Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why I'm no longer a liberal

I was born in 1964. Therefore, my first political memories are of the aftermath of Nixon. By the time I got to vote, the U.S. was into the Reagan years. Since then it's been what I understood at the time as a long period of reaction. I didn't feel betrayed by Clinton, as many on the left did: it was too clear that he really was restricted in what he could do.

What was the political ideal of liberals in those years? Well, obviously there were many different ideas. But I don't think that many people really were waiting for a charismatic leader. At least in the circles in which I moved, it was a combination of community organizing and technocracy. One day the dam of reaction would break, and we'd be able to implement policies that actually made people's lives better. Then they'd see that which politics they supported really did make a difference.

That dam broke with Obama's election. Oh, it wasn't because of anything we did, or anything he did, it was because Bush screwed up so badly. Still, we had the Presidency and both houses of Congress. Yes, Obama is really a centrist, not a liberal, but he was as liberal as we were ever likely to get.

That's the last I want to mention Obama in this post, because what happened next really, I think, wasn't just his individual failure. What did we get? Well, let's just look at one really important fact. We got coverups of and immunity for torture. We got, in fact, continuing torture of people in the custody of the state, justified with the full Bush era legal justifications that amounted to anything that the President said was legal, was legal.

Don't believe me? Try here. It's the Kafkaesque news of torture victims who could not pursue torturers in court, because the fact that they had been tortured was a state secret, because it made the U.S. look bad. Or want more on Executive power more generally? Try this, about our official assassination program.

Why did this happen? Let me dismiss a few of the arguments I've heard. It wasn't because of GOP pressure. The GOP was already calling the President a traitor and soft on terror and, for that matter, a Kenyan, so they had already reached maximum rhetorical saturation and clearly weren't going to back down no matter what he did. It wasn't because of Congress. These were executive decisions, ratified by our judiciary. It certainly wasn't because no one understood that the issues were important.

And it wasn't really an individual failure either, I think. It was too widely supported. It was one of those moments that reveal the truth about political systems, via an inexplicable failure for something to occur. Somehow, despite everyone in power saying that they were against torture, we got torture. This is one of the moments when you have to realize that the system is running into a constraint that people don't want to talk about but that nevertheless exists.

America needs to torture people. Our system literally can not function without it. There can be no crackdown on it by elites, because our security apparatus is thoroughly implicated in it, our military is thoroughly implicated in it, and, to tell the truth, a near majority of ordinary people really want other people to be tortured. It's been a method of social control in America right from the start, with slavery, and continued through Indian genocides, lynchings, the Philippines, the Cold War, and the way we treat criminals in our prisons. Reagan had people tortured, mostly in Central America, so did Bush I, so did Clinton (the beginning of "renditions", if I remember rightly). Bush II made it official policy. Obama -- I suppose that I have to mention him again after all -- continued and reinforced it as official policy, making it thoroughly bipartisan.

What's been the liberal response to this? Well, take it away, Brad Delong:

Social Studies 50th Anniversary Symposium: Is There Hope for the Rule of Law in America?

That was the question asked by Denver University Professor Alan Gilbert during the morning panel.

Here is the answer I gave, as best as I can reconstruct it:

The question is: "Is there hope for the rule of law in America?" My answer is: No.


By 2001 with a Republican as president John Yoo had reversed field 180 degrees. He was making a very different set of false claims about what the law of America had been. He was then claiming that the president's commander-in-chief powers contained within them prerogative powers to torture and kill outside of legal procedure that would have astonished George III Hanover, and even exceeded those of William I Conqueror. When William I Conqueror tortured or killed, he agreed owed his barons at least an after-the-fact accounting of why if not any before-the-fact procedural checks.

Backed by John Yoo and company, George W. Bush claimed that he did not owe even an after-the-fact accounting. And Barack Obama holds to the same line.

So I see no hope.

Now, one of DeLong's often repeated phrases is "The Cossacks work for the Czar", meaning that you can't blame political decisions on underlings. Given that, I don't see why anyone should care about Yoo. He's been a convenience for two administrations, that's all. If not him, someone else would have been found. But pass on. Is there hope for the rule of law? No. That's the opinion of a middle-aged, middle class, respectable economics professor.

So, why liberalism? Everyone knows that it's failed. But they hold to it ... why? Without rule of law, really, why bother?

I don't think that there's anything to be gained by holding on to liberalism after it's failed in such a way that reveals that it never could have succeeded. I don't see anything in our remnant of a Constitutional order that is worth defending. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life working for liberal ideals that are fruitless.

