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.


At 12:48 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Sad and exciting all at the same time Wally. Glad I'm a part of this new evolution of the MLL


At 1:53 PM, Blogger Warren Bluhm said...

I'm not sure what to make of this, because I haven't seen the exchanges that led to all this (not surprising since they apparently were deleted!) but I do want to point out not naming "Mr. Cool Man" seems a tad, well, Orwellian. Are we making him an unperson? Or did he do something silly like copyright the use of his real name?

That said, I think the A3 is a great idea and the name especially is immediately more appealing to folks like me, who have been allergic for years to the statist hooligans the mainstream refers to as the "left." I know, I know, what's in a name, and I agree with the MLL, er, A3, in principle, but it's hard for me to take the next step and identify myself as "left" anything, even left libertarian. As the word is currently used, "libertarian left" sounds as oxymoronic as "freedom-loving statist" to my ears.

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the old LeftLibertarian list, I keep thinking of that old quip (Voltaire?) that the Holy Roman Empire was "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an empire."

I wonder if Mr. Cool Man will change the name to RightAuthoritarian.
--Kevin Carson

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

Warren, there's nothing Orwellian intended in my not naming "Mr. Cool Man" here. Just avoiding possible conflict. I'll name Neil (oops!) explicitly in posts not directly related to this MLL fiasco.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger freeman said...


Although I didn't name him either at my blog, I did link to a picture of him, one that I highly doubt will ever appear on a book jacket.

At 3:54 AM, Blogger Warren Bluhm said...

In hindsight, He Who Writes This Blog (henceforth known as HWWTB) and rhymes-with-Sea-Man, I think my concern over not naming "Hey Feel" is a small case of not-getting-the-joke. Apologies all around. (-8

At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Roderick T. Long said...

Tragically, not much rhymes with "Conger."

At 4:43 PM, Anonymous J. Neil Schulman said...


Just ran across this, several months late.

You're an old pal (for those paying attention, Wally published a bunch of my articles in the earlier print edition of Out of Step) but most of what you wrote in this post is wrong.

I never claimed to be the owner of the MLL list. I was appointed moderator of the list by J. Kent Hastings, one of the two people that SEK3 made moderators of the MLL list, in addition to himself. It was SEK3 who set up the MLL Yahoo Group as a moderated user list, which requires moderator approval of both members and members' posts. SEK3 himself tossed people off the list who were flaming and rejected posts all the time -- including plenty of mine, when he considered them off topic.

I had kept Kent very busy working as editor on Lady Magdalene's, and Kent was not doing any active moderating. The list was getting unfocused and being dominated by what I considered to be deviationists from SEK3's propertarian core values -- and yes, I did not want members of the MLL list to write out of the libertarian movement those of us (including Kent) who thought 9/11 was a real attack on freedom by a bunch of Jihadi wannabe theocrats and that the threat was ongoing and worth fighting.

Kent appointed me moderator at a time when he was still busy in post-production and I had to leave him alone to work without me, which left me a few more minutes a day free to devote to the MLL list than he had. He asked me to see if I could widen the appeal of the list to a broader spectrum of libertarian views ... and the result was that the narrow mutualist, anti-Bush-obsessed, 911-conspiracist members of the list launched a flame war against me and Tony Hollick started writing posts suggesting the members go into State court against Yahoo to seize control from the current SEK3-appointed list owner (Kent).

A bunch of people lie about this and have posted blogs accusing me of being the one who threatened to go to court.

When Brad Spangler and his mutualist crowd started their own list, they attempted to hijack the name MLL for their own list. I informed them that I would not permit that sort of identity theft, and that as an original member of the MLL I would defend SEK3's rightful heir to the MLL Yahoo list, Kent, and my method of doing this was refusing to release messages on the original MLL list which attempted to advertise the new, fraudulently-named list. I also banned several people for flaming after they had been repeatedly warned -- just as SEK3 had done earlier.

Once Brad Spangler agreed to name his list something other than MLL, the dispute was resolved, and I restored the membership privileges of those who were attempting to hijack the membership list SEK3 had built up, and sent invitations to all who had resigned. Few accepted. I don't miss them since their narrow, bigoted view of left-libertarianism--and their primary means of communication being sneering, ad hominem, and quoting endlessly from self-congratulatorily partisan sources -- merely dilutes the value of the list.

SEK3 told me years ago about how the SDS had been taken away from a broad-based coalition of anti-Vietnam War activists by narrow pro-North-Vietnam Marxists who captured the SDS membership list. I was not going to let a bunch of collectivist deviationists do the same to SEK3's individualist, natural rights legacy.

