Decriminalizing Blackness for Dummies

November 17, 2015

Dummies_bookBy Mark E. Smith | Fubar and Grill
11/16/2015

Nowadays it isn’t unusual to see women cops. But it was before 1973. That’s when the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) decided to withhold federal funding from police departments which did not end the height requirements that had kept most women out. Discrimination against women within law enforcement didn’t stop, but their numbers increased.

More recently HUD announced that it will implement a new grant standard next year that favors communities which decriminalize homelessness over those that do not. It remains to be seen how many places decide to rescind their laws criminalizing homelessness, but given the love of money in this country I’d suspect it will be quite a few.

So that brings us to how to decriminalize Blackness. And the answer is the same. Withhold federal grant money from communities that disproportionately arrest and imprison Blacks or where Blacks are disproportionately killed by police. For them to get part of their funding back, they’d have to demonstrate actual progress in decriminalizing Blackness, and their entire funding would be restored as soon as the numbers of Blacks arrested, imprisoned, or killed approaches the proportion of the population in that area that is Black.

Or to put it more plainly for dummies, if you don’t want people to criminalize Blackness, stop paying them to do it.


A Nation of Toddlers

May 25, 2015

A Nation of Toddlers.


TORTURE IS U.S. POLICY

April 4, 2014

I Had A Dream

January 21, 2014

By Mark E. Smith

January 21, 2014 | Fubar and Grill

I dreamed that the November 2014 elections were different from any elections I’d experienced in my 73 years as a US citizen. It wasn’t a Presidential race, so people weren’t voting for a woman in the White House (who would promptly and obediently do a 360-degree turn and outlaw abortions by executive decree as soon as she was elected), and no horde of demons from Hell, replete with horns and tails had suddenly materialized and snagged every Republican nomination in the country so that people would vote for whatever Democrats were running as lesser evils. This wasn’t even an issue election, where people came out determined to vote for or against God, gays, guns, grass, or GMOs. No, this was something else–something I’d never thought to see!

There was a new third party, the Occu-Party, but this one was attracting tens of millions of voters from every other party. It was better funded than either the Democrats or the Republicans, and it purchased billions of dollars of major media space and air time, which it filled with the most incredible election campaign ads, written by the best authors in the world, and featuring music and special effects from the greatest artists and the best studios. The candidates were also beyond my wildest previous dreams. Mumia Abu Jamal had received a full pardon and was running for Governor of Pennsylvania. Ed Snowden had also received a full and total blanket pardon, and was running for Governor of New York. Lynne Stewart had miraculously recovered completely from cancer and was running for Governor of Georgia. Julian Assange had gotten all charges against him dropped, gained US citizenship, and was running for Governor of California. Sibel Edmonds was running for Governor of Washington state. And every true radical and revolutionary in the US had gotten an Occu-Party nomination for Governor, Senator, or Congressperson in one state or another.

The Occu-Party’s platform was simple and straightforward:

  1. Abolish the Fed.
  2. End wars.
  3. Tax the rich.
  4. Restore and enhance social programs.
  5. Abolish prisons.
  6. Remove corporate money from politics and remove personhood from corporations.
  7. Crowd-source a new Constitution from scratch that everyone would be allowed to vote upon.

I saw some of the candidate ads and began to wonder if I had been wrong to take my name off the voting rolls and withdraw my consent. I even saw an episode of Democracy Now(TM) where Amy Goodman was asked how this was possible, and she said, ‘I’m not sure, but I suspect that it might be due to the genius and generosity of OTPUR and George Soros.’ That’s when I woke up, apparently because even my subconscious knew that she’d never be allowed to say anything like that. And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t a dream at all, but a nightmare. Because I knew how it would have ended:

Except for some City Council seats and a couple of Congressional representatives from small states, all the Occu-Party candidates lost. The central tabulator programs had been refined so that they lost by only one or two percentage points, giving voters hope that if they just tried a little harder in the next election, they might be able to bring about change by working within the system, or as Audre Lorde put it, they could “…use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house.” In the meantime, as voters were delirious with their new hope for change, they had unwittingly consented to four more years of war and corporate tyranny, which they gladly submitted to because they had proven that the system worked and only needed a little more effort on their part.

As soon as the election was over, as the Democrats and Republicans gloated over the biggest turnout in a non-presidential race in decades, and Obama expanded his kill list, most of the pardons were revoked, the radicals re-arrested and imprisoned or assassinated, and the Occu-Party busied itself with trying to nominate a presidential candidate for 2016 from the few who remained, even as its funding dried up and vanished as unexpectedly as it had first appeared.

Oh, there were a few anarchists and other election boycott advocates who had held themselves back and even warned that perhaps things were not quite as they seemed, but it was, of course, impossible to staunch the enthusiasm of a people blinded by what once again appeared to be the promise of real hope and change.

And in 2016, the Occu-Party, having accomplished the biggest get-out-the-vote drive in US election history, but no longer able to find great candidates and spend billions on campaign ads, sadly held its nose and threw its support to whichever candidates of the Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, and other parties appeared to be the least evil.

It had been 3-D and psychedelic, but in the end it was nothing more than another “color revolution.” Nothing had changed for the better, things had only gotten worse, but voters were swollen with hope and thought of themselves as true revolutionaries. And denial was still more than just a river in Egypt.


On Fascism, Take Two: Response to Crimethinc Podcast #15′s Listener Feedback

January 13, 2014

By Sean Swain

Introduction

By way of introduction, some background:

CrimethInc explored the topic of fascism in their podcast #11. You can probably check that out by clicking someplace where a friend of mine has a blue line under some words, I suspect.