Has conservatism won, then? No, of course not. No variant of conservatism is going to get anything that conservatives want. Not a smaller government, not the establishment of religion, not the suppression of non-white people. All of that is impossible for various economic and demographic reasons. Effectively, what happened is that everyone in my generation failed, all of us together. The only people who won were a tiny sliver of the super-rich -- but although they certainly have a political ideology that supports them, they don't have a political philosophy as such. Only an economic interest, one that their own success is going to subvert.

Leftism lost, for a variety of reasons, in the generations before.

What's left? Personally, I suspect that I'm going to end up as some variety of anarchist. I see no point in going into what exact type: politics is meaningless for me unless it involves practice, and I don't know of any group of anarchists I can work with locally, yet. Of course anarchism is quixotic. It has no chance, and even if it did succeed in America, the immediate effect would be to let a thousand death squads bloom. No matter. My being a liberal quite clearly had no practical effect either. The actual events are at this point turned over to the next generation. If I'm not going to affect them, I might as well not bother to be respectable, or pretend to believe in something that I no longer believe in. I always had an attraction to a form of (oh, all right) anarcho-socialism, but I figured that if it happened, it was probably going to happen a long time from now, after productivity had gone so high that it was really too much trouble to exclude people from the necessities of life. Better to be a liberal now, I had thought, and be involved in politics that had a chance of making some difference in the short term. But it doesn't have that chance to make any difference.

It's annoying, becoming a 46-year-old anarchist. I could deal with it better if I'd been one from my youth, but now, face it, it's both silly and annoying, having to start over with basic political books... I mean, these are the days in which I'm supposed to comfortably live off the seed corn I'd planted and settle into being a pillar of the community.

So much for that.


  1. The problem with anarchism, for me, has always been the absurdly optimistic endgame: if we remove all the structures of oppression and power (and we can't tell the difference), we'll all be happy sharing people!

    It feels weird, but as a Lockean/Millsian left liberal, I've become a kind of Burkean conservative: Look, we had these systems and traditions and they worked pretty well! Let's not change them too quickly or expect too much from people! Revolutions get out of control! Especially theirs!

    More to the point, perhaps, is that I don't see how you solve the problem of scofflaws by abandoning the concept of law: if your ultimate goal is to create a society of decency, I don't see how law can be anything other than an insufficient but necessary condition of its existence.

    We're potentially on the verge of a techologically-aided revolution in law and decency: the ability to document, share, and shame systems of power. Or maybe not, because the same systems of surveillance and publication can even more easily be used against us as methods of control, but it seems to me that fact that we're having the debate about Yoo and Bybee now, less than a decade after the crimes were committed, is a step forward from the decades that disclosure and reckoning used to take. Our skill at self-justification is as great as ever, though, so it might not matter as much as I think.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Ahist.

    I hesitate to give a full-throated defense of something that I'm just starting to learn about myself. But to me at least, it isn't "the problem of scofflaws". The problem is that people are being tortured. It doesn't seem to me to make much difference whether this is done with full legality or not. The advantage of having law is that a system of law -- at least, one that has something written in it about cruel and unusual punishments, and international treaties against torture and so on -- promises to stop the actual behavior when it is detected. But in actuality it doesn't. This only becomes clearer when torture becomes the law of the land, but in retrospect, it was always true.

    I'm certainly not optimistic about removing all structures and then everyone becomes happy sharing people. But that's not really what anarchism proposes to do. Every anarchist system I've heard described has an implicit means of social control, even though it's not formally a state. In some of them it's some kind of shoddy pseudo-state, like a revolutionary council. In more of them, it's something like a neighborhood committee, or a worker's collective, or a high-tech social ratings points scheme, or, at base, the opinion of other anarchists, backed up finally by some kind of sanctioned violence against people who go against the system.

    If I had to choose between the American state and instant anarchy, well, I've already written about letting a thousand death squads bloom, and that's hardly a solution to the problems of torture and assassination. But that's not the choice I or anyone faces. The question is, what direction should we be going in. Holding on to a failed system isn't going to help.

  3. "We're potentially on the verge of a techologically-aided revolution in law and decency: the ability to document, share, and shame systems of power."

    This is what I thought when the Abu Graib pictures were released - this time, everyone will see what's really going on and it will have serious political consequences. But power wasn't shamed, it exulted. Power knew something that liberals didn't, something that liberals more or less by definition can't accept - democracy and evil are synonymous. Promising to inflict pain and suffering on others is a winning electoral strategy.

