Saturday, March 31, 2007

"We're all left-wingers now"

Many thanks to Brad Spangler, who offers a news flash for libertarians this weekend. “We’re all left-wingers now,” he writes, “whether you’re personally down with that or not.”

Brad points to an article by Glenn Greenwald at Salon that credits neoconservatives for re-shaping the Left-Right political spectrum. Greenwald says that today’s empire-building neocons have turned the conservative right-wing into “an authoritarian movement animated by the Orwellian slogan that ‘security leads to freedom’ which embraces and seeks ever-expanding government power based on the claimed need to protect people from all the scary, lurking dangers in the world — dangers which are constantly stoked and inflamed in order to maximize the craving for ‘security,’ derived by vesting more and more power in the hands of our strong, protective Leaders.” He adds: “The central tenets of the right-wing movement in this country — which has seized and now defines the term ‘conservative’ — are easy to see. They’re right there in plain sight — they want to expand government power in pursuit of mindless, bloodthirsty warmongering and empire-building abroad, and the accompanying liberty-infringement at home. ...

“At least for now, until this movement is banished to the dustbin, [the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’] have come to designate whether one is loyal to, or whether one opposes, this government-power worshipping, profoundly un-American right-wing cultism that has been the dominant political faction in America for many years.”

Of course, Greenwald is only recognizing now what we Libertarian Leftists have known for decades — that the real Right has always been authoritarian and has, as Karl Hess wrote many years ago, “traditionally reflected the concentration of power in the fewest practical hands”; the real Left reflects the opposite tendency.

Keep Left!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Good news from Edward Abbey

This is Day 19 of our “purge,” all in preparation for tearing out the doggie-stained carpets and installing new flooring and built-in bookcases and cabinets in the next few months. Each day is filled with pleasant discoveries. One of today’s, found on a back shelf, is Edward Abbey’s Good News. Halleluiah! I had recently thought about revisiting Good News, and here it is!

Good News is widely considered one of Abbey’s lesser novels. It’s only natural, then, that of all his books, fiction and nonfiction, it’s my favorite. The “good news” for Abbey, when he wrote the novel in the late 1970s, was that the military-industrial state was bound to collapse eventually from its own weight. Good News is about what happens after that breakdown, when a paramilitary despot tries to restore “order” among the ruins of the Southwest and meets resistance from desert freedom-fighters. It’s about, as Abbey calls it, “the oldest civil war of all” — the city vs. the country. It’s tanks and grenades vs. horses and rifles. It’s the remnant of the power elite vs. the mind-your-own-business agrarians. It’s Them vs. Us. Good News is part sci-fi Western and part anarchist polemic. It’s largely forgotten but, thankfully, always in print. I can’t wait to dig into it again.

Here’s something Edward Abbey wrote in 1978, while he was working on Good News:

“We all know who the Enemy is. The Enemy speaks to us all the time — from the radio, on the television, on billboards, in the newspapers and slick magazines, in the halls of Congress, at the state capitol, in city hall.

“And the Enemy says, ‘Behold, how sleek and fat I have become. Am I not the wonder of the world? Am I not the richest and most powerful beast on earth? Would you turn against the thing which has enriched you, which has given you safety and security and comfort, which promises you still more wonders in the future — electronic toys, computerized thinking, a life air-conditioned from womb to grave, an existence of endless novelty, luxury, diversion, things and more things, a universe of sport and adventure and romance and travel in the softness of your armchair, the ease of your V-8 four-wheel-drive wheelchair tourism, the sedation of your living room? A painless, discreet, sedated death? And all this for so little, so very little — merely for the price of some of your independence, a bit of your freedom, a little part of your manhood or womanhood, for only a little sacrifice of your humanity and honor. ...’ ”

If you haven’t yet experienced Ed Abbey, Good News is a fine place to start.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


My ebook Agorist Class Theory: A Left Libertarian Approach to Class Conflict Analysis is now available in convenient paperback for just $5.25 (plus shipping) from This short book draws on unfinished work by the late Samuel Edward Konkin III, and it includes a foreword by Brad Spangler, who was kind enough to shepherd it into honest-to-Konkin print. Agorist Class Theory will fit nicely into most book-totes and backpacks. It’ll make a nice gift for birthdays, graduations, housewarmings, and just about any other occasion.


