6 underrated Marxists who don’t get enough love

6 underrated Marxists who don't get enough love

By: libcom

It’s a sad fact that many of the most radical Marxists, whose participation in working class struggle and ideas challenged not only capitalist society but also the social democratic and Leninist tendencies in the workers’ movement tend to get ignored by anarchists and Marxists alike.

In this post we look at individuals who participated in working class movements from the 1918 German revolution to the 1945 Saigon Commune to wildcat strikes in car factories in Detroit and contributed an understanding of the events of their time that we can learn from today.

In this post we look at individuals who participated in working class movements from the 1918 German revolution to the 1945 Saigon Commune to wildcat strikes in car factories in Detroit and contributed an understanding of the events of their time that we can learn from today.

1. Gavril Miasnikov

A participant in both 1905 and 1917 Revolutions as well as the Bolshevik underground, Miasnikov gained a reputation as a hardened working-class militant, doing seven years hard labour in Siberia for his activism and executing the Tsar’s brother himself. A member of the left communist fraction in the Bolshevik Party, his expulsion led to the formation of the Workers Group and eventually a complete break with the Bolshevik ideology.

While still a member, he criticised the leadership for its bureaucratisation and repression of working-class dissent both within the party and wider society, saying, in a letter to Lenin: “while you raise your hand against the capitalist, you deal a blow to the worker.”

Miasnikov’s view was that the Soviets should take over the running of society, as they had been set up during the revolution through the mass participation of the workers themselves. The party leadership and other ‘left oppositions’ within the Bolsheviks, were focused on the power of the party and the trade unions rather than the class itself.

Expelled from the party, he set up the ‘Workers Group’ and published a manifesto critical of the Bolshevik regime from Germany. In September 1923, during a strike wave in Russia, he was lured back on the pretense he would not be interfered with, was immediately arrested on arrival and exiled to Armenia, before escaping to France where he wrote ‘The Latest Deception‘, elaborating his theory of state-capitalism in the USSR, arguing it had to be overthrown and replaced with soviet democracy. In 1945 he returned to the USSR from France on a visa, but was arrested within a month by secret police, and executed 16th November 1945.

2. Ngo Van Xuyet

The life of Vietnamese Marxist Ngo Van Xuyet takes us from the anti-colonial struggle in Vietnam, where he found himself in conflict not only with the French authorities but also Ho Chi Minh’s Stalinist forces of ‘national liberation’, to the factories of Paris during the 1968 uprising.

Starting work in Saigon’s metal factories aged 14, Ngo joined the Vietnamese Trotskyist movement five years later. Involved in various struggles against French colonial rule, he was eventually imprisoned and tortured for organising a strike at his factory. He organised hunger strikes with other prisoners and later participated in the 1945 Saigon Commune before leaving Vietnam in 1948 to escape both French colonial persecution and possible assassination by Ho Chi Minh’s forces (as happened to several of his comrades).

Resettled in Paris and working in a factory making railway signals, he broke with Trotskyism and the Leninist conception of the party, mixing with anarchists, council communists and ultra-left Marxists. An active workplace militant, he was involved in the Paris Metalworkers’ Liaison Committee and a participant in France’s May 1968 revolt, writing an excellent first-hand account from the point of view of a rank-and-file factory worker angry at the actions of the French Communist Party and CGT union to contain the rebellion.

Upon his retirement, Ngo dedicated himself to recording the struggles of the Vietnamese working class and peasantry against colonialism and independent from Ho Chi Minh’s Stalinist national liberation movement as well as instances where the latter used violence against other sections of the Vietnamese revolutionary movement. He also wrote an excellent autobiography documenting his amazing life as a working-class militant across two continents called In the crossfire: adventures of a Vietnamese revolutionary.

3. Clara Zetkin

Clara Zetkin was a central figure in the left-wing of German Social Democracy, active in the Bookbinders and Tailors & Seamstresses Unions in Stuttgart when it was illegal for women to be union members.

Zetkin broke with the mainstream of the Social Democratic Party in 1914 when she took a consistent anti-war position. She joined the Spartacists with Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, then founded the Communist Party of Germany with them in 1918. While she completely broke with the Social Democratic Party, she did not make the full break from social democracy to council communism like the KAPD or AAUD-E, and lived in Russia from 1924 until her death in 1933.

Zetkin’s work is notable for some of the earliest applications of Marx’s work in Capital to the women’s question. She analysed the entry of women and children into the labour market, and the development of automation as undermining the wages and working conditions of both men and the working class as a whole. However, she completely rejected male chauvinist attempts to restrict the participation of women in the workplace to preserve high wages, instead pointing out that the only solution to a shorter working day and the full liberation of both men and women was the overthrow of capitalism:

Just as the workers are subjugated by the capitalists, women are subjugated by men and they will continue to be in that position as long as they are not economically independent.[..] Women workers are totally convinced that the question of the emancipation of women is not an isolated one but rather constitutes a part of the great social question. They know very clearly that this question in today’s society cannot be solved without a basic transformation of society. […] The capitalist system alone must be blamed for the fact that women’s work has the opposite result of its natural tendency; it results in a longer work day instead of a considerably shorter one. […] If one demands the abolition or limitation of women’s work because of the competition it creates, one might just as well use the same logic and abolish machines in order to demand the recreation of the medieval guild system which determined the exact number of workers that were to be employed in each type of work.