Sam and I disagreed about many things, but we were friends to the day he passed away, and I understand the importance of his work better than anyone alive. I was an editor on all his magazines, knew him continuously longer than anyone else. and his brother Alan said at Sam's memorial that I was as much a brother to Sam as he was.

I think my support for the war against Islamic Jihad against Western Civilization has been nuanced and comprehensive. I have clearly stated when what I suggest cannot be justified within the structure of the individualist, no-initiation-of-force libertarian tradition, but no one ever applies the "emergency ethics" context to my remarks.

I am also offended by libertarians who assume that their anti-intellectual property views are universal among agorists, left-libertarians, or libertarians in general. No less a libertarian than Robert LeFevre praised my article, "Informational Property: Logorights" and while SEK3 never agreed with my ideas, neither did he ever write a refutation of it -- nor has anyone else that does not spend their time attacking the straw man of "intellectual" property that I depart from in my article.

My over three decades of libertarian activism, my support of SEK3 through thick and thin, my outspokenness on libertarian issues which cost me lucrative jobs in Hollywood, deserve better than to have old friends like you dissing me this way.


At 9:56 PM, Blogger PlanetaryJim said...

It is sort of interesting, to me, to read Neil's article in 1998 about Iraq, with the conclusion that the Waco massacre was a trial run. In it, he proposes that perhaps Clinton was willing to go further than the fictional president in "Wag the Dog."

Then I read some of Neil's work in the 2002 timeframe, followed by his 2007 essay "It's way past Miller time..." and I really have to wonder where he stands, now, on this whole bizarre war against Americans that masquerades as a war against terror.

What exactly in the war against Jihadi "wannabes" is served by having Campaign for Liberty's Steve Bierfeldt stopped by Transportation Security apparatchiki in St. Louis for daring to have $4700 in his possession, Neil? How many of these ongoing attacks on Americans are you willing to tolerate in the name of retaliating against people who might be related, ideologically, to those who attacked the World Trade Center?

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous J. Neil Schulman said...

Wow, Jim, this thread is so old I wonder if anyone other than you and me will be reading it.

But on the off chance it shows up on Google ...

I support fighting Jihadi cadre who wish to impose Sharia law on the rest of the world by any means necessary, including violence and acts of terror.

I support armed and informed civilized people defending themselves and private property from invaders, criminals, and terrorists of any race, creed, color, faith, gender-preference, ideology, or national origin.

I oppose suspension of habeas corpus, imprisonment without trial, disarming people who travel on common carriers of their personal self-defense weapons, searches without probable cause or warrants, confiscation of private property except after conviction in a jury trial, or the issuing of warrants except on presentation of specific facts leading to probable cause to a magistrate.

Of course, in the event we ever have an agorist alternative, my standards will go up considerably. These statements are made in the context of our current Hobson's Choice -- anomie or organized crime.

As far as the War on Terror (so-called) -- its been botched.

The point to the invasion of Afghanistan was to capture Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cells and punish the Taliban for hiding him. The Taliban was punished and any campaign against al Qaeda involves clandestine services, not "boots on ground." I have no idea what policy or national defense interest is served by a continuing presence of American troops in Afghanistan.

As for Iraq. There was yellowcake in Baghdad -- under IAEA seal. Saddam Hussein did use poison gas against both Iran and the Kurds -- some of it provided to him by the U.S. He did want nukes because his enemy Iran wanted nukes.

And, the disinformation that Hussein had an active program (as Iran really did) to centrifuge yellowcake into fissionable materials he could use to make A-bombs originated with -- tah-dah! -- Saddam Hussein, who was passing this disinformation on to any intelligence source who'd listen because that's what he wanted Iran to think. This bluff cost him his dictatorship and his neck.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was, in retrospect, unnecessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from obtaining nukes he could pass on to third parties for deployment against his enemies -- including us. But it hasn't been established to my satisfaction that George W. Bush knew that when he ordered the invasion.

What has been established to my satisfaction is that once Saddam Hussein's statue fell and he was in hiding, and his rape-room sons had been killed, and the inspection for WMD's -- which was the causus belli of the invasion -- had been completed, then the mission was indeed accomplshed, and the U.S. troops should have been pulled out. Purple fingers, while preferable to either Saddam's more secular dictatorship or Sharia law, was not part of the sales pitch.

Bring the troops home from both Iraq and Afghanistan.



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