, both materially and culturally in an effort to “Romanize” the territory. In 52 AD the king of the Catuvellauni, whom had been a leading figure in much of the resistance up to this point, was captured by Rome. That same year, Ostorius died, replaced as governor by Didius Gallus. 

In 54 AD Emperor Claudius was poisoned, possibly by the mother of his successor, Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus who became emperor of Rome. Later in 58 AD Caius Suetonius Paullinus, replacing Didius Gallus, became governor of Britain and began a vicious military campaign in Wales. After successfully pushing to the north-western borders in 61 AD, Suetonius reached the sacred Celtic groves on the isle of Mona. There, they attacked the isle slaughtering the druids and what resistance was there, cutting down the sacred groves that were located on the isle. This would most likely have been an incredibly painful moment for the Celtic tribes of Britain, and it wouldn’t have been unlikely for Boudica to have heard of this assault against such an important spiritual location. 

In conjuncture to the brutality at Mona, Boudica’s husband Prasutagus died. In death, Prasutagus left a will that was meant to split power between Rome and the Iceni, however this had no legal precedence either in Roman law or Celtic tradition and was therefore ignored. Under Roman law the death of a client king meant that either a new one was to replace them or Rome would take control of the territory directly. In this case, it would be the latter. Boudica, now acting as the sole ruler of the Iceni, was confronted by the procurator Decianus Catus, a financial official of Rome. They began to take inventory of Iceni property and lands, now considered property of Rome. When Boudica objected to this, Boudica was beaten and their daughters were raped. This violent act against Boudica and their daughters wouldn’t silence them however. It would spark a fire that would be felt across Britain and would not be forgotten. 

After uniting with a number of other tribes resistant to Romes imperialism, Boudica attacked Camulodunum, slaughtering the inhabitants and burning it to the ground. The Roman legion Legio IX under the command of Quintus Petillius Cerialis Caesius Rufus attempted to halt the rebellion, but was ambushed by Boudica’s forces, escaping with their cavalary leaving his remaining infantry to be slaughtered. At this point Suetonius would learn of the rebellion and made their way from Mona to Londinium, Boudica’s next target. However, much like Camulodunum, Londinium had no walls or defenses and so Suetonius ordered the town evacuated. Those whom remained were brutally executed by Boudica’s forces. 

Similarly to Camulodunum and Londinium, Verulamium, which had been granted the title of municipium by Rome which allowed for a limited amount of autonomy and participation in Roman government, was raided by Boudica. Suetonius gathered an army of around 10,000 soldiers, made up of the combined forces of Legio’s XIV and XX, as well as a number of auxiliaries gathered from around the local area. Dio wrote that Boudica’s forces number at around 230,000 warriors from various celtic tribes that had allied themselves to Boudica’s cause. Where exactly Suetonius and Boudica’s forces met in battle isn’t exactly known, though some suggest it to be located around Watling Street (A5). 

One might initially think that Boudica’s numbers would have played a decisive factor in the battle. However, the training, equipment and strategem of the Roman army would prove itself once again against the might of the Celtic rebels. The Romans chose to position themselves in a defile in which the woods would be at their back, with open country in the front, taking advantage of an essentially natural fortification. Boudica’s forces met Suetonius’s in the field, Boudica reportedly riding in a chariot, commonly used by the Celts in warfare. The Romans opened the battle with their throwing javelins, followed by a charge in wedge formation, supported by cavalry on their wings. The long swords of the Celtic warriors, which required relative space to swing properly, were rendered ineffective on the cluttered battlefield that favored the Romans shield formations, stabbing with their short swords into Celtic lines. The chariots that the Celts favored proved completely useless against an enemy that had effectively fortified their position. The Celtic warriors weren’t even able to effectively retreat as they had brought their wives in wagons, set up behind their lines to witness the battle, effectively barricading themselves against retreat. The result was an overwhelming Roman victory, slaughtering the Celts and pushing Boudica to suicide, most likely in order to avoid capture by the Romans. Tacitus reports around 80,000 causalities for the Celts and 400 for the Romans. 

Boudica’s revolt resulted in the death of about 70,000 Roman civilians and 7,000 Roman soldiers, if Tacitus’s numbers are to be believed. Boudica’s revolt, while a failure, shocked Roman society with its tenacity and violence. Rome would eventually take control of Britain, but the effects of Boudica’s rebellion are still felt to this day and much can be learned from them and the Celtic warriors that fought by their side. Lessons can be drawn from the successes, failures and context of the insurrection itself. 

Which is what Boudica’s revolt must be understood as, an insurrection. 

An insurrection is a general uprising against the power structure. It is usually a sustained rebellion over the course of days, weeks, months or even years. It is a type of class war that involves a whole population in an act of armed or semi-armed resistance. Sometimes mistakenly called a rebellion, its character is far more combative and revolutionary. Rebellions are almost totally spontaneous, short-term affairs. An insurrection is also not the revolution, SINCE REVOLUTION IS A SOCIAL PROCESS, RATHER THAN A SINGLE EVENT, but it can be an important part of the revolution, maybe its final phase. An insurrection is a planned violent protest campaign which takes the spontaneous revolt of the masses to a higher level. Revolutionaries intervene to push rebellions to insurrectionary stage, and the insurrection to a social revolution. Source.