For the liberation of women (1889)

Unsurprisingly, her class analysis of women’s issues meant she was scathing in her criticisms of the bourgeios suffragettes, describing in her 1903 text, ‘What Women Owe to Karl Marx’, that the ‘sisterhood’ which “supposedly wraps a unifying ribbon around bourgeois ladies and female proletarians” as bursting “like so many scintillating soap bubbles.”

Her account of discussions with Lenin about the women’s question show very effectively the limitations of Lenin’s politics in this regard, as he requested German communists focus away from sex worker organising and ‘the sex question’ towards pure party building.

In 1923, Zetkin penned an analysis of the rise of Mussolini in Italy and the nascent fascist movement in Germany. In passages which anticipate Dauvé’s work by half a century, she identifies the fascist movement as the last resort of the bourgeiosie to maintain capitalist relations via open violence against the working class and the consequence of the failure of proletarian revolutions internationally, against the reformist socialists who had blamed revolutionary attempts for the rise of fascism.

The proletariat must have a well organised apparatus of self-defence. Whenever Fascism uses violence, it must be met with proletarian violence. I do not mean by this individual terrorist acts, but the violence of the organised revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat.

(Fascism, 1923)

4. Martin Glaberman

Martin Glaberman‘s great skill was presenting complex ideas in ways which relate to people’s everyday experiences.

A worker in Detroit’s car factories from the early 1940s to the 1960s, Glaberman started his political life as a Trotskyist, joining the Johnson-Forrest Tendency, founded by (amongst others) legendary Trinidadian Marxist CLR James. By the 1950s, they had broken with Trotskyism, taking a more critical position on the USSR and rejecting the need for a vanguard party to seize power on behalf of the working class, and formed the Correspondence Publishing Committee. Glaberman remained associated with CLR James through the ’60s via the Facing Reality Group in Detroit.

Glaberman’s work is consistently rooted in the concrete experiences of the working class: the relationship of union officials to rank and file workers on the shopfloor, the relative strength of factories dependent on their position in the production process. But his work is never ‘dumbed down’; rather, his down-to-earth explanations of complex Marxist concepts lead seamlessly into practical politics. For instance, in his article Unions and workers: limitations and possibilities, he says,

Quote:

Consider these two units of time: 36 seconds, the rest of your life. The job that takes 36 seconds to do that you’re going to do for the rest of your life. I don’t know a better definition of alienation than that

From here, Glaberman explains that it is that alienation “which is at the root of working class resistance and working class struggle. It is the kind of thing which is virtually impossible to measure […] Revolutions are made […] by ordinary people with all the limitations of the society, driven by 36 seconds for the rest of your life”.

Glaberman also led a Capital reading group in Detroit with black autoworkers forming the executive committee of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, an experience he mentions in The Workers have to deal with their own reality and that transforms them. He also wrote the fantastic book, Wartime Strikes, about the wave of wildcat strikes by autoworkers following World War Two in defiance of the ‘No Strike’ pledge signed by their union.

5. Mariarosa Dalla Costa

An argument often heard in Marxist (and anarchist) circles is that feminism ‘distracts’ from the ‘more important’ issues of the class struggle. Dalla Costashows why this is nonsense, setting out a highly original fusion of Marxism with feminism and engaging in years of class-based feminist activism both in Italy and internationally.

Born in Treviso, Northern Italy, Dalla Costa was active for many years with the Autonomist Marxist group Potere Operaio (Workers’ Power) before founding Lotta Feminista (Feminist Struggle), who not only challenged the sexism rife in Italian society but also the workers’ movement and radical extra-parliamentary left. In ‘The door to the garden: feminism and Operaismo’, Dalla Costa describes how leaving Potere Operaia was “a matter of dignity” as “the relation between man and woman was, particularly in the environment of intellectual comrades, not sufficiently dignifying”.

Dalla Costa co-authored (along with Selma James) arguably Lotta Feminista’s most significant text outlining their Marxist feminist analysis. In The power of women and the subversion of the community, Dalla Costa demonstrated that, not only did women’s domestic labour reduce the cost of reproducing labour but also produced surplus value. As such, Dalla Costa was the first of the Italian operaismo movement to advance the idea that the extraction of surplus value could happen outside the sphere Marx had designated as the direct process of production, an idea which would become central to the extra-parliamentary left in Italy.

Dalla Costa’s pamphlet would become highly influential within the international women’s movement and in Italy she would be involved in numerous feminist groups promoting ‘wages for housework’ and the newspaper Le operaie della casa (The House Workers). In 2014, Dalla Costa donated a wealth of documents from her decades of activism to the Padua Civic Library, which now holds the ‘Archivio di Lotta Feminista per il salario al lavoro domestico’ (Archive of Feminist Struggle for the wages for housework struggle).

6. Ambalavaner Sivanandan

Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, the son of a Tamil postal worker, Sivanandan left the country after the anti-Tamil riots and pogroms of 1958. Settling in the UK, he trained as a librarian, working in several public libraries before being appointed chief librarian at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) in 1964.