Friday, March 23, 2007


Back in January, I wrote that Alfonso Cuaron’s film Children of Men was “unlike almost any other movie I’ve ever seen, on a political level, on an action level, and on an emotional level.” Next Tuesday, it’ll be available on DVD, and judging by an interview with Cuaron on Ain’t It Cool News, this is definitely something I’ll be adding to my movie library. Says the director:

“I’m very excited about the DVD because... you know, I’m not a big fan of director’s comments or behind the scenes. What I proposed for this one was a documentary. What I did is put together a social frame that we were going to deal with.

“When I set out to do Children of Men it was because I wanted to make an exploration to the state of things, to the things that are shaping the first decade of the 21st Century. In other words, shaping our future.

“So, we did a lot of research and then with this documentary we got to interview some of the thinkers that were so influential in creating the scenario for the film. A documentary version of what’s in the film.

“We interview people like Naomi Klein and James Lubbock... they talk not about the film, but about the themes that are involved in the film. I think it’s a very relevant documentary. I’m very proud of it because I get to share, through the documentary, the thoughts of these amazing minds. And it’s almost like a post-apocalyptic movie!”

My review of the DVD will likely be forthcoming.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

High expectations, diminished returns

Four members of Code Pink, protesting the Democratic leadership’s inaction on ending the war in Iraq, were arrested this afternoon outside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. I love this bit of naiveté from Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin:

“We’re just heartbroken that Nancy Pelosi has decided to keep funding George Bush’s war, and now the war belongs to the Democrats as well as the Republicans. We thought we were going to get a change when they came into power.”

Of course you did.

Prometheus Award nominees announced

The final slate of nominees for this year’s Prometheus Award has been announced. The award is presented at Worldcon each year by the Libertarian Futurist Society, recognizing “novels whose plots, themes, characters and/or specific issues reflect the value of personal freedom and human rights, or which seriously or satirically critique abuses of power — especially unchecked government power.” Here’s the 2007 slate:

Empire, Orson Scott Card
The Ghost Brigades, John Scalzi
Glasshouse, Charles Stross
Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge
Harbingers, F. Paul Wilson

The only novel I’ve read on this list is Scalzi’s, although I’ve read past books by the other four authors and have enjoyed all of them. I seem to have some reading to catch up on.

Brand new Rothbard!

The most exciting news I've heard in months comes out of last week's Austrian Scholars Conference, held by the Mises Institute. It seems they will be publishing The Betrayal of the American Right, a previously unpublished 1970s era manuscript by the late Murray Rothbard, sometime this year. Thomas E. Woods, Jr., who has written an introduction for the book, says it's the closest thing to a Rothbard memoir we'll ever see. Listen to Woods talk about the upcoming book right here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The funniest cartoon in history


I first saw this classic New Yorker cartoon by James Thurber in 1968. I still think it's the funniest cartoon ever.

A song for Libertarian Leftists


traditional protest song
additional lyrics by Wally Conger

We shall not, we shall not be moved,
We shall not, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

Left Libertarians united, we shall not be moved,
Left Libertarians united, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

Voluntaryists, Rothbardians, we shall not be moved,
Voluntaryists, Rothbardians, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

Mutualists, agorists, we shall not be moved,
Mutualists, agorists, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

Smash the State together, we shall not be moved,
Smash the State together, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

Fighting corporate power, we shall not be moved,
Fighting corporate power, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

Going counter-economic, we shall not be moved,
Going counter-economic, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

U.S. out of Iraq, we shall not be moved,
U.S. out of Iraq, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

No e-list moderators, we shall not be moved,
No e-list moderators, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

All anarchists together, we shall not be moved,
All anarchists together, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree standing by the water,
We shall not be moved!

