cj#489> libertarians | cults | populism

1996-03-07

Richard Moore

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Date:         Tue, 5 Mar 1996
From: "Nikolai S. Rozov" <•••@••.•••>
Subject:      Re: Fw: A wake-up call to libertarians
To: Multiple recipients of list PHILOFHI <•••@••.•••>

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From: "Andrew W. Austin" <•••@••.•••>
To: WORLD SYSTEMS NETWORK <•••@••.•••>

Excellent argument by Richard Moore. I agree with the general thrust of
this post, however one clarification needs to be made.

We need to be careful about constructing a monolithic definition of
libertarianism vis-a-vis the definition presented by Moore.

If you are talking about the anti-tax/anti-government protestors who call
themselves "libertarians" then I agree; they need to wake up. The
devolution of power (and this was recently pointed out in an excellent
article by Noam Chomsky in a recent edition of the Progressive) means an
increase in the tyranny of private capital. The goal is to dissolve the
democratic structures of the state (what little has been achieved over
the past 100 years or so) so that monopoly capital can have a freer
reign over the people of the world. Indeed, the surveillance-carceral
functions of the state are increasing (both to meet the increasing need
for coercion in lieu of the pacifying effects of social democratic
measures, and because of the general trend towards crisis in the capitalist
world-system).

However, you should not characterize what has historically been called
libertarianism, that is communist-anarchist, in such a fashion. The
efforts by libertarians since the first Internationale has been to
democratize the economy, thereby avoiding the state socialist phase
(the "dictatorship of the proletariat") in the transition to economic
democracy (i.e. communism).

To move towards a truer democracy will involve mass organization, I agree,
but this is not at odds with the goals of libertarianism. Chomsky, for
example, has argued cogently that his libertarianism is not at odds with
an increasing public sphere. Libertarians seek to remove the state -- not
government.

In any event, I agree that utopia is only an ideal, a goal that we strive
for. But since human beings are self-creating, we must work towards
this goal. And I also agree with the Moore's argument concerning the
breaking up of old ground before planting a fresh garden. If this is a
metaphor for the world worker revolution then I can only say: What are we
waiting for?

In solidarity,
Andrew Austin


P.S. Check out my website Theory and Praxis
(http://www.mtsu.edu/~aaustin). Under the section concerning capitalism
and fascism (the Political Right) I have a working essay (very
short and very raw right now -- it is a thought piece for the
time being) entitled "Dissimulating the Panopticon: What is Global
Corporatism?" It discuss the historical development of the new global
corporatism and its political culture of imperial stealth fascism.

Nikolai S. Rozov
Professor of Philosophy

Moderator of the mailing list PHILOFHI
(PHILosophy OF HIstory and theoretical history)
http://darwin.clas.virginia.edu/~dew7e/anthronet/subscribe
/philofhi.html

Dept. of Philosophy
Novosibirsk State University   Fax.: (3832) 355237
630090, Novosibirsk            E-mail: •••@••.•••
Pirogova 2
RUSSIA

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Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996
Sender: •••@••.••• (El Tiburon)
Subject: Re: cj#486> re2: A wake-up call to libertarians

>•••@••.••• said:
>  It seems to me that the essence of libertarianism is -- I want what I want
>when I want it -- and fuck everything else.  Sort of reminds me of some
>kind of ecconomic system...

This is enlightening for an obstructed veiwpoint. Libertarianism is plain
and simple the application of the US Constitution and the freedoms therein.
Call it what you want but your far to used to the 'freedom' of this country
as it is rationed to you. Imagine if you can a world where we truly are
free and had to be brought up to be responsible for our actions - yet
another thing noone in this country ever is - responsible for their own
actions. It is hard to imagine due to the fact that we are so far from
actual freedom, but it is sincerely possible to live in a world where the
social structure supports freedom and not censoring everything because to
directly deal with issues is completely unreal so long as the social
structure elevates those in control of such legislation to the lofty
aristocratic level of not being able to comprehend it. Republicans and
Democrats remind me of token battles fought to maintain mindless masses
into thinking something besides internal power struggles is actually
occurring. Lets try something else.