I responded to that podcast and presented a way to view freedom and the State, anarchism and fascism. Again, you can probably expend a calorie by clicking and checking out my full response, but I’ll give a really quick summary here. Freedom is “the absence of external regulation” (thank you, Ward Churchill), so freedom and external regulation are opposites. Where regulated, you are not free; where free, you are not regulated. Imagine freedom as one point and complete external regulation as another with a line between them, and you’ve got a continuum.

A crude illustration might appear here:

Freedom (absence of external regulation)——————-Absolute external regulation (absence of freedom)

Since the State representes external regulation, only anarchists (who oppose the existence of the State) can stand on the extreme point of Freedom. Since fascists advocate for the total transcendence of the State and a negation of all personal freedom, they occupy the opposite point.

I then managed to pose an argument that will piss off roughly 95% of the world’s population when I said that, since all other hierarchical schemes (from socialists to republicans) on the continuum all have the essential features of fascism to some lesser degree, all of them (except anarchists) are some “light beer” fascist formations.

Yeah. I put a sharpie-marker Hitler mustache on conservatives, liberals, socialists, and everyone in between. I concluded that, to defeat fascism, you must defeat the State…and only anarchists can do that.

In podcast #15, Alanis and Clara gave a fair presentation of my response. Click on the words with the blue line under them and check it out. But, again, for the super-lazy, I’ll summarize their reply to my ideas and then address them.

Alanis suggested that in addition to the continuum that I presented, we have to add another dimension which accounts for “our capacity to act and realize our potential.” This implicates the idea that even if I’m not regulated directly, the oppression of someone else “inhibit(s)…realization of our collective potential.” She also points out that fascists believe their aims and goals can only be achieved at the expense of the “other,” which then implicates racism, sexism, etc., while anarchists employ means that are consistent with self-determination, solidarity, and mutual aid.

Clara then made an important point, I think, that deserves quoting almost in entirety. She said that “characterizing all non-anarchist political ideologies as essentially more or less virulent varieties of fascism [which is really good description of what I did 🙂 ] risks eclipsing some of the specific characteristics of fascism as it has appeared over the past century—not to mention alienating potential allies in anti-fascist struggles. Anarchists can’t defeat fascism alone, but we can used shared opposition to it to introduce others to broader critiques of state power.”

After Alanis suggested that we must judge political theory separate from how it ends up practiced, Clara suggested a somewhat more complex model than my single-axis continuum. If I understand it correctly Clara’s model would have “x” and “y” axes that intersect like the graphs in algebra class, with one continuum representing something akin to my graph, and the intersecting axis representing the continuum between centralization and decentralization.

I’ve summarized those points because I want to address them more in-depth below, and I didn’t bother to recount the points where we all agreed. To recount those would serve no other purpose except to make us all seem brilliant.

And that’s not necessary…everyone knows anarchism and brilliance are correlated.

Besides, disagreement is more interesting. My disagreements follow, and I hope they are interesting.

Response

I note that all of the arguments against my previous response arise fro ma sense that my presentation is somewhat an oversimplification. (Alanis: “…we might try to broaden our notion…by addition another dimension…”; “another key opposition between fascists and anarchists…”; Clara: “…characterizing all non-anarchist political, ideological…risks eclipsing some of the specific characteristics of fascism…”; and “…(there is) another axis we need to consider…”). Alanis and Clara don’t use the term “oversimplification” because their too polite for that, but all of the arguments they made that I intend to address seem to indicate that my single-axis continuum of freedom (“absence of external regulation”) to absolute external regulation (“absence of freedom”) lacks some necessary moving parts and whistles and bells.

From my reading, it seems that there are two principle arguments that originate from this position. The first is, my presentation omits other dimensions that must be considered, and the second—premised somewhat on the first—is that such an oversimplification leads to inaccurate conclusions that are ultimately false.

“Other Dimensions”

Clara suggests that rather than referring to my simple one-axis continuum, we need two intersecting axes. One continuum, by her conception, would represent “centralization” and “decentralization,” while the other would be a range between hierarchy and equality.

This model is instructive for analysis certainly, but somewhat redundant, I think, when contrasted to mine. Here, we have a range of centralization and decentralization. Of what?

Well, whatever your answer—power. Centralization of the economy (socialism) is centralization of economic power. Centralization of legal authority (the State) is centralization of political power. Centralization of gumballs is the centralization of the power to blow bubbles.

Power equals regulation. That which exercises power over something else is regulating.

We’re back to my graph. Absence of regulation at one end, absolute regulation at the other. It follows, naturally, I think, that at the fascist end of the spectrum you have a tendency of centralization—concentrating the power to regulate into fewer hands; while at the opposing end, the freedom end, you have the anarchist tendency to diffuse power in the absence of a State, the absence of a regulator.

Returning to Clara’s model, we have the other axis which ranges from “hierarchy” to “equality.” A quick point here before we proceed, but hierarchy and equality are not necessarily opposites; you either have hierarchy or you don’t, but the absence of hierarchy doesn’t automatically imply equality. But even so, let’s contrast this axis with my freedom (“absence of external regulation”) to absolute-regulation axis.

Equality corresponds easily with the idea of no bosses/slaves—an “equality” of power. Inequality always implies someone having the wherewithal to stick it to someone else. I would suggest that this concept, “equality,” can only exist in the absence of an external regulator because, if an external regulator exists, it has an unequal power. So, equality, in an absolute sense, can only correspond to the “freedom” point on my axis. And, on my axis, as you depart from “freedom,” from the absolute position, you get lesser and lesser degrees of equality as well.

Are we starting to appreciate how phantasmorific my graph is?