    The American people (possibly humanity). Democracy. A kind and decent society. Pick two.

    Don't see how you get from there to anarchism, though - it has the same problem and for the same reason. People are the problem, not the solution. The problems not the state - the state has a broad mandate to make people scream and bleed and beg for death.

  4. Thanks, Anon. But really, I don't think it's a majority of people -- only a near majority. One of the things that a liberal state does is hitch everyone's wagon to that of the strong minority that wants torture, and to our imperial interests which require it.

    In an anarchy, some people are going to decide that the first thing to do is torture those brown people like they always wanted to. Those places are going to lose. Other people are going to fight back, and the places where people are busily killing their neighbors are just not powerful places. You can't create the kind of wealth that matters, these days, in places that are going through ethnic cleansing, or even really in places run by corporate goon squad.

    That doesn't mean that we can drop everything and let everyone fight it out, even it that were an available option which it isn't. The toll in human life would be tremendous. There's going to have to be some complicated path that involves the gradual replacement of the state. I have no idea, really, what that is in any kind of specific way.

  5. You're more hopeful than I, I guess. I've got a whole pantheon of Gods-Who-Failed these days.

    I'm not so sure it isn't a majority - I happened to be reading about the crowds that turned out to watch the public torture of Francois Ravaillac ( at around the same time as the Abu Ghraib non-reaction, and I remember having a distinct feeling of something like enlightenment. "Oh, now I get it - *this* is what I should expect from humanity."

  6. Well, in a natioin dominated by the corporatized super-rich, it behooves one to consider taking a path that fights the tyranny of objectivist libertarianism in all its guises; and anarchy does just that. I keep coming back to Negri and Hardt's EMPIRE book (available free here: And coupled with the ongoing changes in the global climate, being free enough to float among the rigidities of our society will be fortuitous and beneficial.

    I am fortunate enough to live in a surprisingly progressive city, yet that hasn't stopped the success and progress of the various anarchist squatters from taking over abandoned buildings and houses, reshaping them, and their neighborhoods. Small communities of anarchists are surprisingly effective at pushing out gangs, who fear the "craziness" of the anarchists more than the coercion of the cops. There is something reassuring about that.

    We need to keep the name of Addington in the Yoo, Bybee mix. Addington was the "true operative" behind Cheney policies and much of the behavior of Yoo, Bybee, et al.

  7. Thanks, spyder. I should read EMPIRE, but from the little of it that I have read I'm reminded of a previous post that you commented on here about the death of cyberpunk. Hardt and Negri's book seems to me to come out of that same era, the time of cyberpunk and the Tech Bubble and the End of History, the time when people were convinced that a numinous globalization was taking over from the old nation-states. The Iraq War rather kicked that in the head, didn't it? I mean, straightforward imperial project, carried out by a nation-state. I'm a little suspicious of all such theories now. There may well be a kind of transnational imperialism, but the nation-states are the ones who actually still control all the guns.

    Just as the right adapted postmodernism into right-wing postmodernism when it suited them to say that they could re-make reality, they adopted their own version of transnationalism, insisting that the enemy was not some nation, but a shadowy terrorist organization that had to be pursued into whatever nation it hid in, and that we had to ignore those old-style and out of date national borders. And that quickly became a War on Terror itself.

  8. The value i found in reading EMPIRE, a long time ago, was the discussion of street-level anarchic actions: paying a fair price for commodities by direct engagement of the seller (putting an amount down and taking the object); squatting in abandoned buildings and houses; and indispensable wisdom about dealing with law enforcement.

  9. Ah, OK. I really should read it then.

    But I shouldn't be taking any kind of implicit anarchist radical cred, here. I'm a middle-class person who's been happily living with or married to my partner for 20 years now, and have we two young children. And we have a house. Squatting, for me, would just be some kind of midlife crisis gesture, more comical than anything else. I'm probably going to be the least radical and most staid anarchist ever; that's just the truth of who I am at the moment.

  10. Hehehe... yes a staid anarchist type is not a bad thing at all. I would like to see more people support their local anarchists, promoting dumpster diving and squatting. Thus i recommend reading Crimethinc at They have a number of intelligent publications advocating for a more tranquil anarchy in some senses.

  11. [Note: My comment seems to have run longer than the allowed word limit. If you'll indulge me, I'll split my initial comment up into two parts. Part 1/2]

    Interesting article, thanks for writing it.