Under this definition, Boudica’s revolt meets all the criteria for an insurrection. When we consider the revolts that proceeded Boudica’s from the beginning of the Claudian invasion in 43 AD all the way to their own ending in 61 AD, there exists eighteen years of prolonged insurrectionary activity within Britain. Though not necessarily able to be classified as a revolutionary process, the Celtic tribes of Britain certainly were united in a sustained, multi-year long process of warfare against Roman occupation. Boudica’s revolt was an extension of this campaign, which is especially obvious when we consider the targets that the Celtic insurrectionists chose and the kind of violence and destruction unleashed upon Roman colonists and soldiers. Of note is Boudica’s first target at Camulodunum, due to its establishment as a colonia and especially for the temple to the emperor Claudius that had been constructed there by emperor Nero in their honor. In assaulting Camulodunum, the soldiers and survivors that were able to escape the initial attack took shelter inside the temple itself. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Celts burned Camulodunum to the ground, including the temple. The Celts also, according to Roman reports, slaughtered and mutilated much of the towns inhabitants, though to what extent the Romans could judge with their own use of rape, torture, slavery and gladiatorial blood sports is questionable. 

Suffice it to say, the Celtic insurrectionists sought to remove the Romans, and anyone who would ally with them, from Britain entirely. Of the three locations that were assaulted by Boudica’s forces, Camulodunum and Londinium were colonia. Verulamium itself was a Celtic community that had accepted a degree of Romanization and was therefore seen as a threat to Celtic autonomy due to their loyalty to Rome. A clear path of anti-imperialism is present in the insurrectionary campaign of Boudica, for personal as well as social, political, economic and spiritual reasons. This campaign would culminate in the battle against Suetonius. 

The Celts made a number of errors in regards to this particular battle. Equipment wise, the Celts were highly under prepared for the type of engagement that they were about to undertake. While the style of weapons and battle dress of the Celts did not necessarily spell defeat for them, it had to be undertaken with their strengths in mind against whatever weaknesses could be exploited against their opponents, namely the Roman military. However the Celts choose to meet the Romans in open battle, something they were incredibly experienced with, in a position that highly favored the Romans. Not only that but the Celts, under their own arrogance, brought their wives in wagons with them, which would later prevent them from escaping Roman slaughter. The Celtic failure at this battle is quite disappointing given resistance up to this point, especially given the strategic knowledge Boudica had employed previously. There is an argument to be made that, had the Celts been successful in this battle it very well may have completely halted Roman incursion into Britain, at least for some time. 

Boudica’s insurrection demonstrates that the struggle against domination and oppression is not one that can be accomplished over night. It is an evolutionary social process. Boudica’s insurrection was not the first in Britain but rather a part of an established historical struggle. Without that, Boudica would have had little to no reason to resist with the tenacity that they did, barring their own obvious personal reasons for doing so. This history would have given Boudica an understanding of what and why Roman imperialism needed to be resisted. The colonization, enslavement, murder, torture, rape and destruction of spiritual practices and ritual sites that had taken place before Boudica’s insurrection deeply informed their actions and strategy. It is why for example they chose to burn Camulodunum and the temple built there as they represented, both materially and symbolically, Roman domination over their lands and peoples. 

In order to struggle for our freedom against domination, we must understand the history of that struggle for us to understand the context of our current one. Not only that, but we must be united in our struggle, otherwise it may fall apart without direction or understanding of what we are fighting for. Finally, struggling against domination must be understood within the evolutionary social process, that the struggle for freedom itself will contain the potential for a free society within it. These are the lessons that Boudica’s insurrection teach us, ones that I am of the idea must be understood if we are not only to understand the context of rebellions in our own time, but so that we may push them towards their insurrectionary and quite possibly, revolutionary potentialities.

Roderick Long on YouTube: Agoric Cafe

Those who follow the work of C4SS Senior Fellow Roderick Long will be excited to learn he’s got a new project just launched on YouTube. The “Agoric Café” is “…devoted to philosophy, politics, history, literature, and whatever else he feels like sounding off on, as well as video interviews with interesting people.”

Taking its name from the ancient Greek agora, the new channel is devoted to Aristotelean philosophy, anarchist politics, science fiction, and intellectual history. So far there are three episodes available: an introduction, a review of Steve J. Shone’s American Anarchism, and an exploration of philosophical thought experiments and science fiction. Those with eclectic intellectual interests will enjoy the wide range of ideas Roderick covers and his creative approach to key philosophical theories.

Check out Episode 2: On Steve J. Shone’s AMERICAN ANARCHISM

Help Build a Queer Safe Haven and Intentional Community in the Heart of Cajun Country!


Let’s face it, it’s not easy being LGBTQ+ in this society. There is an ongoing rise in the murder rates of trans and gender non-conforming individuals, with the Human Rights Campaign documenting at least 21 murders just this year, which nearly matches last year’s documented 27 murders despite us only being halfway through the year. We are posed to easily pass last year’s murder rates before the end of the year.

LGBTQ+ people are more likely to suffer from abuse, be kicked out of their homes, refused services and resources based on their identities, and face job and housing discrimination. These factors lead to increased suicide rates in the queer and trans communities. Being a person of color, disabled, undocumented, etc. only increases these struggles for many. So where does one go when they have nowhere else? Where does one seek refuge in a red state where so many are against you?

This is exactly why we are working to establish a queer communal homestead and community organizing space in the heart of Cajun Country which we have named Coup de Main. Louisiana is a deeply red state with some of the highest incarceration rates per capita in the entire world. That is why we seek to establish a sanctuary from that as much as possible.

