i've created the pantheon as a web page, adding emerson, thoreau, margaret fuller, and the quite amazing lydia maria child. i will begin to add links to texts by these folks and other materials, some of which i'll be typing in.
meanwhile, the paper keeps growing. in connecting the radicals to the transcendentalists, i've got emerson, from the journals, approving non-resistance and its attendant anarchism.
Of 'the principle of non resistance,' he says "Trust it. Give up the Government without too solicitously inquiring whether roads can be still built, letters carried, & title deeds secured when the government of force is at an end" (vol 1 711). He too saw Mott preach. He praises her courage and says "she makes every bully ashamed (vol 2 508-509).
you know, research can be amazingly stimulating and fun. just had a nice moment with regard to the new pantheon (see entry immediately below). so, one thing i am doing is putting emerson and thoreau (as well as alcott and fuller) in this group as a single political movement. now i think my best score up to this point has been documenting lucretia mott's anarchism; she is emerging as an important inspiration and directly linking figure. i think you could say that anarchism arises out of feminism as well as vice versa (cf. godwin and wollstonecraft). i notice that a number of thoreau's formulations in 'civil disobedence' resemble mott.
as it happens, we can document that thoreau saw lucretia mott preach, and can even more or less know the sermon she preached. he actually calls her a transcendentalist. she was born a decade before emerson.
from the emerging paper:
Indeed, the influence was direct. Thoreau saw Lucretia Mott preach in 1843, and wrote to his sister about it.
I believe I have not told you about Lucretia Mott. It was a good while ago I heard her at the Quaker Church in Hester St. She is a preacher, and it was advertised that she would be present on that day. I liked all the proceedings very well. . . At length, after a long silence, waiting for the spirit, Mrs. Mott rose, took off her bonnet, and began to utter very deliberately what the spirit suggested. Her self-possession was something to say [see?], if all else failed - but it did not. Her subject was the abuse of the Bible - and thence she straightaway digressed to slavery and the degradation of woman. It was a good speech - transcendentalism in its mildest form. (July 21, 1843, The Correspondence, 128)
'Mildest' here I believe is used in a somewhat Christian, lamb-of-God-type sense, because there is no doubt that Mott's preaching was fierce; we have a fair example of what Thoreau heard in her sermon of the same year "Righteousness Gives Strength to its Possessor" (Complete Speeches and Sermons, 35-52). But it is certainly significant that he regards her as preaching transcendentalism, throughout.
i am going to try to type in part of mott's 1843 sermon and post a link.
"It is always unsafe to invest man with power over his fellow being. Call no man master - that is the true doctrine." -- Lucretia Mott
ain't been blogging because i have been working on this paper about abolitionist saints, feminist ass-kickers, and anarchist freaks, essentially emerging out of abolitionism and post-puritan protestantism, say 1810-1840. these figures are unimaginably - incomparably - radical. they are anti-sexists, anti-racists, freaks for peace, anti-statists, and opponents of animal cruelty, for example. and i think you can associate them with emerson and thoreau - they were all well-known to one another - and with american anarchists such as josiah warren and lysander spooner, as soon as you don't let the fact that they are extremely christian blind you to the massive commonalities.
the figures listed below are anarchists in the sense that they are opposed to all forms of hierarchical power, including the state and capital. they are radical individualists: this is the most individualistic political movement in human history. but 'individualism' here does not at all mean self-seeking (indeed, all of these people conducted lives of tremendous self-sacrifice in service to oppressed people); rather it picks out a sense of the sacred inviolability of each human person and the source of moral authority in each human conscience. this is invariably represented as a condition of real union among persons, which is voluntary and incompatible with coercion. the abolitionists and non-resistants such as garrison and may, the transcendentalists such as emerson and alcott, the feminists such as mott and stanton: they all draw their conclusions from individualism.
one thing greatly to the credit of this group: it is the origin of american feminism. i am documenting that in the paper. figures as lucretia mott, sarah grimké, and maria weston chapman emerged out of this movement: these are the very earliest american public proponents of feminism, and they are among the first american women to insist on a voice in public affairs. but they are no less anarchistic than garrison or thoreau. this is where feminism and transcendentalism come from.
if i had to flourish one text to epitomize this group's political philosophy, it would be thoreau's 'civil disobedience' (1849), also the best statement of my political philosophy. this text also has the little advantage that it was written by the best american prose stylist of the 19th century. i believe the entire orientation is influenced by lucretia mott and other radical reformers.
but what i want to emphasize is that we should regard the feminists, abolitionists, pacifists, transcendentalists, and anarchists - whether religious or secular in orientation - as a single political movement, one of the most radical and inspiring in world history.
