Κάλιο αργά παρά πωτέ που λένε. Ανακάλυψα σήμερα τον άγριο ξεφτιλισμό του Κωστάκη Πλεύρη μέσα απο το κείμενο Κώστας Πλεύρη: Ο Ιεροεξεταστής της Ιστορίας το οποίο είναι απλά εκπληκτικό και ως πρως τον ξεμπροντιασμό του φασιστάκου, και ως πρως το χιούμορ που διαθέτει.
Είναι μακρύ αλλά αξίζει πολύ να διαβαστεί. Ένα μεγαλο εύγε στον συντάκτη.
When anarchists refer to their comrades as weak-willed sheep to be led around, then you know the rots has already gone deep.
It’s generally sad when I get disappointed by fellow anarchists online, but I don’t make a big deal out of it always However, sometimes, I feel a need to point out where I see a failing – when there is a salient point to be made on an issue. Such is the case with the recent interaction I had in /r/anarchism.
The story so far
/r/anarchism has until now been fairly laissez-faire in moderation, something which changed somewhat after the The Great /r/anarchism Shitstorm of 2010 when it was accepted that oppressive speech and people would be removed from the premises. However, it was commonly accepted that all other aspects of moderation, save combating outright spam, would be left to the organic moderation of the community.
One month ago, one of the newer mods in the team, wanted to start manually removing so-called reposts, by which they meant the same story published on different webpages and posted to /r/anarchism within a short amount of time from other versions of it. They asked the community for comments and the general sentiments was that they should remains hands-off about it and that was that.
Yesterday, as I was reading a post about some anarchistic rants from Eric Raymond, I noticed this mod had left a single comment saying “No platform”. I decided to check if that meant what I thought it did, and sure enough, that post had been moved by said mod to the spam filter. Alarmed, I checked the recent additions to the spam filter and found it half-full with reposts (as well as similar “No platform” removals ((The same moderator has also expressed explicit desires to remove “anarcho”-capitalists from the discussion, something which was historically tolerated in /r/anarchism for the purposes of open discussion.)) ) that this mod had started doing, pretty much since the community asked them to remain hands-off.
I kinda exploded about it on /r/metanarchism, not so much about reposts being removed, but about the mod acting unilaterally and despite the decision reached in the past. My tone led this mod to try and troll me, and in the process revealed just what an authoritarian sentiment they hold, and how little they regard the people in the community they moderate.
More specifically, when challenged on the fact that they are not only removing the agency of the community and disregarding democratic decision-making, they replied with two very telling phrases.
Sit down and shut up.
This is significant because it sets the tone of the discussion. The mod is taking the clear role of the authority figure which reinforces the fact that lately, whatever this mod has wanted has been done despite all opposition. ((For example, someone requested that I be added as a mod again, this had significant support, but this particular mod blocked it on the ground that I would prevent mods from acting too much. Obviously they meant that I would stop them from doing what they just did, which I would. The request then moved to modified consensus, which was supported by 10 people and blocked by this one mod. The last request to make the mods follow the rules of their own community, also fell flat)) So I needed to be told my place obviously, a trend which continued throughout the thread by the mod in question continuously mocking my concerns.
It became apparent to me after having to beg to edit the sidebar that people around here tend to oppose things or sit on their ass if you ask, but go along with them if you just do them.
This must be the most cynical justification of authoritarianism I’ve seen. And from a self-professed anarchist no less! This is practically saying that the mod consider their comrades weak-willed and apathetic, so they’ll give lip service to democratic processes but will go through with their plan anyway since nobody is going to stop them anyway. I noted the quote in the thread, which only elicited more mockery from the mod in question, while everyone else just twiddled their thumbs.
It is no wonder that this mod has started acting as if /r/anarchism is their personal fief.
So since then, I’ve been trying to explain to people, that it doesn’t matter how small or trivial the act of authoritarianism was. The problem is that it was a unilateral act that went against what people expressed they wanted. People kept trying to argue with me that “deleting reposts is no big deal, and why should we not do it anyway?” which is frustratingly beside the point.
It doesn’t matter if removing reposts is not a significant act. It matters that this mod cynically rams through their own preferences and anarchists just let him do it. Of course the same people then argued that since people don’t bother to show up and argue the point, then obviously removing reposts is “not a big deal” and round and round we go.
To perhaps make it more understandable why allowing some people to act this way is problematic, I wanted to tell a little story which might make an apt analogy and the point I’m making more obvious:
A story of leftovers
Imagine if you will, a large community with communal kitchens and dining areas. After each meal, the leftovers are left in a pile in the kitchen and there are also a few people in the community who use them for various purposes. Some make compost out of vegetable leftovers, while others make soups out of meat leftovers such as bones.