“Coup de Main” is Cajun French for “lend a hand.” We believe this name purposely encapsulates our mission with this project. Being anarchists, we wish to establish a community based on mutual aid and solidarity. The land we are working with was abandoned after Katrina after the trailers on the property were completely demolished in the storm. Since then, they have been left to rot into the ground as nature grew up around them. Now, we have to clear an acre and a half of land from a decade and a half’s worth of overgrowth and two household’s worth of hurricane debris.

Once that acre and a half is cleared, we can build spaces for people to live and thrive, where we can organize community projects and campaigns, where we can collaborate and start worker-run businesses, where we can hold workshops, skillshares, meetings, festivals, and other events.

Even with the land being an absolute mess, it has already served as a community resource, serving as a campground for local houseless folks in need of a safe place to lay low. Coup de Main also hosted a Mardi Gras festival/work party, Coup de Gras, in which we brought Vermin Supreme and his amazing wife Becky to New Orleans for Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras days.

We have more folks interested in joining our community. Many are waiting out hurricane season since we’re still living out of tents on the property and plan to continue in the fall. We have to clear more land, clean things up more, and buy more tools and supplies to adequately care for people and finish the job. We can’t be a tent city forever.

We need gas for the generator and chainsaw, we need water tanks and solar panels, we need weed eaters, stump rot, a decent lawnmower, saws to chop up the trailers for removal, sledgehammers, shovels, rakes, and a new front gate. We need bug spray, water, food to feed those in need, fans to deal with the extreme heat and humidity, battery packs for backup power sources, rain barrels, tables, canopies, building materials, and so much more.

We’ve come a long way since we started earlier this year and many folks have donated time, labor, resources, and money to the cause including the fine folks with Team Supreme, the Coalition of Armed Labor, the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party, Enemy of the State’s Dank Pod-Stash, Green Market Agorist, and so many more. Many individuals, including myself, have put a lot of their own personal money behind this project because it is so important. They have helped us obtain tents, a generator, hand tools, machetes, chainsaws, an outdoor shower, water, food, hygiene products, canopies, fans, batteries, and so much more.

This will be an ongoing project which we hope will serve the community for decades to come. We hope that as an organizing hub, it can serve as a space to inspire positive change in the surrounding community, hopefully making it a safer more inclusive place for those seeking sanctuary at Coup de Main.

So please, if you wish to support this project, spread this fundraising call far and wide! Donate if you can and help boost the campaign by sharing on every platform you can. New Orleans may be known for its vibrant queer culture and community, but just across the bridge many of us still live in unsafe conditions with few resources and a lack of community. Help us offer that community. Together we may end up saving lives and help folks thrive in the process.

Check out the Green Market Agorist YouTube and Bitchute channels for updates.

You can donate via the project’s GoFundMe at: https://gf.me/u/x4sngr

I Am Antifa

If the United States has become gradually less religious, it has simultaneously become entrenched in the quasi-religious ideology of its own corrupt two-party system. Devout liberals figuratively cross themselves, reaffirming their faith in a democratic savior come November–clinging to their faith in democracy without realizing that the system they think will save them is the very system that created the current political situation.

Liberalism is not enough. If religion was the opiate of the masses, it has been replaced. Faith in the US government, faith in a liberal victory in November is, to quote Marx, “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions–the opium of the people.”

It’s not enough to be a liberal
On stolen land in a stolen country 
In a country built off human trafficking, human rights violations, genocide, rape
In a country with monuments to white supremacy still extant to this day
In a country where the president mobilizes militarized force against the citizenry
In a country where corporations will close to prevent looting, but not to protect workers
In a country where the mass-murder of animals is considered essential business

This is a call to anarchists and liberals alike–stand up against fascism now. Do it and do it loudly. If donald trump wants to find “Antifa,” let him.

C4SS Mutual Exchange Symposium: Decentralization and Economic Coordination

Mutual Exchange is the Center for a Stateless Society’s effort to achieve mutual understanding through dialogue.

In this fecund moment of global political collapse and upheaval, amidst pandemics and police repression, there are also seeds of a better world being planted. It is in this spirit that we open this Summer Mutual Exchange on Decentralization and Economic Coordination as an offering to these visions and practices. Most critically, we ask “How can we create a radically free and equitable society that provides for the needs of all sentient beings?”

Read the full exchange here.

To engage with the nitty gritty of this question requires dialogue about the nature of economic coordination in lieu of authoritarian centralism. From this question a great plethora of answers and tendencies have emerged such as proponents of participatory economics (Parecon), p2p advocates, anarcho-communists and other social anarchists, libertarians, left-libertarians, mutualists, social ecologists, geo-libertarians, and much more. From a shared desire for this utopian society, it is worth opening up this discussion in ways that will overcome inadequate exploration in the past thanks to the academic focus on inter state-capitalist imperialist rivalries.

It has been sufficiently established that even in lieu of capitalist economic blockades and internal counter-Bolshevik revolts (both fascist and radical), authoritarian central planning is both untenable and undesirable. The style of massively centralized economic planning utilized in the Soviet Union faced inordinate and inherent problems of complexity, coordination, and political repression. Debate around these issues has often occurred in the context of “knowledge” and “coordination problems” and usually took place between Austrian capitalists, Langean market socialists, state-socialists, and neoclassical economists since the original Austrian critiques.

