Monday, July 04, 2005



"It has been my fate to be a worker all my life."
--Jo Labadie

"government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." Thomas Paine

Independence day,was a day forgotten by the early 19th Century American master craftsmen, landowners, rich farmers, and religious revivalists. It was revived and celebrated by the 'mechanics and artisans' of the American Republic. The origin of July 4th celebrations in the United States were the celebrations of apprentices and journeymen in revolt against the social conservatives of the the day, their masters. It was their day to demand the fruits of the revolution their right to the fruits of their labour. (Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic; New York City & the Rise of the American Working Class 1788-1850, OUP 1984)

It was this struggle of labouring men and women in America that led to the Free Labour movment which eventually confronted the Democratic Tyrants of Tamminy Hall in New York with a new political party called the Republican Party. It was this party under Abraham Lincoln that called for the freedom of the labouring man, and freeing of the slaves so that they could enjoy the fruits of their labour as mechanics, artisans and farmers.
(Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labour)

Freedom was no slogan for a new toothpaste, or another coffee shop. Freedom was not something to be exported at the end of the bayonet. Freedom was for the individual to enjoy his or her right to the fruits of their labour. For it was well known that labour produced all value.

The radical American individualist was an anarchist. Influenced by Prodhoun, Stirner and the First International Working Mens organisation, anarchists like the Haymarket martyrs were joined by the individualist anarchists like Benjamin Tucker and Joseph Labadie, who understood the labour theory of value was essential for demanding individual freedom.

The anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. They believe that “the best government is that which governs least,” and that which governs least is no government at all.
Benjamin Tucker

They shared no cant with the capitalist, the monopolist as they called them, for these robber barons stole the labour of others, leaving them in poverty while living in mansions fit for kings. They were athiests, abolitionists, feminists, and socialists. Their socialism was not that of Europe, not State Socialism, but that of the 'free association of producers'.

Not to abolish wages, but to make every man dependent upon wages and secure to every man his whole wages is the aim of Anarchistic Socialism. What Anarchistic Socialism aims to abolish is usury. It does not want to deprive labor of its reward; it wants to deprive capital of its reward. It does not hold that labor should not be sold; it holds that capital should not be hired at usury.
Benjamin Tucker

They were individualist socialists. They were a 'unique', as Stirner refered to the egoist, socialist movement in a new nation. A nation that was built not on monarchies or old families, nor status or wealth but built by labour. Their individualist anarchism enthralled and influenced the emigre anarchist Emma Goldman, and horrorfied statist socialists and craft unions. They were the extreme left of the labour movement .

IF I WERE to give a summary of the tendency of our times, I would say, Quantity. The multitude, the mass spirit, dominates everywhere, destroying quality. Our entire life--production, politics, and education--rests on quantity, on numbers. The worker who once took pride in the thoroughness and quality of his work, has been replaced by brainless, incompetent automatons, who turn out enormous quantities of things, valueless to themselves, and generally injurious to the rest of mankind. Thus quantity, instead of adding to life's comforts and peace, has merely increased man's burden.

The oft repeated slogan of our time is, among all politicians, the Socialists included, that ours is an era of individualism, of the minority. Only those who do not probe beneath the surface might be led to entertain this view. Have not the few accumulated the wealth of the world? Are they not the masters, the absolute kings of the situation? Their success, however, is due not to individualism, but to the inertia, the cravenness, the utter submission of the mass. The latter wants but to be dominated, to be led, to be coerced. As to individualism, at no time in human history did it have less chance of expression, less opportunity to assert itself in a normal, healthy manner.
Emma Goldman, Minorities Versus Majorities

American Anarchist Socialism was the result of the direct experiences of working men and women as they suffered abject poverty while wealth flowed around them. It was the poltical and economic trajectory of a nation of labourers and farmers an Artisnal nation. And it was the artisan that celebrated 'their ' independence as being one and the same as their 'nation'.

But all that changed through the Civil War and after as America became an industrial capitalist nation of robber barons. Great monopolies were created, the first military industrial complex, one that gave power to the two political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. No longer were either the voice of the 'workingman', whom they gave sufferage to in order to win their votes. Thus was born the rebellion of workers to create a 'third party' as well as various socialist parties and social organizations like unions and the farmers Grange movement.

