December is almost over and along with it 2014. C4SS had an amazing month and an amazing year and we owe everything to you — our supporters.
This year closes with many people interested in anarchism or, at least, the ground long surveyed and mapped by anarchists. From the stark and gleeful brutality of state sponsored torture to the relentless, metronome regularity of police abuse against peaceful men, women, children and animals, the world is slowly realizing that the state is not only standing on our necks robbing us blind, it is standing in our way holding us back from our future.
This is where, and when, we need more anarchists writing about anarchism — its practicality, its everyday nature and its transformative and uplifting power. Liberty is an acid that dissolves and disintegrates all authority; this is why liberty is blocked at every approach and banned from even basic expression. This is why we need liberty, more then ever, roiling and seething. In 2015 we will do our part in bringing liberty to a boil, but we can’t do it without your support. A stateless society is what we want, more than anything, and C4SS is a concerted way of bringing this goal closer. As Voltairine de Cleyre has said, “We have done this because we love liberty and hate authority.”
If C4SS, as an organization and an idea, is something you like having around or would like to see do more things (like funding more studies, publishing more books, helping with travel expenses for writers to speak at events, updating the youtube graphics, etc), then, please, donate $5 today.
What will $5 a month get you from C4SS? Well let’s see,
C4SS cannot thank Nick Ford enough for his tireless devotion to the Feed 44 project. This is his garden and it is beginning to yield amazing fruit.
The Anarchism of Everyday Life
In December we published Kevin Carson’s 18th Study, The Anarchist Thought of Colin Ward, a survey of the work of Colin Ward. Colin Ward is one of those social theorists, like Pyotr Kropotkin, David Graeber, Elinor Ostrom, James C. Scott or Karl Hess, that grounds their approach in working people working and the flashes of creative problem solving brilliance found in their everyday collaboration and cooperation.
Like Kropotkin’s, Ward’s was a communism expressed in a love for a wide variety of small folk institutions, found throughout the nooks and crannies of history, of a sort most people would not think of when they hear the term “communism.” Kropotkin himself resembled William Morris in his fondness for the small-scale, local, quaint and historically rooted—especially medieval folkmotes, open field villages, free towns, guilds, etc.—as expressions of the natural communism of humanity. But as David Goodway notes, “Ward… goes far beyond him in the types of co-operative groups he identifies in modern societies and the centrality he accords to them in anarchist transformation.”
No More Cheers for Uber
In Uber Delenda Est, Kevin Carson withdraws his initial “One Cheer for Uber…” while doubling down on a radical p2p iteration of the concept, “hack the app, salt the service, fight the competition with better competition.” Even though Carson has withdrawn his cheer, he couldn’t help but point out the ideological blinders that allows both pro- and con-Uber that see it as an expression of a “free market”,
But anyone who either defends or attacks Uber as an example of the “free market” is a damfool. Uber and Lyft are not genuine sharing services. And they’re sure as hell not “free market” or “laissez-faire” operations, Reason‘s and Pando’s agreement to the contrary notwithstanding. The proprietary, walled-garden app they use to enforce the toll-gates between riders and drivers is every bit as much a state-enforced monopoly as the legacy taxicab industry’s medallions.
The Spectacle of Revolution
Ben Reynolds, in his first article with C4SS, The Image of Revolution, takes us through a brief history of 21st century revolutions and attempted revolutions all the while pointing out why they have failed to achieve their desired ends. Reynolds offers us a rapid series of questions that each would-be revolution should be able to enthusiastically answer positively.
If state power is the foundation of oppression, war, and the monopolization of property, then a genuine revolution must dismantle state power. There can be no half-measures or gradual steps in this regard. There are thus only a few simple questions that the observer may ask of any revolution: Does it struggle for the freedom, equality, and dignity of the people? Does it oppose institutionalized hierarchy and authority wherever it may be found? Does it seek to shatter the state? If a movement cannot answer any of these questions positively, then it deserves neither our support nor our sympathy. To the contrary, if it can, it deserves nothing less than the ardent support and aid of all those who struggle together in the name of freedom.