However, during and since this period a wide range of anti-authoritarian and much more decentralized tendencies have also been propagating their own critiques of Soviet and capitalist economics. These theories accompany movements that are putting them into practice, drawing from long-standing horizontalist traditions. For those that never believed in the totally centralized vision of a command economy, different questions arise. Some of these are:

  • How much can a society economically plan?
  • What is required in order to plan anything?
  • How much decentralization is needed?
  • Can a decentralized and horizontal society exist without mediums of exchange?
  • If so, what limits on scale and complexity does that create?
  • If mediums of exchange are necessary, what risks are inherent to their utilization?
  • Are there mathematical and computational limits to what can be planned?
  • Will advancements in technology help us circumvent the limits facing Soviet or even more decentralized planners?

In order to constrain the scope of the exchange, participants were encouraged to limit these discussions to shared areas of interest. Some of these general themes are:

  • How does your proposal ensure that there is not formal or informal runaway power accumulation resulting in various forms of domination (both social and economic)?
  • How does your proposal concretely eliminate or utilize rivalrous conditions to facilitate economic coordination?
  • How do you ensure that preferences and supply availability are accurately reflected in production?

Through this symposium we hope to help chart a more nuanced path forward and expose the tensions inherent in these difficult topics in service to the radically free and nurturing society which we are all trying to cultivate.

New articles will be posted every Monday and Thursday. After the lead essays, there will be an opportunity for responses to be written. If you have questions or would like to submit a late response or essay please contact editor@c4ss.org.

The essays below the exchange list offer some other resources that we have compiled on the topic to help show the breadth and tensions of the discussion on these themes.


Lead Essays

Reply Essays


Background Readings

Articles on C4SS

Knowledge and Coordination Problems

Criticisms of Standard Market Interpretations of Economic Coordination

Non- Market Approaches to Economic Coordination

 


Mutual Exchange is C4SS’s goal in two senses: We favor a society rooted in peaceful, voluntary cooperation, and we seek to foster understanding through ongoing dialogue. Mutual Exchange will provide opportunities for conversation about issues that matter to C4SS’s audience.

Online symposiums will include essays by a diverse range of writers presenting and debating their views on a variety of interrelated and overlapping topics, tied together by the overarching monthly theme. C4SS is extremely interested in feedback from our readers. Suggestions and comments are enthusiastically encouraged. If you’re interested in proposing topics and/or authors for our program to pursue, or if you’re interested in participating yourself, please email editor@c4ss.org or emmibevensee@email.arizona.edu.

Zachary Woodman on Non Serviam Podcast

Recently, we recorded a crossover episode of Mutual Exchange Radio with Joel Williamson of Non Serviam Media. As part of that project, our host Zachary Woodman was a guest on the Non Serviam Podcast this month.

You can listen to the episode here.

Episode description: Zachary Woodman is a Master of Philosophy student at Western Michigan University, a market anarchist, and the host of the Center For a Stateless Society’s Mutual Exchange Radio podcast. His research interests include political philosophy, meta-ethics, philosophy of social science, and decision theory. He’s particularly interested in the intersections of anarchist and liberal political theory, the legitimacy of political authority, and the practical implications of philosophical anarchism.

In this interview, we discussed why markets matter, democracy, borders, nationalism, Mutual Exchange Radio, Center for a Stateless Society, and a whole lot more.

Support Non Serviam Media — https://www.patreon.com/nonserviammedia

Support Mutual Exchange Radio — https://www.patreon.com/c4ssdotorg

Chelsea Manning is Free! Help Pay Her Fines

Last night, we received the very relieving news that, after yet another suicide attempt while in confinement, a judge has ordered that Chelsea Manning be released after nearly a year of imprisonment for refusal to cooperate with a grand jury.

While this is very good news, it doesn’t come without continued challenges. In an attempt to further coerce Chelsea to cooperate, she was fine $1,000 per day for every day she was in prison. Now, those fines total $256,000. The good news is that you can help by donating to her official GoFundMe campaign organized by our dear friend Kelly Wright.

Here is the full campaign message from Kelly:

This campaign is being organized by her friend Kelly Wright. Funds raised here will be used only to pay legal fines, and will be held in trust for this purpose alone.

Either way, every penny will go towards these fines.*

Chelsea E. Manning is a network security and artificial intelligence expert, and activist. She is a former military intelligence analyst and political prisoner.

Chelsea was incarcerated at Alexandria Detention Center for nearly a year, due to her principled refusal to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the publishers of her 2010 disclosures. She was also fined $1,000 for each day she refused to testify, and those fines now total approximately $256,000.

On March 12, 2020, Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Chelsea Manning’s release after the apparent conclusion of the grand jury, but he further ordered that she pay $256,000 in fines that had accumulated over the course of her confinement.

Chelsea does not have the means to come up with over a quarter million dollars on her own, and is exhausted from this ordeal, and can really use your help repaying these fines.

Thanks so much for your support!

If you are interested in offering an in-kind donation or other support, please e-mail: ReleaseChelsea@protonmail.com

To learn more about Chelsea, check out her Twitter and Medium pages and the ReleaseChelsea.com website.

Bring C4SS to LibertyCon 2020!

The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) wants to bring about a world where individuals are liberated from oppressive states, structural poverty, and social injustice. We use academic studies, book reviews, opinion editorials, essay collections, podcasts, and social media to spread left-wing market anarchist ideas far and wide.

Students For Liberty’s LibertyCon (April 3-5) is the year’s premier gathering of libertarian minds from all over the world – and C4SS is a mere $800 away from getting an exhibitor table at this event. This is a wonderful opportunity to promote radical left market anarchist ideas among libertarians from around the globe.

Every penny counts and the Center appreciates any and all help you are willing to give. Let’s get C4SS to LibertyCon and start building the new world in the shell of the old!

Head over here to donate!

Molinari Review I.2: What Lies Within?