In 1972, a major schism took place at the IRR: until then, the organisation had been moderate and scholarly, attempting to address ‘race relations’ issues and advise government policy. However, a sizable section of IRR staff (including Sivanandan) took issue with this orientation and challenged the board to redress it. The majority of the board resigned and the IRR reoriented itself towards supporting community organisations and building a black-led anti-racist movement in Britain. As Sivanandan, now the new IRR director, explained:

Quote:

We did not want to add to the tomes which spoke in obfuscatory and erudite language to a chosen few, we no longer believed in the goodwill of governments to listen to our reasoned arguments. There was a whole lived experience – often not quantifiable in surveys – of police brutality, racial violence, media distortion, miseducation and marginalisation that it was now our duty to speak, if not to, then certainly from.

Sivanandan took over as editor of the IRR’s quarterly theoretical journal, Race, renaming it Race & Class to highlight their interrelationship. The journal was intended to inform activism, to encourage thinking “in order to do”, linking “the situation of black workers in Britain and the liberation struggles in the underdeveloped world” with the aim of building an autonomous black working-class politics in Britain (something often neglected in the traditional left and trade union movements). He has also written widely on racism, capitalism, police brutality and black anti-racist struggle in Britain, with many of those essays appearing in his book, Catching History on the Wing.

Source: https://libcom.org/blog/6-underrated-marxists-dont-get-enough-love-16102017

Edited for mb3-org.com

 

Illustrated Guide Version 12.8 Uploaded!

We’ve finished the latest version of the NYC ABC “Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War” and it’s available for viewing (and download) by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. This update includes updated mini-bios, photos, and address changes for several prisoners.

via Illustrated Guide Version 12.8 Uploaded! — NYC Anarchist Black Cross

Fueling the Fire

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Wave after wave of community protests have been taking place in South Africa. People are angry that after twenty years of so-called freedom they are still confined to living in shacks, having to defecate in communal toilets, and having essential services terminated when they can’t afford to pay.

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

Wave after wave of community protests have been taking place in South Africa. People are angry that after twenty years of so-called freedom they are still confined to living in shacks, having to defecate in communal toilets, and having essential services terminated when they can’t afford to pay.

What fuels this anger further is that on the other side of the cities and towns, in the old white-only suburbs, the elite and middle classes flaunt their wealth.

Yet the ruling class – white and now black capitalists, top state officials, and politicians – have waged non-stop war against the working class to deepen this inequality. The reason they have done this is to increase their wealth – this class war lies at the root of the protests we have seen.

Many of the people that have been involved in the recent protests – or their parents – had hoped for a better life with the fall of apartheid. Under that horrific system, the black working class (workers and the unemployed) were subjected to racial oppression and exploitation. It was cheap labour, in the form of the black working class, which generated huge profits for corporations. To ensure the lowest costs of the reproduction of this exploited class, the apartheid state forced people to live in homelands and townships in which the most threadbare services were provided. The consequences were that the black working class were deliberately kept in poverty and when they rose up they faced the apartheid state’s gun barrels.

Fast forward to today. One can scarcely believe the reality in which the black working class finds itself, which materially is often as bad as under apartheid.

Since 1994, the portion of Gross Domestic Product which goes towards wages has declined. The implications of this are that in real terms the wages of the black working class have been in decline since the fall of apartheid. Unemployment too has exploded as capitalists have reduced their labour force, mechanised, and implemented flexible labour to boost profit rates.

The post-apartheid state has been central to the war on the working class. It has redirected wealth upwards towards the ruling class. It has done this through various means, which have included spending on infrastructure for corporations and tax breaks for corporations.

Since 1994 the tax rate for corporations has been driven down from 49% to 28%. This is money that could have been used to improve the lives of the poor through providing, amongst other things, decent services and housing. At the same time, however, Value Added Tax, a tax that targets the working class, has contributed a larger and larger part of the state’s revenue. Far from being an under resourced state, the South African state has been shifting wealth from the working class to the ruling class.

At the same time, the state has been active in attacking the poor. In real terms (inflation adjusted) spending on services for the working class has remained largely stagnant since 1994. On average the state under the ANC has allocated less than 2% of the budget to housing for the working class. As such, services like water, electricity, housing, sanitation, healthcare and education for black working class areas are a shambles.

The national state under the stewardship of the ANC has also dramatically reduced the amount of money that it transfers to local governments to deliver services such as sanitation and refuse removal. This has been done to please international capitalists in the form of speculators. Speculators tend to target buying the bonds of states with low debt levels. To keep debt levels low at a national level, the South African state slashed transfers to local governments.

This means local municipalities have less for service delivery. To try and generate income, local governments have adopted cost recovery for services to the working class, such as electricity, water, sanitation and refuse removal. The consequences are, if you can’t afford to pay you don’t get the services. Making matters worse is that at the level of local government, municipalities have outsourced basic services. For a connected local elite, usually linked to the African National Congress or in some areas the Democratic Alliance, this has been a godsend. This has seen contracts for housing and service delivery being handed out to those who have connections to politicians. The consequences of these neoliberal policies is that service delivery is abysmal.

The reality is that the state does this, at a local and national level, because it is an instrument of the ruling class. States exist to enforce the rule of a minority elite over a majority. Even in a parliamentary democracy, it is the elite that indirectly and directly control the state and they use it to increase their wealth.

Of course states do provide some services to the poor. These are and were concessions that have been forced on the ruling class by the working class through the history of struggle. Indeed, the black working class only receives some support from the state – although meagre – because of the history of struggle. Under neoliberalism though, these concessions are being rolled back, and it is this that is once again fuelling protests.

