Anarchist Rhetoric Gone Mainstream
December 9, 2000 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Anarchist Rhetoric Gone Mainstream -- Democrats and Republicans have appropriated anarchist rhetoric while -- perversely -- strengthening state power at the same time. "...So it is that anarchists ultimately agree with the classical liberal thinker Adam Smith - ironically held to be a great classical exponent of laissez faire capitalism - when he wrote in 1776 that 'Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.' The right-wing 'anti-statists' who might otherwise venerate Smith cannot bring themselves to admit this fact. While seeking to enable private power to run government institutions more openly, they do not undermine the State's power but merely make sure it fulfills its classical role. "
posted by johnb (9 comments total)

Unfortunately for Brian, he makes a false assertion that all Republicans are on the right and all Democrats seem to be going right. Wake up! When you ask people who they identify themselves as, you get about 1/3 independent, a little more than 1/3 Democrat and a little less than 1/3 Republican. Both parties have a ton of different subgroups. Republicans have their "right", christian coalition and libertairans, (as well as moderates and liberals). In the end, policies and platforms of both parties read like feel-good, no clear direction fluff. Both claim to be for "better school, saving social security, etc". Well, who wouldn't???

Asserting that the right wants smaller govt but bigger defense budget is not an oxymoron, either, as the right does not state their case this way. The right wants the govt to perform its constitutionally assigned duties. Welfare does not come in under this mandate, but DoD does.

What is an oxymoron is the site's name: Independent Media Center.

posted by Witold at 3:45 PM on December 9, 2000

>>What is an oxymoron is the site's name: Independent Media Center.

How so? It's "independent" in the sense that anyone (yes, even you) can post an article, comment, photo, video, etc, without editorial control by the state or corporate America.

I mostly agree with what you say in your first paragraph. I would add that "right" and "left" are not the most helpful terms, and shouldn't appear in anything that purports to be a serious analysis of politics in America.

>>The right wants the govt to perform its constitutionally assigned duties.

Yes, that's one theme of conservative rhetoric...

>> Welfare does not come in under this mandate, but DoD does.

Well, I would reframe that as:

Welfare does not come in under this mandate, but defense does.

What's the difference? Well, the libertarian (not only anarchist) perspective is that the vast majority of the DoD budget is wasted on corporate welfare (Q:what allows this? A: all the international trade agreements contain loopholes that allows the US to hide any kind of protectionism under the banner of "defense spending")
posted by johnb at 5:46 PM on December 9, 2000

johnb: Point well taken about by site--I jumped to conclusions. I wasn't familiar with the site and when I looked at the main page I missed the "publish" link.

On a side note, it seems to me that "liberal" has become a dirty word for the Democrats. I get the impression that most of the Dem elected officials would rather walk on hot coals than say "I'm liberal". (This is certainly less of a case for "conservatives", or am I wrong?) I guess overall, both parties are trying to distance themselves from their ideological extremes.
posted by Witold at 9:05 PM on December 9, 2000

I love these sort of articles, but they are steeped in theory and don’t contain any useful anti-rhetoric. To most people, I fear this looks like more intellectual palathering. Get back in your ivory tower, boy. We don’t need no book learners ’round here.

How could I tell to my religious conservative Uncle that, wouldn’t-you-know, Republicans don’t really care about smaller, cheaper government (which translates as solely less taxes in his mind), but in fact, need the status quo. He is just as well voting Democrat as Republican, but wouldn’t believe me if I told him.

Witold: You are right in saying most voters don’t consider themselves affialiated, but they do generally vote Republican or Democrat. If what you say is true, that the major two parties basically have neither direction nor values, then most voters are disenfranchised. So, Brian’s argument still holds: Republicans (and Demos) don’t really represent whom they purport to because both groups’ values are fundamentally different.

And yes, conservatives made “liberalism” and “socialism” bad words in American political dialogue. I suppose Clinton and the neo-liberals are trying to do a syntactic end-around, but, as all things Clinton, it will fall apart as soon as he takes his hands off the project.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:17 AM on December 10, 2000

Liberal was a dirty word for a while, which led in part to the creation of the Democratic Leadership Council -- the group of moderates led by, in the past, Clinton, Gore, and Lieberman. Al From is the permanent director. I can say that I think the "liberal" dirty-word aspect (very noticeable in stinging attacks on Dukakis) is diminished. The 90s saw two things happen. One was the rise of the anti-Clinton right, which is very likely to refer to Democratic policies as "socialist" or "communist" (ex.: "We play into their hands when we call the press liberal. I believe we should call them what they are, which is communist through and through." Actual quote.) This has ironically reduced the taboo of being liberal. (I for one think there is an enormous difference between liberalism in the American tradition, socialism in the European tradition, and socialism (nominative communism) in the Soviet tradition -- but gosh, that's just me.) The second trend is a resurgent progressivism, e.g. Nader, Greens, anti-globalists. So the trend works both ways. Liberals are freer to take the label, and at the same time, they're more ideologically confident.

Even so, I think more would prefer the term "progressive".
posted by dhartung at 10:12 AM on December 10, 2000

capt.crackpipe: You can't be disenfranchised just because the party labels have little meaning. You don't cast your vote for GOPs or Dems. You cast your vote for a person who affiliates with one of the parties, but that does not mean that person follows the party agenda to a t--or even at all. There's plenty of liberal Reps and conservative Dems, and if anyone is relying on choosing their representative based on a party label, s/he's no better than a florida voter too stupid to follow the little arrow pointing to their candidate when voting.

In our system, to be a Republican or a Democrate takes nothing more than simply calling your self a Rep./Dem. The party system is set up this way and neither party can do much about that. It's not like a parlamentarian system where if yo don't go along with a party on some votes they'll throw your ass out.

posted by Witold at 12:35 PM on December 10, 2000

Anarchism has always had it adherents on the Left and on the Right.

Karl Marx referred to it as philosophy of shop-keepers.

posted by lagado at 4:48 PM on December 10, 2000

If what you say is true, that the major two parties basically have neither direction nor values, then most voters are disenfranchised.

Another argument is that the two major parties encompass the most acceptable parts of all the value systems and political ideologies, which is good because it prevents the more extreme parties, with far fewer adherents, from gaining control over the masses.
posted by aaron at 10:35 PM on December 10, 2000

I’d certainly agree that most careerist politicians say they represent certain idealogies, but forsake their swindled constituencies once elected. I disagree, however, that centrists are better than “extremist” politicans. A centrist, to me, represents the status quo, and have names like Bush and Gore.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:29 PM on December 10, 2000

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