The long-awaited second issue of the Molinari Review (the Molinari Institute’s interdisciplinary, open-access, libertarian academic journal) is here! Nearly twice the length of the first issue!

You can order a paper copy from Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, or, I believe, any of the other regional incarnations of Amazon.

(A Kindle copy should be available later this month. In the meantime, the previous issue is available as a free PDF download here.)

So what’s in the new issue? Here’s a rundown:

  • Anarchist communists reject not only the state but the market as well, arguing that private property and market exchange are as much a source of domination as the instrumentalities of the state. In “Supplying the Demand of Liberation: Markets as a Structural Check Against Domination,” philosopher Jason Lee Byas argues, to the contrary, that individualist anarchism, precisely because of its reliance on markets and the greater plasticity they offer, satisfies the anarchist commitment to non-domination more successfully than communism does. Byas highlights the potential dangers of anarchist communists’ proposed alternatives to markets, arguing that these dangers become even more serious when the dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, and other systems of privilege and oppression are factored in, while the market process can be shown to be a powerful engine for addressing such problems.
  • The economic regulations of the American Progressive Era have long been viewed – whether with approval or with disapproval, depending on the political perspective of the viewer – as a powerful blow against big business. In the 1960s, Gabriel Kolko and other New Left historians argued, to the contrary, that the corporate elite were the major beneficiaries of these regulations – a revisionist thesis soon enthusiastically embraced and promoted (much to the dismay of Kolko himself) by a number of free-market libertarian thinkers, including Murray Rothbard and Roy Childs. In recent years, however, Roger L. Bradley Jr. and Roger Donway have argued (see here and here) that Kolko’s account of the relationship between business and the state during the Gilded Age and its aftermath was flawed by a mistaken conceptual framework and a misleading use of evidence through selective quotation of his sources; for Bradley and Donway, what Kolko made to seem like corporate support for regulation was in most cases merely a matter of corporations adapting to regulation as a form of self-defense. In “The War on Kolko,” historian Joseph R. Stromberg defends Kolko against both the charge of misinterpreting the motives of corporate leaders and the charge of distorting the textual evidence, concluding that Kolko’s work remains “quite unscathed.”
  • Is there any connection between liberty in the political sense and liberty in the sense at issue in the free will debate? John Stuart Mill, in the first sentence of his treatise On Liberty, famously replied in the negative. But in “Libertarianism and Hard Determinism,” “Thomas Lafayette Bateman III and Walter E. Block argue that if a human being were “no more than a moist robot, subject completely to nature’s laws,” then political institutions to protect such an entity’s freedom of choice would be pointless, abstract principles of rights would be meaningless, and seeking to control individual behaviour through totalitarian manipulation and the judicious application of stimuli would seem optimal. Hence political libertarianism and hard determinism are incompatible; a consistent adherent of the first must reject the second.*
  • For the past thirty years, philosophers Jan Narveson and James P. Sterba have been debating whether a commitment to liberty entails welfare rights or instead rules them out. For Narveson, those who acquire property by innocent means are entitled to it, and anyone who tries to take it from them without their consent is violating their liberty; whereas for Sterba, preventing the poor from making use of the excess property of the affluent is a violation of the liberty of the poor to access resources they need, which is a more important liberty than that of the affluent to maintain control of such resources. In “Liberty vs. Welfare Rights – Continued,” Narveson marshals the principles of Innocent Possession and Open-Ended Use to defend the right of the first user as more consonant with the requirements of peaceful and productive human cooperation than the right of the neediest user; in “A Response to Narveson: Why Liberty Leads to Welfare and Beyond,” Sterba argues that a more defensible formulation of the principles of Innocent Possession and Open-Ended Use instead favours the neediest user over the first user.
  • In our previous issue, Gus diZerega argued that contemporary libertarians misunderstand and misapply their own key concepts, leading them to embrace an atomistic vision of society, and to overvalue the market while undervaluing empathy and democracy. The present issue features an exchange among diZerega, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, and myself on these matters, with particular attention to the interpretation of Ayn Rand, in contributions titled (from Sciabarra) “Reply to Gus diZerega on His Essay, ‘Turning the Tables: The Pathologies and Unrealized Promise of Libertarianism’,”, (from diZerega) “Response to Chris Matthew Sciabarra,” and (from me) “It Ain’t Necessarily So: A Response to Gus diZerega.”

Want to order a copy? See the ordering information above.

Want to contribute an article to an upcoming issue? Head to the journal’s webpage.

Want to support this project financially? Make a donation to the Molinari Institute General Fund.

* Incidentally, I welcome Walter Block’s conversion to thick libertarianism – and look forward to his explanation of why his position here doesn’t really count as thick-libertarian. 😛

Anarchy in Philadelphia

The Molinari Society will be holding its mostly-annual Eastern Symposium in conjunction with the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in Philadelphia, 8-11 January 2020. Here’s the schedule info:

Molinari Society symposium:

New Work in Libertarian and Anarchist Thought

G5E. Thursday, 9 January 2020, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon, Philadelphia 201 Hotel, 201 N. 17th St., Philadelphia PA 19103, room TBA.

chair:

Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)

presenters:

Zachary Woodman (Western Michigan University), “The Implications of Philosophical Anarchism for National Identity

Jason Lee Byas (University of Michigan), “What Is Violence?

