Center for a Stateless Society
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STIGMERGY: The C4SS Blog
“It takes money to make money”

“It takes money to make money.” An old, oft-repeated saying, it is certainly true enough as a statement describing the functioning of capitalism. The idea is that once one possesses capital, she can loan it to others for interest or rent, or else invest it in some productive enterprise to earn profits, sitting back and watching her money pile up. On its face, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of this, with saving, investing, lending and getting rich. But our little maxim also suggests something of a problem.

After all, why should it take money to make money? Arguably, anyone with the principle of parsimony and a willingness to work hard ought to be able to make money. To get at the basic truth contained within it, we should consider the phrase at its most literal, boiled down to the abstract principle it is meant to illustrate. Put simply, the notion that “it takes money to make money” is just the claim that wealth is able to reproduce itself without work — that rubbing two coins together will make them mate.

Seeing this principle at work, 19th century libertarians such as Benjamin Tucker regarded capitalism as a system of privilege that “gives idle capital the power of increase.” Tucker challenged the capitalist myth that the great fortunes of his day were purely and simply the result of the virtues of hard work and saving. Far more often, capitalists’ riches were a product of “cleverness in procuring from the government a privilege” through which competition could be prevented. Such deep-rooted, systematic suppressions of competition consolidated wealth in the hands of the few.

Today’s market anarchists argue that these free market critiques of capitalism remain relevant, perhaps more than ever given, for example, the role of intellectual property in the global economy. A genuine free market transaction is positive-sum, a benefit to both exchanging parties. Conversely, exchanges in capitalism are zero-sum, one party benefiting at the expense of the other. The latter system is one of exploitative exchange, based on systematic bargaining power imbalances instituted by the State.

While markets exist in capitalism, they are not its defining feature, which is rather monopolism. The fundamental principle of capitalism is indeed quite simple: use the coercive power of governmental authority to monopolize everything of value, compelling workers to labor for whatever bosses deem appropriate. To call such a system a “free market” is to commit oneself to the most obviously absurd fiction, to use language to obfuscate the true, statist nature of capitalism.

Among free market libertarians, much turns on whether unbridled, voluntary exchanges will lead to the “power of increase” that worried Tucker. Many believe that genuine free markets will in fact allow and result in such a power, and they tend to equate free markets with capitalism. For many of us, however, Tucker was right in seeing true laissez faire as a kind of socialism, a way out of the exploitations of capitalism.

Thoughts on September 11th

September 11th is the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City. This terrorist attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda. An organization that has long waged war on the U.S. And whose head, Osama Bin Laden, has been killed. This hasn’t stopped the American government from pointing to its remnants as a reason for war though.

Indeed, September 11th is an event that launched a series of unfinished and seemingly unending wars around the globe. What should have been strictly a day of grief and mourning for victims became a pretext for expansive government warfare. This warfare has devastated and destroyed the lives of thousands. These additional casualties are worth mourning as much as the people who died on 9-11. They range the gamut from Iraqi children to Pakistani adults.

The greatest service we can render these dead individuals is to fight against the use of aggressive force and coercion. Both terrorism practiced by non-government actors and warfare conducted by governments can do massive harm to the lives of innocents. We don’t have to choose between one or the other as something to protest. They are both worthy of condemnation.

Aggressive coercion and force is present in both cases. It tends to be more institutionalized in the case of governments, but the damaging effect is the same. A good example is September 11th and the atomic bombings during World War 2. Both of which involved the direct targeting of civilians and killed large numbers of non-combatants. The actors were different, but the damage done was immense nevertheless.

Both of these incidents also involved the practice of terrorism. An act that can occur in the context of statist warfare too. In spite of the fact that governments have a habit of defining terrorism in terms that exclude them as potential users of it, but this is not an objective approach. It’s just an approach that is designed to make them look good.

Making state terrorist entities look bad is the task of the radical anarchist activist. One way to go about it is to promote the works of left scholars such as Noam Chomsky and William Blum. Both of whom have documented a great deal of atrocities committed by governments and especially the U.S. government. In addition, James Bovard is a good figure on the libertarian right to consult. I wish my readers happy reading in pursuit of knowledge on this subject!

The Weekly Abolitionist: Why Abolition Must Be Emphasized

For this week’s Weekly Abolitionist post, I’d like to emphasize the importance of holding a specifically abolitionist stance on prisons. Getting rid of prisons is not just one more reform to tack on after we’ve accomplished everything else. It’s the primary goal, and all other reforms should be judged with that in mind.

The key here is remembering that in order for a reform to actually be a reform, it needs to be a step forward, without any steps backward. Mapping out which way a reform is going, though, requires remembering that prisons are inherently unjust.

For example, measures that meaningfully work against something like prison rape should be supported, all other things being equal. However, all other things are sometimes not equal, as the introduction of women’s prisons has shown us. Since their beginning, the construction of women’s prisons has had the same effect that the construction of any prison does: higher and higher rates of incarceration . In this case, it has led to higher and higher rates of female incarceration specifically. This in turn leads to more and more women in danger of prison rape, especially from guards.

Outside of proposed reforms to prisons themselves, the prison abolitionist outlook also helps to structure our commitments on other social reforms. Hate crime laws provide a good example of this. Obviously, the libertarian prison abolitionist opposition to all punishment to begin with gives good moral reasons for opposing harsher punishments based on the motives of the offender. Beyond just that, though, keeping the structural problems related to prisons and criminal law in mind at all times helps us to see the actual effect of these laws. Namely, they do very little if anything to actually prevent hate crimes, while leading to plenty of real, tangible harms against the minorities they’re designed to protect.

Any expansion of hate crime laws (for example, to include gay or transgender victims) means an expansion of the prison state. Since the prison state is most likely to aim especially its aggression against the oppressed groups hate crime laws are ostensibly designed to protect – by locking up people of color and those who refuse to conform to heteronormative standards of gender or sexuality – this means strengthening the world’s biggest hate criminal. As prison abolitionist law professor Dean Spade tells us, hate crime laws are only about having the law say that oppressed people matter, not about treating them as if they actually do matter. With this in mind, he writes that “we must stop believing that what the law says about itself is true and that what the law says about us is what matters.”

As these and other examples show, insisting on an abolitionist rather than reformist stance is not some useless display of self-righteousness. It is a necessary consideration for making sure that every step taken is a step in the right direction. The incentive structures created by any system of domination and institutionalized aggression are such that it will co-opt any attempt at reform that is not aimed at abolition. We cannot afford to let the prison entrench itself any further. As the abolitionist of slavery William Lloyd Garrison said, “gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.”

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist And Chess Review 47

David S. D’ Amato discusses the political economy of Benjamin Tucker.

Tom Engelhardt discusses how America made ISIS.

Peter Harling discusses how ISIS is back in business.

Jacob Sullum discusses pot related prisoners of the War on Drugs.

Ronald Bailey discusses whether immigrants are more likely to commit crime or not.

Kevin Carson discusses Reason Magazine red baiting.

Ralph Nader discusses the ex-im bank.

Mike Marion discusses four questions that should be asked about renewed U.S. intervention in Iraq.

Sheldon Richman discusses how Obama is following Bush’s playbook.

James Bovard discusses how trade was shaped in early America.

Jan Oberg discusses the immorality of Obama’s speech.

Norman Solomon discusses the New York Time’s stance on war.

Barry Lando discusses the U.S., ISIS, and Al Qaeda.

Dan Sanchez discusses why the state is our enemy.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses September 11th.

The 7th part of George H. Smith’s series on social law.

Mike Whitney discusses war with Syria.

Matthew Hoh discusses perpetual war as U.S. policy.

Robert Parry discusses the revival of neocon bombing plans in Syria.

Johnny Barber discusses the lost lessons of 9-11.