Another pheonix rises!

Still another Left Libertarian banner has unfurled from the dying embers of the old LeftLibertarian Yahoo e-list. The Alliance of the Libertarian Left (ALL), trumpets its webpage (created stunningly by Roderick T. Long), “is a multi-tendency coalition of mutualists, agorists, voluntaryists, geolibertarians, left-Rothbardians, green libertarians, dialectical anarchists, radical minarchists, and others on the libertarian left, united by an opposition to statism, militarism, and the prevailing corporatist capitalism falsely called a free market, as well as by an emphasis on education, direct action, and building alternative institutions, rather than on electoral politics, as our chief strategy for achieving liberation.”

“Membership” is, well, simple as can be. Just declare yourself a member! What could be more suitably anarchistic? (Membership requirements for the new Agorist Action Alliance, incidentally, are similarly nonrestrictive. And simultaneous membership in both ALL and A3 is both possible and encouraged.) Check out the ALL website.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Oh, Liberty!

Deb and I are in the process of “purging,” which for the past week or so has meant digging through boxes and boxes of books and assorted binders and odd bits of paper. As expected, this exercise hasn’t failed to uncover, well, a lot of crap and just a few genuine diamonds.

One of those diamonds, found just this afternoon, is The John Randolph Club Songbook. Deb and I picked this item up in late October 1994 at the fifth annual meeting of the John Randolph Club, that coalition of paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians that a decade ago brought together such luminaries as Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Samuel Francis, Joe Sobran, Justin Raimondo, and many others from the Mises Institute, the Rockford Institute, and the Center for Libertarian Studies. This meeting, just three months before Murray’s death, was held in Arlington, Virginia, within spitting distance of Mordor. And one evening after dinner, ice chests of beer were wheeled in, we all gathered around a piano, and we sang every damn tune out of the Songbook. A few were written by Murray.

Here’s one of the tunes:


adapted from Ralph Raico’s “Circle Theme”
music to “America the Beautiful”

It’s ours to right the great wrong done, ten thousand years ago.
The nation-state, conceived in hate, remains our only foe.
Oh liberty, Oh liberty,
Our victory is nigh,
Fulfill our fate, destroy the State,
And raise the banner high.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Maintaining principles, changing banners

A specter is a’haunting the loose coalition we have for three decades called the “Movement of the Libertarian Left” (MLL). And that specter is...well, by now, most everybody knows who this specter is. He is, ironically, the author of the only purely agorist novel ever written. And three years after the death of Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3), MLL’s “founder,” he has announced he is executor of what small SEK3 estate exists and has decided to declare his “ownership” of MLL and Sam’s old LeftLibertarian Yahoo e-list. (This is interesting, in that Sam never believed in intellectual property, and none of his works — his book New Libertarian Manifesto, his newsletters, his logos, his articles, etc. — ever bore copyright or trademark symbols.) In the past few days, the Executor Who Shall Not Be Named (henceforth, “EWSNBN”) has threatened, censored, and intimidated members of the old Yahoo list and those who have for the past couple of years worked tirelessly to reinvigorate the Movement of the Libertarian Left, including my comrades Brad Spangler, Kevin Carson, Jack Shimek, Freeman, and Roderick Long. Anyway, this has resulted in two actions in the last 72 hours or so:

First, several dozen members of the old LeftLibertarian Yahoo e-list — in fact, the most active, committed members — have seceded and spun out into a new list, LeftLibertarian2. It is essentially SEK3’s original list without the authoritarianism of EWSNBN.

Second, Brad Spangler, creator of, has launched an alternative to MLL — the Agorist Action Alliance (A3). This is MLL with a new face; in Brad’s words, “an agorist-led network for radical libertarians and all anarchists who hate the State more than the Market (Konkin’s Rule of Thumb). Our emphasis is on ACTION!” In the true spirit of SEK3, Brad continues,

“Because we are an anti-political network for radical action, A3 members and affiliates don’t have to agree on a platform or candidate. Limited government libertarians (‘minarchists’), market anarchists and those who identify as ‘libertarian socialist’ can work together through A3 affiliated local groups where they have a common interest in a particular project/action. We use Konkin’s broad definition of the term ‘libertarian’ to unite us. Libertarianone who opposes state intervention, i.e., a defender of Liberty.”