Now imagine also that there are a few others who really dislike seeing those leftovers hanging there for hours until the ones who wish to use them come around to collect them. After a while, they make a meeting to discuss the situation. They would like to throw them away immediately with the normal garbage. The meeting is not very large because most people don’t care about leftovers, but some who collect them and some who want to throw them away show up, as well as some who don’t feel strongly about it either way. Various arguments are made for and against, with the ones who want to throw them away mentioning that they are unseemly, smelly or unhygienic while the ones who collect them make the case that those effect are very minor and easily avoidable while there are others benefits. After some back and forth on this issue, within this small meeting, the general sentiment is that most people don’t mind the leftovers staying around until they are collected and everyone leaves it at that.
People in the community go on with their lives and nobody really thinks about the issue anymore. However one of people who was the most vocal about getting rid of the leftovers, starts going around throwing away the leftovers when they notice them anyway. They don’t throw all of them away, and they always leave a small cryptic post-it note somewhere in the kitchen area that is fairly easy to miss. The people who gather them don’t really notice it other than simply finding less leftovers around.
Eventually one finds the post-it note and starts to investigate. They go through the normal garbage and notice a large quantity of leftovers in them. Enraged, they call another meeting about it and call-out the one throwing the leftovers away: “Why did you start doing this, when we agreed to let us handle it?”. Various people from the old and new meeting arrived to see what all the fuss was about.
The answer comes back: “But leftovers are unseemly and smelly.” Some people in attendance murmur in agreement, some of the ones collecting the leftovers start explaining again why they want them, and the discussion on if the leftovers should be stored or thrown away starts again. Only this time, the framing is different. This time the ones collecting them need to provide a reason to convince people to let them do it, and they need to find enough support to peer-pressure the one doing it unilaterally to stop. They will also need to get into confrontation about it which is not worth it for something so minor. “Why are you making a big deal out of this? They’re only leftovers!” Those who didn’t want leftovers lying around don’t speak up because they got what they preferred now. And unfortunately, not many care about leftovers anyway, so most remain on the fence or don’t provide any input at all.
The real problem was ignored.
The issue here was not on whether leftovers should be collected. The issue was about one person who put their personal preferences above everyone else. The fact that most were apathetic enough about it to let them is part of the problem, not the justification! At the end of this hypothetical story, the people who were doing something harmless were alienated from their own community. Their wishes, their decision-making, their agency were diminished. In the future they will not even go to such meetings. “Why bother”?
The one who disregarded them and did their own thing anyway? Now they think their comrades are weak-willed and pushovers. And next time they try to ram their preferences though, they’ll find even less opposition as more and more people are alienated. If anyone raises concerns about previous such incidents, they’ll silence them through mockery. “Yeah, fear my hygienic authority. Imma coming for your garbage!”. Those who get their way while in the minority will go with it, because, “why not?”, while those who are against it, even when they know there’s more of them, will be the silent (perr-pressured if necessary) majority, going through with it just to avoid confrontation and belittlement.
Authoritarianism starts to creep in. Some people learn that they can manipulate their more confrontation-averse, apathetic, or facilitating comrades to their own ends and realize that disregarding the wishes of others works better. The ones whose wishes are disregarded will defer more and more from decision-making and may even internalize this behaviour. Soon enough you have an authority-leader figure and followers. And unless the authority figure does something egregious, they will only increase their unofficial influence.
I fully expect to be further mocked for this piece. “All this though about doing something as beneficial as removing spam?”, some will disingenuously asset, once again missing the point I’m making:
Authoritarianism and hierarchy does not always assert itself in one fell-violent-swoop. These sentiments creep into even the best-intentioned communities and rot them from within. Until a point comes where people either finally wake up and a splinter occurs, with the previous authority figures retaining control of the space along with those who’ve internalized the unsaid hierarchy most, while the rest go and found a new community and vow never to succumb to the same traps…until new people join and everyone grows lax once more.
It’s easy to declare vigilance against the obvious authoritarians and entryists who are painfully obvious to everyone. It’s much more difficult to be vigilant to all the small erosions coming from trusted friends, who are getting just a bit too comfortable in being seen at the leader. The stories of anarchist communities being subverted this way and eventually imploding or dissolving are numerous. Some times there’s a happy end with the petulant authority figure being expelled (and sometimes even being found out to have been an agent provocateur), but even then, the wounds done to the community are deep. Sometimes fatal.
The reason I’m starting to call out people on these apparent trivial things is not because I’m a slave to process or “stickler to procedure” as the mod in question described me. The reason I’m doing this is because I am concerned of authoritarian tendencies. No matter how small and no matter if I personally agree with the end result. The price, the rot within, is never worth it.