Sheldon Richman discusses IP.

Nick Gillespie discusses alleged crime inducing youth icons.

Damon Root discusses Ken Burn’s new documentary on the Roosevelts.

Andrew J. Bacevich discusses Obama’s new war.

Lawrence Davidson discusses international law.

Justin Raimondo discusses the new Iraq War.

Abigail Hall discusses the arming of Syrian rebels

Jack Goldsmith discusses the expansion of war powers under Obama.

Alexander Alekhine plays Ruzena Sucha and wins.

Alexey Shirov defeats Jeroen Piket.

There is No Hope

The war in Syria is here. It got held up in social media traffic. We thought the angry hashtags had permanently ceased death from above for the Syrian people. For a moment, the Internet rejoiced in its seemingly overwhelming power to harness the American people’s voice. We were sick of war, sick of decent people being turned into killing machines and amputees. There was no need to go into Syria, no impending doom. Apparently Americans had wised up in the past decade and weren’t going to accept another bloody quagmire.

Well, so much for that. The war in Iraq, supported by a majority of Americans at its dawn, was not enough to teach Americans. And why would we expect it to be? 50,000 American soldiers and countless millions slaughtered in Vietnam wasn’t enough. The near extermination of the Japanese, the destruction of most of Germany’s cities, the piles and piles of bodies and all the wasted potential of a so-called greatest generation wasn’t enough.

It will never be enough. There is no hope. There is no progress the American government or any state can make away from the inevitability of mass slaughter. The lines at military recruiting booths will continue. Your protesting them will not eliminate them.  Your pleas will not stop your friends from making the decision to kill for what they see as the greatest good. And when your friend comes back a husk of a human being, when the memories of Syrian, Iraqi, Somalian, Yemeni, Pakistani victims haunt him, when he reaches for his legs and finds only air, he will imagine it was all worth it and there will be nurses and psychologists to assure him it was.

The war culture is all-enveloping and there is no end. The American resolve against war does not exist beyond an Internet fad, entirely obliterated with effective propaganda and fear-mongering. We are a nation of dunces, suckers, cads, cowards and killers. The world will bear most of the consequences for our idiocy. The people of the Middle East are not so easily led on. They know that war is all there is. They live with drones dotting their skies and murderers posing as peacekeepers occupying their streets. They know there is no hope, no expectation that America will ever do the right thing. Their children will die. Their parents will die. Their homes will be turned to ash and they will only grieve for a moment, because to wish any of it hadn’t happened is to embrace cartoon fantasy.

There will always be a threat or the threat of a threat which will sell the American dupocracy into sycophantic worship of the capability of our military to make all right in the world. Americans crave protection, or the illusion of it. In truth there is no protection. 9/11 was not a fluke carried out by mad men. Nothing will save us from those who have every reason for blood thirst. They have nothing but their vengeance to guide them against the monstrous robotic nation which slaughters their countrymen and keeps them bound to a life of poverty and desperation. You will not swat them all away. We are not safe. In fact with the announcement of this newest edition of the War on Brown People, we are less safe than ever.  But who needs true protection when all are assured that the state will continue to cradle them and make it all better?

The Americans are coming, stupider and more sure of themselves than ever. Will we beat our former high score of a million deaths? There is always hope for war. War is easy and resistance is futile. None of it will end until borders end, and good luck with that. Good luck dismantling the military industrial complex. If it crumbles, it will merely be reassembled to guarantee another century of death for the weak. There are no consequences for these campaigns of murder, no voice to condemn the soldiers or protect them from the scavenger recruiters. We’ll be duped again, and again, and again. The next time a president declares his steadfastness against perpetual war, the next time you hear media outlets praising the anti-war resolve of the American people, do what I do and laugh. Don’t weep. Your tears accomplish nothing. Enjoy the ride, because there is no exit in sight.

On Inequality, Injustice, and Anti-Capitalism

I’d like to first thank Mr. Lock for his thoughtful, well-mannered observations on my little piece. Commenters such as Mr. Lock honor me with their courteous thoughts and, in my humble view, raise the bar for discussion and debate by refraining from ad hominem and from attempts to impute motives; dealing with my points and arguments themselves, Mr. Lock offers both of us and every other observer the chance to be edified by the exchange. Kudos to him. I hope that he will forgive the use of quotes here to help explicate my individualist anarchism, and that he will further pardon me for not addressing his points seriatim. Also, please be mindful of the fact that the views hereunder belong to me and not necessarily to the Center for a Stateless Society or any other individual in its employ.

In treating the relationship between inequality and injustice, it is important to note that we individualist anarchists ultimately have no problem with the mere fact of income inequality per se. That is, some people should make more money than others, based on factors including the amount of time these people dedicate to toil, their level of skill, and the disagreeableness of the work in question. As Laurance Labadie put it, “In a world where inequality of ability is inevitable, anarchists do not sanction any attempt to produce equality by artificial or authoritarian means. The only equality they posit and will strive their utmost to defend is the equality of opportunity. This necessitates the maximum amount of freedom for each individual. This will not necessarily result in equality of incomes or wealth but will result in returns proportionate to service rendered.” Or else as Henry Appleton put it in the pages of Liberty, anarchism’s “central idea is the direct antipodes of levelling.” What we do propose, however, is to destroy all sources of income that are not based on work of any kind (be it intellectual work or physical—never mind that the line between even these is practically exceedingly difficult to draw)[1], to prevent capitalists form using aggression in the form of privilege to draw what is akin to a tax from labor.

The individualist anarchists often compared rent, interest, and profit to taxation. Whether we agree with them ends up turning to a large extent upon speculation as to the results and relations that a genuine free market would yield. Since we agree that we don’t have such a free market in the present moment, we may disagree as to whether today’s idle rich could continue their lucrative moneymaking schemes absent the State and the many monopolistic privileges it grants them. Thus when we argue with John Beverley Robinson that equality is “a cold mathematical fact” which naturally and ineluctably results from “the hypothesis of free production and exchange,” we are indeed contending at the very least that the widest inequalities of today are the proximate products of privilege—even if not all inequalities are such. The location of the line, again, is impossible to pinpoint. Individualist anarchists, of course, would allow the market to locate it, and have always followed Benjamin Tucker in making liberty the top priority. The point is that we see existing disparities of wealth as hints that something is profoundly wrong—that disparities of political power are in fact at play, with politics not economics claiming responsibility for the capitalistic economic forms of the present.

But then what do individualist anarchists mean by our opposition to capitalism? First, I freely admit that insofar as I defined the word “capitalism” in the way that you do, I would adopt it as a statement of my own economic views. Capitalism as “the condition in which no-one is prevented from justly acquiring or justly using wealth” is a system hardly to be objected to by any thoroughgoing libertarian anarchist. But free market champions like Tucker and Heywood did not define capitalism in such a favorable way, and my C4SS colleagues have set forth several very good reasons why definitions that equate free markets and capitalism probably ought to be avoided.

I would rather join the individualist anarchists in defining “capitalism as a system of privilege, exploitation, accumulation without limit, theft, abuse, and wage slavery, all supported by the coercive authority of the state.”[2] We must remember also that Franz Oppenheimer shared many fundamental economic views with the individualist anarchists and railed against “the idea of using a human being as a labor motor.” Oppenheimer regarded many of capitalism’s most basic elements—for instance, the taking of rent on real property—as products not of the “economic means,” but of the “political means.” This is, I think, the real crux of the disagreement here at issue: To what extents do the relationships and inequalities of capitalism rely on the coercive interventions of the State? Can landlords obtain their rents without land monopoly? Can bankers obtain their interest streams without arbitrary privileges that preclude competition? Can the great manufacturers and retailers obtain their profits without using legal and regulatory means to prevent competitors from cutting in on their margins? Similarly, could they pay so little in wages if the State did not rule out so many natural opportunities? I believe that the answer to all the foregoing questions is approximately “no,” and thus that many if not most of today’s lauded capitalists are Mr. Lock’s Takers, Robbers, Shirkers, and Raiders. This is not to suggest that they are engaged in some conscious conspiracy, only that they are the principal beneficiaries of a system that institutes legal monopoly and therefore allows privilege-holders to accumulate ever more wealth without working.