Someday, we may all again march under the (non-registered trademark) MLL banner. Who can say? But in the meantime, I give A3 two agorist fists thrust into the air. May the black flag under which it marches forever wave.

For elaboration on this week’s MLL e-list “schism,” see here, here, here, and here.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Revisiting a sacred text

Bless the Ludwig von Mises Institute. For several years now, they’ve made the classic Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought available for free download. Now the complete journal — launched in 1965 by Murray Rothbard, Leonard Liggio, and George Resch — is offered by the Mises Institute as a convenient, 690-page, print-on-demand paperback. (The downloadable archives remain available online.)

In An Enemy of the State, a biography of Rothbard, Justin Raimondo wrote that Left and Right “never had a circulation of more than a few thousand, but its influence on a whole generation of libertarians was to effect an intellectual sea-change. Without funding, or promotion, Left and Right found its way to pockets of libertarian supporters on campuses across the nation. From Berkeley to the University of Kansas to the University of North Carolina, libertarian student organizations inspired by Rothbard’s call to reclaim their legacy as the ‘true’ Left sprang up overnight — and suddenly libertarians were being noticed.”

On this blog two years ago, I wrote:

“There’s no question that Left and Right had a tremendous influence on me and on the late Samuel Edward Konkin III, who crafted the Movement of the Libertarian Left to recapture the spirit of that journal. In its mere nine issues, Left and Right presented Rothbard’s manifesto, ‘Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty,’ his ‘Liberty and the New Left,’ Liggio’s ‘Isolationism, Old and New’ and ‘Early Anti-Imperialism,’ Harry Elmer Barnes’ ‘Pearl Harbor After a Quarter of a Century,’ and brilliant editorials on everything from the Black Revolution, to SDS, to flag desecration (extremely pertinent right now), to the CIA, to the Ninth Amendment, and to the importance of Che Guevara.

“There are few more valuable things libertarians can do today than visit those pieces and begin reforming their ideas about classical liberalism, statism, and American history.”

All serious Libertarian Leftists owe it to themselves to either buy this new paperback volume or visit the Left and Right archives. After all, the journal is, as Roderick Long wrote brilliantly this week, “a sacred text for all left-libertarian reunificationists today — a second glimpse of the promised land, after forty years in the desert.”

For those familiar with my hairline...

Thanks, comrade BK.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Return of The Comet!

Here’s terrific news for fans of stunning teenaged girls with big hair who wield enormous automatic weapons: Night of the Comet, my favorite post-apocalyptic sci-fi teen angst movie of the 1980s, is finally available this week on DVD. Hot damn!

The story: a comet is scheduled for a “near-miss” of Earth, and the world excitedly awaits its appearance. Vendors everywhere sell comet merchandise. Folks gather for neighborhood barbeques to watch the event. As it happens, though, the comet turns almost everyone into empty clothes and red dust. Most who survive have only a short time left to live, and that time spent as pissed-off zombies. Fortunately, two L.A. valley-girl types live on to battle zombies and, we hope, repopulate the planet with what few men can be found.

There are absolutely great moments in Night of the Comet. One of my favorites is when the girls decide to trek to the mall (of course), where they run into crazyass, sadistic stockboys. “You’re insane!” one of the girls screams at one kid, following an exchange of gunfire. “I’m not insane,” he shouts back. “I just don’t give a fuck!”