Anti-Authoritarian American Reformers, active circa 1820-1850
Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) Transcendentalist, educational reformer, non-resistant, anti-capitalist, proponent of a vegan diet, and abolitionist. Lionized as a genius by Emerson and Thoreau, his reputaton has been waning since before he died. Samuel J. May's brother-in-law and Louisa May Alcott's father. Highly influenced by the feminists of his era. including Chapman, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, and Lucretia Mott. Co-founder with Garrison of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1830.
Adin Ballou (1803-1890) Universalist/Restorationist minister, abolitionist, absolute non-resistant. Ballou founded the Hopedale religious Community in Worcester County, Massachusetts in 1842. His book Christian Non-Resistance is an under-read but fundamentally influential scriptural argument for pacifism. Ballou corresponded with Tolstoy on this subject. One of the few abolitionist non-resistants to condemn John Brown's raid unambiguously and to remain a pure pacifist through the Civil War.
Maria Weston Chapman (1806-1887) Radical abolitionist, feminist, non-resistant, and educational reformer; opposed to all coercive social arrangements. Editor of a number of radical periodicals, including the Non-Resistant and The National Anti-Slavery Standard. Later reversed course on some issues and supported political abolitionism and freeing slaves by military force. Grandmother of the writer John Jay Chapman.
Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880): Pioneering author, feminist, abolitionist, advocate of Indian rights, and non-resistant. Associated in many of these capacities with Maria Weston Chapman, Angelina Grimké, Margaret Fuller and Bronson Alcott. Wrote perhaps the first book urging immediate, uncompensated emancipation in 1833. Helped Harriett Jacobs compose one of the most extreme and moving slave narratives, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Like Chapman, Angelina Grimké and others, qualified her non-resistance and associated anti-statism in the 1850s as Kansas exploded and John Brown geared up for a paroxysm of violence.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1886) Unitarian minister, like his father, and then beloved essayist, lecturer, and sage of transcendentalism. Like Thoreau, he despised fanaticism and stood to some extent aloof from reform movements. Yet he was certainly an abolitionist. He saw Mott speak and expressed his admiration. He endorsed (at least on occasion) non-resistance, and drew anarchist conclusions immediately. Knew and admired Garrison, though also worried about his tendencies toward fanaticism. Connected also to other figures through Samuel J. May. "Self-Reliance' and 'Politics', among many other essays, show his development of the radical individualism and vision of freedom common to al these figures, religious and secular.
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850): Central figure of transcendentalism and pioneering feminist. Wrote the key text "The Great Lawsuit: Man vs. Woman" in the early 1840s (later expanded into Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)), secularizing the individualist feminism of Mott and the Grimkés. Supporter of a variety of reforms. The first professional book critic in America. Connected to the Italian and European revolutionaries of the 1848 wave, such as Mazzini.
William Lloyd Garrison (b. 1805-1879): Garrison was the leader of the radical wing of American abolitionism, arguing from a radical Protestant Christianity for the immediate abolition of slavery and the secession of the non-slave from the slave states. He was also an advocate of feminism and non-resistance, the latter on Biblical grounds. From his radical pacifism, Garrison concluded that human governments, all of which rest on force, are entirely illegitimate. Publisher of The Liberator, America’s anti-slavery and anti-war conscience. He burned copies of the Constitution, calling it “a pact with the devil.”
Sarah (1792-1873) and Angelina (1805-1879) Grimké: Sisters raised in South Carolina in a slaveholding family (their father was the Chief Justice of the state), but Sarah found herself disgusted by slavery. Converted to Quakerism on a trip to Philadelphia in 1819 (especially by Woolman's writings). The sisters' abolitionist lectures of the late 1820s were among the very first acts of public advocacy by American women. Sarah's Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (1837) is among the earliest American feminist texts, approaching the matter from a deeply religious individualism. Angelina married Theodore Dwight Weld in an egalitarian ceremony in 1838.