The role that the state plays in protecting the ruling class can be seen in how the police have reacted to the protests. Most people involved in protests try to follow the state’s prescribed procedures to air their grievances, for example engaging in Integrated Development Plans – and only embark on protest once these proved to be dead-ends. But once people protest, the police react violently.

The working class, however, has proved that it won’t lie down under the fire from the ruling class. This is where hope lies. What is needed now is for these struggles that we have been seeing across the country to link, based on self-organisation and direct democracy. There are many challenges to this, including toxic party politics, but if society is too change it will have to be done. The fire of resistance needs to burn; and to do so struggles need to link and become a force capable of blunting the attacks of the ruling class in South Africa.

Edited for mb3-org.com

EXPLAINING WHITE PRIVILEGE TO A BROKE WHITE PERSON…

Trailer park

Gina Crosley-Corcoran
thefeministbreeder.com

 

Years ago, some feminist on the internet told me I was “Privileged.”

“THE FUCK!?!?” I said.

I came from the kind of Poor that people don’t want to believe still exists in this country. Have you ever spent a frigid northern Illinois winter without heat or running water? I have. At twelve years old, were you making ramen noodles in a coffee maker with water you fetched from a public bathroom? I was. Have you ever lived in a camper year round and used a random relative’s apartment as your mailing address? We did. Did you attend so many different elementary schools that you can only remember a quarter of their names? Welcome to my childhood.

So when that feminist told me I had “white privilege,” I told her that my white skin didn’t do shit to prevent me from experiencing poverty. Then, like any good, educated feminist would, she directed me to Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 now-famous piece, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

After one reads McIntosh’s powerful essay, it’s impossible to deny that being born with white skin in America affords people certain unearned privileges in life that people of another skin color simple are not afforded. For example:

  • “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”
  • “When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”
  • “If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.”
  • “I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.”

If you read through the rest of the list, you can see how white people and people of color experience the world in two very different ways. BUT LISTEN: This is not said to make white people feel guilty about their privilege. It’s not your fault you were born with white skin and experience these privileges. BUT, whether you realize it or not, you DO benefit from it, and it IS your fault if you don’t maintain awareness of that fact.

I do understand McIntosh’s essay may rub some people the wrong way. There are several points on the list that I felt spoke more to the author’s status as a Middle Class person than a White Person. For example:

  • “If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area, which I can afford and in which I would want to live.”
  • “I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.”
  • “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”
  • “If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.”

And there are so many more points in the essay where the word “race” could be substituted for the word “class” which would ultimately paint a very different picture. That is why I had such a hard time identifying with this essay for so long. When I first wrote about White Privilege years ago, I demanded to know why this White Woman felt that my experiences were the same as hers when no, my family most certainly could not rent housing “in an area which we could afford and want to live.”

And no, I couldn’t go shopping without fear in our low income neighborhoods.

The idea that any ol’ white person can find a publisher for a piece is most certainly a symptom of class privilege. Having come from a family of people who didn’t even graduate high school, who knew not a single academic or intellectual person, it would never occur to me to assume that I could be published. It is an absolute freak anomaly that I’m in graduate school considering not one person on either side of my family has a college degree. And it took me until my thirties to ever believe that someone from my stock could achieve such a thing. Poverty colors nearly everything about your perspective on opportunities for advancement in life. Middle class, educated people assume that anyone can achieve their goals if they work hard enough. Folks steeped in poverty rarely see a life past working at the gas station, making the rent on their trailer, and self-medicating with cigarettes and prescription drugs until they die of a heart attack. (I’ve just described one whole side of my family and the life I assumed I’d be living before I lucked out of it.)

I, maybe more than most people, can completely understand why broke white folks get pissed when the word “Privilege” is thrown around. As a child, I was constantly discriminated against because of my poverty and those wounds still run very deep. But luckily my college education introduced me to a more nuanced concept of Privilege; the term Intersectionality. The concept of Intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not privileged in others. There are many different types of privilege, not just skin color privilege, that impact the way people can move through the world or are discriminated against. These are all things you are born into, not things you earned, that afford you opportunities others may not have. For example:

  • Citizenship – Simply being born in this country affords you certain privileges non-citizens will never access.
  • Class – Being born into a financially stable family can help guarantee your health, happiness, safety, education, intelligence, and future opportunities.
  • Sexual Orientation – By being born straight, every state in this country affords you privileges that non-straight folks have to fight the Supreme Court for.
  • Sex – By being born male, you can assume that you can walk through a parking garage without worrying you’ll be raped and that a defense attorney will then blame it on what you were wearing.
  • Ability – By being born able bodied, you probably don’t have to plan your life around handicap access, braille, or other special needs.
  • Gender – By being born cisgendered, you aren’t worried that the restroom or locker room you use will invoke public outrage.
  • As you can see, belonging to one or more category of Privilege, especially being a Straight White Middle Class Able-Bodied Male, can be like winning a lottery you didn’t even know you were playing. But this is not to imply that any form of privilege is exactly the same as another or that people lacking in one area of privilege understand what it’s like to be lacking in other areas. Race discrimination is not equal to Sex Discrimination and so forth.

And listen, recognizing Privilege doesn’t mean suffering guilt or shame for your lot in life. Nobody’s saying that Straight White Middle Class Able-Bodied Males are all a bunch of assholes who don’t work hard for what they have. Recognizing Privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder just to experience the things you take for granted (if they ever can experience them at all.)