    I come from a government policy background myself and it took me a while to embrace anarchism - I was on the way there and, like you, I would say the last couple years have had a certain bitter clarifying effect - I think we've given statism a chance and it's clearly failed at succeeding in anything that most rational people would consider worthy goals (not that worthy and deeply humane things haven't happened under the auspices of the state, but I would suggest that none of the things we valorize as great achievements of the state required the state to see them come to fruition. Certainly, as an example, the civil right movement ended segregation without aid of the state, Civil Rights legislation came after most parts of the country had voluntarily desegrated. What the state changed through legislation and the courts was segregation of state-controlled institutions - which obviously wouldn't have been an issue if the state didn't exist in the first place) . Once the acceptance that all these deeply immoral problems with the state aren't bugs, but features, sinks in it's hard to muster up a defense of why the statist project is a worthwhile one at all.

    There seem to be a nice slew of intelligent comments, and I regret only having the time to skim them, but I would like to address the idea that anarchism runs counter to the (essentially Hobbesian view of the) nature of humanity. while it's true that when we're building our narratives of "human nature" we're taught to privilege acts of violence and destruction as representative of the bulk of human action. A cursory examination of one's own life would quickly find this isn't so. The vast, vast majority of the acts of man are peaceful and based on the premise of mutual benefit with their fellows. Certainly, if the only thing that were keeping people in check from expressing their savage nature was the (real or implied) threat of violence from the state, society would essentially cease to function without the administration of a micro-managing police state. I don't think most people refrain from committing poor deeds with the regularity that would make anarchism impossible simply out of fear of punishment from the state.

    I also would like to address the double-standard presented in one or two comments between anarchism and statism. Defenders of the state typically suggest that the "end goal" of anarchism is necessarily a sort of utopia free of violence and misdeed. Obviously, this is an absurd strawman, the anarchist argument - in its most essential form - is that mankind is better off without the state rather than with it. Better to what extent, what such a society would look like, etc. are all up to much debate and speculation, but certainly the proposition that there may be a better way for mankind to organize that the state is no more absurd a consideration than the suggestion than the statist position that mankind is capable of nothing else but what we have now. Given that the formulation of the modern state is not a timeless entity, but one with a distinct beginning (and, at some point, an end) it seems like an a-historical reading to casually dismiss alternative suggestions for mankind's organization.

  12. [Part 2/2]

    As to what answers - and what can be done - I certainly endorse the more introspective approach. Anarchism won't, and shouldn't, come about through bloody vanguardist revolution. Instead, as the saying goes, the idea is to "build the new society in the shell of the old." This means acting is accordance with anarchist principle when possible and working to persuade others of the viability of anarchist principle. For myself, I'm not too bothered with the micro details of what an anarchist society will look like, I think that it's far more important to try to live one's life by endeavoring to reject illegitimate authority both in thought and deed. For more on how this might be done in our daily lives I'd recommend Colin Ward's excellent "Anarchy in Action."

    There are also excellent anarchist bloggers and thinkers out there who do a good job addressing contemporary issues of note and are worth reading. Broadsnark: and Roderick Long: spring to mind immediately.

    I apologize for the somewhat scattershot nature of the comments - and double apologies if what I'm discussing has already been addressed - if it's not too hacky, I'll end these thoughts on a quote from the great anarchist Leo Tolstoy, which to my mind sums up quite well my thoughts on what it means to embrace anarchism:

    "The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without Authority, there could not be worse violence than that of Authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution. But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require the protection of governmental power ... There can be only one permanent revolution—a moral one: the regeneration of the inner man." - Leo Tolstoy

  13. Thanks for the comments, Flex. I'll check out the blogs you recommended.

    Some of the arguments you mention with regard to Hobbesian "human nature" and with regard to achievements of the state are those that I don't find too convincing, unfortunately.

    Not that I believe in a Hobbesian "human nature". But I do think that the police have a deterrent effect. It's not that without them everyone would go on a murderous rampage. But the rare people who do commit serious crimes would really destabilize society if left unchecked. If someone finds a body and then realizes it's up to them and their neighbors to track down the criminal and do something about it, that only leads to lynching of whoever the neighborhood is most suspicious of. I think that in a functioning anarchist society, there's probably going to be a group of people who work full time as detectives and police, there's going to be societally sanctioned imprisonment with agreed-on rules for what constitutes reason for doing so. In effect, there's going to be many of the things that people don't like about the state, without the state.

    Similarly, with regard to the Civil Rights movement, it's a bit misleading to say that most of the country had voluntarily desegregated. The part of the country that hadn't wasn't going to any time soon, and the fact that many of the segregated places were lunch counters meant that they weren't really "state-controlled", except insofar as everything in a state is state-controlled. The state was used as a lever for the right-thinking people in the country to force the rest into better behavior. That may or may not be something that anarchists should give up on. But the legal achievements of the Civil Rights movement were still achievements.

    In short, I don't see the point in denying that the state makes it easier to do certain things. But it seems to me that we've come as far as the state can bring us. Specifically, the American state will seemingly never get rid of its use of torture and its overflowing prison system.

    I'm glad to hear an endorsement of the introspective approach, but really, introspection by itself is a bit too easy, in the sense that it would be easy to just sit here and read books and write more blog posts. Bloody vanguardism is not really a temptation after the hash the left made of it. But I really do need to find a group of people who is taking some kind of action.

  14. Thanks for the reply, Rich. I'll respond to a few points in brief, not necessarily to convince you of any particular position but since you see some of these issues as primary sticking points it seems worthwhile to at least open up some possible avenues of exploration.

    Re: "Human nature" and law enforcement. There are competing views of how some form of policing may happen in anarchist societies (and of course, methods may vary from locale to locale, there isn't necessarily one single solution to how people "should" organize). Again, I think the way to frame the issue is just whether we can imagine a system more humane than the one we have now. With endemic, widespread police corruption and brutality - as the joke goes: What's the largest and most violent gang in LA? The police department - one has to wonder whether, even if we can think of particular case studies where the state may be better handled to deal with a particular issue in a way which we find most suitable, whether the aggregate effect of losing the organized crime syndicate know as "law enforcement" outweighs the number of cases where we think state-based law enforcement would be most effective. I think, at worst for the case anarchism, it's a fuzzy enough calculus that it's a draw. In any case, here's an interesting article on what "law" and the "legal system" may look like in a stateless society (with modern and historical examples of how things may be done differently): As I mentioned, this is an area that gets a lot of discussion (since "how would disputes be settled," "how would law work," etc. are obviously kind of big issues) so I'm sure you'll be inundated with a number of possibilities if you keep exploring anarchist thinking.

    Re: the civil rights movement. I think a lot of the courageous work on desegregation was actually successful without the state. Here's an interesting article on how those who don't believe in the state may engage in civil rights issues, and sketches a timeline suggesting how much was actually accomplished before the Civil Rights Act was passed:

    Re: direct action. Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that one shouldn't be involved in community organizing, outreach, etc. Quite the opposite, actually. I've been arguing for a long time that the problem with the anarchist movement (such as it is) is that - even when we do good work for the community (Food Not Bombs, as just one example, is a quality organization), I think as anarchists we have a really hard time with the follow up of "yeah, so this is what anarchism looks like/is really all about." It's not necessarily throwing molotov cocktails, it's finding non-state solutions to feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, providing aid to one's neighbor, etc. These actions can both be formal (organizing through groups like the aforementioned Food Not Bombs), and informal (trading goods and services with neighbors and circumventing the state, for example). As I mentioned previously, I actually don't really get a lot of interest out of internecine debate and argument, once I felt satisfied on some of the very sticking points you mention my interests were largely directed towards action and a general fight to live a "free" life, both in thought and deed. I think the former is important, but it's obviously of limited utility without the latter.

    Anyway, I hope you find some answers to the red flags you have (for myself, as someone who had accepted the necessity of the state for so long, it took me years to become convinced, but I finally was) and certainly wish you the best of luck in, hopefully, turning a bitter realization of the limitations of the state into a positive way forward. Cheers!

  15. P.S. And I apologize for any typos and grammatical errors in my replies. I really should get in the habit of just typing up these comments in a word processor and then pasting them into the comment box. Even with proof-reading, I seem to miss a lot in the tiny window. Yikes!

  16. Flex, I should clarify that I don't see these things as primary sticking points because instant anarchy is not really one of the options on order. I expect to live the rest of my life within a state. I do think it doesn't work to tell people "hey, try anarchy! And we'll work out how to keep it from devolving into rule by violence when we get there." No one with children and a reasonable degree of risk aversion could possibly think that's a good idea. But that isn't really what's on the immediate agenda, so I don't see much point in agonizing about it. The point of being an anarchist, for me, is that it's the most clear way that I know of to tell people that I don't think that our state is working, and that none of the ways of working within the system to change it are working either.

    One added thing, though -- I'm really not into right-wing anarchism. That's pretty much what the article gets into, when they talk about law being paid for on a monetary basis. Having rich people able to buy their own law is not a step forward from the state. There's a whole range of thought, from U.S. libertarianism (which I guess I should get used to called propertarianism now) to anarcho-capitalism, that basically wants to preserve and amplify all the worst parts of the state, from (privately funded) laws that prevent rich and poor people from sleeping under (privately owned) bridges alike, to every other part of the "freely agreed to" contract system between superrich oligarchs and desperate serfs that would lead to whole new frontiers in plutocracy. I put the historical revisionism with the Civil Rights movement somewhere in that category -- Civil Rights leaders did not think that volunteerist solutions were adequate, they were fully working towards using law to prevent segregation, and the attempt to re-evaluate the movement as acting otherwise gets unfortunately into Glen Back as the heir to MLK Jr. territory. U.S. libertarians were on the wrong side of the historical Civil Rights movement, and I don't think much of their attempt to claim it now.

    The kind of anarchism that I'm interested in is probably, if we're talking recent U.S. anarchists, somewhere between Bob Black and Murray Bookchin. (Yes, that's sort of a joke, given the one-way animosity there.) I may write more about that ... um, sometime in the future.

  17. Just want to reiterate Flex's recommendation of Colin Ward's Anarchy in Action. It's not at all a market anarchist work either, so you should find it unoffensive. It concentrates mainly on practical stuff that you can do now in the present day, but mixes that with easy to grasp theory. The excellent blogger BroadSnark also deals with that sort of thing too.

    Not all market anarchism is Ayn Rand in black, by the way--you should definitely check out Kevin Carson, a mutualist who gets plenty of respect from social anarchist circles. Mutualism is against wage labor, absentee ownership, and other typically capitalist things and favors cooperatives and usufruct property instead--the latter is more or less what anarcho-communists call possession. He's also done great work in organization theory, and his book of that name is an essential text in anarchist theory. He does draw on bourgeois economists like Mises and Hayek, but uses them to show that the corporation is an illegitimate, inefficient organization. It's pretty swell. And Roderick Long is another example of a robustly leftist market anarchist. With Carson he's been spearheading some reconciliation and fusion between the individualist/market and social/gift wings of anarchism. They call themselves left-libertarians. Another name is Charles Johnson/Rad Geek. You might find these two pieces interesting:
    The first is Charles Johnson, the second is Roderick Long.

    Some anarchists from the social rather than individualist wing you should check out in addition to Colin Ward are Gustav Landauer, Martin Buber, Paul Goodman, Ivan Illich, and my personal favorite (next to Ward) Kenneth Rexroth. You probably already know Kropotkin, Berkman, etc., but these are some more obscure ones you should check out.

    My own position? I'm fine with anything from mutualism to communism. I have serious problems with anarcho-capitalism in its classic form (especially the grotesque stuff that Hans-Hermann Hoppe advocates), but the left-libertarians have done a lot to allay some of my concerns. I draw on both, but no matter what I see a very robust mutual aid culture as essential to any anarchism.

    I haven't checked this for typos, so my apologies if there are any.

  18. Thanks, Buddha D. I have been reading Kevin Carson on and off for some time now, and while I disagree with him in part, I agree that he's doing a lot of good work. I'm pretty much totally allergic to anything published by Cato, but I'll give those a shot. And since both you and Flex recommend the Ward book, I'll put that up the list. I hadn't even heard that Rexroth had wiritten on anarchism.

    I haven't really read any of the classic anarchists, other than chunks of Bakunin, who I've always liked. I'm trying to avoid going back to anything past, say, mid-20th-century, at least to start. I always thought that the nostalgia involved in going back to Marx was a problem for the non-anarchist left, and I'm assuming that people who've written more recently have restated what's survived out of older work.

  19. Hey Rich, thanks again for replying, er, again.

    I'll just clarify that I'm in no way a Misean or Objectivist or whatnot. Buddha D mentions mutualism, which would be closest to my own flavor of anarchism. His suggestions are all excellent, and I think the idea of dialing in with contemporary writers and thinkers is a good one. So, yeah, any of the writers or books I've suggested (sans the Mises article) are firmly rooted in left-anarchism.

    Anyways, I like your blog so it's been bookmarked.

  20. Welcome to the fold.

    I feel you on becoming an anarchist as an adult. Same for me. But I think there are some distinct advantages to discovering your anarchism after you have let go of your teen angst.

    Thanks to The Buddha Dada and Flex for the shout outs.