Consent: More Important Then Ever
As the debate concerning issues of sexual assault in our society and in our institutions continue to demand acknowledgement and solutions there is a tendency to turn to the state as the answer. The state doesn’t — it can’t — solve problems. The state can only smash things apart and give priority to elites over the remaining pieces.
But this doesn’t mean that solutions do not exist or, if kept out of the hands of bureaucrats and away from the hammer of the state, do not merit our consideration. Nick Ford in his feature Affirmative Consent: Yes and No takes a moment to delineate the differences between Affirmative Consent “as a law” versus Affirmative Consent “as a cultural norm”:
As a cultural norm it becomes a bigger conversation between equals. It becomes possible to challenge, revise and reorganize our lives in accordance with this norm. When we suggest to our friends that they should aim for affirmative consent, or hold an impromptu protest, invite a public speaker on the matter, hang up signs or integrate this principle into our daily lives, then we are trying to cultivate a norm about consent and how we deal with its absence.
Liberty and Equality
One of the positions that left-wing markets anarchist defend is the difference between the centrifugal forces of freed markets versus the centripetal forces of capitalism. If we were to look into a system and identify great inequalities of wealth and, its corollary, power, then, by our analysis, we have damn good reason to think somewhere in that system a state, in its myriad manifestations, is present and growing. As David S. D’Amato discusses in his The Warning of Animal Farm: Inequality Matters inequalities, vast or developing, are a warning sign, a symptom, that the cancer of the state is beginning to grow or has already metastasized.
Criticizing inequality ought to be important to libertarianism to the extent that we take our own free market ideas seriously and see the political economy of today as far removed from our model. Libertarians should accordingly welcome socialism and class analysis as found in the work of leftists like Hodgskin and Orwell. It’s time we start emphasizing liberty and equality, not liberty or equality.
Another Entrepreneur Lost
As the world watched the police choke the life out of Eric Garner and, then, see the state vindicate the brutality of its agents against peaceful people, C4SS Adviser Cathy Reisenwitz penned, I’m sorry Eric Garner. I don’t know what else to do. Reisenwitz’s touching letter recognizes the fear, sense of hopelessness and heartbreak that comes from living in a society were our friends, family and neighbors can be killed virtually in front of us. I have no doubt in my mind that we will win the day and build a better world, but this will never change the fact that Eric Garner and many many others will not be able to share it with us.
I’m sad. Beyond angry. Brokenhearted. The Staten Island Grand Jury chose not to indict the officer who choked father of six Eric Garner to death on the street while attempting to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes.
The One Soldier that Fought for our Freedom
Chelsea Manning turned 27 in prison on December 17th. Manning has been described by Kevin Carson, back in 2010, as the One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom”. She is yet another example of authority’s self-aware fear of liberty and revulsion to conscience. Nathan Goodman in his letter, Happy Birthday, Chelsea Manning, articulated our feelings for her and our hope for her future,
I hope someday, the sooner the better, Chelsea Manning will be able to celebrate her birthday free from the state’s prisons. Until then, I wish her a happy birthday and as much freedom and happiness as possible.
Fellows on Patreon
Kevin Carson and Thomas Knapp have both popped up on the creator supporting site Patreon. Patreon allows individual to directly support their favorite creators, or in this case, left-libertarian writers. You can pledge any amount that fits your budget or enjoyment of their work, and, for certain pledged amounts, they offer bonuses.
Please Support Today!
All of this work is only sustainable through your support. If you think the various political and economic debates around the world are enhanced by the addition of left libertarian market anarchist, freed market anti-capitalist or laissez faire socialist solutions, challenges, provocations or participation, please, donate $5 today. Keep C4SS going and growing.
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“Abortion Law Repeal (sort of)” first appeared in the incredibly influential Women’s Liberation Movement anthology, Notes from the Second Year (May 1970), and then was reprinted, in condensed form, in the New Left movement magazine Ramparts (August 1970). It was later anthologized, in an even more condensed form, in DEAR SISTERS: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement (2000). This text is based on the version that appears in Notes from the Second Year.