There were from the beginning two different strands within Socialism: one was the Right-wing, authoritarian strand, from Saint-Simon down, which glorified statism, hierarchy, and collectivism and which was thus a projection of Conservatism trying to accept and dominate the new industrial civilization. The other was the Left-wing, relatively libertarian strand, exemplified in their different ways by Marx and Bakunin, revolutionary and far more interested in achieving the libertarian goals of liberalism and socialism: but especially the smashing of the State apparatus to achieve the "withering away of the State" and the "end of the exploitation of man by man." Interestingly enough, the very Marxian phrase, the "replacement of the government of men by the administration of things," can be traced, by a circuitous route, from the great French radical laissez-faire liberals of the early nineteenth century, Charles Comte (no relation to Auguste Comte) and Charles Dunoyer. And so, too, may the concept of the "class struggle"; except that for Dunoyer and Comte the inherently antithetical classes were not businessmen vs. workers, but the producers in society (including free businessmen, workers, peasants, etc.) versus the exploiting classes constituting, and privileged by, the State apparatus. Having replaced radical liberalism as the party of the "Left," Socialism, by the turn of the twentieth century, fell prey to this inner contradiction. Most Socialists (Fabians, Lassalleans, even Marxists) turned sharply rightward, completely abandoned the old libertarian goals and ideals of revolution and the withering away of the State, and became cozy Conservatives permanently reconciled to the State, the status quo, and the whole apparatus of neo-mercantilism, State monopoly capitalism, imperialism and war that was rapidly being established and riveted on European society at the turn of the twentieth century. For Conservatism, too, had re-formed and regrouped to try to cope with a modern industrial system, and had become a refurbished mercantilism, a regime of statism marked by State monopoly privilege, in direct and indirect forms, to favored capitalists and to quasi-feudal landlords. The affinity between Right Socialism and the new Conservatism became very close, the former advocating similar policies but with a demagogic populist veneer: thus, the other side of the coin of imperialism was "social imperialism," which Joseph Schumpeter trenchantly defined as "an imperialism in which the entrepreneurs and other elements woo the workers by means of social welfare concessions which appear to depend on the success of export monopolism...” Murray Rothbard

While there was plenty there was plenty of want as well, as thousands of new immigrants flooded America seeking their economic freedom from serfdom in Europe. What they found was an America that would use and abuse them for their labour by allowing capital its unfettered freedom. Such freedom of capital is often mistakenly called, even today, individualism. But it is not. As homegrown Socialists like Jack London would discover.

Man being man and a great deal short of the angels, the quarrel over the division of the joint product is irreconcilable. For the last twenty years in the United States, there has been an average of over a thousand strikes per year; and year by year these strikes increase in magnitude, and the front of the labor army grows more imposing. And it is a class struggle, pure and simple. Labor as a class is fighting with capital as a class.

Workingmen will continue to demand more pay, and employers will continue to oppose them. This is the key-note to LAISSEZ FAIRE,-- everybody for himself and devil take the hindmost. It is upon this that the rampant individualist bases his individualism. It is the let-alone policy, the struggle for existence, which strengthens the strong, destroys the weak, and makes a finer and more capable breed of men. But the individual has passed away and the group has come, for better or worse, and the struggle has become, not a struggle between individuals, but a struggle between groups. So the query rises: Has the individualist never speculated upon the labor group becoming strong enough to destroy the capitalist group, and take to itself and run for itself the machinery of industry? And, further, has the individualist never speculated upon this being still a triumphant expression of individualism,--of group individualism,--if the confusion of terms may be permitted?

Jack London, The Class Struggle
Speech first given before a Ruskin Club banquet in the Hotel Metropole on Friday, October 9, 1903.

The artisan sensibility rejected the mass production that was becoming America it rebeled against the moderinization and dehumanization of the machinery of capitalism that denied individuality. And thus anarchism as expressed by American individualist socialists would find a comrade in William Morris and his Socialist Artisan Craft movement in England.

But the Great War came, amidst increasing working class strikes and rebellions, and thus Uncle Sam was born. The nativist patriotic representation of the new industrial military complex. And July 4th became a day not of celebration of freedom and labour but of the monopoly of power, economic and political, of the new American ruling class. A class that declared war on working people. And has continued that war at home and around the world for the last 100 years.

Anarchists were outlawed , arrested, deported, cleaned out by the State (regardless of the party in power) with the help of the American Federation of Labour, the churches, and of course all the other patriots. Laws were passed outlawing Anarchism and criminal syndicalism, the right of workers to form militant unions to overthrow capitalism. Those laws still exist on the books today.

Which is a great seque into this Independence Day in a nation that is both isolationist and imperialist, patriotic to a fault, where both the Democrats and Republicans and their right and left supporters, continue to battle to maintain their monopoly on power.