One reason I’m fond of this film is that so much of it was shot in downtown Los Angeles when I was working there two decades ago. It’s tremendous fun to spot my old lunchtime hangouts. But the movie’s biggest plus is the fabulous Catherine Mary Stewart (pictured), who was also highly memorable and adorable that same year (1984) in the more kid-friendly The Last Starfighter. She is gorgeous in a “Hey, she reminds me of Linda Hamilton in the first Terminator” way. She is every sci-fi geekboy’s dream.

Night of the Comet is a perfect Friday night movie. Get a copy and start microwaving that popcorn!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Essentially Murray

I have to keep reminding myself that David Gordon’s The Essential Rothbard, just now available from the Mises Institute, is meant to be slight — just 180 pages (and 50 pages or so of that a comprehensive bibliography and index). The book’s a primer, not intended to be a thorough analysis of Rothbard’s massive body of work. And as an introduction to basic Rothbardian thought, it’s very good. Anyone intimidated by Man, Economy and State or Power and Market who wants to just dip a toe into Murray’s world should really get hold of this. I just wish there were more. Greedy me.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Conspiracy left and right

Barnes & Noble has published a cheap ($6.98), “revised and updated,” 2006 hardcover edition of Robin Ramsay’s Conspiracy Theories, first published in 2000. I recommend it as an antidote to so many of the “all theory, no research” conspiracy books you find nowadays.

Ramsay is a Brit, editor and publisher of the “conspiracy journal” Lobster, and he builds a good, broad defense of the conspiracy view of history (aka parapolitics, or Rothbard’s “power elite analysis”). He pooh-poohs most massive, overarching conspiracy theories without dismissing them entirely; he applauds even the most outrageous conspiracy buffs for “their perception that the world isn’t as it is presented by the corporate media.” Writes Ramsay: “The importance of conspiracies, not conspiracy theories, is political. The conspiracies we should be looking at most closely are those run by the state — in this benighted, secretive, country we might say the conspiracies which are the state — or by the supranational bodies such as the European Union and the transnational corporations and their fronts.”

What I found most interesting in Conspiracy Theories, which I haven’t seen before in books of this kind, is Ramsay’s analysis of the often distinct Right and Left approaches to the issue of political conspiracies:

“In very broad terms, the right, historically, has been interested in conspiracies it perceives to be undermining some kind of natural or desired order, plotting against the will of the people, the constitution, the national interest etc. These are what we might loosely call conspiracies against the state. The communist conspiracy theory, the Jewish banker theory and the current crop of New World Order, One World, elite dominance theories are examples of this. The liberal-left, on the other hand, has been chiefly interested in conspiracies committed by the state. From where I am, on the left side of the fence, quite why these two areas are so distinct is unclear to me: an interest in the elite management groups (right) should fit comfortably with an interest in the big state scandals — say Iran-Contra (left). In practice, however, the right’s desire to preserve — or conserve — the existing order, no matter how critical they may also be of it, has generally precluded them from acknowledging the crimes and conspiracies of that order. On the other side, the left is unwilling to engage with a subject matter which has been ‘contaminated’ by interest from the right. Look at the almost complete lack of interest shown by the American left in the massacre of the Branch Davidians by federal forces at Waco, Texas.”

Earlier in the book, Ramsay elaborates on the Left’s general disinterest in what he calls “elite management groups,”a favorite villain among right-wingers:

“The role of elite management groups, such as the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group, is one of the strands in the otherwise wacky world of contemporary conspiracy theory worth taking seriously and it is now, almost exclusively, highlighted by the radical right. ...

“...the Anglo-American left is basically not interested in these elite management or power elite groups. Despite the groups being composed entirely of the major figures from world capital and politics — the left’s supposed enemy — somehow the left found this of little interest. Apart from the brief flutter of interest in the late 1970s when Trilateralist Jimmy Carter became president of the US, the Anglo-American left has passed on these groups, leaving them to the right.

“Why it has happened that it is chiefly the right which is interested in large scale conspiracies in general, and these elite groups in particular, is not clear. In part, the left’s focus on systems rather than people — crudely, capital rather than capitalists — led it not to pay attention to the details. In part, it is the result of the subject of the elite management groups becoming ‘contaminated’ for those on the left by the interest in it expressed by the far right. In other words, such is the left’s fear of being linked with the right, anything the right takes up immediately becomes ‘untouchable’ to the left.”