But, again, whenever we are on the sliding scale, equality to greater inequality, we don’t bump into “hierarchy.” As I mentioned, hierarchy is not the opposite of equality, but is the opposite of the-absence-of-hierarchy. So for that, we’re back to my graph (phantasmorific!) and we note that the position of freedom, absence of regulation, necessarily corresponds to an absence of hierarchy, and the rest of the continuum is a sliding scale of how much hierarchy sucks. Sucks a lot way over there. Sucks significantly less over here.

So, by my analysis, for what it’s worth, I like all the things Clara’s “x” and “y” axes are measuring, but I think they’re unnecessary. By any analysis, we can see the correlation between equality and freedom and decentralization (diffusion) and diversification and variation and the absence of external regulation; where the opposites of all of those great things are concentrated at the other end where Dick Chaney and Darth Vader reside.

Freedom—————————Absolute external regulation

Absence of external regulation—————————(absence of freedom)

All the good stuff on Clara’s graph—————————(and ultimate suck)

Okay. So, let’s move on to an argument Alanis made, that also implies (politely) that I’ve over-simplified. She suggested, “…we might try to broaden our notion of fascism and how it relates to anarchism by adding another dimension to our definition of freedom. In addition to absence of external regulation, we’d add our capacity to act and realize our potential. This is what makes the slogan “No One is Free when Others are Oppressed” concrete; the oppression of others may or may not serve as an external regulation to us individually, but it does inhibit our realization of our collective project” (emphasis added).

As I understand this, Alanis is saying—and I agree—that my own freedom can be diminished by the oppression of another. And before I start drawing distinctions, I first want to point out the essential truth of this, that the existence of oppression anywhere is the existence of oppression everywhere.

Everybody act accordingly.   🙂

However, I think Alanis is mixing apples and oranges. To draw a distinction, we have the question of what freedom is, and we have a separate (but related) question of whether or not your current freedom (or current lack of it) will influence or inhibit my freedom.

So, let me approach it this way. We have my freedom, my “absence of external regulation.” In the current moment, I am free. Every possible choice is available to me. And at the same time, Alanis is unfree. She’s oppressed.

But notice, our definition doesn’t change. Freedom and it’s absence is still understood by the degree of external regulation or its absence.

This is “apples”— the definition.

Now, for “oranges”— if Alanis is oppressed now, will that impact my freedom in the next moment? And the answer, of course, is yes. Alanis being oppressed now will foreclose on some of my options ten seconds from now. So, her absence of freedom will become a force that works as an inhibitor, a regulator of my freedom, by foreclosing upon some of my options. I am not free if I cannot choose what I would otherwise choose, all because Alanis is in chains.

But, again, I would suggest that my model does not need modified. You’ll note, the definition of freedom is “the absence of external regulation,” not “the absence of direct external regulation over me.” For me to be totally free, there must be an absolute absence of external regulation.

Its existence impacts me. That’s why taking down just the State of Ohio just the United States would not be good enough. As Rage Against the Machine said it in Renegades of Funk: “Destroy all nations…”

The absence of external regulation.

That’s also the reason that the cop in his police cruiser represents oppression whether he is arresting me or whether he’s eating a salami sandwich. He’s an external regulator. He’s present.

And that’s why we have to drop the bowling ball through his windshield. It’s not personal. It’s principle. His very existence drags us from our absolute position on my (phantasmorific!) freedom graph.

So, that takes us to the next argument Alanis makes, implying (politely) that my analysis is over-simplified and incomplete:

“Herein lies another key opposition between fascism and anarchist approaches to the world. Fascists believe that realizing the potential of a race or a nation can only come via authority at the expense of the Ohter (the non-citizen or the foreigner, the inferior race or religion, the sexual or cultural deviant, etc.) On the contrary, anarchists believe that we can only realize our full potential via self-determination based in solidarity and mutual aid.”

This analysis is certainly accurate, in that fascist and anarchists have a completely different orientation and method of engagement. But, I would argue, this is a result of the points on the continuum we occupy. Fascists reside on the end of the spectrum where the State is all and the individual is nothing.

So, given this orientation, racism and sexism and homophobia are a natural extension of their total State worship. Absolute regualtion translates into foreclosing on freedom, on choice, and this means homogenization of everything and everyone. A reduction of everyone, restricted to the singular example of so-called Fascist Perfection. Anything deviating from that is wrong, is a violation of the regulations.

I would argue that “absolute external regulation” on my graph would invariably coincide with an all-out war on diversity. It’s a natural consequence of fascism.

As a minor note, to support this, consider that in all of the writings by early fascists, the topic of racial purity never came up. “Everyone-bashing” was not part of the platform. Racial hatred was not a conscious component to the program, but was a natural outgrowth of it. Only later in fascism’s development were the sentiments so popularly shared by all fascists consciously incorporated into the program.

Expressed another way, a kooky belief that the State is all, and absolute external regulation is great, and the individual is nothing, typically appeals to hateful white guys…and they generally agree on killing everyone not just like themselves.

(A general principle: stupid white guys who will embrace one dumb idea will usually embrace another one. 🙂 )

At the same time, it also makes sense, referring back to my freedom-to-absolute-external-regulation continuum, that the folks on the absolute freedom (absence of external control, no State, no compulsion, etc.) end of the spectrum would have a totally different orientation and engagement—one that’s conducive to variation and variety and choice and actualization of the transcendent individual through cooperation and wonderful stuff. Not wanting to wax utopian here, because I’m far from the dreamy utopian, but it seems to me that it’s pretty self-evident: if you create a climate and social setting conducive to certain characteristics, you’ll more likely foster them; if you create an environment that is supportive and stress-free, and geared toward the relative peace and happiness of each individual, you’ll have fewer cranky, hateful people hell-bent on accumulating material shit and killing everybody.

Just an idea.

But I think we can easily extrapolate all of that from my simple two dots and a line. Lots of good things converge on freedom. Lots of bad stuff gets worse as you move further away from it…

And fascism blows chunks.

So now we progress to the second major argument that in over-simplifying (my word) I’ve mischaracterized every non-anarchist as “essentially more or less virulent varieties of fascism” and, in so doing, I risk “eclipsing some of the specific characteristics of fascism…”

Everyone But Anarchists are Essentially Fascists…(And They Suck)

I was going to try to find a nice way to make my point. There isn’t one.

Everyone who does not reject the State and who does not reject “external regulation” occupying that singular extreme point on the continuum—embraces and “essentially more or less virulent variety of fascism.” I don’t like saying that. I don’t like recognizing that. I wish it were different…but it’s not.

Except for the extreme anti-State, anti-external regulation position occupied by anarchists, the entirety of the political spectrum shares all—let me capitalize that: ALL— of the component features of fascism. All of those political philosophies—to include socialism—simply contain ALL of the component features of fascism in lesser quantities.

Something I read just today in Cartography of Revolutionary Anarchism, by Michael Schmidt (p. 3-4), speaks to this very subject:

…the vast majority of historical Marxist movements strived for revolutionary dictatorship based upon nationalism and central planning. Every major Marxist regime has been a dictatorship. Every major Marxist party has renounced Marxism for social democracy, acted as an apologist for a dictatorship, or headed a brutal dictatorship itself. Even those mainstream Marxist who critique the horrors of Stalin or Mao defend Lenin and Trotsky’s regime, which included all of the core features of later Marxist regimes — labour camps, a one-party dictatorship, a secret police state, terror against the peasantry, the repression of strikes, independent unions and other leftists, etc. Marxism must be judged by history and the authoritarian Marxist lineage that exists therein: not Marxism as it might* have been, but Marxism as it has been… (emphasis added, except *).

All of those core features — labor camps, a dictatorship, a secret police, terror against the population, repression of strikes and unions and other political theories—aren’t just the core features of later Marxist regimes, but are the core features of fascism. And I’m not trying to specifically pick on socialists here, but my thinking is, socialists are the next position over to the right of the U.S. Anarchists, so if this holds true for them, it certainly holds true for every political position situated even closer to fascism.

One of the writers in John Zerzan’s collection, Against Civilization (name escapes me, but perhaps someone can plug that information in here), [Sean is referring to Zygmunt Bauman’s piece entitled “Modernity and the Holocaust], argued that Hitler and the Holocaust were not some vast departure from the norms of swivelization (my word). On the contrary, Hitler and his ideology were an extreme exaggeration of swivelization and its norms. It was not an anomaly, a drastic departure, a disjuncture from swivelized society, but was, instead, a perfect representation of it: it was swivelization on steriods. It was more Stalin than Stalin…more Reagan than Reagan…more Obama than Obama…but it was not qualitatively “other than” anything else we experience in the swivelized world.

So, back to Clara’s point, she claims that my position “risks eclipsing some of the specific characteristics of fascism…” And I’m not trying to be confrontational here, but I have to ask: Like what? What “specific characteristics” do we find in fascism that we do not find everywhere else at all times. Racism? Labor camps? A dictatorship? Repression of opposition? Nationalism? Patriotism? Invasion? Colonization? Aspirations of global dominance?

Am I missing something?

Please keep in mind that, as Ward Churchill points out, Hitler didn’t devise his Final Solution all on his own, but was admittedly inspired by what the U.S. had done to Native Americans. And don’t forget that prior to U.S. entry into World War II, then-ambassador to Britain, Joe Kennedy, father of future president John Kennedy, advised FDR to enter the war on the side of Germany. Charles Lindbergh and Walt Disney were honored by the Third Reich, and now Disney’s corporation brings you the evening news that ignores the concentration camps called the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, maintained with your tax dollars.

Okay, that last paragraph kind of felt like a rant so now I’ll cool out on the caffeine, let go of your shirt collar, and take a deep breath. Sorry. But all of that is still true.

So, having said all of that, we now get to what might be the most important point. I’ll first quote Clara:

“…characterizing all non-anarchist political ideologies as essentially more or less virulent varieties of fascism risks eclipsing some of the specific characteristics of fascism as it has appeared over the past century—not to mention alienating potential allies in anti-fascist struggles. Anarchists can’t defeat fascism alone, but we can use shared opposition to it to introduce others to broader critiques of state power” (emphasis added).

This, I find, is one of the most prevalent ideas that anarchists espouse—the idea that socialists and other state leftists are allies of ours against the fascists. Because state leftists are further away down the continuum from fascists, and because they are sometimes positioned just to the right of us, we take that proximity as commonality. We ally ourselves with state leftists in common cause against the fascist menace. And, invariably, every single time, the socialists (aka “fascist-lights”, aka state-worshipers with all the components of fascism but to lesser degrees) stab us in the back at a critical juncture and turn the tides in favor of the fascists, with whom they share a god (the State).

Ask Buenaventura Durruti. Socialists did it in the Spanish Civil War, time and again. Then Stalin made a secret pact with Hitler, the most fascist of fascists, white Jews, gypsies and anarchists filled Nazi concentration camps.

To present an analogy:

Clara: Sean, the zombie apocalypse is upon us! We have to fight the zombies!

Sean: Okay. Who are our allies?

Clara: Those dead, rotting, shambling, drooling people over there who are trying to eat our brains.

See how that sounds? We’re going to oppose the enemy who openly aspires to racism, labor camps, dictatorship, secret police, terror waged against the population, repression, nationalism, patriotism, invasion, colonization, and global dominance? We’re going to team-up with the closet fascists to fight the outted fascists?

I would say, “Let me know how that works out for you”-except we have examples of how that works out….over and over and over and over.

I don’t want to “play nice” with someone who intends to oppress me as soon as we bump off his competition, and do most of the fighting and dying in the process. I know how this sounds, but fuck socialists. They are not anti-fascist and they are not our pals. Never have been….and we’ve got the scars to prove it.

There is no long-term benefit from working socialists, unless you’re excited at the prospect of serving time in the gulag under the next Stalin, in which case you’re already a socialist-so why are you even reading this far? And somehow socialists have us duped into thinking that we don’t have “the numbers” to engage in a purely anarchist resistance using anarchist strategies and tactics without compromising on principle and begging the socialists to de-rail our anti-state efforts.

Clara draws the conclusion that anarchists “can’t defeat fascism alone…”. And I hope that’s not true because we’re the onle ones who truly reject fascism. We’re the only ones resisting it rather than watering it down or implementing it on a slower, sneakier timeline. I’m looking around the poker table and I firmly believe we’re going to have to fight the fascists alone, simply because we’re the only ones not giving them hand-jobs at the table.

So I ask, why do we need “numbers”? Do we need a voting majority in order to hack in and melt down government databases, or to take down cell phone towers, or call in fake bomb threats to major corporations? Do we need even a sizeable minority to jam up shipping and rail and trucking; to follow home government officials from their offices? How many people does it take to find all the homes foreclosed by banks and eliminate profits with a bottle, a rag, some gas, some Styrofoam peanuts, and a book of matches? How many people does it take to pull fire alarms? To forage at Walmart? And there are just small activities that if even one million disgruntled people undertook them, the system would be disrupted. Nothing sensational.

So now consider: in the U.S., a population of 300 millions, nearly 20% are unemployed. We’re talking 60 million people abandoned by the larger system. How many tens of thousands of combat vets are coming home to find they tossed limbs down the rich man’s oil well just to get betrayed? Can’t millions of people be reached on-line almost instantaneously? French students can go out on strike to get one immigrant returned, so why can’t U.S. students go on strike…forever?

Consider also: the Roman Empire collapsed not because the socialists amassed the necessary “numbers” to bring it down; it collapsed because the barbarians, the savages, ran around naked and shit in the bushes.

Swivelization is already collapsing. It just needs a few naked barbarians. A few steaming dumps in the bushes.

Fuck the socialist. Fuck “numbers”.

With just fifty committed anarchists who want to take down the system, we can come up with a plan in less than a day that would be so thoroughly devastating that by this time next year, we’d all be squatting or living in yurts, foraging for food. Money would be good kindling. The o-zone would be looking much healthier.

Nobody would be reading Karl Marx.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

About Sean Swain: http://seanswain.org/about-sean-swain/


On Fascism: One Anarchist’s Response to CrimethInc’s Podcast #11

November 26, 2013

By Sean Swain

In a recent podcast, CrimethInc presented a feature on fascism and anti-fascism (http://www.crimethinc.com/podcast/11/). In this feature, Clara presented that fascism, “…attempts to be a popular movement: which “advocates for strong centralized power in the state.” In this way, fascism, “…offers an authoritarian vision of society as a solution.” Clara also presented that another, “…core principle is nationalism,” and that this translates often into, “…hatred of the outsider.” Fascism is also “virulent” in its “…opposition to communists, anarchists, and most other radicals.”

For the purposes of the podcast, this served as a good working definition, though a somewhat superficial one. What follows is my response, an effort to provide a fuller context and, hopefully, a much greater appreciation for the reasons that anarchists more than anyone recognize the danger that fascism truly represents.

Freedom

Let’s start this off by talking about freedom. To approach this from a purely Anarchist perspective, I think that’s where we have to start, because ultimately freedom is the true point of conflict. As I think this will demonstrate, Anarchists more than anyone else are for freedom, and fascists more than anyone else are against freedom. And this, then, would explain why the struggle between Anarchists and fascists is such a bitter and important one. In fact, if freedom matters to you, then this ongoing battle is more important than anything else.

But before we get rolling too fast, before we get ahead of ourselves, I think we need to define “freedom.” If we don’t, we’re left with everyone thinking of freedom in a million different ways – in a world where we have something called “freedom fries,” no less – and that can only lead to confusion. So, for clarity, let’s define freedom. For that purpose, I would like to defer to Ward Churchill who has defined freedom as “the absence of external regulation.”

I think that’s a good definition. The more external regulation you have – the more someone or something else is telling you what to do – the less free you are; the less you have someone else telling you what to do, the more free you are. So, without getting into the questions of all the potential activities we either have or lack the freedom to engage in, we have a decent, working definition of what freedom is.

This is important, because everything else rests on this.

So now, imagine a continuum, a line. Often we see this in order to compare and contrast liberals, who occupy the left end of the line, with the conservative, who occupy the right end. But for our purposes, these “liberal-conservative” concepts are really irrelevant. We just want to borrow the line, the continuum.

At one end, let’s imagine freedom – absolute freedom. This is the total absence of external regulation – as free as it gets. Way down at the other end of the continuum, we have absolute non-freedom, which is the total and complete domination of external regulation. This would be the extreme of being controlled by someone or something else, 24 hours a day.

So we have our opposites, our points of reference, absolute freedom and the total absence of freedom, and all the points on the line between them would represent some interplay, some compromise, of varying degrees of freedom and regulation.

Now, having established that, what is another term for “external regulation”? When we speak of someone or something that exercises authority to regulate us, the word we usually use is “government.” To regulate is to govern, and governing is conducted by a government.

This is important, because we turn back to our continuum and at one extreme end; we find absolute freedom, the complete absence of “external regulation.” This extreme end, freedom, has no external regulation, no regulating, no governing – no government.

Absolute freedom, then, the absolute absence of external regulation, is absent the “external regulator” of government. This point on the extreme end of the continuum is the absence of government.

People who advocate such absolute freedom are labeled “Anarchists.” Everyone else in the entire spectrum of politics and social order advocates at least a minor amount of external regulation, a minor amount of imposition or individual freedom, a minor amount of “government.”

(A small side note here, but likely, most people if presented with the freedom to non-freedom continuum and asked what they believe to be ideal, would likely point to the Anarchist extreme of absolute freedom – particularly people in the U.S. They would unhesitatingly point at absolute freedom even though most people, in reality, are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum ideologically. This is because we live in a culture that gives a lot of lip service to freedom while sliding ever further away from it. Keep in mind, the majority of the U.S. population also self-reported to believe in all ten of the Ten Commandments, but the average person could only name three of them…which would indicate that we’re working with a deeply irrational group of people who deeply believe in things they don’t know.)

Given this analytical framework, before we more on, it might be important to point out that everyone on the continuum, besides Anarchists, are Statists – that is, they believe in government. Also, everyone but Anarchists are defined by the degree to which they oppose absolute freedom.

Fascism

In The Doctrine of Fascism by Benito Mussolini,¹ the Italian dictator wrote, “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception is for the State…” For the fascist, “…all is comprised in the State and nothing spiritual or human exists – much less has any value – outside the State.”

Elsewhere he wrote, “The capital point of the Fascist doctrine is the conception of the State, its essence, the work to be accomplished, its final aims. In the conception of Fascism, the State is absolute before which individuals and groups are relative.”²

And Giovanni Gentile, in the Philosophic Basis of Fascism, wrote, “The politic of Fascism revolves wholly about the concept of the national State…”³

Given these quotes, we can see that what distinguishes fascism as a political philosophy is its belief in the absolute transcendence of the State, of government, and simultaneously, the “anti-individualistic” position that nothing human, i.e., individual freedom, exists. Thus, fascism occupies the opposite end of the freedom spectrum from Anarchism. It seeks to eliminate all human freedom and to subject all to the dictates of an all-powerful State – the perfect and absolute negation of all liberty, all individuality. Nothing matters but the State.

It follows then, as a natural corollary, given that individual freedom is inimical to the State, that the State would seek, under fascism, to wipe out all individuality, all human distinction, all diversity. For the transcendent, fascist State, there can be only one perfect subject, the perfect “National Socialist Man,” as Hitler advertised and promoted him.⁴ With imposed homogenization, conformity, uniformity, anything “other” must be eliminated.

So, anyone religiously, politically, racially, artistically or sexually “other” than what the State has decreed to be optimum for the State’s interest, must be eliminated. Fascism, then, is a dream of a freedom less world of automatons marching in lockstep, surrendering all individuality in deference to the State.

Only Anarchists Can Oppose Fascism

If we return to the freedom-versus-non-freedom continuum, there are some rational conclusions we have to draw. First, we recognize that only the extreme position on the far end of the continuum advocates for absolute freedom, which is the absolute absence of external regulation, which is the complete absence of the State.

Every other position accepts some degree of regulation, of external control, of State intrusion. This means that every single political philosophy, with the exception of Anarchism,⁵ accepts the existence of the State and, on this point, every political position except for Anarchism is in agreement with fascism.

Viewed this way, the entirety of the political spectrum – from communists to social democrats to republicans – is really nothing more than a sliding scale of how many degrees removed from fascism each position is. One step removed from absolute fascism may represent the hard-liners of the Republican Party – a kind of “fascism light,” – with liberal democrats several steps removed, but still firmly in the throes of state-worship.

Thus, even communists and socialists share the same belief in the necessity of the State, but differ with the fascists only in the amount of power that should be invested in it. In the analogy of state worship, fascists sit in the first pew while the communists and socialists sit in the very back – but they all attend the same service. The only socio-political formations that do not bow to the fascists’ god are Anarchists.

As a consequence, only Anarchists can present a full and complete critique of fascism. This makes Anarchism particularly deadly to fascism and explains why, historically, fascists seek to eliminate Anarchists first and foremost.

The Fascist Threat

We can now turn to the reality that confronts us, which includes Nazi Skinheads wearing Swastikas and waving flags while marching through minority neighborhood. And, certainly, as Andrew from the New York City Anarchist Black Cross pointed out in the Crimethinc podcast, these elements cannot be ignored. But realistically, these misguided flag-wavers do not hold State power and given their outspoken advocacy for an ideology most would find at least troubling, this fringe will likely never attain State power.

The true fascist threat comes from those who do wield State power and implement policies and programs that are distinctively fascist in that they serve a transcendent State. While Barack Obama does not wear a Nazi uniform or march with the Hitler Youth, he does approve the vast invasion of the world’s telecommunications; he send drones to kill U.S. citizens abroad; he authorizes the detention of ideological enemies. In short, he serves a de facto fascist agenda, an agenda of extreme and absolute non-freedom thinly-disguised as a representative republic.

The State is central to fascism. If you want to defeat fascism, defeat the State. Only Anarchists can do that.⁶

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End Notes

¹ From, Readings on Fascism and National Socialism, by selected members of the Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado, 1952.

² “The Value and Mission of the State,” Ibid.

³ Ibid.

⁴ We have to imagine that the “National Socialist Woman” would also exist, though she isn’t mentioned.

⁵ By “Anarchist,” I mean anything that fits our definition of advocating absolute freedom and the complete absence of external regulation, whatever advocates of such a position may call themselves.

⁶ To clarify, anyone who designs to destroy the State and abolish it, whatever his or her politics would be, de facto, an Anarchist. Thus, only Anarchists can abolish the State, as only Anarchists would undertake to do so.

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About Sean Swain: http://seanswain.org/about-sean-swain/


It Has Happened Here in America: The Police State is Real

February 9, 2013

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

police-stateThe Bush regime’s response to 9/11 and the Obama regime’s validation of this response have destroyed accountable democratic government in the United States.

So much unaccountable power has been concentrated in the executive branch that the US Constitution is no longer an operable document.

Whether a person believes the official story of 9/11 which rests on unproven government assertions or believes the documented evidence provided by a large number of scientists, first responders, and structural engineers and architects, the result is the same. 9/11 was used to create an open-ended “war on terror” and a police state. It is extraordinary that so many Americans believe that “it can’t happen here” when it already has.

We have had a decade of highly visible evidence of the construction of a police state:

  • the PATRIOT Act, illegal spying on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,
  • the initiation of wars of aggression–war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard–based on intentional lies,
  • the Justice Department’s concocted legal memos justifying the executive branch’s violation of domestic and international laws against
  • torture, the indefinite detention of US citizens in violation of the constitutionally protected rights of habeas corpus and due process,
  • the use of secret evidence and secret “expert witnesses” who cannot be cross-examined against defendants in trials,
  • the creation of military tribunals in order to evade federal courts, secret legal memos giving the president authority to launch preemptive cyber attacks on any country without providing evidence that the country constitutes a threat, and the Obama regime’s murder of US citizens without evidence or due process.

As if this were not enough, the Obama regime now creates new presidential powers by crafting secret laws, refusing to disclose the legal reasoning on which the asserted power rests. In other words, laws now originate in secret executive branch memos and not in acts of Congress.  Congress?  We don’t need no stinking Congress.

Despite laws protecting whistleblowers and the media and the US Military Code which requires soldiers to report war crimes, whistleblowers such as CIA agent John Kiriakou, media such as Julian Assange, and soldiers such as Bradley Manning are persecuted and prosecuted for revealing US government crimes.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33804.htm

The criminals go free, and those who report the crimes are punished.

The justification for the American police state is the “war on terror,” a hoax kept alive by the FBI’s “sting operations.” Normally speaking, a sting operation is when a policewoman poses as a prostitute in order to ensnare a “John,” or a police officer poses as a drug dealer or user in order to ensnare drug users or dealers.  The FBI’s “sting operation” goes beyond these victimless crimes that fill up US prisons.

The FBI’s sting operations are different. They are just as victimless as no plot ever happens, but the FBI doesn’t pose as bomb makers for terrorists who have a plot but lack the weapon.Instead, the FBI has the plot and looks for a hapless or demented person or group, or for a Muslim enraged over the latest Washington insult to him and/or his religion. When the FBI locates its victim, its agents approach the selected perpetrator pretending to be Al-Qaeda or some such and ply the selected perpetrator with money, the promise of fame, or threats until the victim signs on to the FBI’s plot and is arrested.

Trevor Aaronson in his book, The Terror Factory:Inside the FBI’s War on Terrorism, documents that the FBI has so far concocted 150 “terrorist plots” and that almost all of the other“terrorist cases” are cases unrelated to terrorism, such as immigration, with a terror charge tacked on. See video

The presstitute American media doesn’t ask why, if there is so much real terrorism requiring an American war against it,the FBI has to invent and solicit terrorist plots.

Neither does the media inquire how the Taliban,which resists the US invasion and attempted occupation of Afghanistan, fighting the US superpower to a standstill after 11 years, came to be designated as terrorists. Nor does the US presstitute media want to know how tribesmen in remote regions of Pakistan came to be designated as “terrorists”deserving of US drone attacks on the citizens, schools and medical clinics of a country with which the US is not at war.

Instead the media protects and perpetrates the hoax that has given America the police state. The American media has become Leni Riefenstahl, as has Hollywood with the anti-Muslim propaganda film, Zero Dark Thirty. This propaganda film is a hate crime that spreads Islamophobia. Nevertheless, the film is likely to win awards and to sink Americans into both tyranny and a hundred-year war in the name of fighting the Muslim threat.

What I learned many years ago as a professor is that movies are important molders of Americans‘ attitudes. Once, after giving a thorough explanation of the Russian Revolution that led to communist rule, a student raised his hand and said: “That’s not the way it happened in the movie.”

At first I thought he was making a witty joke,but then I realized that he thought that the truth resided in the movie, not in the professor who was well versed in the subject. Ever since I have been puzzled how the US has survived for so long, considering the ignorance of its population. Americans have lived in the power of the US economy. Now that this power is waning, sooner or later Americans will have to come to terms with reality.

It is a reality that will be unfamiliar to them.

Some Americans claim that we have had police states during other war times and that once the war on terror is won, the police state will be dismantled. Others claim that government will be judicious in its use of the power and that if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear.

These are reassurances from the deluded. The Bush/Obama police state is far more comprehensive than Lincoln’s,Wilson’s, or Roosevelt’s, and the war on terror is open-ended and is already three times longer than World War II. The Police State is acquiring“squatter’s rights.”

Moreover, the government needs the police state in order to protect itself from accountability for its crimes, lies, and squandering of taxpayers‘ money. New precedents for executive power have been created in conjunction with the Federalist Society which, independent of the war on terror, advocates the “unitary executive” theory, which claims the president has powers not subject to check by Congress and the Judiciary. In other words, the president is a dictator if he prefers to be.

The Obama regime is taking advantage of this Republican theory. The regime has used the Republican desire for a strong executive outside the traditional checks and balances together with the fear factor to complete the creation of the Bush/Cheney police state.

As Lawrence M. Stratton and I documented in our book, The Tyranny Of Good Intentions, prior to 9/11 law as a shield of the people was already losing ground to law as a weapon in the hands of the government. If the government wanted to get you, there were few if any barriers to a defendant being framed and convicted, least of all a brainwashed jury fearful of crime.

I cannot say whether the US justice system has ever served justice better than it has served the ambition of prosecutors. Already in the 1930s and 1940s US Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland and US Attorney General Robert Jackson were warning against prosecutors who sacrifice “fair dealing to build up statistics of success.” Certainly it is difficult to find in the ranks of federal prosecutors today Jackson’s “prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.”

Just consider the wrongful conviction of Alabama’s Democratic governor, Don Siegelman by what apparently was a Karl Rove plot to rid the South of Democratic governors. The“Democratic” Obama regime has not investigated this false prosecution or given clemency to its innocent own. Remember how quickly Bush removed the prison sentence of Cheney’s operative who revealed the name of a CIA undercover agent? The Democrats are a cowed and cowardly political party, fearful of justice, and as much a part of the corrupt police state as the Republicans.

Today the purpose of a prosecution is to serve the prosecutor’s career and that of the party that appoints him or her. A prosecutor’s career is served by high conviction rates, which require plea bargains in which the evidence against a defendant is never tested in court or before a jury, and by high profile cases, which can launch a prosecutor into a political career, as Rudy Giuliana achieved with his frame-up of Michael Milken.

Glenn Greenwald explained how Internet freedom advocate Aaron Swartz was driven to his death by the ambition of two federal prosecutors, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Assistant US Attorney Stephen Heymann, who had no aversion to destroying an innocent person with ridiculous and trumped-up charges in order to advance their careers.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/16/ortiz-heymann-swartz-accountability-abuse

It is rare for a prosecutor to suffer any consequence for bringing false charges, for consciously using and even paying for false evidence, and for lying to judge and jury.

As prosecutors are rarely held accountable, they employ illegal and unethical methods and routinely abuse their power. As judges are mainly concerned with clearing their court dockets, justice is rarely served in America, which explains why the US has not only a larger percentage of its citizens in prison than any other country on earth, but also the largest absolute number of prisoners. The US actually has more of its citizens in prison than “authoritarian” China which has a population four times larger than the US. The US, possibly the greatest human rights abuser in history, is constantly bringing human rights charges against China. Where are the human rights charges against Washington?

In America the collapse of law has gone beyond corrupt prosecutors and their concocted false prosecutions. Unless it needs or desires a show trial, a police state does not need prosecutors and courts. By producing legal memos that the president can both throw people into prison without a trial and execute them without a trial simply by stating that some official in the executive branch thinks the person has a possible or potential connection to terrorism, tyranny’s friends in the Justice (sic) Department have dispensed with the need for courts, prosecutors and trials. The Bush/Obama regime has made the executive branch judge, juror, and executioner. All that is needed is an unproven assertion by some executive branch official.Here we have the epitome of evil.

Evidence is no longer required for the president of the US to imprison people for life or to deprive them of their life. A secret Justice Department memo has been leaked to NBC News that reveals the tyrannical reasoning that authorizes the executive branch to execute American citizens on the basis of belief alone without the requirement of evidence that they are terrorists or associated with terrorists. See NBC report

In “freedom and democracy” America, innocent until proven guilty is no longer the operative legal principle. If the government says you are guilty, you are. Period. No evidence required for your termination. Even Stalin pretended to have evidence.

The United States government is working its way step by step toward the determination that any and every critic of the government is guilty of providing “aid and comfort” to Washington’s “terrorist enemies,” which includes the elected Hamas government in Gaza. The only critics exempted from this rule-in-the-making are the neoconservatives who criticize the US government for being too slow to throttle both its critics and “anti-semites,”such as former US President Jimmy Carter, who criticize the Israeli government’s illegal appropriation of Palestinian lands. Most of Palestine has been stolen by Israel with Washington acquiesce and aid.Therefore, nothing is left for a “two-state solution.”

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Israeli government’s theft of Palestine is illegal; yet, Washington, on which Israel is totally dependent, does nothing about law. Law, we don’t need no stinking law.” Washington has might. Might is right. Get used to it.

Not only for Palestinians has law ceased to exist, but also for Americans, and for Washington’s NATO puppets in the UK and Europe, pitiful remnants of once great nations now complicit in Washington’s crimes against humanity. The Open Society Justice Initiative, a NGO based in New York, has issued a report that documents that 54governments are involved in Washington’s rendition and torture program.Twenty-five of the governments that help Washington to kidnap, disappear, and torture people are European.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/05/cia-rendition-report-uk-court

The opening decade of the 21st century has seen the destruction of all the law that was devised to protect the innocent and the vulnerable since the rise of the now defunct moral conscience of the West. The West’s moral conscience never applied outside of itself. What happened to people in Europe’s colonies and to native inhabitants of the US and Australia is a very different story.

Nevertheless, despite its lack of coverage to the powerless, the principle of the rule of law was a promising principle. Now America under Bush and Obama, two peas of the same pod, has abandoned the principle itself.

The Obama police state will be worse than the Bush/Cheney police state. Unlike conservatives who in times past were suspicious of government power, Obamabots believe that government power is a force for good if it is in the right hands. As Obama’s supporters see him as a member of an oppressed minority, they are confident that Obama will not misuse his power. This belief is akin to the belief that, as Jews suffered so much at the hands of Hitler, Israel would be fair to the Palestinians.

Glenn Greenwald writes that “the most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice.”

This is the power of a dictator. That Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were said to have this power was part of their demonization as “brutal dictators,” a justification for overthrowing their governments and murdering the dictators and their supporters.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the president of the United States now murders his political opponents just as Saddam Hussein murdered his. How long before critics move from the no-fly list to the extermination list?

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Copyright © Dr.Paul Craig Roberts, paulcraigroberts.org, 2013

Link to source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/it-has-happened-here-in-america-the-police-state-is-real/5322223