William Nava (New York University), “The Causal Case Against Contributing to Public Goods

Roderick T. Long (Auburn University), “Ayn Rand’s ‘New’ (Posthumous) Critique of Anarchism: A Counter-Critique

Big Developments in Nathan Goodman’s Work on War

Our former Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies, Nathan Goodman — now a PhD candidate at George Mason University — has been producing some great work on the costs of war, the abuses of empire, and the possibility of non-state defense projects. His work critiques the massive cost of the US military empire, as well as the standard economic rationales for centralized defense provided by the nation-state. He builds on the work of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom and other pioneers of polycentric legal theory to make the case for a less costly, safer, and more humane approach to defense.

In particular, his work on war, peace, and the cost of the US military was recently highlighted at the Ron Paul Institute’s 2019 Washington Conference. You can hear his remarks below:

For a more in-depth study around the possibility of polycentric defense systems, though, check out his new paper “Polycentric Defense” which is up on SSRN and was co-authored with Christopher Coyne. The abstract for the paper reads:

Orthodox economics models defense as a public good provided by a central nation state. This approach abstracts away from the diverse institutions and processes individuals use to provide defense in the actual world. This paper frames defense as a polycentric system whereby dispersed groups of people find context-specific solutions to collective action problems. We explore what polycentric defense looks like, both theoretically and through historical illustrations.

You can also hear Nathan discuss this paper — and some of his other work — on a recent episode of Mutual Exchange Radio, the official C4SS podcast. As we build a new and freer world, working out the specifics on complicated problems such as regional defense is an immensely important pursuit.

Nathan’s groundbreaking work on this subject and others helps both to advance anarchist theory in its own right and improves the consideration of anarchist theory in mainstream academic landscapes. Keep an eye out for more great work on polycentric defense, the costs of imperialism, and anarchist economics from Nathan Goodman soon!

Mutual Exchange Radio: Jahed Momand on Epistemological Anarchism

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This month, we interrupt our scheduled episodes to bring you a special episode from the Please Try This at Home transhumanism conference. In this episode, podcast producer Alex McHugh interviews Jahed Momand on autonomous medicine.

Jahed is a PNW-based anarchist interested in epistemological anarchism and radical approaches to science. He writes long-form essays and a newsletter at againstutopia.com. In the episode, we get into the problems caused by hierarchy and authority in scientific discovery, and specifically the limitations this system has placed on treatment options for mental health issues. Jahed’s research focuses on depression, but we also dig into other mental health issues, such as psychotic disorders and personality disorders. It’s a bit science-heavy, but Jahed explains the terms well and anyone with a basic understanding of biology should be able to keep up.

The episode with Kim Kelly has been rescheduled to next month, so if you were looking forward to that, don’t worry, it’s still happening! We’ll talk about some of the history of pro-gun groups on the left and the anarchist opposition to gun control, but we’ll also cover what it’s like to be a radical writer in today’s media landscape. This also means you have more time to submit questions for Kim over at Patreon! Look out for tips on navigating submissions to non-radical publications as well as a discussion on the world of radical media.

As always, none of this would be possible without our patrons and listeners, thank you so much! 

Molinari Review I.1 Now Free Online, Molinari Review I.2 Heading to Print

In celebration of the 17th anniversary of the Molinari Institute, we’re happy to announce:

a) The long-awaited second issue of the Molinari Review will be published later this month. More details soon!

b) In the meantime, the entire first issue is now available for free online on the journal’s archive page. You can download either individual articles or the whole thing. Contents include:

  • “The Right to Privacy Is Tocquevillean, Not Lockean: Why It Matters” by Julio Rodman
  • “Libertarianism and Privilege” by Billy Christmas
  • “Capitalism, Free Enterprise, and Progress: Partners or Adversaries?” by Darian Nayfeld Worden
  • “Turning the Tables: The Pathologies and Unrealized Promise of Libertarianism” by Gus diZerega
  • Review of C. B. Daring, J. Rogue, Deric Shannon, and Abbey Volcano’s Queering Anarchism: Addressing and Undressing Power and Desire by Nathan Goodman

Enjoy!

Mutual Exchange Radio: Nathan Goodman on the Provision of Public Goods and Welfare in a Stateless Society

You can now subscribe to Mutual Exchange Radio on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

 

This month, Nathan Goodman joined us on Mutual Exchange Radio to discuss the provision of public goods and welfare in a stateless society. Nathan is a PhD student in economics at George Mason University. Previously, he was the Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies here at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS), and you can read his contributions here.

His research interests include defense and peace economics, Austrian economics, public choice, Bloomington school institutional analysis, self-governance, and analytical anarchism. Our discussion centers around his research on why national defense might not always be a public good and how the Mormon church has found ways around game theoretic problems that arise in mutual aid. He also gives a really helpful introduction to polycentricity and some key economic concepts.

Our next episode will feature Kim Kelly, an anarchist writer whose piece on leftist gun culture enjoyed some popularity recently. We’ll talk about some of the history of pro-gun groups on the left and the anarchist opposition to gun control, but we’ll also cover what it’s like to be a radical writer in today’s media landscape. Look out for tips on navigating submissions to non-radical publications as well as a discussion on the world of radical media.

As always, none of this would be possible without our patrons. You can become a supporter of Mutual Exchange Radio — and gain access to bonus content, great C4SS merch, and more — on Patreon. Tune in next month for another perspective in anarchist thought, and always feel free to reach out on Patreon, ask questions, and suggest guests or bonus content you’d like to see!

Statement on the P2P Foundation

It grieves me to write this, but I feel I have no choice but to do so if I want to be able to live with myself in good conscience.