Where Free Trade is a euphimism like Freedom. Meaning exactly its opposite in practice. Where liberty is a brand of insurance. Where neo-conservatives are defined as libertarians, and liberals are Republican lite. Today the criminal syndicalism act and the anti-anarchist act are replaced with the equally vile Patriot act. Where War is Peace, and Freedom Wage Slavery.

The fearmongering, the palatable terror of shallow patriotism has once again come around full circle. The President says 'yer fer us or against us', and he means those who hold the monopoly on power. Be it Wall Street, the Pentagon, the churches or the government.

All that is old is new again. There is good reason to harken back to the Vietnam war. Unlike the Korean War which was the hot cover for a Cold War that had begun ten years earlier, Vietnam was a catalyst for social change in America. A new left and a new right, a libertarian movement emerged in America in the sixties in opposition to the War. And today that movement is once again active opposing the current war in Iraq.

The neo-con artists who claim the title libertarian, are nothing of the sort, their ilk is merely the Republican party of Nixon and Goldwater. And once again the old boys from the late sixties are in power, in the media, in the universities, in the corporations and in the government. Even Kerry who was a Seventies radical, disavowed his anti-war activism during his campaign for President. His saluting to the nation hoping to become Commander in Chief wa for naught. Why vote for Republican lite when you can have the real thing.

But the sixties didn't die when everyone started becoming hip capitalists. There was an essential movement towards a revival of anarchistic socialism as Tucker called it. A movement of the real Libertarian Left and Right.

And it has been revived, again. The timing could not be better. The new right is the old right, the new left is the old left. An anti-statist, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist libertarian movement was begun in the early sixties, and it is essential to see it continue today.

And it has begun, with the Anti-War movement. One that seperates the real libertarians from the neo-con artists of the Republican party, the Libertarian Party and the Conservative Party in Canada. The Imperialist warmongers in the United States are facing opposition from Libertarians left and right. Which has not happened since the Viet Nam war, when the Libertarian Right broke from the Young Republicans for Freedom as the Libertarian Left was purged by the Maoists in the SDS.

The only voices of dissent are heard, today, on the Left – or, at least, are raised by those who in no sense consider themselves conservatives. While a great number of yesterday's left-wing anti-imperialists defected to the War Party during the Clinton years, a new campus movement aimed at Israel's depredations against the Palestinians in the West Bank has arisen, along with a growing antiwar movement. This is where all the vitality, the rebelliousness, the willingness to challenge the rules and strictures of an increasingly narrow and controlled national discourse resides.

Who is fighting against the all-out assault on our civil liberties, and resisting Bush's drive to war? It sure ain't the conservatives, who seem intent on overthrowing our old Republic and installing in its stead a global Empire. As the political elites unite behind a program of endless wars abroad and state repression at home, the old labels of Left and Right are increasingly meaningless: liberals and conservatives, increasingly, have come to stand for minor variations on the same theme. Now is the time for libertarians to, finally, break free of all that – just in time to take a leading role in the next upsurge of social and political change.

Justin Raimondo is Editorial Director of AntiWar.Com.

So if you think the Cato Institute or Tucker Carlson are Libertarians well lets take an issue like:

House Passes Constitutional Amendment to Ban Flag Burning
By Mike Allen Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, June 23, 2005; Page A05

And see what real Libertarians said about this same issue during the Viet Nam war.

A Journal of Libertarian Thought
(published from 1965-1968)