I’ll stop here, since I’ve run on far too long, but I hope that my comments here shed light on my piece and on the individualist anarchist opposition to capitalism. Thank you again to Mr. Lock for reading and commenting.

[1] As Benjamin Tucker wrote, “If the men who oppose wages—that is, the purchase and sale of labor—were capable of analyzing their thought and feelings, they would see that what really excites their anger is not the fact that labor is bought and sold, but the fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labor, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labor by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labor, and that, but for the privilege, would be enjoyed by all gratuitously.”

[2] Feel free to visit my site www.individualistanarchist.com for more on this.

The Weekly Abolitionist: Prison Guard Unions vs. Private Prison Contractors

In a comment on last week’s post on The Labor Politics of Prisons, Steve Robinson said that my discussion of guards unions was “interesting given past posts about the for-profit prison industry.” He noted that while prison guard unions push for increased incarceration, they also are generally harmed by prison privatization, as private prison contractors have incentives to minimize labor costs and maximize profits. A scenario where public sector unions are pushing for many of the same policy goals as corporations that could eliminate their jobs certainly “presents an interesting coalition,” as Steve put it.

This got me thinking about the relationship between different interest groups in shaping criminal justice policies. I had previously thought of prison guards unions, police unions, and private prison companies as basically the same. They are interest groups that benefit from incarceration and the criminal justice system’s coercive power, and accordingly they will engage in rent seeking to increase incarceration and related coercive powers. But while this is true, I don’t think it tells the whole story. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to be explored here.

For example, sometimes we see direct confrontation between these interest groups. In 1997, the California prison guards union strongly opposed the Corrections Corporation of America’s plans to open a 2,000 bed for-profit prison in California. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time:

The plan drew criticism from the politically connected California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the union that represents prison guards.

“This guy’s full of bull,” declared Don Novey, president of the union. “Public safety should not be for profit. It’s just kind of stupid.”

Novey insisted that his opposition is not based on the prospect of losing union membership to a private firm. “When you start privatizing public safety, it’s a big mistake,” he said.

One of the most powerful prison guard unions in the country directly faced off against the largest operator of for-profit prisons in the country. If only these interest groups could spend more of their resources like this, fighting over who will control the spoils of mass incarceration rather than demanding the system’s expansion.

One intriguing and somewhat counter-intuitive possibility is that competition between guards unions and private firms may result in less advocacy overall for increased incarceration. In 2008, Alexander Volokh published an article in the Stanford Law Review that contended “privatization may well reduce the industry’s political power: Because advocacy is a “public good” for the industry, as the number of independent actors increases, the dominant actor’s advocacy can decrease (since it no longer captures the full benefit of its advocacy) and the other actors may free ride off the dominant actor’s contribution.” Volokh presents an interesting economic argument for why competition between guards unions and for-profit contractors might create a collective action problem that decreases the total amount of advocacy for increased imprisonment.

It seems plausible to me, however, that specialization may result in increased advocacy in particular areas, such as immigration policy. While influencing federal immigration laws is not likely to be worthwhile for guards unions that work mostly with state prison guards, it is worthwhile for firms like GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, both of which receive lucrative contracts to operate immigration detention centers. And because ICE is still directly involved with the detention centers whether they are “privately” operated or not, it seems unlikely that ICE would compete with CCA and GEO Group the way the California Correctional Peace Officers Association does.

Both guards’ unions and prison profiteers face perverse incentives, but in different ways. Prison profiteering firms are often seen cutting corners in order to cut costs. For example, Corizon is paid to provide healthcare to prisoners, and avoids providing care whenever they can cut costs by doing so. This desire to cut costs is not seen from public employee unions. But the public employee unions face different perverse incentives, largely related to protecting their members from accountability. For example, in Maryland the guards’ union successfully lobbied for “the passage of the Correctional Officers Bill of Rights, which made it much harder to discipline bad correctional officers — thus reducing C.O.s’ accountability and facilitating brutality and corruption scandals,” as Alexander Volokh explained at the Washington Post.

Exploring the relationships among interest groups that influence criminal law gets more interesting and more complicated as we introduce more players. Civil liberties groups like the ACLU are generally opposed to the guards unions, the prison profiteers, and the rest of the law enforcement lobby. However, they occasionally support policies that increase incarceration, such as hate crimes laws. The way pressure from the law enforcement lobby and the civil liberties lobby interact to shape the criminal justice system has been explored in some interesting ways by Bruce Benson in The Enterprise of Law. Crime victims advocacy groups also often push for new criminal laws and act to shape the system in important ways.

These relationships among interest groups are fascinating to me, and I think they can tell us a lot about the prison system. I hope to explore these issues further in future posts.

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist And Chess Review 46

Mike Whitney discusses the Ukraine and U.S. intervention.

Kevin Carson discusses the role of the commons in market anarchism.

Kevin Carson discusses how Obama doesn’t want to defeat ISIS too badly.

Cory Massimino discusses individualist anarchism and hierarchy.

Kevin Carson discusses a book on new forms of worker organization.

Mel Gurtov discusses America’s return to Iraq.

Corey Robin discusses Labor Day readings.

Rizwan Zulfiqar Bhutta discusses lessons in counter-terrorism.

Ron Jacobs discusses the rational unreason of imperial war.

Conor Friedersdorf discusses what going to war with Syria would really mean for the U.S.

Robert Murphy discusses why we need to scrap the empire to have a free society at home.

Ezra Klein discusses the DNC’s braindead attack on Rand Paul.

Lew Rockwell discusses why libertarians are winning.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses why we don’t need a police czar.

Anthony Gregory discusses class theory in the first part of a series.

Tariq Ali discusses current Pakistani politics.

Benjamin W. Powell discusses market regulation of secondhand smoke.

Nathan Goodman discusses the labor politics of prisons.

Rick Sterling discusses myths about the conflict in Syria.

Dave Lindorff discusses the re-invasion of Iraq.

Belen Fernandez discusses Patrick Cockburn’s new book on ISIS.

Thom Holterman discusses Gary Chartier’s book on anarchy and legal order.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses why reassessing WW2 is a good idea.

Justin Raimondo discusses anti-interventionism and its discontents.

Rachel Burger discusses incest and the state.

Sheldon Richman discusses whether freedom requires empire.

Sheldon Richman discusses the crisis in Ukraine.

Jeff Sparrow discusses wars conducted in the name of humanitarianism.

Vassily Ivanchuk beats Alexey  Shirov

Vassily Ivanchuk beats Gary Kasparov.

A Rand Paul Presidency would be a Disaster for Liberty and Libertarianism

Rand Paul has been touted as a libertarian Republican. In spite of the fact that he has claimed to not be a libertarian. This claim is also peculiar due to his statements about not wanting to end the War on Drugs. Not to mention his promotion of a “pro-life” anti-abortion rights bill. And his lack of belief in a borderless world. These are all positions contrary to radical libertarian principle.

Not only would we see a violation of said principle from a Rand Paul presidency, it would help sustain the present perception amongst many non-libertarians that libertarianism is reactionary. This will make it more difficult for left-libertarians to reach out to the non-libertarian left. Something not at all good for our cause.

Genuinely radical libertarian politics doesn’t require a constitutional conservative savior to coming to our rescue. It requires bottom up direct action. And this is precisely what a preoccupation with the presidency as a mechanism for change ignores. It can only contribute to a bizarre “libertarian” cult of personality surrounding the holder of executive power.

Such cults of personality have wreaked major havoc throughout human history. Mao and Stalin worship come to mind. Libertarians should strive to avoid a repeat of this. Of course, Rand Paul is not proposing Stalinism or Maoism, but, a cult of persona surrounding him could lead to him getting away with the liberty destroying measures mentioned above.

Presidential politics is just not the right thing for libertarians to be involved with. One only need look at the deference shown towards Obama and George W. Bush by their respective partisans. They can literally get away with murder due to the respect offered them.

The transcendence of aforementioned presidential politics is key to the project of liberty. A commander in chief is fit for a militarized society, but, not an egalitarian one. Industrial organization such as that championed by friends of liberty calls for equality rather than hierarchies of command. A Rand Paul presidency would be a setback for that project. It would wrap the mantle of the presidency in the aura of liberty. Something that would lead to disaster for actual freedom.

In lieu of voting for Rand Paul, libertarians can work to create liberty by labor organizing, copwatch programs, and other such grassroots efforts. All of this will do far more to help the most disadvantaged members of society than a Rand Paul presidency would.

In Search of the Perfect Night

You hear a knock at your door. It’s your friend Steve.

While it’s physically impossible, Steve seems to bound through the door before you even open it. “Excited” is an understatement: he’s psyched, and you couldn’t reach his level even if you tried.

Around two, you and Steve made plans to go out tonight. You spent the afternoon doing laundry, going to the grocery store, taking out the trash, and doing some light reading. Steve spent the afternoon plotting the perfect night.

This is not Steve’s first foray into the “perfect night” — far from it. Steve’s last plan failed, and so did the twenty-two before that. But Steve is not a quitter. He adheres to the “twenty-fourth time’s a charm” philosophy.

Steve really outdid himself this time. The amount of research he performed makes you question his sanity. He even prepared maps and charts. You buy into his madness. You question your sanity. His design does appear flawless, however.

“Tonight is going to be awesome,” he says with unbridled enthusiasm and a furrowed brow. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

The plan accounts for everything. Not a single second will be wasted. Not one beautiful girl will go unnoticed. All the hottest bars will be visited. You’re going to be in basements and on rooftops — at the same time. Somehow, there’s even a horse involved.

The night starts off well enough.

Pretty soon, Steve starts acting like a millionaire. Shots for everyone! Everyone includes you, though, so you’re okay with it. At least for now. Besides, everyone likes Steve. He buys them things. He talks to them. Your proximity to him gets you in contact with some pretty cool people.

Steve speaks only in the tongue of grandiosity, making lavish promises and telling of fantastical escapades. Another round of shots!

All of a sudden, Steve’s face turns white. He didn’t see a ghost. He’s out of money. “I don’t know how it happened, man!” You roll your eyes. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to solve the case of Steve’s empty wallet. “You got it, right?”

Yes, you got it. And the drinks for that entire bachelorette party? Yeah, you got that, too. You’re a good friend.

To mitigate the financial impact of Steve’s prodigal activites, you start drinking Miller Lite (because something’s gotta give). You have to somehow offset the financial burden thrust upon you.

From there, the night gets progressively worse. Steve abandons his earlier design in favor of new, hastily planned ambitions. For instance, he decides that he doesn’t want to wait in line at West Bar, so you jaunt over to East Club.

East Club has a thirty-dollar cover, which you pay. And of course, you pay Steve’s cover, too. As soon as you get inside, someone spills an entire long island iced tea all over your trousers. Nobody could have anticipated that. What do you do? Take a taxi back to the apartment and change? Hang out under the hand drier in the bathroom for an hour?

Steve had convinced you that a perfect night was in store. Now, however, you realize something. Steve’s design was overly ambitious; his objectives were unattainable. What convinced you was the confident oratory of a passionate man. Besides, you didn’t have a plan of your own.

Steve made a valiant effort, but he didn’t — and couldn’t — account for everything that happens in a night. He didn’t account for long lines. He couldn’t account for the actions of others. Even an ostensibly airtight plan was bound to fail. The perfect night — or day, or weekend, or whatever — is simply not something that can be designed.

There’s a classic episode of How I Met Your Mother that captures this lesson. One New Year’s Eve, Ted decides that he’s going to plan an unforgettable evening. Most of the gang’s New Year’s Eves have been dry and underwhelming. But not this one. No, Ted rented a limo. He assembled a list of the top five parties in New York City. They’ll have to keep a tight schedule, but they can pull it off.

Quickly, however, the night devolves into chaos. Unanticipated events happen left and right. They lose people and find people—including a criminal bearing a strong resemblance to Moby. Ted loses his date. In the end, nobody makes it to all five parties. To the extent that anyone has an enjoyable evening, it’s without friends. The saving grace? A spur-of-the-moment champagne toast inside the limo while stuck in traffic.

Steve is Ted. And Barney. And you. And me.

Steve is also the head of the Department of the Interior. And a member of the County Zoning Board. And the Mayor.

Steve is a man — a good man, but a fallible man. Because of his very nature, Steve is incapable of planning the perfect night. No matter how many smart people he surrounds himself with, no matter how many Yelp reviews he consults, and no matter how many hours he spends at the drawing board, Steve can never plan the perfect night.

Yet, the perfect evening can happen. In fact, perfect evenings happen all the time. They happen in the absence of meticulously detailed design. They happen when you surround yourself by people you like. They happen when you let the night take you where it may. They happen spontaneously.

“To assume all the knowledge to be given to a single mind… is to assume the problem away and to disregard everything that is important and significant in the real world.” –F.A. Hayek

David S. D’Amato Named C4SS’s Benjamin R. Tucker Distinguished Research Scholar in Anarchist Economic Theory

The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) has named David S. D’Amato its first Benjamin R. Tucker Distinguished Research Scholar in Anarchist Economic Theory.

David S. D’Amato is an attorney and holds a J.D. from New England School of Law and an LL.M. in Global Law and Technology from Suffolk University Law School.

D’Amato is a senior fellow and has been writing with C4SS for over four years. He has had commentaries published in many countries and in several languages. His features have dealt with important topics in anarchist history and theory. And his reviews have covered such varied subjects as Habeas Corpus and egoism. Through all of his work D’Amato continually demonstrates a scholar’s respect for his subject matter as well as a desire to push further into its history and application.

This position is named in honor of the brilliant, prolific and passionate individualist anarchist Benjamin R Tucker. Tucker’s life, work and his Liberty demonstrates a powerful commitment to describing a voluntary world populated by sovereign individuals and detailing why we should channel all available energy towards completely ending exploitation, monopoly and authority; “that all the affairs of men should be managed by individuals or voluntary associations, and that the State should be abolished.”

We look forward to seeing how D’Amato’s research and writing develops our understanding of Anarchist Economic Theory.

Labor Day Retrospective: Liberty in the Workplace and Labor Unionism

Labor day has come and gone. In spite of the fact that it was made a Federal holiday by a president who used government power to crush the Pullman strike, it’s still worth using it as an occasion for reflecting on the struggle for workplace liberty. Corey Robin had a good post on the subject. This piece will hopefully be a good addition to the ones he already lists.

Right-libertarians or non-left libertarians aren’t known for an overwhelmingly positive view of labor unionism. Walter Block was the target of a past blog post by me that illustrates this. This post challenged the simplistic notion that labor unions are just creatures of government. This notion tends to be at the core of anti-unionism amongst some libertarians.

Anti-unionism amongst libertarians serves no good purpose. Libertarian individualism is certainly compatible with a form of unionism that involves self-interested workers forming a voluntary association to deal with the power of the boss. People are not only oppressed by government. The power of the boss can be immensely repressive too.

Liberty is a multi-faceted thing. It certainly doesn’t exclude freedom in the workplace. Libertarians who wish to provide a comprehensive attack on authority and oppression should take notice of this truth. A boss can serve the role of a mini-state with all the attendant consequences for human freedom.

Libertarians who desire to reach the majority of people dependent upon employers for a livelihood need to offer an analysis like the above that will connect to their experiences as subordinate employees. Not only is it politically prudent, it’s the approach most compatible with human liberty.

Human liberty is preferably defended in this more totalistic fashion. It’s far better to advocate liberty in all areas of life rather than settle for a limited amount. The workplace is a key battleground for liberty. One that requires libertarians to step up to the plate and provide answers.

Nobody who loves liberty wants to be told when they can and can’t go to the bathroom. Something that an employer has the power to control. And a power worth contesting in the name of freedom. Not to mention all the other attendant petty tyrannies listed in Corey Robin’s linked piece above.

Some libertarians worry that unionism or labor struggle generally is collectivist and must depend on government coercion to succeed. This confuses collectivism with collective action. The second issue of government coercion being necessary is addressed in my post on Walter Block linked to above. Please consider commenting on that post and this one!

English-Language Media Coordinator Update, August 2014

Dear C4SS Supporters,

A quick monthly update on our media progress:

In August, I submitted C4SS op-eds a total of 44,606 times to 2,595 English-language newspapers world-wide. I’ve cataloged 55 pickups for the month of C4SS English-language material by “establishment” media (and selected alternative, but large-viewership, media).

A couple of highlights for the month:

  • We always get a bit of a giggle when state media picks up our anti-state stuff (that’s generally via secondary routes). This month, that state media was Iran’s PressTV, which picked up Kevin Carson’s “The Roots of Police Militarization” (the pickup was via Counterpunch, a non-state American left publication that I submit some of our material to).
  • We don’t get as many campus press pickups as we’d like, but they do happen. For example, Indiana University’s Daily Student ran my own “Ferguson: Nixon Would Make a Solitude and Call it Peace” on August 19.
  • As we add media coordinators focusing on languages other than English, our international media presence continues to expand. But until we’re addressing every member of the global community in his or her own language, one of our most productive avenues is English-language media in countries where English may not be the first or most prominent language but is still used. We’re proud of our increasing reach to audiences in Taiwan, Bangladesh and other Asian venues. See our Press Room for details of those pickups!
  • One that I missed in last month’s update because it happened right at the very end of July — Joel Schlosberg’s “Reading Rainbow Soars Free” appeared in the Richmond, Virginia Voice — our first pickup that we know of in that state.

We seem to have stabilized somewhere north of 50 English-language pickups per month — the next goal is 100. As always, your support makes our continuing work possible and I personally appreciate it. Market anarchism is the bright future of humanity, and you are building that future, day by day, in the ruins of the statist present.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Media Coordinator
Center for a Stateless Society

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist and Chess Review 45

Patrick Cockburn discusses the failed War on Terror and the Saudi connection.

Sheldon Richman discusses mission creep in Iraq.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses proportionality in American law and order.

A. Barton Hinkle discusses whether there could be more Fergusons or not.

Scott Shackford discusses libertarian views on freedom of association and gay marriage.

James Bovard discusses Eric Holder’s record as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Sheldon Richman discusses policing.

Garry Leech discusses the indifference to the deaths of Muslim civilians.

Laurence M. Vance discusses Obama’s national drug control strategy.

Mike Marion discusses how being anti-war is pro-American.

Nebojsa Malic discusses the murderous fruits of empire.

Cory Massimino discusses Obama’s response to ISIS.

Michael Brenner discusses the ISIS threat.

Cosme Caal discusses the Latin Americanization of American police forces.

Laurence M. Vance discusses the GOP’s support for the welfare state.

Shikha Dalmia discusses why Obama can’t lead on Ferguson.

Steven Horowitz discusses libertarians, victim blaming, and structural racism.

David Stockman discusses recent plans to bomb Syria.

Shamus Cooke discusses Obama’s no win war on ISIS.

Glenn Greenwald discusses U.S. policy on Syria.

Kevin Carson discusses the roots of police militarization.

Thomas C. Mountain discusses the career of Gayle Smith.

Rizwan Zulfiqar Bhutta discusses the participation of Pakistani women in political movements.

Jack Cole discusses why heroin should be legalized or decriminalized.

Jochen-Martin Gutsch and Juan Moreno discuss the failed War on Drugs.

Timothy P. Carney discusses Iraq, Ferguson, and the libertarian moment.

James Peron discusses why conservatives aren’t the friends of libertarians.

Jacob G. Hornberger discusses what the murder of James Foley says about the U.S.

Fabiano Caurana beats the world champion, Magnus Carlsen.

Fabinao Caurana also beat Veselin Topalov.

Please Consider Donating to Antiwar.com

Antiwar.com is having its annual fundraising drive. Antiwar.com is definitely a site worth donating to and visiting daily. Its been an indispensable source of information and opinion for me. There are always interesting editorials worth reading and plenty of news to inform you. Not to mention that it’s a single issue site that offers perspectives from across the political spectrum. You won’t get bored easily with the variety being offered.

Another strength of Antiwar.com is the quality of the in-house columnists. Whether you’re reading Justin Raimondo or Lucy Steigerwald; it’s sure to be interesting. These in-house writers make fine additions to the non-in house writers sourced from around the web. Lucy Steigerwald’s work is especially enjoyable and well written.

In addition to the above; Antiwar.com is run by anti-militarist libertarians. Those who appreciate our left-libertarian writing on here are encouraged to help further our anti-militarist stance via donating to Antiwar.com. Antiwar.com is not a left-libertarian site per se, but, it does valuable work that benefits left-libertarianism.

This valuable work includes sourcing news from a wide variety of sites. The kind of news you may not find in the mainstream media. It cuts through corporatist propaganda that serves the interests of the warfare state and political class. Such propagandistic shilling for war is in definite need of being countered. Antiwar.com is your go to resource for that.

Where the war party propagandists mentioned above consistently push war; Antiwar.com consistently pushes peace. The number of lives that could be saved by this unwavering advocacy of peace is high. Antiwar.com is doing its part to save lives from militarism and imperialism every day. This is especially crucial work in the age of extrajudicial drone assassinations and saber rattling at China.

Antiwar.com knows that the above mentioned imperialism and militarism is as much a part of Democratic Party practice as the practice of the GOP. It provides a critique of the war party across party lines. This is especially needed in a time when Obama has renewed the Iraq War started by a Republican president. Warmongering knows no party boundaries and neither should we critics of war know any such boundaries in our criticism.

Anti-militarist work that spares no one guilty of pushing warfare is worth donating to. If you have money to spare; please consider donating to Antiwar.com. You’ll be helping out countless victims of the American empire by bringing their plight to the attention of the public. A very worthy cause.

Missing Comma: ‘Screeching Wenzel’ to C4SS Adviser Reisenwitz: “Thank You Very Little”

Cathy Reisenwitz announced last week that she was quitting full-time libertarian commentary to pursue a career in sales. She wrote in her blog post announcing this move that, “I want to learn to connect better. And getting successful at sales will require humility and constant feedback, and self-improvement is so incredibly important to building a happy life.” I don’t think I am making a presumptive statement when I say that we here at C4SS wish Reisenwitz the best in her new career path, and that she continues to have a place here, should she choose to take it.

While she was briefly a colleague of mine, what I know about Reisenwitz I mostly know from her writing. By and large, I found her work enjoyable and relevant, thought-provoking, and often, much more eloquently said than anything I’ve ever published. That is not to say that I have agreed with everything she has written or said in the public space, but she was one commentator I was glad to have on our side.

If only we were here simply to wish her good luck.

This week, Robert Wenzel of the dubiously-titled Economic Policy Journal wrote a blog on all of the reasons Cathy Reisenwitz is, in fact, a big dumb meanie who almost destroyed his ickle wibewtawian movement.

He writes, “The woman, who single-handedly attempted to destroy libertarianism as a principled philosophy based on the non-aggression principle at its foundation, is leaving the movement to sell software directories. Yes, software directories.”

Really? Single-handedly? C4SS gets no mention here? We’ve been trying to destroy libertarianism FOR YEARS; the most push-back we’ve ever gotten is a few vague dismissals from nobodies.

Of course, maybe we just haven’t been pushing the right buttons. Wenzel continues:

The lady called just about everyone in the movement who was a serious thinker a racist etc. She attempted to introduce politically correct thought, from feminism to gay advocacy, as a requirement of libertarianism.

Remember when I was talking about how I didn’t always agree with Reisenwitz on things she said and wrote? The time she called a bunch of folks racist was one of those times. She did apologize following the gaffe, though. And it isn’t like Libertarianism is free from racists, either; remember when C4SS got shut down for a few days because we exposed some in a chapter of our student organization? Yeah, that was fun.

But mostly I find it hilarious that it’s Reisenwitz’s libertarian feminism and her support of teh gayz that seems to add the most fuel to the fire of Wenzel’s outsized hatred for her. Because she’s the only libertarian feminist in existence, clearly.

Well, actually, maybe the Economic Policy Journal really believes that. They’ve seemingly obsessively covered her career and various perceived faux pas moves over the last couple of years; we’ve even been graced by a shocking revelation or three from Wenzel himself, such as this gem, picked randomly from an article from March:

I’m not sure how much time Reisenwitz has spent studying Austrian methodology before deciding to turn it on its head, but, note well, in this clip she does make clear she is taking time to study how to fashion op-ed pieces and reach out to producers. Could this explain her “humanitarian” libertarian views?

(Wenzel must live in a world where you are only able to do one thing at a time; in this case, he believes, one is able to choose only between studying journalism and commentary or Austrian economics. That this is a false dichotomy apparently escapes him.)

There was one term Wenzel uses in his “scathing” sayonara to Reisenwitz that I had genuinely never seen before: libwap. It’s a fun word to say, but what does it mean? According to the EPJ’s “research room,” a libwap is a libertarian with appendages. Raise your hand if you also have appendages.

This term was apparently recently created (by Wenzel? Doesn’t say) as a kneejerk response to something Jeffery Tucker wrote, I guess, who actually knows what these people are shrieking about anymore? Its full definition is, “a group of libertarians who believe that libertarianism should go beyond the non-aggression principle.”

So, all of them?

I have never met a libertarian who didn’t have ideas about a libertarian society that went past the NAP. C4SS has written extensively on thick vs. thin libertarianism – all of which I’m assuming Wenzel would probably just handwave into oblivion, because this quote from Great Leader:

Liberty is about liberty, nothing else.

My god, the circles. They’re all around me, trying to make sense.

Anyway, back to this decidedly uneconomic “screw you” to Reisenwitz. Wenzel concludes that her departure from “the movement,” such as it is, is a clear sign that the ideas she apparently created and held up completely by herself with no outside help (that whole “single-handedly destroyed the movement” thing) is dying.

That’s right, any form of libertarianism that includes syntheses from other ideologies is going the way of the dinosaur because our Queen has left the building.

Never again will a libertarian use ideas from libertarian feminism, or bring ideas from GLBTQIA anarchists into their own synthesis. (Of course, this also means that we can’t play in covenant communities anymore either. How sad for the race realists.) Never again will we fight for the right of sex workers, black men, or people with disabilities to not be harassed by police, by government agencies supposedly set up to help them, employers or anyone else. It’s all white bro, all the time from now on. Don’t you forget it, lest another whinging tear be shed; there will be hell to pay if anyone attempts to disrupt our perfect, homogenized little bubble again.

My, my. How collectivist Les libertaires infantiles have become.

If Reisenwitz “almost single-handedly destroyed libertarianism probably,” then maybe it needs to be completely canned. Maybe a movement based on ideals so paper-thin that they were almost dismantled by a single woman who dared have an opinion on something she clearly cared about needs to pack its things and start over, without all of the boring trash it’s picked up over the decades. Because this kind of attitude doesn’t inspire me to be a libertarian.

Cathy Reisenwitz was a good writer. She was a professional. The one or two conversations I’ve had with her have been warm and entertaining. Her work, while occasionally controversial, never warranted the ubiquitous negativity and vitriolic hatred it got. In the space of only a couple of years, she has become the libertarian commentary analog of Anita Sarkeesian, receiving a level of negative reaction worthy only of a truly nasty figure, like General Zod (h/t Jim Sterling). I don’t throw out that comparison lightly; Sarkeesian was driven from her home by angry fedorabeards this week because she dared to continue to publish another video in her long-running Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series.

And this behavior – this wailing and gnashing of teeth from men, and it is primarily men who are doing this, any time a woman has the audacity to have an opinion on something men like – has gone beyond the realm of debate and critique. These are witch hunts. Against Reisenwitz, against Sarkeesian, against Zoe Quinn. Against women who write opinion columns and women who write straight news. In no world is a death threat or a rape threat or a posting of an address of a woman commentator or content creator simply a critique of their work. In no world does someone receive such a sustained level of hatred and negativity and it can still be called “reasonable disagreement.” People are being driven into hiding and out of areas where, under the crust of hate, there were those who did truly enjoy their work.

It must have been painful for Reisenwitz to open up her email box, see thousands of hateful comments and articles like Wenzel’s responding to everything she wrote – not to mention probably the occasional death threat or 10 – and continue to act like she was interested in the world of libertarian commentary for as long as she did.

Hopefully, Cathy, you find the new environment in which you work to be more inviting, and less destructive, than the one you just left.

Hopefully, for the rest of us, we can get our act together before something happens that leaves us shocked and horrified at ourselves that we can’t take back.

Are Anarchists Just Neoliberals Without Money?

A charge that has been leveled by the pro-government left is that anarchists are simply neoliberals without money or some variation upon this. The tweeter in question provides no definition of neo-liberalism, so, we turn to Dictionary.com to provide us with a definition of neoliberalism to be used in analyzing this charge. It’s as follows:

a modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services, etc

There’s a wide range of anarchist views and types of anarchism. Some of which largely or entirely reject economies based on notions of free exchange or free trade. Anarcho-communism and anarcho-primitivism come to mind. They tend to favor gift economies and oppose market economics. There are forms of anarchism like mutualism and left-wing market anarchism that do support free trade and markets. Their conception of free trade and markets is not neo-liberal however. These types of anarchism involve worker control and opposition to usury in some cases.

The related notion of privatization is another supposed feature of neo-liberalism that anarchists allegedly also agree with. There is a huge problem with this accusation. Anarchists favor the abolition of capitalist private property. A faulty assumption at work is that the government sphere and public sphere are the same thing. It’s possible to advocate “privatization” in the sense of non-government or non-state control/ownership without ditching the idea of public space. The kind of corporate capitalist privatization favored by neo-liberals is also not what anarchists support. A related point to be made is that neo-liberal “privatization” tends to involve just outsourcing a government monopoly to a private corporation. This corporation is the new monopolist protected by law and gains tax dollars via government compulsion.

What about minimal government intervention in business? Not all anarchists advocate business arrangements. Those that do are proponents of non-capitalist markets. It’s also important to note that our present neo-liberal system includes plenty of subsidies to corporations. This corporate welfare is something anarchists oppose.

Anarchists also don’t have the same ideas about what should replace government social services. We oppose capitalist arrangements as a viable alternative. Neo-liberals don’t. This is an important difference to note.

A final and very important difference to note is that neo-liberalism is not really so anti-government. Peter Frase noted this in a good Jacobin piece. He said:

Neoliberalism is a state project through and through, and is better understood as a transformation of the state and a shift in its functions, rather than a quantitative reduction in its size. In his Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey underlines the importance of the state in forcibly creating a “good business climate” by breaking down barriers to capital accumulation and repressing dissent.

Relatório da Coordenação de Mídias em Português: Agosto de 2014

Como prometido, aqui estão os números referentes à atuação do C4SS de 25 de junho a 25 de julho de 2014:

  • 14 textos publicados
  • 32 republicações em jornais e veículos da internet

Os textos mais republicados foram:

  1. “‘O governo é aquilo que fazemos juntos’: talvez a coisa mais idiota que já foi dita“, Kevin Carson: 7 republicações
  2. Guerra cibernética: O inimigo é você“, Thomas L. Knapp: 6 republicações
  3. A pergunta é: por que alguém confiaria no governo?“, Kevin Carson: 5 republicações

Como meu relatório anterior veio sem os números acima e a atuação do Centro foi um tanto anêmica, decidi dedicar trabalho redobrado em agosto. Estes são os números de 25 de julho a 25 de agosto de 2014:

  • 28 textos publicados
  • 7 dos 28 originalmente escritos em português (escritos por mim e por Valdenor Júnior)
  • A página do Facebook do C4SS em português saltou de 1219 curtidas para 2056 (aumento de 837)
  • Nosso perfil no Twitter saiu dos 66 seguidores para 82 (aumento de 16)
  • 99 republicações e citações em jornais e veículos de mídia da internet

Os textos mais republicados no mês foram:

  1. Iraque: A cirurgia imperial sem fim“, Brian Nicholson: 9 republicações
  2. Como não combater o 1%“, Kevin Carson: 9 republicações
  3. Agroterroristas acusam banco de sementes de agroterrorismo“, Kevin Carson: 8 republicações
  4. Ciberativismo libertário“, Valdenor Júnior: 7 republicações
  5. A guerra de Israel em Gaza: Não olhe atrás da cortina“, Kevin Carson: 7 republicações e citações
  6. Privacidade 2014: Google como braço da vigilância estatal“, Thomas L. Knapp: 6 republicações
  7. Eduardo Campos morre, mas suas ideias infelizmente sobrevivem“, Erick Vasconcelos: 6 republicações
  8. A Argentina e os fundos abutres“, Alan Furth: 5 republicações
  9. O magnata dos ônibus e a coleção de vinis que você comprou para ele“, Erick Vasconcelos: 5 republicações

Dois textos que não foram computados foram os dois últimos a sair no mês (de David S. D’Amato e Valdenor Júnior), que acabaram de ser enviados para diversos editores.

Também acabei de fazer um blog no Tumblr para o C4SS em português. Talvez consigamos estabelecer um diálogo interessante sobre nossas ideias por lá também.

Outro fato digno de nota deste mês foi a publicação de uma reportagem sobre o crescimento das ideias libertárias nos Estados Unidos que citava o diretor do C4SS Roderick Long. Publicamos toda a sua entrevista em português logo a seguir.

De acordo com as estatísticas do Facebook, tem havido grande repercussão de nosso conteúdo em Angola. Sendo brasileiro, naturalmente o conteúdo que produzo e reproduzo tem foco no Brasil, que também é o maior país de língua portuguesa do mundo. Embora seja até certo ponto natural esse foco no público brasileiro, é uma surpresa agradável que nós consigamos chegar à África com as ideias anarquistas de mercado.

Outros projetos da nossa embaixada em português que estão em andamento são:

  • Resenha do livro Hierarquia, de Augusto de Franco (provavelmente saindo na primeira semana de setembro)
  • Resenha de Brasil potência: Entre a integração regional e um novo imperialismo, de Raúl Zibechi (também saindo, provavelmente, na primeira semana de setembro)
  • Tradução para o português de The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand, de Kevin Carson (que deve ser lançado no final de setembro)

Também estamos implementando uma nova página inicial para nosso site em português, para torná-lo ainda mais atraente para os leitores.

Para tudo isso, precisamos da sua contribuição. Por isso, faça a sua doação, porque é isso que mantém as engrenagens da anarquia em funcionamento!

Erick Vasconcelos
Coordenador de Mídias
Centro por uma Sociedade Sem Estado (C4SS)

Portuguese Media Coordinator Update: August 2014

As promised, here are the Portuguese C4SS embassy’s numbers from June 25 to July 25:

  • 14 published articles
  • 32 newspaper and internet pickups

Most picked up articles were:

  1. ‘Government Is The Things We Do Together’: Perhaps the Stupidest Thing Ever Said“, Kevin Carson: 7 republicações
  2. Cyber War: The Enemy is You“, Thomas L. Knapp: 6 republicações
  3. The Question is, Why Would ANYONE Trust the Government?“, Kevin Carson: 5 republicações

Since my July report didn’t have the previous numbers and the Center’s action was rather anemic, I decided to go full steam and work double in August. These are the numbers from July 25 to August 25, 2014:

  • 28 published articles
  • 7 articles from those 28 originally written in Portuguese (by myself and Valdenor Júnior)
  • Our Portuguese Facebook page jumped from 1219 to 2056 likes (+837)
  • Our Twitter has now got 82 followers, from the previous month’s 66 (+16)
  • 99 pickups from newspapers and other websites

August’s most picked up articles were:

  1. Iraq: Endless Imperial Surgery“, Brian Nicholson: 9 pickups
  2. How Not to Fight the 1%“, Kevin Carson: 9 pickups
  3. Agri-Terrorists Accuse Seed Bank of Agri-Terrorism“, Kevin Carson: 8 pickups
  4. Libertarian Cyberactivism” (unpublished in English), Valdenor Júnior: 7 pickups
  5. Israel’s War in Gaza: Don’t Look Behind the Curtain“, Kevin Carson: 7 pickups and citations
  6. Privacy 2014: Google as an Arm of the Surveillance State“, Thomas L. Knapp: 6 pickups
  7. Brazil: Presidential Candidate Dies, His Ideals Unfortunately Live On“, Erick Vasconcelos: 6 pickups
  8. Vulture Funds vs. Argentina“, Alan Furth: 5 pickups
  9. The Bus Magnate and the Vinyl Collection You Bought Him“, Erick Vasconcelos: 5 pickups

Our last two articles in the month (David S. D’Amato’s and Valdenor Júnior’s) should get a few pickups, but they were not counted here, as they have just been sent to several editors.

I have also opened up a Portuguese C4SS blog on Tumblr. Hopefully we’ll be able to establish an interesting conversation on our ideas over there too.

Another interesting fact was the story the largest magazine in Brazil, Veja, published on the rise of libertarian ideas in the United States, which mentioned C4SS’s senior fellow Roderick Long. We published his whole interview for the magazine in Portuguese shortly afterwards.

According to Facebook, there has been great repercussion of our content in Angola. Being Brazilian, and Brazil being the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world, I tend to focus my efforts mostly in Brazil. It’s natural to a certain point that I do so, and that’s why it’s positively surprising that we’re able to communicate market anarchist ideas to Africa as well.

The other projects that we have underway are the following:

  • Augusto de Franco’s Hierarchy review (should probably be ready on the first week of September)
  • Raúl Zibechi’s The New Brazil: Regional Imperialism and the New Democracy review (also probably ready in the first week of September)
  • Kevin Carson’s The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand translation (which should be done by the end of September)

We’re also implementing a new splash page for our Portuguese website, so as to make it more attractive and inviting to our readers.