I remember some time ago that Michel Bauwens posted something on the P2P Foundation email list reflecting the mindset of Jordan Peterson and/or Quillette (I forget the details) and expressed my negative reaction to it, and didn’t think any more about it afterward because I didn’t notice anything further along those lines on-list and the Blog has also apparently steered clear of such issues.

But earlier this year a comrade at C4SS informed me that such material — alt-right or “Intellectual Dark Web”-adjacent — was appearing on the P2PF Facebook group, which I don’t follow because I’m not on Facebook. They suggested I might want to think about how closely I associated myself with the Foundation, and avoid any public interviews or guest articles that promoted them. That made me uneasy enough that I minimized the amount of P2PF material I shared on Twitter and limited it to the stuff I considered genuinely indispensable, and any material I saw on the Blog I shared from the original source rather than the P2PF Blog reprint as I would have earlier.

I still wasn’t prepared to make a sharp, public break because I had no idea just how toxic things had gotten.

But in the past couple of days, it’s come to my attention that the Facebook group is rife with tropes from the Intellectual Dark Web, along with explicit promotions of Quillette, Aero and the like as antidotes to “Political Correctness” and “identity politics.” Michel and others have also explicitly iterated common alt-right “reverse hierarchies” tropes suggestive that those in movements like Black Lives Matter and Me Too, as the common bar room refrain puts it, “don’t just want to be equal, they want to be superior!” The wrong-headed (and just plain incorrect) assessment that “identity politics” promotes disunity in economic- or class-based movements also makes a predictable appearance, as does the spurious claim that these things “push people farther right.”

On top of everything else, those who have called out Michel and others for the direction they are taking have been banned from the Facebook group, and have been subjected behind the scenes to campaigns harassing and attempting to discredit them. This is despicable.

As I noted at the outset, this is very hard for me. Michel has shown me great kindness in the past and promoted my work on the P2PF Blog in ways that have been invaluable. Aside from such personal considerations, a great deal of earlier work by Michel, Franco Iacomella, and others is still of monumental importance, and I will continue to cite it in my own work when appropriate.

Nevertheless, I cannot continue to associate myself with an organization whose internal culture has been overrun and contaminated with such ideas, and where such ideas are actively promoted by the leadership. You are giving aid and comfort to a toxic ideology that came to prominence thanks to utterly wretched movements, hatched in the bowels of 8chan, like GamerGate and ComicsGate, which proliferated on social media and in turn gave birth to the alt-right, and are now being mainstreamed by Quillette, the “Intellectual Dark Web,” and pundits ranging from Reason’s Robby Soave and Cathy Young on the right to people like Aimee Terese, Jimmy Dore, and Michael Tracey on the “Dirtbag Left.”

For this reason, I publicly disassociate myself from the Peer-to-Peer Foundation, Michel Bauwens and anyone else engaged in the activities I described above. I will unsubscribe from the Foundation’s email list and no longer promote its content on social media. When I do cite their valuable older work in future publications, I will always add a footnoted disclaimer stating my views on the course they have chosen to take.

I urge Michel and others sharing his views to strongly rethink the direction in which they are headed. The possibilities of Wikileaks, and its accomplishments in 2010-11 in helping to launch the Arab Spring, M15 and Occupy, were of inestimable value. Julian Assange chose to undermine and compromise Wikileaks by hijacking it as a personal marketing and propaganda vehicle, using it to promote his anti-“SJW” agenda and his alt-right allies, and pursuing a personal grudge by intervening in support of the GOP in the American 2016 election. This was an act of utter selfishness and amounted to sabotage of Wikileaks’ potential. I believe that Michel’s embrace and promotion of the ideas he has chosen to identify with have discredited and sabotaged the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives, and seriously undermined its mission.

To repeat, I beg you to rethink this and take action to restore your credibility. If nothing else, this is required by the P2P ethos itself, and by the stake many people and groups not represented in your inner circle have had in the success in your original mission.

If anyone still affiliated with the P2P Foundation shares my concerns, I ask you to make your voice heard and use your influence to the best of your ability within the organization, to rescue it from this cancer.

Mutual Exchange Radio: William Gillis on Positive and Negative Liberty

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Our guest this month was someone familiar to many in the audience, Will Gillis. Will is the director of the Center for a Stateless Society and is a second-generation anarchist who’s worked as an activist in countless projects since getting involved in the lead-up to N30. He studies physics and writes regularly on the egalitarian potential of markets. His writing can be found on his website, humaniterations.net, as well as on C4SS.org.

Today’s discussion centers around a technical topic in political philosophy that has utmost importance for real-world political movements and many ideological debates: the distinction between positive and negative liberty. Will positions himself as defending a universalist conception of positive liberty as primary, against neo-Lockean libertarian views that place negative liberty as fundamental. He also discusses how a heavy priority on negative liberty has led many American libertarians to alt-right and fascist perspectives.

This is a fun, philosophically exciting conversation and I hope it is as thought-provoking for you as it was for me. Be warned though, it is a long one which was necessary since we covered a lot of ground and Will takes a lot of great philosophical sophistication and thoughtfulness into his views, which I hope comes across here.

Beyond this most recent episode, big things are happening over at the Mutual Exchange Radio Patreon! We’ve added new swag for supporters, including pins, buttons, stickers, and zines. Bonus content is going up more slowly than planned, but lookout for more soon! And if you have ideas for episodes, questions for upcoming guests, or anything else, reach out on Patreon and let us know!