Samuel J. May (1797-1871): Schoolteacher at Concord, MA and then an eminent Unitarian minister. Preached reforms - including peace, feminism, and abolitionism - from Emerson's pulpit in 1831. Educational reformer advocating racially integrated and co-educational classrooms. Converted to the cause of peace by Noah Worcester. Founder with Garrison of the New England Anti-Slavery Society and the Non-Resistance Society. His Rights and Condition of Women in 1846 advocated total equality of the sexes. His sister married Bronson Alcott, so he was Louisa May's uncle.
Nathaniel Peabody Rogers (1794-1846), radical abolitionist and anti-statist or even 'no-organizationist', publisher of the New Hampshire abolitionist paper Herald of Freedom, subject of essays by Thoreau and Whittier. Began as a Christian non-resistant (and an anarchist on those grounds), but expressed more and more religious skepticism as his life went on. “Men better be without tongues and organs and powers, than not use them sovereignly. If it be not safe to entrust self-government of speech to mankind, there had better not be any mankind. Slavery is worse than non-existence. A society involving it is worse than none. The earth had better go unpeopled than inhabited by vassals.” nathaniel peabody rogers site
Lysander Spooner (1808-1887): Spooner was a deist, abolitionist, and individualist anarchist. His work The Unconstitutionality of Slavery (1846) was an amazingly accomplished exercise in legal interpretation, taking a position rejected by the Garrisonians, who held that the Constitution recognized slavery, and thus that the American government was illegitimate (Spooner agreed with the l;atter bit on independent grounds). In his time, he set up a private competitor to the Post Office, and tried to organize an incursion to free John Brown after the Harper's Ferry raid. Such works as No Treason (1867-70) and Vices Are Not Crimes (1875) are classics of libertarian thought. The central idea (as it was not for Warren or the transcendentalists) is concept of natural rights. lysanderspooner.org
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American ecccentric, radical, naturalist and genius. I would suggest that 'Civil Disobedience' (1849) is the best statement of this movement as a political philosophy. Saw Lucretia Mott preach in 1843, an experience which I believe is reflected in that essay and elsewhere. He expressed anti-statist sentiments in many places, including A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, "Life Without Principle," and so on. Cooperated with Garrison in helping escaped slaves hide and make their way to Canada.
Josiah Warren (1798-1874) Often held to be the founder of individualist anarchism, but also an anti-capitalist. Warren joined Robert Owen’s New Harmony Community (probably the first secular American ideal community) in the 1820s, rejected what he called its “communism,” and spent the rest of his career setting out and founding communities based on a radically individualistic metaphysics, in some ways similar to Thoreau and Emerson’s. He rejected the profit motive and yet insisted on the sanctity of property and conscience. Published “the first anarchist periodical” – The Peaceful Revolutionist – in 1833. Projects included the Time Stores; Utopia, Ohio; and Modern Times, New York, perhaps the wildest Temporary Autonomous Zone in American history. the josiah warren project
Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-1895) Weld served as assistant pastor to Charles Grandison Finney in the revivals beginning in 1825 that became known as the Second Great Awakening. Leader of the "Lane Rebels," a group of young radical preachers advocating free speech, free inquiry and abolitionism originating at the Lane Theological Seminary in Ohio. Advocate and agitator and preacher of abolitionism, feminism, temperance, and peace (but not anti-statism). Assisted John Quincy Adams in the petition controversy before Congress. Married Angelina Grimké in a ceremony without a clergyman, in which she did not promise to obey him. Author of American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839).
Noah Worcester (1758-1837) A fifer in the Revolutionary Army, he fought at Bunker Hill. Worcester was a Unitarian minister in New Hampshire and founder of the American peace movement. Published A Solemn Review of the Custom of War, a fundamental text in the history of pacifism and opposition to war, in 1814. Founded the Massachusetts Peace Society in 1815.
Henry Clarke Wright (1797-1870) Associate of Garrison’s for much of his career and among the most unequivocal anarchists of the period. Co-Founder of the New England Non-Resistance Society. Began as a Christian non-resistant and wrote such tracts as Ballot Box and Battle Field, which condemned all human government as violence and claimed that voting itself was an act of violence as expressing cooperation with the state. Later at least qualified his Christianity and advocated a host of reforms.