I know now that I AM Privileged in many ways. I am Privileged as a natural born white citizen. I am privileged as a cis-gendered woman. I am privileged as an able-bodied person. I am privileged that my first language is also our national language, and that I was born with an intellect and ambition that pulled me out of the poverty I was otherwise destined for. I was privileged to be able to marry my way “up” by partnering with a Privileged middle-class educated male who fully expected me to earn a college degree.

There are a million ways I experience Privilege, and some that I certainly don’t. But thankfully, Intersectionality allows us to examine these varying dimensions and degrees of discrimination while raising awareness of the results of multiple systems of oppression at work.

Edited for mb3-org.com

Longview Anarchism: Transcending the Existential Threat of Freedom

By: 

Skin as Thick as Bark

As asinine, cultish leaders fascistically toy with the notion of nuclear warfare, we are reminded yet again of the fragility of human life. That humans have advanced as far as we have is remarkable. It reminds me of the feeling of awe I have when realizing that we limited humans drive hurtling boxes of steel around and don’t kill each more often than we do. Really, brava humanity. And yet, on a long time scale, we are less than a blink. After all, dinosaurs roamed the earth for 165 million years, and humans have only been around for about 6 million. Although dinosaurs did not reach the level of existential responsibility and consciousness that humans have, they were still wiped out by natural phenomena. Many pessimists see our extinction as an inevitability and almost usher it in, giving it a seat in their home with a misanthropic accelerationist’s glee. It’s wiser to recognize the exponentially harrowing conundrums that we do and will continue to face with an eye of hope. At the very least we should act in accordance with a path that hope might suggest. The game theoretic dilemmas of technological advancement present threats, but they also offer opportunities for freedom. The alternative can only be devastation and the void, so gambling on a future is, however unlikely to succeed, a sound bet. A longview anarchism represents both a determinism, and an infinite array of possibility.

The Fear of Knowledge

Each new existential threat to humanity increases both the rewards of coordination and the risks of defection. With the invention of firearms came the genocide of indigenous peoples the world over, but, like the boomerang of advancement, in time, those guns gave rise to fighting forces that overthrew the very same colonial despots. With nuclear weapons have come both the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as clean nuclear reactors capable of supplying unprecedented levels of more sustainable energy. The more easily we can destroy ourselves, the more meaningful becomes our responsibility not to do so.

Currently most of the largest human controlled existential threats are under the control of governments. The fate and responsibility of the human race is, in many ways, entrusted in the hands of a select few individuals. Unfortunately, two of the current lagerheads of this somber commitment are Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, mediated only by Dennis Rodman. However, as technology progresses, so too will access to the means of existential threat become more accessible to a greater number of people.  Hackers could destroy the hospitals or power grids of an entire nation from a single computer if they possessed the drive and ability. Network penetration testers cringe when they go to large infrastructure facilities and see an outdated version of Microsoft controlling the lives of thousands or even millions. None of these scales of damage from an individual would have been possible a short time ago. Yet somehow we’ve made it this far despite the odds being consistently stacked against us from the moment we mutated to become multicellular organisms on a hurtling rock in the sky with water and oxygen. We must be doing something right in terms of the coordination problems we face and yet, our brittle mechanisms fray and crack before our eyes. When sociopaths and cult-leaders control our destiny alone, we’re screwed but distributing control of these threats and avenues of possibilities creates new dilemmas of ethical responsibility and coordination.

There are a seemingly infinite number of existential threats facing the human race or earth itself (ignoring for now threats facing the entire universe) and, increasingly, those threats will be available to the individual. When a 3d printer can print a genetic disease capable of constantly morphing and increasing its virality, a single person could devastate our species. However, if one person could print that so too could we remotely print antibodies to cure the epidemics facing rural Africa after centuries of structural denial and exploitation of resources on the continent. The trend is clear that, assuming technological advancement continues, humans will decentralize ways to both destroy and save ourselves. A tactical personal nuke may seem inane now, but 30 years ago so did an iPhone. We’ve already created and proliferated the ability to 3d print untraceable ghost guns. This isn’t just waxing teleological either. Technological development moves rapidly and, at times, with exponential acceleration. The bones for epochal shifts such as quantum computing and strong AI are also already underway.

Hope or Something Like It

“When many individuals use reciprocity, there is an incentive to acquire a reputation for keeping promises and performing actions with short-term costs but long-term net benefits. Thus, trustworthy individuals who trust others with a reputation for being trustworthy (and try to avoid those who have a reputation for being untrustworthy) can engage in mutually productive social exchanges, even though they are dilemmas, so long as they can limit their interactions primarily to those with a reputation for keeping promises.”