Volume 3, Number 3; Spring-Autumn 1967

The Congress of the United States, in its wisdom, has
now moved to make a federal offense out of "desecrating
the flag'. No doubt the great bulk of those who fought for,
and voted for, this law, believe themselves to be devoted
Christians and champions of the rights of private property.
We shall prove that they are nothing of the kind.
The first thing that should be clear about the flag is
that it is simply a piece of cloth with parallel stripes
of certain colors. So the first thing that we should ask
ourselves is: what is there ahout a piece of cloth that
suddenly renders it sacred, holy, and above defilement
when red and white stripes are woven into it? Contrary
to many of our hysterical politicians, the flag is not our
country; still less is the flag the freedom of the indivi-
dual. The flag is simply a piece of cloth. Period. There-
fore he who tampers with or .desecrates' that piece of
cloth is not posing any kind of a threat to our freedoms
or our way of life.
Consider the implications of taking the contrary posi-
tion: if the flag is nor just a piece of cloth, then this means
that some form of mystical transsubstantiation must take
place, and therefore that weaving a piece of cloth in a
certain manner suddenly invests it with great and awe-
some sanctity. Indeed Webster's defines 'desecrate': as
'to divest of a sacred character or office'. Most people
who revere and worship the flag in this way are religious;
but to apply to a secular object this kind of adoration
is nothing more nor less than idolatry. Religious people
should be always on their guard against the worship of
graven images; but their worship of State flags is nothing
less than that kind of idolatry.
If, indeed, the flag is a symbol of anything through-
out history, it has been the battle standard of the thugs
of the State apparatus, the banner that the State raises
when it goes into battle to kill, burn, and maim inno-
cent people of some other land. All flags are soaked in
innocent blood, and to revere these particular kinds of
cloth, then, becomes not only idolatry but grotesque
idolatry at that, for it is the worship of crime and mur-
der on a massive scale.
There is another critical point in this whole contro-
versy that nobody, least of all the defenders of anti-
desecration laws, seems to have mentioned. When some-
one buys flag cloth, this cloth is his private property,
to do with as he sees fit: to revere, to place in the closet ...
or to desecrate. How can anyone deny this who believes
in the rights of private property? Anti-desecration laws
and ordinances are clear-cut and outrageous invasions
of the rights of private property, and on this ground alone
they should be repealed forthwith.
Freedom must mean, among other things, the freedom
to desecrate.

That's the arguement from Rothbard's libertarian perspective, a critique of destructive stupidity of patriotism, the patriotism of the military industrial religious state. When the arguement is about the American fetish of property rights that is the arguement from the libertarian right or neo-liberal perspective.

Property Rights are a fiction even in the country that enshrined them in their Constitution as proven by the Supreme Court that just banned property rights in the United States. And in Canada the Conservatives and neo-cons want property rights enshrined in the Constitution just like the United States.

As Prodhoun said; Property is Theft. Property is Freedom. The right to your own property/ what you posses, to do with as you will is freedom, to deprive people of propety or possesions to profit from, to use as capital, is usury as Tucker called it.
And so the property arguement is consistant with Tuckers individualist socialism.

So what was Rothbards new libertarianism of Left & Right? Why is it relevant today? Because it is a consistent critique of the neo-cons even today, especially today.

Karl Hess

The following text was originally published in PLAYBOY, March 1969. It is also available as part of Karl Hess' autobiography, as available from Laissez Faire Books. This web edition is now completed with the readers' letters concerning this article, published in the June 1969 issue of PLAYBOY.

Murray Rothbard, writing in Ramparts, has summed up this flawed conservatism in describing a "new younger generation of rightists, of `conservatives' ... who thought that the real problem of the modern world was nothing so ideological as the state vs. individual liberty or government intervention vs. the free market; the real problem, they declared, was the preservation of tradition, order, Christianity and good manners against the modern sins of reason, license, atheism, and boorishness." The reactionary tendencies of both liberals and conservatives today show clearly in their willingness to cede, to the state or the community, power far beyond the protection of liberty against violence. For differing purposes, both see the state as an instrument not protecting man's freedom but either instructing or restricting how that freedom is to be used.

Reading Left & Right should be an eyeopener to a new generation of anarchists and libertarians, who may not know the esoteric history of the libertarian movement of the New Left and New Right and how they came together in the sixties.


James Boyd

This text was originally published in The New York Times Magazine, December 6, 1970.

On a June afternoon in 1960 Karl Hess 3rd, an assistant to the president of Ohio's vast Champion Paper and Fibre Company, was driving toward Cincinnati, lost in the manipulative thoughts common to rising young executives. Suddenly the sound of a police siren intruded and he pulled over, perplexed but not alarmed, for in his world the police menaced not.

"Mr. Hess?" The trooper spoke deferentially. "The White House is trying to reach you, sir. Please call this number."

He called. Would he write the platform for the upcoming Republican National Convention at Chicago, the platform Richard Nixon would run on for President? He would; shortly thereafter he moved into an office in the White House.

At 37, clean-cut, huskily handsome, mellow-voiced, he was the kind of fellow that big business loans out to politicians to advise them what to do and say, a fellow who conducted seminars for Congressmen, authored Republican white papers on military and diplomatic strategy, would one day help ghost a book on defense policy for Representative Mel Laird. He was good at it, was in demand. In 1964 he did his stint again, co-authoring the Republican platform and staying on as Barry Goldwater's speech man in the Presidential run. Better than anyone else, Karl Hess could tell you what conservative Republicanism stood for.