Lewis Perry, Radical Abolitionism: Anarchy and the Government of God in Antislavery Thought (Cornell University Press, 1973)
Valerie Ziegler, The Advocates of Peace in Antebellum America (Indiana University Press, 1992)
Kraditor, Means and Ends in American Abolitionism: Garrison and His Critics on Strategy and Tactics, 1834-1850 (Pantheon, 1969)
Some primary texts
Lucretia Mott, Her Complete Speeches and Sermons, Dana Green, ed. (Mellen, 1980)
Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké, Gilbert Barnes and Dwight Dumons, eds. (De Capo, 1970)
The Practical Anarchist: Writings of Josiah Warren, Crispin Sartwell, ed. (Fordham, 2010)
the sequester is already having excellent effects. next time: sequester the entire budget.
seriously, these fiscal cliff things are the most boring crises in the pathetic history of mankind. all they are is a chance for both parties to issue clouds of idiotic rhetoric, each demonizing the other; it is a rhetorical crisis. i am so tired of being relentlessly manipulated; at a minimum, we need a new wave of cleverer or at least fresher manipulators. so anyway, after every single media personality absolutely assures us that there's no way to avoid the thing, there might easily be a last-minute deal; in which case, like the other times, there never was a crisis in the first place. seriously, wake me up when you've got a new approach or something, or when someone transcends the bullshit. meanwhile, if armegeddon breaks out, i'll adjust. or not. in fact, we'll all more or less figure out how to deal with any particular situation the government or the end of the government might provoke.
the democrats don't realize it, but they are systematically constructing an extremely compelling argument on behalf of rand paul. if you ever add any sort of government program, even if it's temporary or whatever, it becomes absolutely essential and there is no possibility that it will ever go away, and the democrats will essentially never permit it to be cut. so, just at a minimum, every new bureaucracy or expansion of the bureaucracy creates jobs, and then, you're going to throw people out of work? so, one rational response would be: alright, if that's your position, we've got to stop right here. not an inch further, or it will never not grow until it devours all.
and i have to say, the progressives' idea of progress is extremely unidimensional; there is essentially only one idea: progress is an ever-growing state or state sector. that's all there is, man, all you have to show intellectually for all that thought and theory and concern since 1848. obviously, the vision of utopia on the horizon is simply state domination of every aspect of every person's life. start over and think better. this course is demonstrably disastrous.
in honor of the late james buchanan: my refutation of his argument for the necessity of state power. as a free bonus feature you get my (then-)little daughter running about behind me trying to mess up my video because it's taking my attention!
i've been reading the works of the yale political scientist/anthropologist james c. scott, for example the art of not being governed; an anarchist history of upland southeast asia and seeing like a state: how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. it's work that flips your head over. the experience of reading it reminds me of the first time i read foucault's discipline and punish: you suddenly see what we and our histories lok like from a completely different angle: the truths that you can only see from the outside. also like foucault, scott does theory by producing detailed empirical observations; there is very much hard work i can't help comparing my own work; i am more likely to wield the big theoretical construction; i wish i had more of scott's consciousness, though maybe you need both.
i'm not sure how i missed this stuff; it's easy to not register 'james scott,' and i kind of thought he was writing about some ragtag bands of anarchist rebels in burma or something. not at all. scott's data ranges around the world, but is also insistently particular and local, which is precisely what the intellectual structure he's constructing demands. so, he's roughly to be ranged in the movement of 'anarchist anthropology' that would include michael taussig and peter clastres and then younger figures such as david graeber. this sounds obnoxious, i admit; why combine the name of a political position with the name of a discipline? what if i said i'm doing capitalist anthropology or something?
but really here is the idea: such disciplines as environmental studies, anthropology, and political science are infested with statist assumptions that need to be questioned to get at the truth. here's how scott states one of the basic ideas of this trend:
Shatter zones are found wherever the expansion of states, empires, slave-trading, and wars, as well as natural disasters, have driven large numbers of people to seek refuge in out-of-the-way places: in Amazonia. . . in that corridor of highland Africa safe from slave-raiding, in the Balkand and the Caucasus. The diagnostic characteristic of shatter zones are their relative inaccessibility and enormous diversity of tongues and cultures.