– Elinor Ostrom, A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action

Those who are prone to panic dread the advancement of technology, simultaneously ignoring the countless lives that it saves and tangibly improves and carving out worry wrinkles with regards to its possibility of misuse. The nature of existential threats, though, generally follows a predictable game theoretic impasse: if you try to kill me, I will kill you. This simple stand-off of mutually assured destruction is the base reality for the cold-war model of nuclear deterrence and works in a great number of cases. But game theoretic dilemmas are generally subjected to artificial constraints in order to make sense of the decisions and dynamics at play whereas, in reality, a given dilemma may be plottable through game theoretic lenses but is far more complex than a simple prisoner’s dilemma can contain. For example, a base prisoner’s dilemma intentionally ignores the possibility that the two individuals being interrogated have a deep bond of trust in which a Nash equilibrium of refusing to snitch on one another is virtually the only conceivable outcome. Many activists during the green scare refused to snitch on their friends in just this way. The classical prisoner’s dilemma did not take history into account at all until the introduction of Axelrod’s iterated dilemma in “The Evolution of Cooperation.” Trust can transform the dynamics of artificial constraint, but the development of trust in a game theoretic landscape is complex and contingent on the rules of the game. Subjectivities are a difficulty in game theoretic thought, but it can still account for mistakes and miscommunication in a “trembling hand perfect equilibrium.”  Although two guns pointing at each other might be the two-dimensional reality of many existential dilemmas we face, it can be opened to a transformative third option that changes the rules of the game entirely. Coordination and trust strategies in a non-zero sum game (a game with some benefit of cooperation, even if less than betrayal) represent this possibility in a simplified manner. The key to trust is that interactions be repeated, have a high degree of communication, and that there is a non-zero sum possibility. This creates reputation, an essential component of coordination strategies in game theory as it applies to real world scenarios.

In a game of chicken involving nuclear weapons, the possibility of deproliferation seems like a fantasy. As each side escalates, there is a clear incentive to strive to be the dominant force, despite the fact that every increase in power also increases one’s likelihood of personal devastation. And yet, it is possible to cool a cold war. The U.S. and Russia remain locked in a nuclear standoff, but the temperature is somehow vastly different than during the Cold War. The rules of the game have changed. The war games of nations and fascists concern everyone, even as we have little ultimate say in their direction. However, the more say we have in the direction of national leaders decision-making in this regard, the more the power of devastation has also been democratized. Currently the U.S. president has very little standing in their way from  immediately launching a nuclear weapon, but are you positive that a national vote on whether to bomb the DPRK would really yield a more favorable result? Scary as it may be, people must share the burden of responsibility, both risk and reward.

Anarchism is nothing if not compass points for ethics and coordination strategies orbiting around the twin principles of liberty and empathy. Disagree as we may on the details, the basic premise that coercive power should be abolished and personal freedom maximized is, at its heart, an attempt to change the rules of an existential stand-off. No matter how unlikely, or even impossible, the utopian strivings of anarchism may be, they simultaneously represent the paths through the long-term existential threats facing our species and its role in the ecological universe.

The New Man [sic]

One limited vision of this ideal is a deprecated stand-off wherein everyone has the power to destroy everything else but no one will. We live in a lessened version of this now where individuals do have the ability to cause incomprehensible damage, but, for the most part, we don’t and don’t want to. There are of course exceptions to this rule. Eco-fascist groups like Individuals Tending Towards Savagery have developed an information hazard paradigm wherein their utility function includes the destruction of all of humanity —of course with them being last to die. In their earlier iterations they at least claimed to be doing it in a misguided attempt to prevent ecocide, but, as time went on, their nihilism, either perverted or distilled, crystallized into a fetish for violence, and they ironically expressed a lack of moral motivations. Niche and minute as this group may be (despite reprehensible platforming by Little Black Cart and the Anarchist Library among others), they represent a perverse point of gravity in the study of coordination strategies to existential threats. They represent the saboteur free-rider and the failure of “The New Man.”

The New Man is a palingenetic mythos that posits a utopian human, perfect according to the discursive forces of a given paradigm. The concept has found tendrils in fascism, communism, liberalism, anarchism, and transhumanism. The New Soviet Man was to be strong, intelligent, selfless, hard-working, and, most importantly, loyal to the values of Marxist-Leninist thought. Despite the anti-utopian bent of much of Marxist thought, the New Socialist Man represented the hope, teleological fate, and indeed, the necessity of Marxist-Leninist (as well as Maoist, Trotskyist, and Juche) theory in the human realm. The Übermensch of Nietzsche was one who could reject religion “and install his own set of values which are ‘Beyond Good and Evil’… who could reject the ‘God hypothesis,’ who could look the truths of pessimism in the face and still say ‘Yes’ to life.” This Übermensch would “cease to be an ordinary human; such an individual would in fact become a Superhuman.” This idea was later adopted and distorted by the Nazis to support both a policy of eugenics as well as the creation of a class known as the untermenschen that they associated with all “undesirable” races and proclivities. The Fascist New Man is traditional in outlook, hyper-masculine and “alpha” yet stripped of all individuality in its service to the übermensch leader. What these and other iterations of the New Man represent are attempts at grappling with the difficulties of imposing a utopian or universal worldview onto the limited shell of human decision-making. Such is the cry of every visionary: “Things would be perfect if they were just different!”

Faced with the dilemma of human imperfection and its tragic effect on utopian schemes, many understandably turn to a pessimistic realism which favors a wide variety of gun-facing-gun style game theoretic standoffs as methods of curtailing humanity’s savage impulses. From such views are derived things like the Hobbesian social contract in which we surrender certain freedoms to governance allegedly in exchange for public goods such as security. Hobbes, however, did not have the prescience to foresee the hyper-information era we now live in where all of our greatest threats are completely globalized beyond the frail imagined boundaries of nationalism. We can’t fault him for not predicting the possibility of strong Artificial Intelligence with a utility function at odds with human interests, but we can recognize that the social contract is worth less than the paper Leviathan was written on. Overcoming our own internal existential threats is simultaneously our best hope for being able to survive an external threat such as strong AI– or a giant meteor. Hobbesian misrepresentations of game theory would ideally be worthless, but they’re the fodder for countless cruel and patronizing policy and laws corrupting our capacity for coordination.