“One of the few things that everyone in the women’s movement seems to agree on is that we have to get rid of the abortion laws and make sure that any woman who wants an abortion can get one. We all recognize how basic this demand is. . . But just because it sounds so simple and obvious and is such a great point of unity, a lot of us haven’t really looked below the surface of the abortion fight and seen how complicated it may be to get what we want.
“In our disgust with the extreme oppression women experience under the present abortion laws, many of us are understandably tempted to accept insulting token changes that we would angrily shout down if they were offered to us in any other field of the struggle for women’s liberation. . . . These restrictions insult women in the same way the present ‘preservation-of-life’ laws do: they assume that we must be in a state of tutelage and cannot assume responsibility for our own acts. . . . There are many reasons why a woman might seek a late abortion. . . whatever her reasons, she belongs to herself and not to the state.
“All women are oppressed by the present abortion laws, by old-style ‘reforms,’ and by seductive new fake repeal bills and court decisions. But the possibility of fake repeal–if it becomes reality—is the most dangerous. It can buy off most middle class women and make them believe things have really changed, while it leaves poor women to suffer and keeps us all saddled with abortion laws for years to come. It is up to feminists to make the strongest and most precise demands. . . We will not accept insults and call them ‘steps in the right direction.’ . . .”
Lucinda Cisler is a libertarian feminist activist, and a leading force in the early years of the Women’s Liberation Movement. She was a member of New York Radical Women, NYC-NOW, East Coast Chair of NOW’s National Abortion Committee, and a founding member of New Yorkers for Abortion Law Repeal (NYALR), the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (NARAL), and the Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF). She compiled and circulated a “legendary” movement bibliography of works about women. The editors of Notes from the Second Year wrote that she “is the foremost expert on abortion in the feminist movement. For years she has fought tirelessly (and without pay) for women’s right to control their own bodies. She is also important in the movement for her excellent and comprehensive bibliography.”
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“The Dominant Idea” first appeared as a serialized article in Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman’s influential anarchist magazine, Mother Earth, with the first instalment in May 1910. Soon after, the Mother Earth Publishing Association printed a booklet edition of the article, which they sold through their catalogue from 1910 onward.
“Regnant ideas, everywhere! Did you ever see a dead vine bloom? I have seen it. Last summer I trained some morning-glory vines up over a second story balcony; and every day they blew and curled in the wind, their white, purple-dashed faces winking at the sun, radiant with climbing life. Then all at once some mischance happened, some cut worm or some mischievous child tore one vine off below. The sappy stem wilted and began to wither; in a day it was dead, — all but the top which still clung longingly to its support, with bright head lifted. But the next night there was a storm, a heavy, driving storm, with beating rain and blinding lightning. I rose to watch the flashes, and lo! the wonder of the world! In the blackness of the mid-night, in the fury of wind and rain, the dead vine had flowered. Five white, moon-faced blossoms blew gaily round the skeleton vine, shining back triumphant at the red lightning. I gazed at them in dumb wonder. Dear, dead vine, whose will had been so strong to bloom, that in the hour of its sudden cut-off from the feeding earth, it sent the last sap to its blossoms; and, not waiting for the morning, brought them forth in storm and flash, as white night- glories, which should have been the children of the sun. Over death and decay the Dominant Idea smiled: the vine was in the world to bloom, to bear white trumpet blossoms dashed with purple; and it held its will beyond death.
“Ithink this unqualified determinism of the material is a great, lamentable error in our modern progressive movement; the absolute sway of Matter is quite as mischievous an error as the unrelated nature of Mind; in its direct action upon personal conduct, it has the more ill effect of the two. What we need is a true appraisement of the power and rôle of the Idea. Against the accepted formula of modern Materialism, ‘Men are what circumstances make them,’ I set the opposing declaration, ‘Circumstances are what men make them’; and I contend that both these things are true, up to the point where the combating powers are equalized, or one is overthrown….”
Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) was a popular Anarchist and feminist writer, speaker and activist. Her contemporary and friend Emma Goldman called her “the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced.” She published articles in Liberty, Twentieth Century, Free Society and Mother Earth, and worked closely with libertarian communists, market anarchists, and mutualists within the Philadelphia social anarchist movement, but refused to commit herself to economic blueprints, adopting a pluralistic view of economic arrangements in any future free society.