Note that this account of the periphery is sharply at odds with the official story most civilizations tell about themselves. According to that tale, the backward, naive, and perhaps barbaric people are gradually incorporated into an advanced, superior, and more prosperous society and culture. If, instead, as a political choice, to take their distance from the state, a new element of political agency enters the picture. Many, perhaps most, of the inhabitants of the ungoverned margins are not remnants of an earlier social formation, left behind, or, as some lowland folk accounts in Southeast Asia have it, 'our living ancestors.' ...Their subsistence routines, their social organization, their physical dispersal, and many elements of their culture, far from being the archaic traits of a people left behind, are purposefully crafted both to thwart incorporation into nearby states and to minimize the likelihood that statelike concentrations of power will arise among them. art of not being governed 8
scott ends up producing incredibly rich evidence for such assertions. the narrative of history or of hunter-gatherer indigenous tribes that reveal our stone-age past and so on, the teleological conception of history, is inherently a state dogma. my favorite little example, which is mentioned by scott, are the seminoles: they are themselves some kind of extruded portion of the cherokee nation intermixed with whatever was in florida. and then they welcomed and interbred with escaped slaves; they were so quaintly primitive; they were so hybrid and schooled in the arts of resistance. that might be quite typical. it's not like different people literally inhabit different temporalities, and i doubt that any human band is evr truly isolated for very long. scott does point out the disadvantages of living in the lowland valley states: corvee labor, conscription, taxation. obviously, some people might rationally opt into the woods. scott is fascinated too by everything that takes place within state formations that delays, irritates, evades, or undermines it.
it's not necessarily y'all's fault, but i am so tired of being diagnosed for my adolescent or paranoid anti-authoritarianism. right it's all true. now, if you support the existence of the political state, i say what drives you is masochism: a morbid enthusiasm for self-subordination which no doubt originates in sexual dysfunction. all you want is for someone to tie you down and tell you what to do. human history is inexplicable without this.
In short, as a snow-drift is formed when there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an institution springs up. But the truth blows right on over it, nevertheless, and at length blows it down.
Thoreau, "Life Without Principle"
some jagged news: an extremely smart and accomplished young poet and scholar, kelly grovier - who writes all the time for the times literary supplement - has a book coming out on walking stewart: very much the kind of thing i was contemplating! it's quite typical: two centuries without a book on the guy; suddenly everyone's doing it. i am contemplating whether this pre-empts my project. this is the kind of thing that happens in the sciences all the time, but it can also happen in the humanities, though with very different inflections. one good thing: grovier is an excellent writer and an expert on british romanticism. stewart will very much get treated right. what i could possibly do better - or so i tell myself - is work stewart into the history of philosophy.
you know when i was doing a book on voltairine de cleyre - the great american feminist and anarchist, neglected since her death in 1912 - sharon presley contacted me to say she was doing a book too, so with some discomfort we collapsed our two projects into one. but when we published in 2004, eugenia delamotte's book came out almost simultaneously. and also brigati's reader. really these things make you think twice about zeitgeists.
perhaps after the entry below, i should clarify my thinking on collective agency. now, i do not conceive human individuals as hermetically sealed distinct souls: i think that we are in constant interchange and actual merger with other persons (but note: also with all sorts of things, including animals and inanimate objects, far far underrated by 'social constructionists'). i think our thinking takes place to a large extent (but not exclusively) in language or in relation to language, which is a collective continual creation. however, we are also distinct from one another in a variety of ways, and in a literal sense consciousness is centered in specific human bodies: you can't exactly feel my pain, e.g. so we're in this constant interchange between the intrinsic and the relational, between distinctness and merger.
the political applications of the idea of collective consciousness, however, have been obscene. the government is nearly always conceived as the will of 'the collective': it's how we all take care of each other, put into effect the values that make us one. the basic falseness - the extreme disingenuousness - of this view is demonstrated by the fact that the state rests on coercion. in reality, collective consciousness in this sense (which could be right-nationalist or left-socialist/communist) is something its advocates do not actually regard as an underlying reality; it is something that has to be forged by force operated on individual bodies. if the state was really an organic expression of our underlying real identities, you wouldn't have to hold a gun to someone's head to force them be what you claim they essentially already are.
also when someone is putting forward a conception of collective agency, i often basically hear them saying: you have to agree with me, you can't genuinely disagree, because this is who we are. in other words, it's a disguised form of self-inflation - ironically enough. what it means is: i speak for you. if you disagree with me, you can't be one of us, etc.: the vision is at its heart tyrranical. whatever the truth about our non-distinctness from one another, i will insist that with regard to absolutely anything most or even everyone believes, dissent is possible. even if what everyone else believes is our very collective essence, even if it is the very best that humanity has ever thought, it is always possible for you to disagree. we need to respect that, for one thing, because otherwise people will collectively accept any old fad or slop or propaganda. maybe opposing obamacare is a monstrous betrayal of who we really are all together. but when people say crap like that (and if the people you hang around do not say things like that, you are not a professor) all i hear them doing is trying to twist my arm to believe whatever's fashionable at the moment in their demographic. the claim is itself at best manipulative. and where sheer coercion fails, we resort to what we might call draconian peer pressure.
so the basic objection is: you're saying this is our very nature, but your every action gives that the lie.
my basic way into anarchism might be framed like this: in virtue of what, precisely, does michael bloomberg have the right to tell me what i can and cannot drink? i simply reject - or rather, refute - all candidate justifications, starting with the idea that i've agreed to abide with what elected officials proclaim; i'm telling you that i have not. i don't recognize the epistemic authority of the researchers to whom bloomberg appeals. the idea that he represents the majority will - if such a notion makes any sense - is one i regard with indifference: what most people believe, as i have actually proven, is less likely to be true than its negation. he has no more right to tell me what to drink than i have to tell him, and if by the democratic miracle he has become everybody, i assert that everybody doesn't have any more right to tell me what to drink than i have to tell everybody. but i will make a deal: i'll let you tell me what to drink, michael, if you let me tell you what to think. however, once you think along the lines i will prescribe, you will have somewhat more respect for the autonomy, dignity, and equality of persons.
The heart of darkness in Murdoch's Britain has been the incestuous relationship between private and public power: more specifically, between money and politics.
i wonder how many centuries or millennia of the coincidence of money and political power would suffice to make the left see that the state is itself a hierarchy and that - more or less always - it coincides with and exacerbates other hierarchies, in particular wealth. well, it's a faith, not an empirical position i suppose. the solution is to just keep beefing up the apparatus performing the oppressions you repudiate. maybe it'll work out this time.
at the risk of incurring the wrath of cb and la rana - should she still be lurking about - i want to assert that it is obvious that ron paul's positions are closer to anarchism than are, say, elizabeth warren's. i think that the fundamental commitment has to be to dismantling oppressive institutions, not to the ancient ideology of the left-right spectrum. the left-right spectrum was designed to present you with a choice between totalitarianisms. hop off.
go, david graeber, go.
so emma sullivan, a high school student, is, against my advice, taking part in the 'youth in government' program in topeka. she's listening, against my advice, to sam brownback, her governor. and she's tweeting, in keeping with what i'd advise: 'he blows a lot,' a simple statement of the evident empirical facts. but brownback's staff is being paid with kansans' hard-earned tax dollars to monitor mentions of his name on social media (irrefutable evidence - as though more of that were needed - that he indeed blows a lot). pretty soon, emma's principal is demanding that she write a letter of apology, and is drafting it for her: a pure and classic forced confession, like the iranian state likes to put on tv. now, this is a beautiful refutation of public education and of governorships, of principals and brownbacks, of youth in government and government in youth. that she's resisting is a lovely little chunk of hope.
the history of political leadership is by and large idiotic and destructive, an arena of utter narcissism and greed. it's psychopathic clowns, asserting that they're your servants as they transform you into theirs. you'd think we'd get on to another phase. but really, i think the whole thing is a millennia-long sit-com. truly, berlusconi or mugabe or perry or whatever might be horrendous people operating under the absolutely absurd notion that they have more right to tell you what to do than you them. and they operate in systems designed around justifying that. (i predict that this little howler will extinguish our species.) but, if you can avert your gaze from the suffering, the whole thing is hilarious in a charlie-sheen-in-no-exit sort of way.
[just back from my mom's in little washington, va, where both she and my ex-wife/gf performed autobiographical monologues. my mom's included the story of my brother bob's murder. i was rocked a bit, but 11-year-old jane was crying. i'm going to try to get on this lisa simeone situation tomorrow. we already know she rocks.]
here is a nice piece bringing tea partiers and occupiers together and letting them see the commonalities. really, i think the hope has to be to get beyond the left-right ideological spectrum. obviously the left-right split has rendered our political system completely useless. on the other hand, who cheered the iraq war? the mainstream right (msr) and the mainstream left (msl). who did the bank bailout? msr and msl. who's competing for the most possible fundraising from wall street? msr and msl. take the commonalities more seriously than the differences, is my advice to you.
the alternating unanimous catch-phrases, rival sets of potted experts (all of whom i have utterly discredited), contrasting demographics, etc might disguise the fact that the whole spectrum is a single political ideology. we should think of it that way and develop its antithesis. the dilemma is always state or capital, but they are merged, and they are both forms of dependency and subordination, between which they bat you back and forth like a pingpong ball. the state represents by definition the most assymmetrical arrangement of power that our species is capable of producing; capital of wealth. it more or less goes without saying that these are going to coincide in the long run.
so i propose that the opposite is self-reliance and mutual aid: the dignity of autonomy and voluntary internal organic community organization. it is individualism and inter-individualism. the (early or sincere) tea party and the occupy movement provide actual models on the ground of such activities: they're fun and goofy and theatrical and human. they are not gigantic bureaucracies, and have actively resisted hierarchical forms of organization.
so don't listen to the voices, like msnbc and fox, who want to line you up against each other, or who are focused maybe on your race or age etc. don't develop a legislative agenda (admittedly, basically too late for the tea party). show us what you want us to be.
things have reached a pretty pass when "anarchists" are fighting for gigantic bureaucracies, lifetime patronage positions, infinite state pensions, and so on. i'd rather see them enthusing about austerity or encouraging the useless thing to collapse.
But though salaries have been cut, the government has yet to lay off anyone. The main reason is also one of the very reasons that Greece got into trouble in the first place: The government is in many ways an army of patronage appointments built up over decades. When election time rolls around, state workers become campaign workers, and their reach is enormous. There are so many of them that almost every family has one....
The government has about 700,000 employees and 80,000 more who work for government-owned entities like the power company. Thirty years ago, experts say, the public sector was about one-third that size. (Until a census was carried out last year, however, government officials admitted they did not really know how many employees they had.)
Even if the new plan passes, it may yet run into legal challenges. Greece’s Constitution grants its public servants lifetime tenure, a situation that may go a long way toward explaining their indifferent attitude toward getting things done.
the practical anarchist is out from fordham. now, it costs $55; make sure your library gets it. some of the material is available, in less polished form, at the josiah warren project page.
what i hope for 'occupy wall street' is that it doesn't have the same fate as the tea party. i believe that the tea party was a more or less spontaneous upwelling of anti-gov/anti-wall street populism, but that it was hijacked by the right wing of the republican party (cf dick armey). it ended up with 'leaders' like palin or bachmann etc., partly because of their opportunism, partly because the media can't cover anything without leaders and spokesmen, or anything that doesn't fit their little left/right template (they're going to go back to the studio and have donna brazile and alex catellanos comment from the left/dem-right/rep standpoints (just as if political consultants had standpoints)). and it got infiltrated by republican-style greedisgood corporatism. now i wouldn't see that as the potential problem with occupy. but they need to resist annexation by the left wing of the democratic party, the union movement, etc, with their rah-rah for ever-more state authority.
the more that governments depend on the vices of their citizens, the wackier stuff gets. as i've often said, after gambling and addictive substances are monopolized or taxed at a high rate and revenues level off, you can expect government to become your panderer or pornographer. the nyt says they're "raising money from people who enjoy a drink or two." but of course they're raising much more money per capita from people who enjoy or at least imbibe seventeen or eighteen, or who never stop at all. then they'll require to you to buy health insurance, i guess.
i like the basic argument of this piece, which associates suspicion of excessive government power with insane irrational apocalyptic cults. surely, in the 1930s, educated, rational persons - people then who were like the readers of the new york times are today - looked at, say, the great war, or the governments of hitler, mussolini, and stalin, and concluded that the world's big problem was insufficient government power, too little state spending, etc. and a bit later, there must have been something that explains how people living in the era of death camps, forced collectivization, and atom bombs could reach "anti-government" conclusions; perhaps they were hallucinating, or were being manipulated by demagogues.