Mutual Exchange Radio: Kelly Wright on Grand Juries and How the State Attempts to Control Information

You can now subscribe to Mutual Exchange Radio on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, and SoundCloud

Today we are joined by Kelly Wright. Kelly has written for the Center on topics ranging from the history of anarchist thought, transgender liberation, and police militarization. Kelly also served as Chelsea Manning’s Campaign Manager for her run for U.S. Senate in the Democratic Primary in Maryland in 2018 and is a member of Chelsea’s support committee providing material support for Chelsea as she defies a federal grand jury.

Our topic today is on the legal tools the US Government has to target whistleblowers and dissenters and restrict the civil liberties of every day Americans. Today we cover the legal ground surrounding grand juries, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and other examples of legal overreach by the state. Kelly is able to draw from a wide variety of examples from the history of state overreach.

Beyond this most recent episode, big things are happening over at the Mutual Exhcnage Radio Patreon! In addition to the release of our first bonus episode — in which host Zachary Woodman, producer Tony Dreher, and C4SS editing coordinator Alex McHugh discuss increasing tensions with Iran and the politics of pride month — we’ve also updated our patron tiers.

Now, in addition to pledging at the $20 and $10 level, supporters can help this project for as little as $2 per month. Plus, we’ve added new swag for supporters, including pins, buttons, stickers, and zines. We’ve even made it easier to get an Associate Producer credit on each episode, which is now available to supporters at the $10 level. Thanks so much for all your support! And if you have ideas for episodes, questions for upcoming guests, or anything else, reach out on Patreon and we’ll consider it.

Russia Targets Journalists in New Wave of Repression

In a concerning development for radicals everywhere, Russian officials have been cracking down on journalists with renewed vigor. In particular, journalist Ivan Golunov was recently arrested on fabricated drug charges and help for six days. While Golunov was released on June 11th, following a massive outpouring of support from journalists and citizens alike, there remains a great danger to the free flow of information.

Police arrested hundreds of protestors during a Moscow march in support of Golunov, and have been generally responding with violence to the spread of the #FreeGolunov movement and related anti-repression demonstrations. Thankfully, though, there does seem to be some response to the public pressure in support of journalists. Two police officers have been fired for Golunov’s arrest, in what appears to be a direct response to mass protests and public pressure over the incident. It goes to show how important public pressure can be for fighting back against repression, but the important thing to remember is that this is not over.

Like many governments, Putin’s Russia goes through cycles of repression, backing off when the pressure at home and internationally becomes too much, but maintaining a position of opposition to journalists and other political types. It’s important to stay aware of the obstacles facing radicals around the world, and Russia’s recent attempt to target journalists should worry us greatly. We can help keep the pressure on internationally by keeping abreast of the issue, and supporting journalists like Golunov when they are targeted with arrest and other repressive tactics. An injury to one is an injury to us all.

Mutual Exchange Radio: Fabio Rojas on Common Objections to Open Borders

You can now subscribe to Mutual Exchange Radio on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. SoundCloud distribution is coming soon! 

Sorry for the delay! May’s episode is out now and features Fabio Rojas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University. Dr. Rojas is an expert who works on the sociology of political movements and social theory. We are exploring what a world with little to no immigration restrictions might look like and Dr. Rojas’ case for why it would be preferable, both on economic and on ethical grounds. Dr. Rojas addresses some of the most common objections to open borders from the left and the right. He is a very knowledgeable expert on the sociology of immigration as well as a passionate advocate for immigrant rights and that really comes through in our conversation.

Next month, we welcome Kelly Wright, a writer at C4SS and due process advocate, to discuss the targeting of whistleblowers, activists, and journalists through the application of legislation like the Espionage Act and the CFAA, as well as the problem of prosecutorial abuse and other methods of quashing dissent. Grand juries and other legal tools have been used with increasing aggression in recent years to target and silence American dissenters. Tune in next month to learn more about these methods of state repression, and how people are resisting.

One reason for the delayed release this month was the addition of our first bonus episode to the production schedule. To hear this first bonus episode, you’ll need to be a patron of C4SS and Mutual Exhcnage Radio. In it, host Zachary Woodman, producer Tony Dreher, and C4SS editing coordinator Alex McHugh discuss the US ban of Huawei telecommunications equipment and increasing tensions with Iran. We end with a discussion of Impossible Burgers and other green meat alternatives.

May Day Poetry Feature

First off, I want to thank everyone who answered the call and submitted poems for our first ever May poetry feature! I’ll admit I was a little scared about going off the beaten path here, but you all delivered, and it’s been a real pleasure to review the poems we’ve received. I also want to give a special thanks to those of you who chose to donate your writer’s fee to Chelsea Manning’s personal support fund. It’s going to do a lot of good! You can read more about her continued resistance to state intimidation here.

This is just a quick update to say that we’ll be publishing the accepted poems (ten in total) throughout the month. The first will be published next Monday, May 6th, and we’ll go from there with the last poem wrapping things up on Thursday, May 30th. I’m happy to report there’s a lot of variety in the style and subjects, so it should be an exciting few weeks.

Finally, with May Day yesterday, I want to note that this project was partially inspired by the anarchist tradition of May Day remembrance. That tradition both celebrates and mourns the lives of those who came before us, and who have sacrificed much for the cause of anarchism. Such occasions can stir intense and complicated emotions, so I wanted to give people a space in which to express these feelings and a reminder that intensity of emotion is not a weakness, it is a reflection of our strength. I hope those who submitted poems felt some release in writing them, and that we all continue to embrace our own emotional depth. Look out for that first poem on Monday!

The Anatomy of Escape
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
Free Markets & Capitalism?
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist