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Richard Mellor / Wall Street Journal Savages Trump
« Last post by Richard Mellor on Today at 06:01:18 PM »
Wall Street Journal Savages Trump

A quick comment:

We reprint this commentary below from the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board.  We will have more on this subject but this is a significant development coming from the most important journal of the US ruling class.  It is important for workers to grasp the underlying forces at work here and the reason for the assault.

Facts For Working People has pointed out in previous posts that while all the details about Trump's life and behavior are relevant, they are not what lies at the root of the growing disdain among the US bourgeois for the Administration or Trump himself. The fact that a paper like the WSJ or the mass media in general rarely, if ever refers to Trump as  misogynist or racist, which is clearly what he is, proves this.

What has forced the dominant sections of the US capitalist class to take Trump to task through the medium of the WSJ editorial board is his continued and extremely dangerous undermining of the system they govern, of bourgeois democracy. Bourgeois democracy is the most favored form of governance for the capitalist class as opposed to military dictatorship. 

In previous posts we pointed to Trump's threat during the debates with Clinton that he might not abide by election results were he to lose. This caused a furor. The propaganda is that bourgeois democracy is the only form of governance and the capitalist mode of production the only one that works.  Trump's statements threatened this and the consequences it might have if such an idea takes root among significant sections of the working class is what concerns the unelected minority that run the country.  The constant sexist and other ignorant remarks and the inability of the government to function, the non-stop leaks reflecting deep divisions within the state, is not just a domestic threat but also undermines US power and influence on the global stage at a time when US capitalism globally is threatened by the rise of China, Russia, and to a lesser extent Brazil and India. The constant insulting of important allies like Germany and other European states as well as S.Korea, and his antics in the Middle East also contribute the extreme concern about the damage his administration is doing to the system. Bourgeois democracy is supposed to work, it has to have legitimacy among the masses. 

What the dominant US bourgeois have done here through its main journal is basically throw Trump to the wolves. The call for complete transparency would not be made if it were not that Trump's demise is far more preferable to the undermining of class rule in the form of bourgeois democracy.  RM

The Trumps and the Truth

The best defense against future revelations is radical transparency.
 WSJ 07-18-17

U.S. President Donald Trump in the Blue Room of the White House, July 17.

The Editorial Board Updated July 17, 2017 9:27 p.m. ET

Even Donald Trump might agree that a major reason he won the 2016 election is because voters couldn?t abide Hillary Clinton?s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling. Yet on the story of Russia?s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton.

That?s the lesson the Trumps should draw from the fiasco over Don Jr.?s June 2016 meeting with Russians peddling dirt on Mrs. Clinton. First Don Jr. let news of the meeting leak without getting ahead of it. Then the White House tried to explain it away as a ?nothingburger? that focused on adoptions from Russia.

When that was exposed as incomplete, Don Jr. released his emails that showed the Russian lure about Mrs. Clinton and Don Jr. all excited??I love it.? Oh, and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Beltway bagman Paul Manafort were also at the meeting. Don Jr. told Sean Hannity this was the full story. But then news leaked that a Russian-American lobbyist was also at the meeting.

Even if the ultimate truth of this tale is merely that Don Jr. is a political dunce who took a meeting that went nowhere?the best case?the Trumps made it appear as if they have something to hide. They have created the appearance of a conspiracy that on the evidence Don Jr. lacks the wit to concoct. And they handed their opponents another of the swords that by now could arm a Roman legion.

Don?t you get it, guys? Special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the Russia story. Everything that is potentially damaging to the Trumps will come out, one way or another. Everything. Denouncing leaks as ?fake news? won?t wash as a counter-strategy beyond the President?s base, as Mr. Trump?s latest 36% approval rating shows.

Mr. Trump seems to realize he has a problem because the White House has announced the hiring of white-collar Washington lawyer Ty Cobb to manage its Russia defense. He?ll presumably supersede the White House counsel, whom Mr. Trump ignores, and New York outside counsel Marc Kasowitz, who is out of his political depth. 

Mr. Cobb has an opening to change the Trump strategy to one with the best chance of saving his Presidency: radical transparency. Release everything to the public ahead of the inevitable leaks. Mr. Cobb and his team should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russian investigations.

That means every meeting with any Russian or any American with Russian business ties. Every phone call or email. And every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years. This should include every relevant part of Mr. Trump?s tax returns, which the President will resist but Mr. Mueller is sure to seek anyway.

Then release it all to the public. Whatever short-term political damage this might cause couldn?t be worse than the death by a thousand cuts of selective leaks, often out of context, from political opponents in Congress or the special counsel?s office. If there really is nothing to the Russia collusion allegations, transparency will prove it. Americans will give Mr. Trump credit for trusting their ability to make a fair judgment. Pre-emptive disclosure is the only chance to contain the political harm from future revelations.

This is the opposite of the Clinton stonewall strategy, which should be instructive. That strategy saved Bill Clinton?s Presidency in the 1990s at a fearsome price and only because the media and Democrats in Congress rallied behind him. Mr. Trump can?t count on the same from Republicans and most of the media want him run out of office.

If Mr. Trump?s approval rating stays under 40% into next year, Republicans will begin to separate themselves from an unpopular President in a (probably forlorn) attempt to save their majorities in Congress. If Democrats win the House, the investigations into every aspect of the Trump business empire, the 2016 campaign and the Administration will multiply. Impeachment will be a constant undercurrent if not an active threat. His supporters will become demoralized.

Mr. Trump will probably ignore this advice, as he has most of what these columns have suggested. Had he replaced James Comey at the FBI shortly after taking office in January, for example, he might not now have a special counsel threatening him and his family.

Mr. Trump somehow seems to believe that his outsize personality and social-media following make him larger than the Presidency. He?s wrong. He and his family seem oblivious to the brutal realities of Washington politics. Those realities will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe. They don?t have much more time to do it.

Appeared in the July 18, 2017, print edition

Source: Wall Street Journal Savages Trump
The Mega Rich Are Getting Mega Richer: A Former CEO Exposes the Corruption Behind Their Obscene Paychecks

The indirect effect of ?the increase in income inequality is economically more injurious than the erosion of company earnings or a stock market downturn.


The following is an excerpt from the new book The CEO Pay Machine: How It Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven Clifford (Blue Rider Press, May 2017), available from Amazon and IndieBound:

In the long term, the indirect effect of the Pay ­Machine??the increase in income inequality?is economically more injurious than the erosion of company earnings or a stock market downturn.

Income inequality in America has risen sharply since 1976. Economists and pundits point to multiple causes?globalization and competition from low-wage? countries; growing educational disparities that particularly affect men and minorities; technological changes that reward the highly skilled; decline of labor unions; changes in corporate culture that place stock price and earnings above employees; free market philosophy and the rise of winner-take-all economics; households with high-income couples; lower rates of marriage and of intact families; high incarceration levels; immigration of low­-skilled individuals; income tax and capital gains tax cuts and other conservative economic and tax policies; deregulation; and decreased welfare and antipoverty spending coupled with redistribution programs that disproportionately benefit the elderly.

All of the above may contribute to inequality. However, the proximate cause is quite simple. The jump in inequality is due to a small number of people, mostly business executives, who make huge amounts of money. They are the Mega Rich, the top .1 percent in income, who averaged $6.1 million in income in 2014. The Merely Rich are the rest of the 1 percent. It?s the Mega Rich, not the Merely Rich, who drive inequality. (I?m a member of the Merely Rich, so don?t blame me.)

As shown in the graph [that follows]... between 1980 and 2014 the average real income of the Mega Rich has nearly quadrupled, increasing by 381 percent. Over the same period, the Merely Rich doubled their income while the bottom 90 percent lost ground, suffering a 3 percent decline.

Data from Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Pikkety, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman, The World Wealth and Income Database, April 5, 2016.

The Mega Rich captured most of the national income gains during the last four decades as their share of income increased from 3.4 percent in 1980 to 10.3 percent in 2014. The share of the Merely Rich rose from 6.6 percent to 11.0 percent over the same period. Thus the Mega Rich snared over ­three-fifths of the income growth of the 1 percent and nearly 40 percent of all income growth. In the tepid recovery from 2010 to 2012, the 1 percent took virtually all of the income gains. The Mega Rich again got the lion?s share: their average income increased 49 percent in this three-year period.

The Mega Rich are getting mega richer. Their average household made 113 times as much as the typical American household in 2014. In 1980, this number was 47. In 2014, the 115,000 Mega Rich households had as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. They now hold 22 percent of the nation?s wealth, nearly double their 1995 share.

Since Fortune 500 CEOs can account for only 500 of the 115,000 Mega Rich, you might be surprised to learn that the majority of the Mega Rich are business executives. CEOs and other business executives constitute the largest ­high-income group in America. Not the old families with their inherited wealth. Not the sports heroes with their ­jaw-dropping? contracts. Not the movie stars at $20 million per blockbuster movie. Executives, managers, supervisors, and financial professionals constitute three­-fifths of the top 0.1 percent. Moreover, they accounted for about 70 percent of the increase in income going to the top 0.1 percent from 1979 to 2005. As Nobel Prize­?winning economist Paul Krugman puts it, ?Basically, the top 0.1 percent is the corporate suits, with a few token sports and film stars thrown in.?

In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty, after analyzing enormous amounts of data, wrote:

The vast majority (60 to 70%, depending on what definitions one chooses) of the top 0.1% of the income hierarchy in 2000­?2010 consists of top managers. By comparison, athletes, actors, and artists of all kinds make up less than 5% of this group. In this sense, the new US inequality has much more to do with the advent of ?supermanagers? than with ?superstars.?

Piketty asserts that increasing income inequality is caused not by investment income but by high wages driven by ?the emergence of extremely high remunerations at the summit of the wage hierarchy, particularly among top managers of large firms.?

Furthermore, ?CEOs use their own power not only to increase their own salaries, but also those of their subordinates,? one study determined. As a result, the majority of ?supermanagers? are either CEOs or executives whose compensation is heavily influenced by their pay?private company CEOs, other senior corporate executives, and the professionals who advise them. There are more than 5,000 publicly traded companies and 5.7 million private companies with employees.

The graph... [that follows] shows that the annual income of the Mega Rich and the ratio of CEO to average worker pay are highly correlated?the two lines look almost identical. While correlation does not prove causation, I find it easier to believe that runaway CEO pay caused the income of the Mega Rich to skyrocket rather than the other way around.

Average Income Data from Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Pikkety, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman, The World Wealth and Income Database, April 5, 2016. Compensation Ratio Data from Mishel, Lawrence, and Alyssa Davis. "Top CEOs Make 300 Times More than Typical Workers: Pay Growth Surpasses Stock Gains and Wage Growth of Top 0.1 Percent." Economic Policy Institute. June 21, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2016.

Keep this graph in mind as we analyze how growing inequality curbs economic growth. Every time you see the phrase ?increasing inequality? or ?income inequality,? you could substitute ?rising CEO pay.?

?There?s been class warfare going on for the last twenty years,? said Warren Buffett, ?and my class has won.? Some celebrate this result in the belief that free markets have justly rewarded talent, hard work, and initiative. Others bemoan the division of America into the Mega Rich who pluck the fruits of economic growth and the 99 percent who stagnate.

I side with the bemoaners, but others have examined the moral and social reasons why income inequality is bad far better than I can. I will examine the economic damage. Americans may differ about politics, religion, and sports teams, but all applaud economic growth. They may argue how to best divide the pie, but they agree that a bigger pie beats a smaller one and that economic growth is preferable to its alternative­?a recession. Whether increasing inequality helps or hurts the economy is the wrong question. The right question (and an easier one) is, ?Given where America is today, will greater or lesser income inequality spur economic growth??

From 1949 to 1979, while the ratio of CEO?to?average­-worker pay was relatively constant, the US economy grew 2.56 percent annually. When this ratio surged from 1981 to 2014, economic growth dropped to 1.71 percent a year. The difference may sound small, but over half a century, the higher growth rate results in an economy that is 50 percent larger. That?s a big difference.

This correlation doesn?t prove that income inequality slowed economic growth, but it suggests that overpaying CEOs has not done much to help. Economist Richard Freeman draws an inequality curve in the form of an inverted U as shown [below]... The vertical axis shows the level of inequality. The horizontal axis depicts total economic output or GDP. At Point A on the left, there is perfect equality; everyone gets the same amount of money regardless of talent and effort. Therefore, no one has a financial incentive to work and economic output is zero. From this point, increases in inequality are good for the economy, for a while. At some point, more inequality begins to stifle growth. At the right end of the curve, one person gets all the money, and again, no one has an incentive to work. At the top of this curve, between total equality and total inequality, economic output is maximized at Point I.


Plotting the curve from evidence is difficult, but we were almost certainly nearer the optimum output point (I) between 1949 and 1979 than we are today.

Leading economists who argue that increasing income inequality hampers economic growth include Nobel laureates Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, Piketty, Alan Krueger (former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers), and Raghuram Rajan (former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund).

In a 2014 report, the ratings agency Standard & Poor?s says that current inequality levels are hindering US economic growth and the firm has cut its growth forecast. Its report states, ?We?ve reduced our 10?year U.S. growth forecast to a 2.5 percent rate. We expected 2.8 percent five years ago.?

Excerpted from the new book The CEO Pay Machine: How It Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven Clifford (Blue Rider Press, May 2017), available from Amazon and IndieBound.


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Source: The Mega Rich Are Getting Mega Richer: A Former CEO Exposes the Corruption Behind Their Obscene Paychecks
Inter Press Service - Labour / Brazil?s Shipyards ? Victims of a Failed Reindustrialisation Process
« Last post by Inter Press Service on Today at 06:01:14 PM »
Brazil?s Shipyards ? Victims of a Failed Reindustrialisation Process

?I have lived through three good periods and two bad ones,? prior to the present crisis in the Brazilian shipping industry, said Edson Rocha, a direct witness since the 1970s of the ups and downs of a sector where nationalist feelings run high. Now as the president of the Niteroi Metalworkers Union in this city […]

The post Brazil’s Shipyards – Victims of a Failed Reindustrialisation Process appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: Brazil?s Shipyards ? Victims of a Failed Reindustrialisation Process
Centre for Research on Globalisation / America?s Invasion of Syria. US Government Has Supported ?Rebels? Allied or Led by Al Qaeda
« Last post by Centre for Research on Globalisation on Today at 06:01:13 PM »
America?s Invasion of Syria. US Government Has Supported ?Rebels? Allied or Led by Al Qaeda

The U.S. government has invaded and occupies Syria to overthrow its President, Bashar al-Assad and also to destroy ISIS, which is one of the jihadist organizations that are (like the U.S.) trying to defeat Syria?s government forces (Assad?s forces). The

Source: America?s Invasion of Syria. US Government Has Supported ?Rebels? Allied or Led by Al Qaeda
Centre for Research on Globalisation / The Reign of Propaganda. Unfettered Lies Turned into Self-evident Truths
« Last post by Centre for Research on Globalisation on Today at 06:01:13 PM »
The Reign of Propaganda. Unfettered Lies Turned into Self-evident Truths

If truth has a chance it is in a different country than America.

Masters of propaganda from its inventor, Jewish public relations expert Edward Louis James Bernays, to the Nazi Minister of Propaganda Paul Joseph Goebbels, agree that

Source: The Reign of Propaganda. Unfettered Lies Turned into Self-evident Truths
Centre for Research on Globalisation / Political Insanity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Crisis in Qatar, The Plight of the Camels
« Last post by Centre for Research on Globalisation on Today at 06:01:13 PM »
Political Insanity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Crisis in Qatar, The Plight of the Camels

The last straw will break the camel?s back. (Various attributions.)

After his visit to the Kingdom in May, Donald Trump decided to back the Saudi-led blockade of tiny Qatar (2015 population 2.235 million, but just 313,000 citizens) imposed less than

Source: Political Insanity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Crisis in Qatar, The Plight of the Camels
Anarchist News dot Org / ?Eco-extremism and the indiscriminate attack ? The Church of ITS Mexico?
« Last post by on Today at 06:01:13 PM »
?Eco-extremism and the indiscriminate attack ? The Church of ITS Mexico?

From 325  by L (UK)

?And Severino Di Giovanni?s actions were never violent for the sake of it. They were never indiscriminate or striking at anything at all in order to create a tension that would favour power and it?s politics of consolidation. They were always guided by a precise revolutionary reasoning: to strike the centres of power with punitive actions that find their justification in the State?s violence, and which were aimed at pushing the mass towards a revolutionary objective. Di Giovanni always took account of the situation of the mass, even though he was often accused of not having done so? JW & AMB
Anarchism and Violence

Severino Di Giovanni in Argentina by Osvaldo Bayer

Elephant Editions

I don?t represent any organisation or group, I am writing this from my personal perspective, as nihilist-anarchist of an anti-civilisation insurrectional tendency. I have carried out direct action in defense of the Earth, so the state and society would probably view me as an ?Eco-Extremist?, although I?m unconcerned with this term as it?s become a sect-like ideology of the Church. I haven?t written before about the Church of ITS Mexico or the idiot pseudo-nihilist(s) in Italy because over the last few years they clearly became reactionary and more akin to far-right ?black? groupscules.

It has been some years since the Church of ITS Mexico said something like that ?the FAI doesn?t represent us?, that the ?CCF doesn?t represent us?? Well I can?t recall anything like that being said by CCF or FAI or anyone else in the first place, so why is the ITS Church still issuing sermons about it now and why have they not embarked on a one-way trip far away from the black anarchy they proclaim is irrelevant and gone off into the nihilising abyss like they said they would, leaving all us anarchist nuns alone?

It was obvious to foresee what this groupscule and their related neurotic fanclub was going towards ? cultish green authoritarianism, paganism, irrationalism and indiscriminate attacks ? and haven?t we seen this before?  Although the Church of ITS Mexico with its tiny few self-described eco-extremists and pseudo-nihilists like to pose as the most radical and truly anarchistic and chaotic latest trend that is very different and abyssal, far from anything that goes before, they are just another offshoot of an old idea with rotten roots in soil and blood, either that or they just have shit for brains.

The murders that ITS Mexico has done in their current phase and the words that accompany the actions are those of one of the enemies, no equivication ?  it doesn?t matter at this point what justifications and philosophical manipulations they use to explain how they became irrationalist fanatics. Those who indiscriminatly attack regular people are authoritarians and would-be dictators, mass killers, and they and their fanclub of sychophants brag and boast as such behind a myriad of regressive ideas. 

Reactionary, nationalist, neo-nazi, racist and pagan networks converging inward autonomously in Europe at least, is nothing new, because for decades we can find their groups dwelling in a spectrum of misanthropic nihilist-right planes of thought, often informed by various degrees of biocentrism, traditionalism, green authoritarianism, anti-humanism, anti-progress etc. It?s easy to find their blogs with old runic indigenous obscurantism, glorification of mass murder, death camps, genocide imagery and glorification of weapons and killing.

In the UK in the 90?s, a tiny few anarcho-primitivists also flirted with this eco-fascist thinking which had seeped in amongst ?when animals attack?-type stories and news-clippings about earthquakes and plagues, in the newspaper ?Green Anarchist?. The idea was that indiscriminate attacks and/or mass killings of people are justified as ?war against civilisation/society?. There was a split in the newspaper ?Green Anarchist? about the topic (?The Irrationalists? by Steve Booth). One of the editors left and started an eco-fascist paper. Green Anarchist continued to provide lists of direct actions which were taking place and had articles and reports. The controversy came during an operation by the state against the earth and animal liberation movement which was strong at the time (so-called GANDALF operation). The state spent millions of pounds trying to shut GA down and one of their editors was jailed. Looking back on the text that started the affair it is nothing in comparison to the shit that ITS Mexico have been spewing for the last few years, a hex upon them.

Indiscriminate killings and attacks only have authoritarian outcomes, the methods are elitist and fundamentally anti-individualist. The acts end up only entrenching power and the existing strategy of the techno-industrial system. It is a very dominant and conditioned human behaviour of mass psychology to harm or kill indiscriminately. It?s what humans do to each other all the time, it gears the machine and it?s certainly not an anti-civilisation act or one that cuts radically to the social system. Each person is just pathologically programmed under the stress of society ? by religion and heirarchical orders ? socially coded to distrust, hate, abuse and kill others. I want something different; it enlightens me as an anarchist and a nihilist ? an individual defending their life and experience of the world. Discrimination of thought, choice and action.

The last couple of months in UK there have been three spectacular indiscriminate killings: the Manchester suicide bomb against a crowd of mostly (very) young women at an Ariana Grande concert, the London Tower Bridge suicide van and knife attack, both by those inspired by Daesh, who ITS Mexico and their adoring flock seem to idolise and fetishize now, much like the rest of the misanthropic and nihilist-right; and there also was the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed unknown scores of people, arguably a massacre which had an unavoidable class basis and which is a social murder. But who cares, society is the enemy, right? In the ultra-moralising Church of ITS Mexico where they issue regular sermons you don?t have to think about things too much.

The Church and the sheep have already rejected anti-authoritarianism and ?liberation?, so such concepts do not illuminate them, by their own admission, opting for a direction where from their friendless epic-loser script they endlessly preside over their dastardly marginalisation of anarchy and the extermination of humanity in the lowly and minor acts they have recently been taking responsibility for.

Their critique of the anarchist movement is both nothing new and yet deluded with ignorance about many facts and yet they want to use the names of Severino di Giovanni and Mauricio Morales to cover their cowardice. I?m no stranger to criticising civil anarchism but the Church of ITS Mexico have remained so boringly obsessionate in their anti-anarchism discourse that it is obvious that they don?t know when they are banging a dead horse. Their desperate clinging to the anarchist movement ? now issuing death threats against anarchists that bother to publically criticise them ? is indicative of individuals who, claiming to have shot dead a hiking couple from the bushes and choked a woman to death in a phone box at university, at heart don?t appear to feel they have any power in their own lives and obviously spend too much time on the internet worrying what others think of them whilst taking their pain out on other people. Sounds like quite a few civilised people I know except some don?t see the results of their actions. I mean, haven?t ITS actually killed some people, why are they crying about it on the internet? As the saying goes, they ?gotta lot to learn? as a terrorist group. Hearing that ITS apparently got ?tired of waiting for 325?s critique? is a sloppy, revealing and highly amusing admission of how much they actually do care about being the subject of dialogue and discussion amongst an (unruly and anarchic) humanity they hate!

To go back to why I haven?t bothered to write anything before now about ITS recent experiments in serial killerdom, I think just simply I had better things to do and my comrades were debating whether or not it was even worth making any critiques since, we figured, we don?t make critiques of any other random serial killers?! Why would we bother contributing to the fiction that ITS are actors with any validity by commenting on their wanton acts of pointless and sadly untargetted murders? And nor are they anarchists, saying for many years to the anarchist movement internationally that they were not interested, and were even hostile to concepts such as prisoner solidarity, internationalism, anarchist revolution (so leftist!) and so on and to just leave them alone. So we did? And so why are they now chasing after our views and after the opinions of FAI/IRF cells, anarchist-insurrectionalists, blogs of counter-information, etc. when they have been rejecting them for years and years? Why is their fanclub sending us their ridiculous texts and claims? To remind us they exist in anger and frustration? And who cares? I don?t care but the Church of ITS Mexico evidently does care and can?t bear that somehow others have a path seperate to theirs. It shows up their blatant isolationalist narcissism and sociopathic psychosis. Consequences? 

Reading the nationalism, racism and homophobia evident in the recent communiques of ITS, a new pathological, repetitive, singular voice trying to lash out vainly is emerging. I?m sure they will respond with a threatening old testament sermon; or is that an earthquake coming?!

Although the Church has given many sermons where they pontificate about feeling superior, laughing in fantasy, it?s striking how much they reveal their silly obssessions, psychological loops and regressive traits in public. This key weakness is certainly a sign of the regressive nature of narcissistic authoritarians, who as individuals display, collectively, unintegrated psychologies, lacking in empathic intelligence and emotional centering. 

Maybe in the age of the internet the ITS Church did not know there was a far-right of maladjusted pagan eco-religious fanatics in Europe already? Join and share your savage racialist rituals of purity, blood and black metal records! The Pope of ITS Mexico should issue an immediate elect order to direct the faithful sheep to send their bible of testaments to those web-crazies of the nihilist-right and failing that, ?New Scientist? magazine or some such other shit as they seem to be obsessed with, instead of bothering those nasty sectarian anarchist nuns who have excommunicated them. Wouldn?t want you to get upset and send in the inquistion after killing some women.

After banging their keyboards on anarchists for running around the world ?intervening? in every topic under the sun other than killing random individuals in the name of some wacko gods, they offer out an invitation to intervene in Mexico and have it out with them! Why would anyone bother? I certainly shall stay here in my own native indigenous lands and get on with my life. If they feel that strongly, why don?t they come here? We have gangs and murders here too, not just the Queen and Cricket. I think that the ITS in ?Church of ITS Mexico? stands for ?Idiots Tending toward Stupidity?. Who knew that the Church was so linked to the ?Mafia?? Pretty hilarious really, as it fits into their displaced wish to project a ?strong? or ?hard image? ; ?ruthless?, ?organised?, ?murderous? etc. The reality appears that they have dropped any individualist or nihilist-egoist values, any pretense of ecological struggle and are rather weak, conduct easy (basically cowardly), opportunistic, random and valueless actions and come across like a bunch of wet bananas with a hurting self-obsessed sociopath as leader, blowing their mouths off in public. So what?s new?

The idiots that we know of in this ?Eco-Extremist Mafia? are all wee dafties, like the pseudo-nihilist fool in Italy(1) and this Greek robot of chaos, Archie the Scot(2), who are exactly the same types, socially disfunctional mal-geeks, arseholes basically and losers without a sense of humour, looking to play the bigman. They definity don?t have a sense of humour, but we guess you have to have some ?human? values to have a decent sense of ?humour? never mind ?humility?. I mean, some of the actions we just laugh at, you are a joke, Church of ITS Mexico and faithful flock! Even the killings, you are embarassing yourself! Like a shit on a corpse! And you want the names of Severino Di Giovanni and Mauricio Morales to cover your shit?! Fuck off and die! You are a joke!! Ha Ha Ha!

I shit on your pagan gods!

Love to all the friends and comrades; imprisoned, out and on the run!



(1) Psuedo-nihilist serial blogger, collector of doubtful ?terror? manuals and writer of complex verbs and words.
(2) Antisocial evolution, ?Falcon of Chaos?, ?Archie? Archegonos or whatever he?s decided to call himself this week in a ten-thousand word gush of verbal diarreha.


Source: ?Eco-extremism and the indiscriminate attack ? The Church of ITS Mexico?
Anarchist News dot Org / An Anarchist FAQ after 21 years
« Last post by on Today at 06:01:13 PM »
An Anarchist FAQ after 21 years


From Anarchist Writers

For reasons too unimportant to discuss here, the 20th anniversary blog for An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) ended up on my personal blog rather than AFAQ?s ?official? one. Now I correct this by reposting it here as well as taking the opportunity to preface it with a few comments to mark 21 years since AFAQ was officially launched.

This year, 2017, marks numerous anarchist related anniversaries besides AFAQ?s ? most obviously, 100 years since the Russian Revolution  (see section A.5.4). Given subsequent events, it is easy to forget that the overthrow of the Tsar was initially ? and rightly ? viewed as great event by all on the left. As information of the increasing social nature of the revolt ? what Voline termed The Unknown Revolution ? became better known, the far-left was increasingly enthused by the revolution: workers had formed soviets and were starting to organise unions and factory committees, peasants were taking back the land, and so on. The revolution ? as Anarchists alone had argued during the failed revolution of 1905 ? was going beyond political reform into a social revolution. Reports of the new, radical and functionally based democracy were avidly read across the Left and especially by Anarchists ? it appeared that our vision of social revolution was coming true.

By the early 1920s, Anarchists had broken with the new regime. Accounts of the dictatorial nature of the Bolsheviks could no longer be ignored ? particularly when coming from eye-witnesses like Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman as well as the reports of the delegates from syndicalist unions sent to the Second Congress of the Communist International and that of the newly formed Red International of Labour Unions. However, what Berkman termed The Bolshevik Myth held sway in the non-Anarchist left in spite of these facts becoming available. While this myth was slowly eroded as the evils of the regime became harder and harder to ignore, the damage had been done: the liberatory promise of revolution and of socialism became associated with its opposite.

Anarchists were not surprised that State socialism became a new class system ? we had, after all, predicted this from Proudhon and Bakunin onwards. However, this did not stop many on the left believing The Bolshevik Myth and today there are still many grouplets on the left (with impressive names which reflect aspirations rather than reality) which denounce Stalinism while seeking the ?genuine? socialism of the Bolsheviks. As part of its goal to be a resource for Anarchists, AFAQ sought to show the links between the regime of Lenin and Trotsky and that of Stalin. It sought to show the ideological roots of the degeneration of the Revolution and to show that the post-hoc explanations first postulated by Trotsky and regurgitated by Leninists to this day were inadequate.

This was part of the aim  of section H (on Marxism) and I think it was successful. Originally, it was going to be much bigger, too big as it turned out. So sections on the Russian Revolution which were originally planned to be in section H (including ones on Kronstadt and the Makhnovists) were moved to an appendix. This appendix, as noted in the 20th anniversary blog, is still incomplete but its most important points have been placed  in section H, particularly in section H.6 which summarises why the Russian Revolution failed and, just as importantly, that anarchist warnings were proven correct. It shows how that favourite post-hoc excuse of Marxists ? ?objective circumstances? ? does not explain what happened and how ideological and structural factors are much more significant.

Ideological, for the politics of the Bolsheviks played a key role. For example: their vision of socialism was impoverished, their analysis of the State was flawed and their vanguardist perspective inherently hierarchical (see section H.5). Some of these ideological positions were unique to the Bolsheviks, many were simply Marxism (or at least social-democratic) as we show (not least, the prejudices in favour of centralisation and economic central-planning).

Structural, for the prejudices of Bolshevik ideology played their part in the organisations and solutions they favoured. A perspective which assumes centralisation is ?proletarian? and inherently ?efficient? builds certain types of organisation. These structures, in turn, produce certain forms of social relationships ? namely, a division between rulers and ruled. Centralised bodies also produce a bureaucracy around them in order to make decisions and implement them.

So the interaction of ideology and structure played its part and the ?objective circumstances? pushed the embryonic bureaucratic class system in certain ways but they did not create it. In other words, while some kind of new class system was inevitable, the horrors of Stalinism can be said to be the product of the specific factors facing the Russian Revolution. A shorter civil war, for example, may have resulted in a less brutal regime in the 1930s. Note, less brutal ? for Lenin?s regime was a bureaucratic State-capitalist party dictatorship and had been within six months of the October Revolution.

Hopefully, AFAQ has shown that the real turning point of the revolution was not Kronstadt in 1921 but the spring of 1918 when the Bolsheviks made explicit what had always been implicit: that party power was more important than soviet democracy. It also shows that recent research confirms that Berkman and Goldman were right (see  my ?From Russia with Critique,? Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, No. 69) and are far better guides to understanding what went wrong than turn-coats like Serge (see my ?Victor Serge: The Worst of the Anarchists,? Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, No. 61).

We need to learn the lessons of history rather than seek post-hoc rationalisations which will inevitably lead to a similar outcome in the unlikely event of a Bolshevik-style party gaining popular support as in 1917. I must stress unlikely, for as well as Leninists having little grasp on the actual course of the revolution after October, as discussed in section H.5.12 they also fail to understand that the Bolshevik party in 1917 did not act like modern-day vanguardists think it did. For if it had, as in 1905, then it would have been as counter-productive ? when not irrelevant ? as modern-day Leninist sects are. This does not mean there was no party bureaucracy ? there was, with an obvious negative impact before and after it seized power ? but that it was usually ignored by the rank-and-file while being fought by Lenin: it was revolutionary during 1917 in spite of itself, its structures and its perspectives.

Anarchists, of course, did not need to come up with post-hoc explanations for the failure of the Revolution. Our predictions and warnings were confirmed ? the State is not simply an instrument of economic class but has its own interests, nationalisation does not end capitalism but just replaces the boss by the bureaucrat, the State is centralised to ensure minority rule and cannot be used to abolish it, and so on. If Marxism paid anything other than lip-service to the idea of ?scientific socialism? then all socialists would be anarchists.

Talking of Marxism, the first volume of Capital was published 150 years ago, in 1867, twenty years after Marx?s disgraceful diatribe against Proudhon, The Poverty of Philosophy. Looking at both works is interesting, not least because Marx singularly failed in 1867 to apply the methodology he denounced Proudhon for not following in 1847. Instead, he uses the very one he mocked the Frenchman for utilising ? namely building an abstract model of capitalism ? while also taking up Proudhon?s theory of exploitation he had likewise once ridiculed (see my ?The Poverty of (Marx?s) Philosophy?, Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, No. 70). Ironically, if you ignore the facts and accept The Poverty of Philosophy as a valid critique of Proudhon then you also have to admit it is also a valid critique of Capital, which is not the book he criticised Proudhon for not writing in 1847.

In many ways, The Poverty of Philosophy is the template of subsequent Marxist polemics on Anarchism  (see section H.2 for a critique of the most common claims). It is full of so many distortions that it is nearly impossible to answer them all, not to mention the postulating of some notion ? in this case, amongst many others, labour notes and idealism ? that are just inventions. Take the latter. As one ex-Marxist academic noted:

?Despite Marx?s scornful criticism, it is not the case that Proudhon regarded actual social conditions and economic forces as the embodiment of abstract philosophical categories antecedent to social reality. On the contrary, he is at pains to state that the intellectual organisation of social reality in abstract categories is secondary to that reality.? (Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978], vol. 1, p. 205)

Which raises the obvious question: why did Marx suggest Proudhon was an idealist given that he obviously was not? Then again, this is hardly an isolated case and most Marxists have tended to follow this example when trying to critique anarchism. As informed readers of Marxist polemics against Anarchism will know, the notion of post-truth has existed far longer than most acknowledge.

Given the level of nonsense in it, it is perhaps understandable why Proudhon did not bother replying ? if personal and political events had not made responding difficult, he surely would have thought no one who has read his book would take it seriously. He was right ? except that the two volumes of System of Economic Contradictions are not an easy book and few readers of Marx bother to compare him to what Proudhon actually wrote. All in all, the words of scientist (and, obviously, non-anarchist) Richard Dawkins against one of his critics are applicable here:

?we are in danger of assuming that nobody would dare to be so rude without taking the elementary precaution of being right?. (?In Defence of Selfish Genes,? pp. 556-573, Philosophy, Vol. 56, No. 218, p. 556)

Given that many Marxists regurgitate previous attacks on anarchism when putting pen to paper, it is not academic or obscure to discuss things like this. The echoes of Marx?s 1847 book are still being heard today and it aids our current activity and theory to understand what was wrong with that critique and subsequent ones. To not know our own history, to not know our own theorists, means being at a disadvantage against those who pretend to do.

Beyond the dishonesty, Marx?s work is of note for the alternative he sketched to Proudhon?s market socialism ? and ?sketched? is being generous. It amounts to a few sentences and is rooted in generalising from an example of two workers and two products to an economy of millions of workers and products. Given this, perhaps it is not surprising that the Bolshevik experiment failed so spectacularly ? Marx clearly had no notion of the need for gathering, processing and implementing the information required for central planning. He and Engels always presented this process as simple rather than the bureaucratic nightmare it would be.

It should be said that Marx did make contributions to socialism and the understanding of capitalism. Even Bakunin recognised this and said so, repeatedly. This should not stop us recognising that he built upon an analysis started by others (not least, Proudhon) and that his arguments for practical activity were deeply flawed. Bakunin, not Marx, was right about the fate of ?political action? (in reformism) and the ?dictatorship of the proletariat? (in tyranny).

So on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, we can but hope that socialists will reflect on the ideological roots for the failure rather than seek solace in the post-hoc rationalisations began by Trotsky. After all, the Bolsheviks remained true to the vision of a centralised economic system based on nationalisation. As with Marx, workers? self-management of production did not figure highly (if at all) in Bolshevik visions of ?socialism? ? unlike anarchists from Proudhon onwards. Similarly, they remained true to the vision of centralised, hierarchical and unitarian political structure even if it were based, nominally, on working class organisations, the soviets (workers councils), rather than the orthodox Marxist position of capturing and transforming the current State  (see section H.3.10). As Kropotkin put it:

?It is therefore essential that to free themselves the masses who produce everything without being allowed to control the consumption of what they produce, find the means which enable them to display their creative forces and to develop themselves new, egalitarian, forms of consumption and of production.

?The State and national representation cannot find these forms. It is the very life of the consumer and of the producer, his intellect, his organising spirit which must find them and improve them by applying them to the daily needs of life.

?It is the same for forms of political organisation. In order to free themselves from the exploitation they are subjected to under the supervision of the State, the masses cannot remain under the domination of the forms which prevent the blossoming of popular initiative. These were developed by governments to perpetuate the servitude of the people, to prevent it from letting its creative force blossom and to develop institutions of egalitarian mutual aid. New forms must be found to serve the opposite goal.? (La Science moderne et l?anarchie [Paris: Stock, 1913], p. 323)

This means that the Russian experience has confirmed that socialism has to be free ? libertarian ? or not at all. Sadly, unlike when AFAQ was started 21 years ago, ?libertarian? has become increasingly associated with the right in Britain as it has in the United States. This is of obvious concern for all genuine libertarians. I have addressed the history of libertarian in AFAQ and its blog, which ? like the revision of non-published appendices ? has been somewhat quiet of late. An obvious exception was the posting of 160 years of Libertarian this year to mark the coining of libertaire by Joseph Déjacque. As well as including a new and complete translation of Déjacque?s 1857 ?Open Letter? to Proudhon, it covers anarchist use of the term and the right?s attempt to steal the word.

Suffice to say, the mess which is Wikipedia?s entry on ?libertarian? shows how distinct Anarchism is from Liberalism ? unsurprisingly, given that Proudhon?s seminal What is Property? and other works are obviously an extended critique of (classical) liberalism. For the right, ?liberty? means little more than those with private power being able to restrict the freedom of the rest. What is annoying is that they use the good word ?libertarian? to describe this regime of private power. Kropotkin?s words from 1913 are still as relevant now as then:

?In today?s society, where no one is allowed to use the field, the factory, the instruments of labour, unless he acknowledge himself the inferior, the subject of some Sir ? servitude, submission, lack of freedom, the practice of the whip are imposed by the very form of society. By contrast, in a communist society which recognises the right of everyone, on an egalitarian basis, to all the instruments of labour and to all the means of existence that society possesses, the only men on their knees in front of others are those who are by their nature voluntary serfs. Each being equal to everyone else as far as the right to well-being is concerned, he does not have to kneel before the will and arrogance of others and so secures equality in all personal relationships with his co-members.

?[?] We finally realise now that without communism man will never be able to reach that full development of individuality which is, perhaps, the most powerful desire of every thinking being. It is highly probably that this essential point would have been recognised for some time if we had not always confused individuation ? that is to say, the complete development of individuality ? with individualism. Now, individualism ? it is high time to understand this ? is nothing but the  Every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost of the bourgeoisie, who believed to find in it the means of freeing himself from society by imposing on workers economic serfdom under the protection of the State? (Op. Cit., pp. 163-5)

Of course, thanks to Bolshevism, ?communism? is usually viewed to mean central-planning (or what Anarchists more accurately call State-capitalism ?  see section H.3.13) but we should not forget that Kropotkin simply meant distribution according to need rather than deed: which was what Joseph Déjacque had argued for in 1857 against Proudhon?s market socialism (distribution according to the products of labour). Nor should we forget the desire for genuine freedom, for the free association of equals rather than that of master-servants driven by economic necessity, which inspired the coining of the term ?libertarian? in 1857 and its subsequent embrace by Anarchists world-wide. Hopefully recounting the origins of the word, showing how and why the propertarians stole it, will make more people refuse to let the right use it ? we can only hope that by 40th anniversary of AFAQ they will be called propertarians by all?

Finally, it is also 175 years from Kropotkin?s birth. I?m glad to note that the all-too-common notion of Kropotkin as ?the gentle sage? is being replaced by a more accurate account of his politics. Rather than being one of the best served Anarchist thinkers in terms of their works, only a fraction of his writings is available in English. His articles for French, British and Russian anarchist papers are still mostly unknown and even his final book, the last book published in his lifetime, 1913?s La Science moderne et l?anarchie has never been translated in full (although I have been working to remedy that and next year, 2018, will see AK Press finally publish Modern Science and Anarchy in English translation).

So our understanding of Kropotkin?s works is to some degree incomplete. Many accounts of his ideas are based on his most general works, which cannot help but skew our understanding of his ideas. In short, his works most focused on the labour movement have not generally been published as pamphlets and when they have (such as the English-language work ?Politics and Socialism?) they have rarely been reprinted. These articles help flesh out why Anarchists are against the State, against using it to abolish capitalism, and what our alternative to electioneering is  (see section J).

Rather than oppose the State for idealistic reasons, Anarchist anti-Statism is based on a class analysis of it ? the recognition that it exists to impose minority class rule and has developed specific features to do so. This means that utilising the bourgeois State ? or a State, like the Bolsheviks, marked by centralisation and unitarian structures ? will not create socialism. This is because the modern State is first and foremost a bourgeois structure:

?the State, with its hierarchy of functionaries and the weight of its historical traditions, could only delay the dawning of a new society freed from monopolies and exploitation [?] what means can the State provide to abolish this monopoly that the working class could not find in its own strength and groups? [?] what advantages could the State provide for abolishing these same privileges? Could its governmental machine, developed for the creation and upholding of these privileges, now be used to abolish them? Would not the new function require new organs? And these new organs would they not have to be created by the workers themselves, in their unions, their federations, completely outside the State?? (Kropotkin, Op. Cit., pp. 91-2)

This shows the alternative to social democracy, namely militant labour struggle: what became known as syndicalism ? although, as Direct Struggle Against Capital shows, Kropotkin had advocated it in the late 1870s and early 1880s. The notion that there is a fundamental difference between anarchism and syndicalism cannot be supported (see section H.2.8). True, anarchism was initially reformist (Proudhon was opposed to strikes) but modern, revolutionary, anarchism was born in the First International and took a syndicalist position from the start. Kropotkin, like other revolutionary anarchists, took this ?Bakuninist? position ? although, like Bakunin, he did not think unions by themselves would inevitably be revolutionary and so also saw the need for anarchists to organise as anarchists to influence the class struggle (see section J.3).

Likewise, we should not become fixated on unions for in 1905 ? twelve years before Lenin ? Kropotkin saw the possibility of the soviets as a means of fighting capitalism and statism and explicitly linked them to the Paris Commune:

?the workers? Council [?] had been appointed by the workers themselves ? just like the insurrectional Commune of August 10, 1792 ? [?] This very much reminds us of the Central Committee which preceded the Paris Commune of 1871, and it is certain that workers across the country should organise on this model [?] these councils represent the revolutionary strength of the working class. [?]

?This is direct action at work [?] Let it not then be said that the workers of the Latin nations, by preaching the general strike and direct action, have taken the wrong path. The Russian working people, by applying these for themselves, have proven that their brothers in the West were perfectly right. [?] it is certain that the workers who succeeded in forcing the autocracy to capitulate will also force capitalism to do so. They will do more. They will be able to find forms of communal industrial organisation. But first they must first send packing the hypnotisers [endormeurs] who tell them: ?Just make the political revolution; it is too early for the social revolution.? [?] and while the socialist theoreticians strove to prove the impossibility of any general strike, they, the workers, began to go through the workshops, putting a stop to work everywhere. [?] After a few days, the strike was absolutely general [?] It was a whole people going on strike [?]

?A new force was thus established by the strike: the force of the workers asserting themselves for the first time and setting in motion this lever of any revolution ? direct action. [?] It is equally obvious, furthermore, that the revolution will not be the work of a few months, but of several years. At the very least, what has been accomplished so far proves that this revolution will be of a social nature [?] bourgeois elements have already faded behind the two great forces of the peasants and the workers, and the two great means of action have been the general strike and direct action.

?There is every reason to believe that the workers of the cities will understand the strength conferred by direct action added to the general strike and, imitating in this the peasant rebels, they will likely be led to get their hands on all that is necessary to live and produce. Then they can lay in the cities the initial foundations of the communist commune.? (?L'Action directe et la Grève générale en Russie,? Les Temps Nouveaux, 2 December 1905)

This, obviously, is echoed in La Science moderne et l?anarchie but it has its origins in the Bakunin and the Federalist wing of the First International, as reflected Kropotkin?s writings on the labour movement from the 1870s onwards (see Direct Struggle Against Capital for a representative selection across the decades) and ably explored by Robert Graham in ?We Do Not Fear Anarchy  ? We Invoke It?: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement (Oakland/Edinburgh: AK Press, 2015). As Bakunin put it:

?Workers, no longer count on anyone but yourselves [?] Abstain from all participation in bourgeois radicalism and organise outside of it the forces of the proletariat. The basis of that organisation is entirely given: the workshops and the federation of the workshops; the creation of funds for resistance, instruments of struggle against the bourgeoisie, and their federation not just nationally, but internationally. The creation of Chambers of Labour [?] the liquidation of the State and of bourgeois society [?] Anarchy, that it to say the true, the open popular revolution [?] organisation, from top to bottom and from the circumference to the centre? (?Letter to Albert Richard?, Anarcho-Syndicalist Review No. 62, p. 18)

Kropotkin also pointed to the neighbourhood assemblies, or sections, of the Great French Revolution as a form of popular self-organisation which anarchists today could learn from (see chapters XXIV and XXV of The Great French Revolution, both included in Direct Struggle Against Capital). In this way would develop ?independent Communes for the territorial groupings, and vast federations of trade unions for groupings by social functions ? the two interwoven and providing support to each to meet the needs of society?. Added to these are the ?groupings by personal affinities ? groupings without number, infinitely varied, long-lasting or fleeting, emerging according to the needs of the moment for all possible purposes?. These ?three kinds of groupings? would ensure ?the satisfaction of all social needs: consumption, production and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection against aggression, mutual aid, territorial defence; the satisfaction, finally, of scientific, artistic, literacy, entertainment needs.? (Kropotkin, La Science moderne et l?anarchie, pp. 92-3)

So Kropotkin is very clear that the link between now and the future is forged in the struggle and so ?  see section I.2.3 ? we build the framework of Anarchism by our struggles against Capital, State and other forms of hierarchy (such as patriarchy, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.). Also of note is his comment that the revolution would not take months, but years. This shows that notions of ?overnight? revolution habitually flung at anarchists by Marxists ? see section I.2.2 ? are nonsense. As such, we must remember that Anarchism is something for the here-and-now and that we must think in terms of a long-term strategy.

All of which points to Kropotkin as a realistic revolutionary and advocate of class struggle as the means of creating a better world rather than some sort of ?gentle sage? with utopian visions, as some seem to think (see my ?Kropotkin: Class Warrior?, Anarcho-Syndicalist Review No. 64/5 for a summary). Yet this does not mean we have an ?unknown? Kropotkin for his revolutionary class struggle politics were there to be found even in his well-known ?general? works if you were prepared to look: sadly, neither the British reformist Anarchists of the post-war period nor the Marxists were going to do that!

So 21 years on, we have a better notion of the Anarchist tradition than ever before and I hope AFAQ played its part in that. Simplistic accounts ? which seem to be based on little more than looking up ?Anarchism? in the dictionary ? should be harder to produce. It will take a particularly studious ignorance to proclaim Anarchism is just ?anti-State? given its actual history as a theory and a movement. Still, we can sadly expect the right and left ? for their own reasons ? to continue to ignore Anarchism?s socialist core. At least we have resources like AFAQ to show the accuracy of such claims.

When AFAQ was started, in the early 1990s, neo-liberalism appeared to be triumphant, ?socialism? (i.e., Stalinism) had just collapsed and the ?great moderation? was proclaimed. Yet the triumphalism could not hide the problems facing society ? not least, the ever-increasing inequality as well as ecological crisis. Come the financial crisis of 2007-8 ? caused, in part, because the neo-liberal assault on the working class had been too successful ? the critique of capitalism and various economic theories developed to defend it AFAQ had summarised proved its usefulness  (see section C)

After a rush to State-intervention ? blowing the dust of Keynes and, for a few, even Marx ? to stabilise the situation (at least for the few), the rush to austerity (at least for the many) began. AFAQ had summarised (in section C.9.1) why cutting wages would be counter-productive ? and so it was. Austerity was proven to be counter-productive, making the situation worse as predicted by anyone who did not worship the holy textbooks of neo-classical or ?Austrian? economics ? even the most neo-classical Keynesian economist grasped the situation. Yet class interests and its ideologues proved ? as would be expected ? more significant.

In the UK, the Tories rushed to inflict austerity onto society and blamed a crisis caused by the elite on welfare provision for the many. Unlike in Greece and elsewhere in Europe, austerity was not imposed upon the government by the heavy hand of the EU but was embraced willingly ? so killing off a recovery and stalling the economy for two years. When growth finally returned, austerity was proclaimed vindicated in spite of the critics being proven correct. Worse, it returned to trend growth without the higher growth usually associated with an exit from recession. Still, the utter failure of austerity did not stop Tory politicians in the UK proclaiming its necessity years later ? while holding up austerity-struck Greece to warn against the horrors of not imposing austerity. Logic and reality will always come a distant last when defending the powers and the profits of the few. Little has changed since 1846 when Proudhon sarcastically noted:

?Political economy ? that is, proprietary despotism ? can never be in the wrong: it must be the proletariat.? (Property is Theft!, p. 187)

The crisis produced popular resistance, although obviously not enough. Anarchists took part in these struggles against austerity. This caused some commentators problems ? why were Anarchists protesting against governments seeking to reduce the State? Yet Anarchism has never been just anti-State (surely ?property is theft? shows that?). We are against the State because it defends that property and theft, so using economic crisis to impose austerity is State activity simply as a weapon for the few against the many.

Anarchists do not side with the State against its subjects. Rather we fight with our fellow workers against attempts by governments to save capitalism by pushing the costs of so doing onto the general population. This does not mean we favour State welfare any more than any other State activity. Welfare, like the State itself, must be abolished from below by the many, not from above by the few seeking to increase their wealth and power (see section J.5.15). Similarly, the alternative to nationalisation (or bailouts) is not privatisation but rather socialisation ? workers? control. As Kropotkin suggested, echoing Proudhon (General Idea of the Revolution, p. 151), there is a lack of imagination and class analysis in State socialism:

?Well, it is to increase the capital owned by the modern bourgeois States that the radicals and socialists are working today. They did not even bother to discuss ? like English co-operators asked me one day ? if there were no way to hand over the railways directly to the railway-workers? trade-unions, to free the enterprise from the yoke of the capitalist, instead of creating a new capitalist, even more dangerous than the bourgeois companies, the State.?  (Op. Cit., p. 325)

Needless to say, the much more extensive welfare State for the rich should be targeted for reduction and eventual elimination long before anything else is even considered for reform.

Such popular struggles against privatisation or austerity ? against the decisions and actions of the State against its subjects, never forget ? will build the confidence and organisations needed to really change things, to really reduce the authority of the State and win improvements in the here-and-now. Indeed, the UK anti-union laws show that our masters know this, know where our real power lies: not in Parliament but in our workplaces and streets. This ? direct action and solidarity ? is what creates the possibility for revolution.

Neo-liberalism has singularly failed in terms of the promises it made (?trickle down,? its anti-union arguments, productivity growth has trended down since the 1980s, the private profiteering associated with previously nationalised industries, etc., etc., etc.) ? however, it did make the rich richer, its usually unstated goal, and all that can be forgiven and forgotten. However, its limitations are being felt ? it is in danger of so hollowing out society that capitalism itself is threatened. This is being reflected in the ballot box. As discussed  in section D.1, we may be at one of those points where, thanks to popular discontent and the pressing need to maintain the system, the State is used more to repair the damage that an inherently unstable capitalism inflicts on society than it is used to bolster the property and power of the few.

Yet we must never forget the nature of the State as an instrument of minority classes and that there are vested interests at work (see section B.2). This means that leaving change to politicians will result in little improvement. We need an anti-parliamentary movement:

?We see in the incapacity of the statist socialist to understand the true historical problem of socialism a gross error of judgement [?] To tell the workers that they will be able to introduce the socialist system while retaining the machine of the State and only changing the men in power; to prevent, instead of aiding, the mind of the workers progressing towards the search for new forms of life that would be their own ? that is in our eyes a historic mistake which borders on the criminal.? (Kropotkin, Op. Cit., pp. 124-5)

The lesson of both the rise of social democracy at the end of the nineteenth and Bolshevik success in 1917 is that Anarchists need to organise to influence the class struggle, to present a real alternative both in terms of visions of tomorrow and how to win improvements today. The latter is more important in many ways for without that we will never be in a position to create the former: we will be an isolated sect complaining from the side-lines rather a key factor in moving society towards freedom. As 1917 shows, without an effective organised anarchist movement then others will take advantage of the situation ? by using ideas and actions previously raised by Anarchists ? for non-Anarchist ends.

The key, then, is to find positive areas to apply anarchist ideas, to encourage those subject to hierarchies to assert themselves and change themselves while changing their conditions. Only the struggle for freedom can make us able to live as free and equal individuals: that means we need be part of social struggle and self-organisation, in other words we need ?Anarchy in Action? (see section J). Without that, Anarchy remains a dream ? and the powers of State and Capital will continue to crush what little freedom we have. Resistance is fertile ? and why direct action is always opposed by the authorities and their ideological shrills.

In 2017 it is clear we Anarchists have much to do. Time will tell if we are up to the challenge ? but one thing is sure, as Kropotkin said only those who do nothing make no mistakes.

Iain McKay

An Anarchist FAQ


An Anarchist FAQ after 20 years

It is now 20 years since An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) was officially launched and six years since the core of it was completed (version 14.0). It has been published by AK Press as well as translated into numerous languages. It has been quoted and referenced by other works. So it has been a success ? although when it was started I had no idea what it would end up like.

I am particularly happy that AK Press took the time and invested the resources to turn it into a book. Volume 1 of AFAQ (sections A to F plus the appendix on ?The Symbols of Anarchy?) was published in 2008 followed by volume 2 (sections H to J, slightly abridged) in 2012. Both volumes are impressive in both size and presentation ? they look lovely.

Since then, though, there has been little done ? a revision of an appendix about a laughingly bad Marxist anti-anarchist diatribe (more or less a copy of Hal Draper?s equally bad Two Souls of Socialism). The unfinished appendix on the Russian Revolution remains so and the other appendices need to be revised. I hope to correct this by the 30th anniversary of AFAQ but no promises!

In my defence, I have been busy. Numerous other articles and reviews have been produced thanks to the work embodied into AFAQ and it has produced two other books: anthologies of Proudhon?s and Kropotkin?s works (Property is Theft! and Direct Struggle Against Capital, respectively). Both came about due to the research AFAQ needed ? it showed that the picture we had of both key thinkers was not completely accurate. Both confirm the analysis of AFAQ on the nature of anarchism (i.e., libertarian socialism) and its history. Both would have been helpful in days-past when debating propertarians (right-wing ?libertarians?) and Marxists.

Taking Proudhon, before Property is Theft! very little of his voluminous writings had been translated into English and much of his writings ? particularly his journalism and polemics during the 1848 revolution ? were unknown. We now have a better idea of his ideas and contribution to anarchism as well as allowing various false, but commonplace, assertions about his ideas to be refuted.[1] Marx?s claim that he advocated ?Labour Notes? (i.e., pricing and payment by hours worked) was simply a baseless assertion made in the face of clear evidence in System of Economic Contradictions to the opposite (he advocated generalising ?bills of exchange? as many commentators correctly noted).[2] The Poverty of Philosophy is, as Proudhon noted at the time, ?the libel of one doctor Marx? and should be dismissed as ?a tissue of crudities, slanders, falsifications, and plagiarism.?[3]  Sadly, this deeply dishonest work has shaped our perception of Proudhon (even in the anarchist movement) but hopefully the real Proudhon ? advocate of self-managed (market) socialism ? will become better known.[4]

It also became clear that those who most loudly proclaimed their allegiance to Proudhon, namely Benjamin Tucker and other (but not all) individualist anarchists, were very selective in what they took from him. Proudhon?s critique of wage-labour and corresponding advocacy of self-management and socialisation were lost on Tucker.[5] Revolutionary anarchism is closer to Proudhon?s ideas than those who claimed his mantle ? but this championing of Proudhon by Tucker shaped how many viewed the Frenchman and yet another false image (albeit less false than the one Marx invented) was created.

Similarly with Kropotkin ? while more of his writings were available in English, these were the more general introductions to anarchism and his ?day-to-day? journalism in the anarchist press (particularly the French) was unknown. This gave a somewhat skewed impression of his ideas and helped those seeking to portray him as a utopian or reformist (whether Marxists or self-proclaimed anarchists). This was because while the key texts on ends were readily available, the texts on means were less so. This does not excuse those ? like the reformist (?liberal?) wing of British anarchism in the 1960s onwards (and who were readily echoed by Marxists) ? who portrayed Kropotkin as anything other than the revolutionary, class struggle anarchist he was for even these general works included references to unions, strikes, insurrections and so forth. Moreover, Caroline Cahm?s excellent book Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism, 1872-1886 has shown this aspect of anarchism since 1989 ? indeed, Direct Struggle Against Capital owes a great deal to her research in tracking down numerous key articles from Kropotkin?s early journalism.

These two works also indicate another improvement over the past 20 years ? the increase in good quality research on anarchism and anarchists. We have had Emma Goldman?s papers published while AK Press has just started the publication of Errico Malatesta?s Collected Works. Shawn Wilbur continues his sterling work making Proudhon accessible and, moreover, has translated Bakunin?s Collected Works for PM Press. Nestor Makhno?s writings and autobiographies are also available in English. To name just a few amongst a host of excellent histories of movements and individuals.

All this is very welcome but more is needed ? thinkers like Luigi Fabbri need their works available in English and key source materials (such as James Guillaume?s L?internationale: documents et souvenirs) are also in need of translation. Even for figures like Kropotkin, a whole wealth of material in French, Russian and English which remains inaccessible and/or untranslated in archives.[6] However, such research and translation is time and resource consuming and few anarchists have much of either (being working class people in the main, we need to both earn a living and have a social life). Yet compared to where the movement was when AFAQ was started, we have seen significant progress. I hope that my work has helped this in some way. One thing is sure, AFAQ does save a lot of time because it can be referenced when the all-too-often myths about anarchism are raised (yet again!) by Marxists, propertarians and others.

As with any project, once it was completed I realised how I should have started. What is clear now is that the usual account of anarchism which starts in the distant past before discussing William Godwin and Max Stirner is not right. Regardless of their merits, neither of these people influenced the rise of anarchism as a theory or a movement. Indeed, both were discovered by a fully developed anarchist movement in the 1890s and, ironically, the only impact Stirner had in his lifetime was on Marx and what became Marxism (needless to say, Marx distorted Stirner?s ideas just as much as he did Proudhon?s or Bakunin?s).

Anarchism developed in the context of the French workers? movement and so embodied the legacies of the French Revolution (and its ?Anarchists?) as well as the critique of liberalism and capitalism current within French radical circles. Proudhon?s seminal What is Property? was not written in a social vacuum nor did his ideas develop without a social and intellectual context. Anarchism, then, was born in the context of the rising labour movement. It flows from the associationist ideas raised by French workers faced with industrialisation ? that is, proletarianisation. They rejected the inequalities and hierarchies associated with the rise of capitalism as sought to apply democratic ideas within the workplace and so abolish wage-labour by association.

This reflected workers during the Great French Revolution about whom one building employer moaned, ?by an absurd parody of the government, regard their work as their property, the building site as a Republic of which they are jointly citizens, and believe in consequence that it belongs to them to name their own bosses, their inspectors and arbitrarily to share out the work amongst themselves.?[7] Proudhon echoed this position repeatedly throughout his works:

?Workers? Associations are the locus of a new principle and model of production that must replace present-day corporations [...] The principle that prevailed there, in place of that of employers and employees [...] is participation [...] There is mutuality, in fact, when in an industry, all the workers, instead of working for an owner who pays them and keeps their product, work for one another and thereby contribute to a common product from which they share the  profit.?[8]

Workers? self-management of production by means of associations has been a part of anarchism from the start (from What is Property?: ?leaders [...] must be chosen from the workers by the workers themselves?[9]) and any form of ?anarchism? which rejects this in favour of factory fascism (wage-labour) is hardly libertarian.

This means that the all-too-common notion of anarchism being a fusion (confusion!) of ?socialism? (presumably Marxism) and liberalism is simply wrong. Anarchism is a school of socialism (?the no-government system of socialism?, to quote Kropotkin[10]) and cut its teeth critiquing liberalism and the class-ridden, unequal and unfree society it was creating. It was then members of this well-defined movement who could look back at the likes of Godwin and popular movements note similarities between their ideas on the state, property, etc. and those which had arisen later and, crucially, independently of them. These pre-1840 thinkers and movements can be better described as anarchistic rather than anarchist as such.

This analysis of where anarchism comes from is relevant to current events. Take inequality, or more correctly the recognition within mainstream politics and journalism that massive inequality exists and is rising. When AFAQ was started, this was generally denied but now the recognition of reality is at least acknowledged and, often, deplored, by some of the elite (usually politicians seeking votes). The denials of reality could be surreal ? I remember reading an edition of the Economist at the turn of the millennium which had editorialised that the 20th century had shown Marx?s predictions of a tiny minority of wealthy capitalists surrounded by a sea of impoverished proletarians to be false while, a few pages elsewhere, had a report on how inequality in America and elsewhere in the West had exploded so resulting in a few very wealthy people and the rest stagnating. The contradiction between ideology (faith) and reality (facts) could not have been more obvious ? at least if you weren?t the editors or a true believer in capitalism.

Perhaps needless to say, the reasons why this has happened have been much discussed but as it has been within a neo-classical framework it has not gotten very far. This is understandable as that ideology was developed precisely to rationalise and justify the inequalities of capitalism and not to explain them  (see section C). Taking an anarchist analysis (as first expounded by Proudhon before being taken up by Marx) it is easy to understand why inequality has expounded.  As section C.2 indicates, labour is exploited by capital and the former has been weakened over the last four decades by neo-liberalism (not least by increased state regulation of unions) and so workers cannot retain more of the value we produce as the product is monopolised by the owning class and senior management.

This means, for example, that the exploding wages of CEOs is not an example of ?market failure? as some claim but rather an expression of how the capitalist market is meant to  work.[11] Which all flows back to where anarchism came from, namely the (French) workers? movement, and what it was born fighting, namely a rising capitalism and its ideological expression of (classical) liberalism.

Thus we find John Locke?s just-so story justifying property results ?by a tacit and voluntary consent? to ?a disproportionate and unequal Possession  of the Earth?[12] Yet any agreement between the owners and proletariat would favour the former and once the worker has consented to being under the authority of the wealthy then her labour and its product is no longer hers: ?Thus the grass my horse has bit; the Turfs my Servant has cut; and the Ore I have digg?d? become my Property.? The workers? labour ?hath fixed my [the employer?s] property? in both the product and common resources worked upon.[13] Locke?s defence of property as resting on labour becomes the means to derive the worker of the full product of her labour[14] ? as intended.

Compare this with anarchism. Proudhon?s analysis brings him into conflict with Locke and the liberal tradition. Rejecting the notion that master-servant contracts were valid, he dismisses its basis of property in the person in a few words: ?To tell a poor man that he has property because he has arms and legs, ? that the hunger from which he suffers, and his power to sleep in the open air are his property, ? is to play with words, and add insult to injury.? Property, then, is solely material things ? land, workplaces, etc. ? and their monopolisation results in authoritarian relationships. To ?recognise the right of territorial property is to give up labour, since it is to relinquish the means of labour?, which results in the worker having ?sold and surrendered his liberty? to the proprietor. This alienation of liberty is the means by which exploitation happens. Whoever ?labours becomes a proprietor? of his product but by that Proudhon did ?not mean simply (as do our hypocritical economists)? ? and Locke ? the ?proprietor of his allowance, his salary, his wages? but ?proprietor of the value which he creates, and by which the master alone profits.? Locke is also clearly the target for Proudhon?s comment that ?the horse [?] and ox [?] produce with us, but are not associated with us; we take their product, but do not share it with them. The animals and workers whom we employ hold the same relation to us.?[15]

As noted, the rise in inequality is even acknowledged by those who helped create it. Thus we find the  Economist[16] admitting that ?Liberalism depends on a belief in progress but, for many voters, progress is what happens to other people. While American GDP per person grew by 14% in 2001-15, median wages grew by only 2%.? The journal also states that ?liberals also need to restore social mobility and ensure that economic growth translates into rising wages? yet social mobility falling while inequality rises should be unsurprising (it is easier to climb a hill than a mountain) as is the awkward fact that the least ?liberal? nations (continental Europe) have higher social mobility than the USA or UK (?liberal? nations). As for increasing wages, the neo-liberal agenda has been to regulate workers and our unions by anti-union laws to stop just that happening which makes a mockery of the claim that ?n the 1970s liberals concluded that the embrace of the state had become smothering and  oppressive.?[17] It is not hard to conclude that for ?liberals? state intervention against workers is just normal ? just like defence of capitalist property-rights is not oppressive. Rest assured, their solution to the problems caused by neo-liberalism is yet more neo-liberalism: ?a relentless focus on dismantling privilege by battling special interests, exposing incumbent companies to competition and breaking down restrictive practices.? Which was, as discussed in section J.4.2, the  rhetoric used to increase state regulation of unions which, in turn, produced all the evils the journal is bemoaning now and which are the opposite outcome to those promised to justify this onslaught on working people and our organisations.

We should not be surprised. Let us not forget that belief is defined as ?an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof? (such as Locke?s stories which underlie liberalism in all its forms, particularly propertarianism). Anarchists, however, prefer to study the facts and draw conclusions based on them. The facts of the last few decades clearly support Proudhon?s analysis ? rising productivity and level wages show that workers are exploited in production and allows the few to monopolise the gains derived from productivity increases. He also indicated in System of Economic Contradictions how the favoured ?solution? of liberalism ? more competition ? resulted in monopolies (i.e., big companies) which meant that the amount of investment needed to enter the market was an objective barrier which, as well as reducing competition, turned the bulk of the population into wage-workers who have ?sold their arms and parted with their liberty? to the  few.[18]

Thus the social question remains fundamentally the same as when Proudhon took pen to paper. As is its answer: to end these social problems means ending master-servant relations within the workplace by means of association and abolishing the state that protects them by means of federalism. An account of anarchism which ignores all this would be a travesty and produce false picture of what anarchism is and what counts as anarchist.[19] Sadly, this false picture still exists in academic and other works ? based on little more than if someone calls themselves an anarchist then they are. Few (bar the propertarians who fail to recognise the oxymoronic nature of ?anarcho?-capitalism) would tolerate adding Nazism to accounts of socialism based on them having ?socialist? in their party name ? but even this low bar seems to be considered too high for some when it comes to discussing anarchism!

AFAQ was started in the early 1990s, just after the collapse of Stalinism (?socialism? or ?communism?) and the corresponding triumphalism of neo-liberals. Japanese-style corporate capitalism was in its ?lost decade? and neo-liberalism was being accepted as ?common-sense? within the leadership of the ?official? opposition (the British Labour Party and its equivalents elsewhere). Yet within ten years, we had the bursting of the dot com bubble and a deep crisis in East-Asia. The latter saw economies previously praised by advocates of capitalism as being a heaven of ?free-market? policies become, overnight, statist nightmares. Such is the power of ideology.

Then came the crisis of 2007-8, a crisis caused by neo-liberal policies which ? incredible as it may seem ? became the means of imposing more of said policies in the name of ?Austerity?. The Tories in the UK were particularly good (if that is the right word!) at turning a crisis caused by the 1% and their favoured policies into one apparently caused by New Labour not letting single mothers starve. While the narrative of the crisis turned the facts on their head, they could not stop the policies being implemented dragging out the crisis and turning it into the slowest recovery on record.  So the financial crisis showed the bankruptcy of neo-classical economics in two senses. First, mainstream economists did not predict it (while post-Keynesian economists did). Second, the notion of ?expansionary austerity? was tried and proven to be as nonsensical as even the mainstream (?bastard?) Keynesians predicted. This resulted in a downward spiral whenever it was tried ? whether Greece or the UK (so  confirming section C.9 of AFAQ). However, the critics being proven correct was not considered good enough and so when growth ? finally! ? returned to the UK, the architects of this harmful policy were proclaimed by the much of mainstream press (including the Financial Times) to have been vindicated! Why? Simply because, as with Milton Friedman (see section C.8), the Tories made the rich richer and skewed state intervention even further towards the few.[20]

The global economic crisis rolls on ? a classic example, as per section C.7, of a crisis caused by labour being too weak. We have seen the ?traditional? left ride the wave of protest in many countries and divert it into parliamentarian avenues ? were it quickly died. The example of Greece is the classic example with a left-wing anti-austerity party (Syriza) elected only for it to end up imposing even more stringent austerity measures than before. This confirmed our analysis in section J.2 of AFAQ on why anarchists reject electioneering and support direct action. The pressures on left-wing governments from big business and capital, the willingness the state bureaucracy (the civil service, etc.) to frustrate the policies and decisions of popularly elected governments, all played their role even without the years of campaigning for votes which have traditionally watered-down radical parties long before they achieve office (but not real power). Still, we are sure the true-believers will proclaim that next time they will not make the same mistakes as the Social Democrats, the Greens, and now Syriza. And state socialists call anarchists utopians?

So while proclaiming itself ?Scientific Socialism? (an expression, like so much of Marxism, appropriated from Proudhon), it adherents seem wonderfully immune from learning from experience. Marxism continues, albeit in smaller numbers, to put countless numbers off socialism by presenting the cure (socialism) as being worse than the disease (capitalism). This may explain why Marxists so regularly distort anarchist ideas ? if Marxism were so robust they would have no need to invent nonsense about anarchism. Yet they do ? and section H.2 continues to be of use in replying to them. It may also explain why some Marxists prefer to invoke the Spanish Revolution than the Russian (understandably given how bad Lenin?s regime was!) or seek to associate their ideology with far more appealing forms of socialism (such as  syndicalism[21]). Again, AFAQ is there to show the flaws in such attempts ? and to show that much of what passes for ?Marxism? was first expounded by  anarchists[22] but without the authoritarian and metaphysical baggage.

Anarchists have long critiqued state socialism but on the assumption (sometimes unstated or mentioned in passing) that we were the genuine socialists. The logic is simple enough ? the state is a hierarchical body and so based on inequality and so state socialism violated socialist principles (namely, equality) and could not, therefore, produce a socialist society. This was based on empirical evidence which shows that states developed to impose minority rule and the conclusion that, as a result, it cannot be used to end it. As Proudhon argued:

?And who benefits from this regime of unity? The people? No, the upper classes [?] Unity, today and since 1815, is quite simply a form of bourgeois exploitation under the protection of bayonets. Yes, political unity, in the great States, is bourgeois: the positions which it creates, the intrigues which it causes, the influences which it cherishes, all that is bourgeois and goes to the bourgeois.?

Anarchist News dot Org / Dan Harmon: "Rick is an Anarchist"
« Last post by on Today at 06:01:13 PM »
Dan Harmon: "Rick is an Anarchist"

Cartoon Network's Rick and Morty, with its massive viewership and critical acclaim, is probably the standard bearer for TV animation right now. But as co-creator Dan Harmon recently pointed out to me at a press event in Los Angeles, only 21 episodes have aired so far, and that's not all that much material to evaluate from.

The show's fan community grew massively during its nearly two-year hiatus, and, according to Harmon, "It wasn't because we were like pumping out episodes. It happened while we were still taking too long on season 3. It just grew by itself."