Anarchism says that liberty is interdependent and relies on the many forms of empathy as a vehicle towards transcending our siloed outlook while protecting our rights to individual autonomy. Since liberty is interdependent, both our threats and possibilities transcend the shallow boundaries we’ve constructed between us and our environment. The Anarchist Man is a myth and our struggle for it an infinite regress. However, that very same struggle holds the weight of our entire future on its shoulders. If we cannot learn to ethically coordinate, then we will not pass the coming tests for our species. If we can’t play nice, then we will die and destroy literally everything. Alternatively, as we transcend each level of existential dilemmas, we create a new playground of freedom and responsibility.

Longview Anarchism as Distinct and Common

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

– Constitution of the Iroquois Nations

The notion of planning far in advance and learning from history are, of course, not novel concepts. The notion of a longview is written into the cosmology of a great number of indigenous traditions and worldviews. In fact many more collectivist leaning societies such as China historically have much more of a longview, both past and present than the United States. The relationship of Buddhism to this view of time is noteworthy. The discussion of ancestors in many African traditions resembles a similar attempt to honor the past and prepare for the future. Longview anarchism descends from these understandings while diverging, at times dramatically, from their conclusions.

There are languages themselves which lack definitive concepts of the Western vision of now. In contrast, longview anarchism does not demand a rejection of the continued present. In fact a temporal granularity and a relevance to the moment is necessary. Anarchism as a broad and nebulous field attempts to deal with a wide variety of issues both immediate and meta in nature. These many threads are attempts, however wonky and at times misguided, to navigate towards a future in which we can adapt, survive, and perhaps even thrive.

These adaptations will take infinite forms throughout our species’ continued evolution, possibly even beyond our current Sapiens form. After all, to have a stand-off with strong AI we would have to either posses equal ability or remain a non-threat (or aid) to its internal utility function. Though we will never be The New Man, much less the Transhumanist New Man, the progress of individuals on the many planes of anarchist liberation are to become invaluable gifts to the people of the future, who will face ever greater challenges on the journey to anarchist freedom.

Technology creates complexity which presents a clear path towards decentralization of power. It is no coincidence that internet freedom radicals are hunted voraciously by authoritarian regimes while secure communication channels and access to the free internet are repressed. This is because information is valuable. The withholding of information is a strategy of domination especially when access to information clears paths of freedom— either to destroy or to create. Governments cannot repress or prohibit technology. USB drives full of western TV shows are smuggled into DPRK and the history of drug laws shows that prohibition of anything, much less knowledge, yields an opposite and magnified effect. Information is subject to the laws of entropy which hold far greater sway than any national law ever could. Tyrants continue to use advances in technology to secure greater access to hegemony, but sentience hunts for cracks and anomalies. Curiosity will kill the king.

Anarchism that takes a longview demands that we recognize these tendencies of freedom and shift our star maps accordingly. Beyond the deprecated stand-off described in the section above, another ideal emerges —a world not where everyone could kill everyone and doesn’t but a world where every sentient node has absolute power over their domain and the complete inability to coercively remove power from another. Killing another is, of course, removing one’s most basic freedom of life, and, as such, an anarchism that does not seek a transcendence to this power play is short-sighted. Although we must play the cursed game of existential prisoner’s dilemma, it should only be as a path to towards transcendence. Transcendent thinking changes the rules of the game.

But this negative freedom is only the first step in a realization of the necessary path to our collective and individual liberation. This third path of the great existential standoff is only a stepping stone. Anarchism, taken to its logical conclusions, suggests that we have the power to contribute to each other’s freedom, not just to cease to reduce it. This type of power, the power to ethically coordinate in a non-zero sum game, is the beating, raw heart of anarchist striving and the only path for our continued evolution.

Anarchism that does not have this absolute interdependent freedom as its end goal only approaches anarchism, but dares not gaze directly into its fiery soul.

It requires “skin as thick as the bark of a pine” to face the precipice of our fragility and choose flight, but we can do it. In a sense we do it every day when we ward off the ethereal existential dread that is presented by our dilemmas. Anarchism that takes a longview says not only that we have to face this, but also that, despite our monumental tragedy and failures both past and future, we have made it this far, which is a testament to our capacity to take another step forward into the universe — caminar preguntando. This is far from a demand for perfection nor is it intended to be a clear outline but rather a plea for curiosity and a recognition of the scale of importance of this project that we all hold, like a delicate yet nourishing seedling in our chests. It’s possible to both resist and to cooperate. Freedom is our only choice.

Edited for mb3-org.com

This Is Why The US Voted Against A UN Resolution Condemning The Death Penalty For LGBT People

By :Hayes Brown

The Trump administration is under fire from LGBT activists and human rights supporters over a vote on Tuesday against a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty.

But it isn’t just this particular resolution or the current administration — the US has never supported any measure at the UN that condemns the death penalty.

Tuesday’s vote in the UN Human Rights Council was on a measure that would encourage member states to apply a moratorium to the use of the death penalty, noting in its preamble the way that it can be unfairly applied to women, the disabled, along racial divides, and against people engaged in “consensual same-sex relations.” That resolution passed by a vote of 27 in favor, 13 voted against it and 7 abstentions.

Coverage of the resolution has almost exclusively focused on it being the first on the death penalty to pass while mentioning LGBT relationships, which advocacy groups like the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association have heralded as “historic.”

The US was one of the 13 votes against, alongside Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, a point that led LGBT groups in particular to immediately respond, calling out the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in particular for her stance.

“Ambassador Haley has failed the LGBTQ community by not standing up against the barbaric use of the death penalty to punish individuals in same-sex relationships,” said Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global, in a statement emailed out soon after the vote.“While the UN Human Rights Council took this crucially important step, the Trump/Pence administration failed to show leadership on the world stage by not championing this critical measure. This administration’s blatant disregard for human rights and LGBTQ lives around the world is beyond disgraceful.”

But the resolution likely would not have seen a different vote from the UN under previous administrations. Though it lacked the portion highlighting LGBT rights, in 2014 the Obama administration abstained on a resolution at the Human Rights Council.

“International law does not prohibit capital punishment when imposed and carried out in a manner that is consistent with a state’s international obligations,” Ambassador Keith Harper said at the time. We therefore urge all governments that employ the death penalty to do so in conformity with their international human rights obligations.”

The US remains one of the few industrialized countries to still have capital punishment, which is legal in 31 out of 50 US states. In 2016, the US remained in the top ten among countries worldwide in terms of number of prisoners confirmed to have been executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The US Mission to the UN has so far given no indication of its exact reasoning for being against this particular resolution, nor is it clear that Haley or the US ambassador based in Geneva issued the same sort of endorsement of human rights to soften the blow of the “no” vote.

CORRECTION

The Obama administration abstained on a vote on the death penalty in 2014. A previous version of this article said that it voted “no.”

Edited for mb3-org.com

NEO-NAZI MILO YIANNOPOULOS’S BLACK HUSBAND PROVES “YOU CAN’T HELP WHOM YOU LOVE” IS WHITE SUPREMACIST BULLSHIT

“White supremacy itself is a sexual fantasy.” — Sherronda Brown

Milo Yiannopoulos is a white supremacist. Perhaps doing so with his tongue-in-cheek, the former Brietbart journalist admitted as much this weekend when he posted multiple photographs of his wedding to his long-time boyfriend “John,” declaring himself the “WORST WHITE SUPREMACIST EVER” while linking to a Daily Mail article about the wedding on Facebook.

John, whose face and last name are obscured from every photo, is Black. Yiannopoulos has previously bragged about being “bottom for tall black men,” explaining how he used to hold a paint sample called “Pharoahs Gold 5” up to men at clubs to determine if they were dark enough to have sex with—his particular version of a paper bag test. He has also claimed that he likes “black guys for my love life, straight white males as employees, and girls as drinking buddies.” For him, Black men are sexual objects and nothing more.

 

A post shared by MILO (@milo.yiannopoulos) on

Yet John, whose wedding jacket featured the phrase “Blind For Love” stitched across the back, has spent over a decade in a relationship with the conservative author and Nazi provocateur, whose speaking tour prompted violent protests at university campuses across the country this summer.

The irony of this faceless Black groom, who is also Muslim, “loving” a white supremacist illuminates just how the myth that love is not political, or that whom you love can’t be helped, has been used to cover up white supremacist propaganda for ages.

While it is beyond a doubt that sexual attractions are influenced by things like genetics, it is equally unquestionable that society influences our attractions (what to speak of the way it influences which genes are turned off and on in the first place). This is why identical twins are far more likely to share the same sexual orientation, but twins who share DNA don’t always have identical sexualities.

Love is a mixture of personality predispositions and political choices, which is why whom you decide to sleep or build a life with says just as much about you as whom you decide to be friends with.

In this “postracial” world that is increasingly showing itself to be anything but, this reality causes very real dissonance within the minds of those who claim to be pro-Black or body positive or anti-ableist, but whose dating practices are anything but. It is much easier to disregard working on the most intimate display of one’s politics—love—when the narrative is that love can’t be helped. Rather than self-reflecting on the obvious proof of internalized anti-Blackness in not dating other Black people as a Black person, you get to tell the lie that dating has nothing to do with things you need to work on, letting yourself off the hook.

This is how white supremacy works. It does not want you to evaluate how you can divest from it, because it relies on everyone’s investment, even those who are harmed by it.

It requires that we believe the way things are now are natural and unchangeable, when they have been affected by centuries of violent social programming. We know white supremacist beauty standards exist, that anti-Black ideas about Black people of all (non)genders exist, but supposedly we can’t help whom we love, even though white supremacy has already been helping for ages.

If Yiannopoulos and John are “Blind For Love” like John’s jacket proclaims, then Yiannopoulos would have never sought Black men out in such disgustingly fetishistic ways in the first place. If races don’t fall in love with other races, and love is just about humans falling in love with other humans, then the dehumanizing way Yiannopoulos speaks about Black people, both within his own personal relationships and outside of them, would not exist. There is no such thing as blind love, there is only the blinding light of white supremacy that obscures all the ways we might resist it.

Edited for mb3-org.com