In a footnote, Ramsay notes that one of the best books on power elites, Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and the Elite Planning for World Management, edited by leftist Holly Sklar in 1980, has been virtually ignored by leftists but has long been a right-wing bestseller.

The simply titled Conspiracy Theories offers some unique scrutiny of the conspiracy theory “culture,” and it’s worth a look. I imagine you can find it at almost any Barnes & Noble (on the so-called “remainders tables”), but I’m sure B&N also offers it at their website.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What neocons believe

And speaking of neocons of the John Sunlight variety, Paul Craig Roberts does a remarkable job of succinctly defining the core belief-system of neocons on this morning's

"Like their forebears among the Jacobins of the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks of the communist revolution, and the National Socialists of Hitler's revolution, neoconservatives believe that they have a monopoly on virtue and the right to impose hegemony on the rest of the world."

Read the whole article here.

Doc Savage vs. the neocons

Nostalgia Ventures is performing a great service in republishing the pulp magazine adventures of Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, for the first time since Bantam launched its successful paperback reprint series back in the 1960s (with those fantastic James Bama covers). This time, the Lester Dent “novels” are being packaged two to an oversized volume, including the illustrations from the original magazines. I read a lot of these books when I was in grade school, and it’s terrific fun to revisit Doc Savage and his crew again.

Before this week, I’m not sure I’d ever read the two 1938 stories that make up Nostalgia Ventures’ first volume. Both tales — Fortress of Solitude and The Devil Genghis — feature John Sunlight, Doc’s greatest adversary and the only villain to appear twice in the Savage saga. Get a load of this final exchange between Doc and Sunlight in Genghis:

“...we have the same aims in life, you and I,” John Sunlight said.

Doc Savage looked incredulous.

“The same aims, you and I!” John Sunlight repeated. “You strive to right wrongs. And I — I am trying to right the greatest wrong of all.”

John Sunlight paused for emphasis.

“The wrong I am going to right,” he said impressively, “is the fact that mankind lives under different flags and speaks different languages.”

His voice became louder, acquired a kind of burning fervor. There was fanaticism in the voice.

“I am going to conquer the world,” John Sunlight said.

He threw up his jaw.

“Then I shall disarm all of mankind,” he announced. “I shall take every rifle, revolver, cannon and machine gun, and I shall make it a death penalty to own a firearm. Mankind has advanced far enough that it does not need firearms.”

John Sunlight lifted both arms dramatically.

“Next, I shall make every person in the world learn to speak English,” he shouted. “English shall become the common language of all mankind.”

He shook his fists.

“I shall wipe out every state and national boundary. I shall make all mankind of one nation, one language, and without arms.”

He paused, lowered his arms and smiled.

“There will be no more wars,” he said, “because there will be nothing left to cause wars.” ...

“A dream,” Doc Savage said suddenly, “that many men have had.”

“Eh?” John Sunlight scowled.

“It will not work.”

John Sunlight drew himself erect. “You are mistaken. With these weapons which I took from your Fortress of Solitude, I can conquer, beyond a doubt. With your help, I cannot fail. You will help me. ...”

Doc Savage shook his head slowly.

“Your plan,” he said, “is unworkable. Millions would die, and violence is not the way to accomplish anything lasting. Look, for example, at the World War. Did it settle anything? No. The nations fought until they were exhausted, then were quiet only while they rested. Now they are getting their strength back — and the same hatreds.”

“You won’t help the world?”

“Only as much as it can be aided by eliminating John Sunlight,” Doc Savage said grimly.

John Sunlight is, I think, a pretty good fictional portrayal of what Isabel Paterson would have called the “humanitarian with a guillotine.” Or what we today would call a neocon. (To be honest, Doc Savage suffered quite a messiah complex himself. But hell, he was the Good Guy!)