Authoritarians don’t like being called on their shit, and self-professed anarchist authoritarians even less and will always attempt to divert the discussion to discussing the merits of their perspective, rather than the problems of their tactics. People avert to conflict, or convenienced by the apparent end result, or just looking for lulz will indulge them and join on the assault, ridicule and marginalization of those of us raising attention to the small violations of anarchistic principles. I’ve seen it time and again, coming from all people in positions of authority. Ridicule comes first. If this doesn’t work, then they fight you, clean or dirty. Already some people in /r/anarchism are trying to paint me as a concern troll for raising issues like this, regardless of the fact that I’ve been here active in this community longer than they have. Read the thread above to see just how absurd the accusation basis becomes later on.
But putting the idea out there that I’m concern trolling and repeating it is a rather ingenious tactic. Repeat the lie often enough and then the idea will stick…somewhere. Soon enough, calling me a concern troll will not immediately sound so absurd. “Haven’t they been called a concern troll multiple times in the last few months?” the subconscious will remark.
Oh, and did I mention that it just so happens that lately they’ve started banning concern trolls in /r/anarchism?
And to pre-empt some people, no, I am not a martyr, nor I consider myself one. I am not looking to get myself banned to make a point, nor am I trying to bring down /r/anarchism. What I am is disappointed that a community that is theoretically made of a larger concentration of anarchists than most, not only lets the small violations pass, but they mostly don’t care for a democratic decision-making process. I am dismayed that when a mod cynically refers to their comrades as weak-willed sheep to be led around and shamelessly admit that they do so, nobody bats an eyelid. I am alarmed that there is so little vigilance…
Am I giving too much thought to the going-ons of a small online community on the net, compared to the grand scheme of things? Perhaps. But I find that the “grand things” tend to mask the small ones until it’s too late.
To put it another way: When you’re battling pigs on the street daily, it’s difficult when you come home to notice or be upset about some guys throwing away your leftovers…
Over all, there are now more people under “correctional supervision” in America-more than six million-than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.
An interesting tidbit of information about the police state of the US of A, and how their capitalist system has found a way to rework the justice system itself in order to secure cheap and maleable labour.
Patriot Americans love to remind everyone on the socialist side of the prism, about how better capitalism is than everything else, and bring about comparisons with Russian gulags and the like. It’s hilarious to point out that they’re actually far worse than they were.
The “Get Shit Done” committee really doesn’t like being reminded that it’s acting at the mandate of a community.
This has been a common trait of almost all the ones who have expressed their intense dislike towards me ((for not being “anarchist enough”. I was also hated by many on the other side of the coin for supposedly facilitating authoritarians)) since the Great /r/Anarchism ShitStorm of 2010, while I was acting as a mod, and even now where I’m not.
I find it very disconcerning that many self-professed anarchists will support some of the most authoritarian decision-making styles, if it will “get things done”, without ever thinking of the costs. As if a movement which based itself on hierarchical and authoritarian “get things done” mentality would somehow transform into a democratic and mutual aid society after those things had been done.
The ShitRedditSays Fempire is quickly becoming the only worthwhile place to hang out in Reddit (aside from a few places that make an effort to being inclusive such as /r/anarchism). One of the classic things that happen with some regularity are the so-called “effortposts”, which are basically long text posts, meant to go into some depth into reddit depravity, or simply into a specific subject.
Such is the case with this amazing effortpost on racism in contemporary America and how it’s alive and kickin’ in the 21st century, regardless of what privilege blind white dudes think. I can say, as a white dude, that this was immensely educating, especially since I am very unfamiliar with the realities of racism over the pond.
Look through the following, save it in your bookmarks, and rub it in the face of any idiot redditor who tells you that racism in America is over.
Hoppean-Libertarianism must be the most inhumane ideology ever conceived
This is…I don’t…
I am just reading through this interview by a radical libertarian called “Code Name Cain” who expands upon his ideology. I do believe this must be the most absurd libertarian I’ve ever read. Calling him Fractally Wrong is almost an understatement.
Take a look at the six parts interview, read through the thing. It gets much more absurd (and much more hilarious) in the latter parts.
CNC: With the secession strategy, you don’t need a majority. That’s good, because [t]he mass of people … always and everywhere consists of “brutes,” “dullards,” and “fools,” easily deluded and sunk into habitual submission . Still, there can be no revolution without some form of mass participation. … the elite cannot reach its own goal of restoring private property rights and law and order unless it succeeds in communicating its ideas to the public, openly if possible and secretly if necessary… .