To do all these things, we need your help. Donate and keep the anarchy gears spinning!

Erick Vasconcelos
Media Coordinator
Center for a Stateless Society

Ask an Anarchist Week
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People are drawn to a commotion. In the marketplace of ideas, winners are often simply the loudest and as anarchists we hold ideas inherently more combative and attention grabbing than those regularly seen on a college campus. This is precisely what makes the campus perfect for radical activism, and was the philosophy which guided the Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS) at Texas State when we held our inaugural Ask an Anarchist Week.

The event intended first to establish S4SS as the primary voice for radical politics and social justice on Texas State campus, and second to communicate to other anarchists on campus that there was an intellectual home for their ideas. Armed with hundreds of pamphlets and a sign which read “Abolish Government Now!”, we set up our tent directly in the middle of campus and invited anyone interested to engage us in dialogue over whatever they wanted. A constant stream of students visited the table, sometimes recognizing the literature and ideas, but more often they were simply interested to hear what the people with the “abolish government” sign had to say. We distributed almost the entirety of our literature, and finished with 40 names on an email list. All metrics point to the event being a great success, but they don’t tell the whole story.

The success of the event was solidified in my mind on the final day of tabling, when I realized almost all of the visitors to the table were repeat visitors coming back to talk about the ideas they had read in the pamphlets we gave them. In our first week of existence, S4SS had not only succeeded in distributing anarchist literature, but managed to create a tiny community where new people explored anarchist ideas and sought deeper understanding of the philosophy.

Ask an Anarchist Week blew through all expectations I had of an anarchist tabling event being held well into the semester, and set a standard for our future activism. I attribute this simply to the commotion we made by being an intellectual group who embraced their radicalism with a touch of flair.

Travis Calhoun is an organizer for S4SS at Texas State University in San Marcos Texas, and a campus coordinator for Students for Liberty.
S4SS at Texas State has a Facebook page and a group.
The group can be contacted through either of the facebook links or email: s4ss.txstate@gmail.com.

The Weekly Abolitionist: Pitfalls and Possibilities

The protests, police violence, and repression in Ferguson have sparked nationwide conversations about police militarization and misconduct. There’s some incredibly promising potential here, as more and more people become aware of the brutality of the modern criminal justice system. However, there are also some potential pitfalls that deserve cautious examination.

First, the good. Popular commentators have been offering insightful analysis of police militarization. Perhaps the most notable is John Oliver, whose bit on Ferguson and police militarization was informative, incisive, and darkly hilarious. Thanks to this sort of commentary, plenty of people who hadn’t even heard of police militarization until recently are now aware of why it’s a problem.

Anarchist commentators have offered particularly insightful analysis in the wake of Ferguson. Here at the Center for a Stateless Society Grant Mincy has linked the protests in Ferguson to a broader trend of revolutionary movements, Cory Massimino has called for the abolition of the police, David D’Amato has analyzed what makes the US a police state, and Ryan Calhoun has called on Ferguson to “embrace community chaos over police order.” Over at AntiWar.com, Dan Sanchez has also called for the abolition of police, correctly identifying them as occupying forces that undermine peace and security rather than upholding them.

But it’s important to remember that this isn’t primarily about a national conversation. It’s about people’s lives. The people of Ferguson are facing arrests, police involved shootings, raids, tear gas, and a warlike environment that prevents the peaceful social cooperation that supports human life. To mitigate this tragedy, it’s important for people within and outside Ferguson to cooperate to support those being harmed by state violence. One way to do this is supporting the legal defense fund for those arrested in the course of the protests. Another is supporting the Amnesty International team that is on the ground observing and documenting abuse. Directly supporting those acting on the ground is one example of the vibrant voluntary cooperation human beings engage in from the bottom up, even when the top down violence of the state tries to thwart these actions.

While we should support these sorts of direct and bottom up actions, we must be skeptical of top down reform proposals, no matter how well-intentioned. The danger of public awareness and conversation surrounding serious issues is that politicians will seize on it to pass reforms, and these top-down reforms may make the problem worse rather than better. To understand why reform can be dangerous, just examine the history of criminal justice reform. In a review [PDF] of prison abolitionist Dean Spade’s book Normal Life, Jennifer Levi and Giovanni Shay note various examples of criminal justice reforms that unintentionally resulted in expanded state power and violence:

It is not only prison abolitionists who share Spade’s concern about the unintended consequences of prison reform. The sociologist Heather Schoenfeld writes that prison-conditions litigation in Florida contributed to a prison building boom there. Other commentators–including James Jacobs, Malcolm Feeley, and Van Swearingen–argue that prisoners’ rights litigation contributed to the “bureaucratization” of prisons, consolidating administrators’ power even as it asserted prisoners’ rights.

Examples of double-edged US criminal punishment reforms extend well beyond prison conditions. As described by Kate Stith and Steve Y. Koh (in “The Politics of Sentencing Reform: The Legislative History of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines,” Wake Forest Law Review, 1993), some of the initial proponents of federal sentencing guidelines were liberal academics and judges, who wanted to rationalize sentencing to make it fairer and more consistent. Unfortunately, as innumerable commentators have recounted, the implementation of the guidelines produced draconian sentences, ultimately contributing to the growth of US prisons.

That second point about liberal intentions motivating the establishment of federal sentencing guidelines is particularly important, given how these one-size fits all sentencing policies have driven the dramatic growth of the American prison state. A recent report from the National Research Council on the growth of incarceration in the US identifies the replacement of indeterminate sentencing with top down sentencing guidelines as a key policy that contributed to increased incarceration. The authors note multiple criticisms of indeterminate sentencing from the left that helped contribute to this change, writing:

Criticisms of indeterminate sentencing grew. Judge Marvin Frankel’s (1973) Criminal Sentences—Law without Order referred to American sentencing as “lawless” because of the absence of standards for sentencing decisions and of opportunities for appeals. Researchers argued that the system did not and could not keep its rehabilitative promises (Martinson, 1974). Unwarranted disparities were said to be common and risks of racial bias and arbitrariness to be high (e.g., American Friends Service Committee, 1971). Critics accused the system of lacking procedural fairness, transparency, and predictability (Davis, 1969; Dershowitz, 1976). Others asserted that parole release procedures were unfair and decisions inconsistent (Morris, 1974; von Hirsch and Hanrahan, 1979).

So leftist critique of an unfair criminal justice system inadvertently helped make it more harsh and punitive. These and other examples of reforms gone wrong are vitally important to understand, because the current national attention focused on mass incarceration, police brutality, and police militarization produces opportunities for reforms. And these reforms have a high risk of making the problems of punitive state violence even worse.

One particularly troubling trend in the wake of Ferguson is the trend of liberals calling for increased gun control in order to reduce the supposed need for police militarization. Commentators including UCLA law professor Adam Winkler have claimed that the prevalence of guns in America helps motivate police militarization and gun control may be a solution. But as Daniel Bier points out, police militarization has risen over a period of time when gun ownership has declined, crime has declined, and violent attacks on police have declined. In addition to being at odds with the facts, Winkler’s proposal risks promoting laws that increase the punitive power of America’s criminal justice system. As I’ve written previously, gun control laws have fueled the disproportionate incarceration of people of color in this country.

It’s good that more people are paying attention and talking about police militarization. But we must remember that police militarization is impacting real individuals and we should start by directly supporting the individuals and communities impacted, not attempting top-down political solutions. We must always be careful of the pitfalls and unintended consequences that come with politically enacted reforms. Direct action should be preferred to political action, and our analysis and prescriptions should be both radical and cautious. Radical in critiquing the root causes and institutions that contribute to these problems, and cautious in always being wary of unintended consequences and never allowing good intentions to make us support destructive top-down plans.