M

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Editor:

        Again, we see the libertarian utopia being alluded to, and again,
it seems appealing as such.  But notice the characteristic fundamentalist
attitudes that are revealed in El Tiburon's presentation...

        First there is the implicit assumption that only (this brand of)
libertarians realize our current system is bogus -- as if the rest of us
need to be reminded that we don't live in "actual freedom", and that the
Demopublicans do not consititute a genuine political spectrum!  Thus the
fundamentalist trivializes the consciousness of the "uninitiated", blurring
alternate viewpoints into one satanic enemy camp, just as do many religious
fundamentalists.

        Second, there is the implicit declaration that only one solution is
on offer -- the choice is always between that solution -- reductionist
libertarianism in this case -- and a wholesale embracing of the status quo.
Similarly: "_Only_ the blood of the lamb can cleanse your sins", so all
non-members are sinners.

        I think it is fair to charactrize this kind of
would-be-libertarianism as "fundamentalist utopianism", or a "cult" with a
single-minded messianic vision of human transformation.  As with other
cults, there's seems to be an initiation experience which leaves the
convert in a frame of mind where the world is perceived in a polarized way:
the answer to every question becomes "libertarianism", just as to a hammer,
every problem is seen as a nail.  As with other cults, the initiates see
themselves as being possessed of the one-and-true light, and with blinders
on to all other light sources, they venture forth to shine the way for
everyone else -- the presumably blind masses.  And as with other cults,
_dialog_ with outsiders is not really on offer -- there can only be the
endlessly rephrased plea "But don't you see, salvation is all so simple,
just learn this formula, have faith, and join the ranks of the knowing."

-rkm

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Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996
Sender: David Allwardt <•••@••.•••>
Subject: A Progressive Strategy: RADICAL CONSERVTISM -Reply

Richard,

  I have been saying for years, to seemingly deaf ears unfortunately,
that when the Right Wing rails against "Big Government" and wants to
"Get Government off our backs" that these are smoke screen phrases.
The right doesn't want government off our backs. They want
government off Exxon's back.  And the cry against "Big Government" is
a lie too.  They don't want big government looking over the transnational
corporate shoulder, but they do want big government hiding in your TV
to make sure you don't watch anything inappropriate.  They want
government looking over your shoulder as you surf the net to make sure
you don't find any dirty pictures of say anything naughty.  And they
want government under your bed to make sure that you don't have any
of the wrong kind of fun.

   The basic agenda of the Right seems to be to allow Big Business free
reign to maximize profits while at the same time exercising ever tighter
control over individual thought and actions.  That's why Religion plays
such a big part in the Right Wing agenda.  The push for the return of
religious indoctrination in public schools is no accident.  Most western
religions basically teach the faithful to accept their lot in this life and not
to rock the boat.  To work hard and have faith that those that God has
put in power over them are doing His will.  All this in hope of a better
world in the afterlife.   There's a reason Karl Marx called religion "the
opiate of the masses."  Over the centuries more social injustice has
been committed in the Name Of God than for any other reason.   The
power structures love to be able to use "God's Will" as an excuse for
just about anything.

   This is why I am extremely pessimistic in the long run about the
possibility for success in any kind of populist revolution, even of the kind
you wrote about.   The people cling to their faiths and religions, they can
be driven underground as they were in the Soviet Union for over 50
years but they cannot be eliminated.  Those who would create a Liberal,
Libertarian, or Socialist Utopia will need to address this issue and find a
way to reconcile their agendas with the religious beliefs of the masses
or they are doomed from the start.

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Editor:

        Pessimism, even if logically defensible, can be seen as an
impediment to right-action, a mental activity which distracts from seeing
your options in proper perspective.  Do you avoid an athletic challenge,
out of "pessimism" regarding winning?  Do you hold back from life, out of
"pessimism" about living forever?  Is not "participation" sometimes the
more appropriate response to life's challenges than "evaluation"?  Are
there not moments when the most relevant analysis is "Now is the time for
all good men to come to the aid of their freedom!"?


Just a thought,
-rkm

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 Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
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