A lot of crazy stuff has happened in the real world during that break. Even if you leave aside the political surprises of the past two years, Alex Jones has become a prominent political commentator, and conspiracy theories and the apocalypse have somehow turned into everyday topics of conversation, which should fare well for a show about a mad scientist with a conspiracy bent who brings about the end of the world all the time. In fact, in the most recent episode, it sounded like Rick referred to the 9/11 terror attacks as an "excuse to strip away our freedom"?a fact that I wouldn't have noticed had it not been for the fevered intensity of fans who zeroed in on the line.

Rick and Morty's other co-creator, Justin Roiland, cautioned me against reading much into any of this. He told me he stays away from politics as much as possible, and that includes the politics of the Rick and Morty universe. "We just kinda stick and move. It happens, and then we just kinda keep going." He added that he avoids online theories about his show, because "that stuff will worm its way into your brain."

Harmon and Roiland were kind enough to talk to me at a little more length about this stuff. In our conversation, conspiracy theories became a jumping off point to talk about the the nature of consciousness, psychedelic experiences, and the alien slugs secretly watching as we inhabit the simulation we all think is real life.

The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

VICE: Rick and Morty isn't a political show, but this is the first season since America became completely consumed by politics, and Rick is very anti-government and kinda libertarian-y. Are there conversations in the writers' room where you're walking a tightrope?

Dan Harmon: We were long since out of the writers' room when I think the notion that politics would be in any way important?and not just in a strange, different sphere?would be happening. I think that we would constantly talk about Rick's politics in the sense that his are so removed, so far back, that there would be virtually no way to translate them to the Earhtbound spectrums?spectra?


Because, simply, Rick?although you may feel this way about certain political philosophies?is truly self-interested. He sees such a big picture and has such bigger fish to fry than anything terrestrial that the closet thing (if I were an Earth-alien-human trying to appraise Rick and trying to explain him to another life form) to call him on a political spectrum? I would just use the word "anarchist." He doesn't like being told what to do by anybody. And yes, that is what libertarians say, but they also acknowledge the existence of other libertarians, and say that if you let everyone do whatever they want, everything will be great. And I don't think Rick believes that.

What does he think?

I think he thinks that if you let everyone do whatever they want, Rick will get away with more, and he knows that any time you try to let there be government at all, it's just nonsense. He would be as passionate about dismantling it, as he would be about voting for it, which is nothing. Both [are] just meaningless to him.

So how does that relate to what happens at the start of season three?

In [episode] 301, what you see is, it's like mowing the lawn for him to disassemble the entire galactic federation, and he's doing it so he can get back to his comfortable life. And he resents Jerry for making him do that and therefore eliminates Jerry from his life. It's pretty easy to say in the writers' room?and I don't foresee any trouble. We all know that Rick wouldn't vote for anybody. He wouldn't care at all.

Justin Roiland: He's just like, fucking [Rick voice], "Who gives a shit? Game of Thrones!"

Harmon: He's mostly like Justin. Justin doesn't get involved with that stuff and has his own plans for Lego collections and things like that. If Justin had a 3,000 IQ and could float through time and space, that's kinda what Rick would be. I don't think Justin would be marching for anything, as much as he'd be like collecting weird stuff and building up his arsenal.

Roiland: Not from like an apathetic standpoint but just more like, "Eh, what am I gonna do? How am I gonna help anybody?"

Harmon: That's precisely from an apathetic standpoint.

Roiland: You're right.

Harmon: But that's good! That's better than someone with that degree of power deciding that it's their job to save people from themselves in any way. That's pretty dangerous. If Rick did anything other than pursue whatever it is he's pursuing, he would cause way more damage than he does.

Roiland: He could [faux-dramatic voice] enslave worlds if he wanted to!

But in episode 301, did Rick really look at the TV during 9/11 and say it was an excuse to "strip away our freedoms?"

I think so! I guess [we] have the ability to say it was all bullshit?but I dunno. It was a joke that made us laugh really hard.

Harmon: If you analyze the canon of that episode, I think that technically has to be a construction, because the insect never leaves Shoneys, and has to believe that he is. So it's very likely, I think?probably necessary?to think that things outside the window are constructions. Now, what's the easiest way to construct something? Copy and paste. Why would you bother to construct something from the ground up when you can simply make an instance of something that already exists and tweak what you want to tweak, so I think it all depends. Where was Rick in 2001?

Roiland: Exactly! Where the fuck was he? He was probably in some Earth-based reality that was very similar to the one that they're in now. I just like how quickly he's like, "Oh. I know what this is!"

For you, where does the idea to have Rick be sort of a 9/11 truther come from?

Harmon: That's based on my reality. That's precisely how I reacted to 9/11. I'm not kidding. I was on phone with my friend Rob Schrab, and that's exactly what I said out loud?which I look back on with total shame! But I look back and go, Oh, that's a character. A guy who is woken up that early in the morning and is in his underwear watching people die?watching a national tragedy unfold?and the first thing in my head was, "We're gonna get away with writing less. They're gonna change the name of the country. They're gonna change our freedoms, and this is gonna impinge on my personal quest to be comfortable." It's pretty fucked up.

You mentioned earlier that you try and stay away from fan theories. My question isn't about the theories themselves but the way they're formed. Do you see a connection between conspiracies and those kinds of theories?

Yes, 100 percent. I think that when JFK was assassinated, the part of your brain that is ready and able to connect all the dots necessary to prove that there was an order to this, and it was a sinister order, are the same exact chemicals in your brain that you need to write stories?and that includes fan fiction.

You say that includes fan faction, but what else do you think is involved with that story-creating part of the brain?

When bad things happen to good people, when our friends get sick, when we get sick, when governments change hands, when you can look at a map and imagine how many stray dogs and cats are out there being neglected, and you start trying to look into that box of "What Reality Really Is," it's the creative part of your brain that pulls you back out of your box, and says, "Yeah, but here's the thing: There's white hats, and black hats, and high noon, and there's shootouts, and there's stories and there's love, and there's passion. And there's transformation, and there's change." When you feel that mental breakdown happening, that means you're about to get smarter. You're growing. You're inheriting the universe. You're becoming closer and closer to a thing called "God," and "you're gonna get through this. You're gonna get trough this." It's like when you have a bad trip on mushrooms or acid, your friend who says, "This is cool. This is normal. Even though the walls are talking to you. You just need some orange slices. You need to get through this, and it's important that this is happening. It's giving you perspective." Otherwise you'd just be like, "This is insane, so I'm insane, so nothing matters, so I think I'll go do something horrible in public."

Roiland: So definitely do acid, and JFK was an inside job.

Oh, you don't have to tell me. So one fan theory I do want to touch on is the idea that Rick is aware that he's a cartoon, and that we see that when he breaks the fourth wall. Is that bullshit?

Harmon: I always start from the place of, like, if I were living my ideal life, in that I was trotting across the galaxy and across timelines?and had lived for who knows how long and had seen so many fatal battles and lived to tell about it?wouldn't I, when I was backed up against the wall by Dracula in a sword fight, wouldn't I turn to a nonexistent camera and go, "We'll be right back."

Roiland: [Laughs uproariously.]

Harmon: Because we do takes like that when we're in bars and stuff. Someone says something, and we're like, "Check please!" So I start there, and go, Is it explainable through that lens, where Rick is just kinda crazy?

Roiland: I think it's just dumb. It's just funny to me.

Harmon: But that's a fan theory that I welcome.

Roiland: Yeah, [faux-dramatic voice] he knows.

Harmon: The idea that on some level Rick is conscious of not only multiple realities but multiple layers of reality...

Roiland: The sixth dimension...

Harmon: Or in simulation theory...

Roiland: Someone's watching! Yeah, that's true. Simulation theory straight-up. There's a big bank of monitors right now, and weird giant slug creatures are watching us.

Harmon: I went to Tulum with my girlfriend and the weather was so beautiful, and I was so in love with her, and because I'm kind of nihilistic and sci-fi oriented, the way that I coped with that love was to imagine that when I was looking into her eyes, that I was winning the game, and that the party full of friends who were watching me play this piñata game?the Roy game from Rick and Morty?that they were cheering when I looked into her eyes. Because those were the moments when I was actually figuring out that the meaning of life was to realize how lucky I was, and when I was speaking to her, I was actually somewhere with a hood over my head, with a room full of octopus creatures, watching me and going, "He gets it! He got it, he got it!"


Source: Dan Harmon: "Rick is an Anarchist"
Richard Mellor / Film Review: Ilo Ilo, Not Just an Asian Movie
« Last post by Richard Mellor on Today at 06:01:28 AM »
Film Review: Ilo Ilo, Not Just an Asian Movie

See it on IMDB
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Ilo Ilo, the story of a Filipina maid hired to care for the spoiled child of a Singaporian family may be difficult to get through in the first moments as the child?s behavior is so unpleasant, but this powerful story about a crisis-ridden family during the 1998 Asian financial crash comes though with flying colors.

Ilo Ilo is the first full-length feature for Singaporian director Anthony Chen and the interview with Chen and comments from the cast in the extras on the DVD is worthwhile.  Ilo Ilo is not a ?localized? movie as one cast member pointed out. It is not an ?Asian?film or a ?Singaporian? one; it is about family life and the reality of it, the struggles, the tension, the goings on behind closed doors.

Ilo Ilo is about human relations, the day-to-day existence under pressure that is common to humanity. It is about class, struggles at work and the sacrifices workers in poor countries and communities make to feed their families and their own children by looking after the children of others. One cannot help being reminded of the brutal conditions Filipino and other maids have endured working for the wealthy in Saudi Arabia and other countries although there is no such comparison here.

It is somewhat autobiographical as Chen himself was raised by a maid from the age of 8 to 12 and he points out that by far, these experiences for the children of working parents are more often than not positive ones.

The cast, from the maid played by a well known Filipina actor to the boy and the parents, are real people living their lives as so many families do. The scene with the maid washing the young boy in the shower and the interplay between them, I am not sure they would have been the same if Ilo Ilo was an American made movie. We are known to blurr butt cracks here in the US, even of 10 year olds.

This is a wonderful, powerful film that will not be contained by borders, nationality, language or other social obstructions. It is however in Mandarin and Tagalog so the viewer is faced with subtitles which will unfortunately, along with limited circulation as there?s not enough explosions and violence in it, mean millions of Americans will never see this film.

If we want to ?Make America Great Again? it might help if Americans watched more movies like Ilo Ilo.

Source: Film Review: Ilo Ilo, Not Just an Asian Movie
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