ANDREW: Even if you do it secretly, convincing the masses that they are inferior sounds tricky.
CNC: That’s true, but you don’t have to convince Joe the Plumber that he is a brute. You can convince him instead that he is a hardworking, productive individual, and that other people are brutes who are making it so Joe has no control over his life.
(Note red parts are direct quotes from the AnCap ideologue, Hoppe)
ANDREW: I know that you think this is very unlikely, but suppose people living in the free society of the future decide that they don’t like it very much, and would like to go back to living in a democracy. Could they do it?
CNC: That will not be possible.
ANDREW: You mean, you are sure that no one will want to go back to democracy?
CNC: No, I mean they won’t be allowed to discuss that possibility.
In a covenant… among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society. 
THAT WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE CITIZEN. Is it me, or does this vision of libertopia sound increasingly like a weird version of Paranoia? The next paragraph expands on how the rich would be controlling armies of death bots!
ANDREW: Noblemen and masters were obeyed because their serfs and slaves recognized that some people were naturally superior to others – but then some GLOs came in and started messing everything up by appealing to racism and jealousy. These “rogue GLOs” are where governments come from.
ANDREW: You are sometimes forced to engage in lobbying.
CNC: Yes. For example, the current meme in the investment community is that the combination of climate change and population growth will make it almost impossible to have enough food for the world by the year 2050. Farmland is soaring in price.
My hedge fund discovered uncultivated land in the African country of ***. The land did not belong to anyone, and so we tried to buy it from the relevant government. Outrageously, certain officials from *** insisted on…
CNC: … arrangements before they would agree to sell the land at a fair price.
ANDREW: Was this farmland unoccupied?
CNC: No one owned the land before we bought it.
ANDREW: But was someone living there?
CNC: There were some local tribesmen who claimed that they had a vague traditional “right” to the land. Decisive action was necessary before they stopped squatting on our land.
ANDREW: Involving trucks of men carrying machine guns…
ANDREW: But you changed the story! That isn’t how it ends – the father doesn’t agree with the older son. He says it is right for them to celebrate, for “thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And most readers assume that at that point, the older brother realizes that he has been acting like a two-year-old.
CNC: Look, I’m not like Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises. I don’t think that being a libertarian is incompatible with being a Christian. But since, as Mises put it, “all efforts to find support for the institution of private property… in the teachings of Christ are quite vain,” it is true that the New Testament needs to be edited a
Fortunately for this world, the CNC character was fictional. Unfortunately, Hoppe and his red quotes are not. And the red quotes were the primary content of this “interview” 😉
In fact, I found Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s ideas fascinating, but it would have been quite difficult to construct a dialogue entirely from snippets of his book. Even if I had done that, there would still have been a risk of misrepresenting his thought. Code Name Cain was created so that I could try to fill in missing or uncertain details of a Hoppe-like philosophy in the most logical manner I could think of, without attributing these additions to Hoppe himself. Some fine points that a couple readers thought I personally invented were actually adapted (rather faithfully) from Hoppe’s book: in particular, the graphs in part VI showing time-preference curves for different types of individuals (compare p. 8 of Hoppe’s book).
Libertarians are inconsistent if they consider taxes immoral, but not wage labour and rent.
A frequent and much beloved (Right)-Libertarian talking point is on how taxes are not voluntary and that they are claimed by the state at the end of a gun barrel. “Taxes are theft”, “Taxes are violence” blah blah blah. We’ve all heard the spiel I’m sure. But I doubt how many have realized that such an argument is not really consistent with the logic libertarians ((I’ll avoid using (right) for brevity. Let’s just assume it’s implied whenever I say “libertarian” in this post.)) apply in regards to voluntary contracts and choice.
You see, a common aspect of most strains of libertarianism is that any choice made voluntarily – by which they mean, in the absence of active coercion – is morally acceptable for both parties. Thus a person choosing to work for a wage, has made a conscious decision to get in this position, because it increases his marginal utility. In the same vein, a person choosing to work in a sweatshop have made a decision which makes their life better off than before, so the sweatshop practice itself is obviously moral. A female being sexually harassed by her boss, but nevertheless staying in the job, is a voluntary choice which naturally means that the sexual attention she’s receiving does not constitute “harassment”. Naturally it follows that if people do not want to end up in this situations, they always have the choice of not taking those particular jobs.
So, in this context, aren’t taxes voluntary just as well? Consider that when you sign up for a job, you agree to a contract that states that a part of your wage will go to the state. You are volunteering to a contract that stipulates taxes. If you do not like the contract, you always have the choice of not working at all. This is a valid choice, as much as it is for the sweatshop worker, is it not? You weight your options and choose the one more beneficial to you.
Most likely libertarians will mention at this point that even those opening their own business have to pay taxes, even though they have no contract with the state. But that would also be false. They do have such a contract with the state. The contract that leases the land they live on, for it is in the very end, the property of the state. You can’t own any land, unless somewhere in the history of that land, there is a contract between state and the first owner. And that contract, had stipulations for taxes. The taxes of the business owner thus become analogous to the rent of a land owner, and much like the contract with a land owner can have stipulations that you can accept or deny, so does the contract with the state. In this case being that you have to give an amount of your income to the state in the form of income tax, and all contracts with your employees must stipulate income tax as well. If you choose to enter this voluntary contract, then naturally you must think it acceptable. Surely if the land owner was simply a private person, requiring rent from you and everyone you employ, you would have the same amount of choice, no?
It is the case then, that if you don’t like the terms of such contracts, you are of course free not to work at all. Nobody is forcing you to make such a choice. But if you do make it, then it’s under our own volition, is it not?
I can foresee at this point the enraged flames that will start bursting my way. Most likely I will be informed that the choice is an illusion, since the state has artificially and violently limited the options to either paying income tax, or not making money at all. And I will admit, this is a very compelling argument indeed.
Which is why I will have to pull the “switch” to my “bait” now.
You see, the argument that will be made to point out that the choice between “work with taxation or no work” is an artificial one, is the same one I will use myself to point that “work for a boss or don’t work” is an artificial choice just as well. You want the option to live in a society where nobody has to pay taxes, I want the option to work in a society where nobody has to work for a boss.
Libertarians might claim that everyone would have this option in a society with no taxes, but if some landowners already hoard all the available land, then that is simply not true, for no landowner would be foolish enough to sell it rather than rent it. It would be as likely as the state truly selling land (rather than renting it via taxes) and allowing anyone to secede. In fact, that is the truth of the matter: The state, at the moment, is acting just like a capitalist landowner renting you some land with stipulations. The “rent” you pay, is your taxes. Imagine for a moment that instead of states, you had private landowners who asked for rent instead of tax. Would you, as a libertarian, have an issue with this?
Perhaps the smart libertarian will claim that the state came into ownership of this land through violence, and therefore any ownership claims over it are invalid. This is undeniably true: The state did enclose all the land through brutal violence. But what is to be done? The libertarian of a Rothbardian persuasion would undoubtedly claim that the best option would be to simply remove the state as the player, and let the ownership titles stand as they are, or possibly owned by their current workers in a shareholder format. But I would object to that, for this is not a natural distribution of ownership either, rather, it is artificially created by the previous violence of the state and its continued legacy of its collusion with the plutocracy throughout history. If one were to simply declare that the current ownership claims should be treated as “homesteading”, then why not do the same jump and claim that the current state ownership should just as well be treated as “homesteading”? Both these scenarios would ignore violent history anyway, so why not stick to the status quo? After all, I’m confident that very few libertarians would have an issue with the current arrangement if they were paying “rent” instead of “taxes” and they were living under the rule of a private landowner with extensive management staff, rather than a democratic state with extensive bureaucracy.
Or perhaps not. But then, I’d like to hear what the significant difference would be (except the lack of democracy that is).
The truth is that there’s isn’t a functional difference between a state and a landowner. Both simply ask for rent to allow you to live within their ownership claims (borders). The former simply also provides the illusion that you have a say in the policies that affect everyone under these border, as a way to pacify you. And this lack of difference remains whether you have 204 uber-landowners or 2.000.000. The size of their borders might decrease, but the effect of their rule would not.
As such, the original problem would remain. Perhaps the libertarians won’t mind, as long as they have 2.000.000 choices of contracts, rather than 204 but then again, that would mean the problem was in the number of states in existence, not in their taxation.
The lack of choice would still remain. We would still not have the option to live and work without rent and without bosses and landlords. For anarchists like me of course, that is still the biggest problem, but for libertarians it shouldn’t be; after all, bosses and landlords aren’t an issue for them…
Thus in the end, it would be simply hypocritical for a libertarian to claim that the state rent (i.e. tax) is immoral while the rent demanded from a landlord or boss isn’t. Both are based on passive coercion, rather than active. “Work for a boss, or starve” is not much of a choice, anymore than “Pay your taxes or go to jail” is. Both rely on the same exact set of circumstances: The artificial limitation of choices through the past exercise of violence.
Something which we communists like to call Primitive Accumulation…
PS: This post was inspired when I watched the “income tax bait and switch” in action, in this reddit comment thread. Props to watwatwatwatt for thinking of it.