Nowadays when the sirens sound, Hess scrams for the nearest exit. From Goldwaterism, which sought to abolish half of government, he has progressed to anarchism, which would abolish all. Night after night he socks it home to receptive audiences that the old conservatives were wiser than they knew: that growing militarism and welfarism have brought the garrison state and stagnation to America, just as they had prophesied; that the Old Right must join forces with the New Left in a libertarian revolution to restore neighborhood government by boycotting all other kinds. The Hess platform for 1970 is a blueprint for resistance to authority: don't pay taxes; don't submit to the draft; don't move out when the government condemns your neighborhood in the name of eminent domain; pay no attention to permits, licenses or craft certificates; hide political prisoners; support all who resist — whether it be Vivien Kellems, Rhody McCoy or the Panthers.

"The revolution occurs," Hess says, "when the victims cease to cooperate."

Why did he defect from the palace to the barricades?

"The immediate cause was Vietnam," he says. "Conservatives like me had spent our lives arguing against Federal power — with one exception. We trusted Washington with enormous powers to fight global Communism. We were wrong — as Taft foresaw when he opposed NATO. We forgot our old axiom that power always corrupts the possessor. Now we have killed a million and a half helpless peasants in Vietnam, just as Stalin exterminated the kulaks, for reasons of state interest, erroneous reasons so expendable that the Government never mentioned them now and won't defend them. Vietnam should remind all conservatives that whenever you put your faith in big government for any reason, sooner or later you wind up as an apologist for mass murder."

If Vietnam persuaded Hess that government is evil, the new technology convinced him it is an unnecessary evil. "Power institutions developed because of scarcity. Historically, there was never enough of the necessities to go around, so people submitted to kings and armies, either to steal from others or to defend what little they had. But new developments in ways of growing and making things mean there is no longer any logical reason for scarcity, and so there is no longer any justification for the nation-state that outweighs its obvious threat to human survival."

Hess feels that the logic of decentralization and the impulse of people to take things onto their own hands is visible everywhere and will crumple Stalinist states at about the same rate it does capitalist ones.

"They are in the same boat and they know it; remember, it was the Communist party of France that bailed out the Gaullists from the student-worker revolution. You'll see that alliance more and more, because Stalinism is only the perfected model of state capitalism. Anarchism is the common enemy of both."

A little booklet has fallen out of his shirt pocket. It is a membership card in the International Workers of the World,(sic)* which I had wrongly thought was long ago defunct. "We used to have a labor movement in this country, until I.W.W. leaders were killed or imprisoned. You could tell labor unions had become captive when business and government began to praise them. They're destroying the militant black leaders the same way now. If the slaughter continues, before long liberals will be asking, 'What happened to the blacks? Why aren't they militant anymore?'"

Why, you ask, are the hardhats so hostile to radicals?

"The men in construction unions are the least representative of workingmen. They are at the mercy of government appropriations, the pawns of goons who tell them whether they can work or not. They know that their wages are inflated, conditioned on a monopoly given them by politicians and on excluding blacks who would like to work. No wonder they are insecure and turn violent at the thought of change. They are creatures of the worst elements in our society, perfect examples of what government and its collusions do to decent people."

"Libertarianism is rejected by the modern left — which preaches individualism but practices collectivism. Capitalism is rejected by the modern right — which preaches enterprise but practices protectionism. The libertarian faith in the mind of men is rejected by religionists who have faith only in the sins of man. The libertarian insistence that men be free to spin cables of steel as well as dreams of smoke is rejected by hippies who adore nature but spurn creation. The libertarian insistence that each man is a sovereign land of liberty, with his primary allegiance to himself, is rejected by patriots who sing of freedom but also shout of banners and boundaries. There is no operating movement in the world today that is based upon a libertarian philosophy. If there were, it would be in the anomalous position of using political power to abolish political power." (* a common mistake that is still made today, it's the Industrial Workers of the World. ep)

We need a new libertarian revival that recognizes what Rothbard and Hess did, that Tucker and Goldman did, that accepts the labour theory of value is the begining of liberty. That private property is an economic fiction that does not gaurntee liberty but the exact opposite. And that capitalism is monopolistic usury.

Is there such a revival in the making? It certainly appears so, especially with the mobilization against war and imperialism at And even further there are counter economy Libertarians known as Mutualists who recognize an anarchist labour theory of value.

Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3 to his libertarian and sci fi cronies) inherited Rothbard and Hess's mantel of being on the Left of the Libertarian right. His Movement of the Libertarian Left still finds a place in my anarchist philosophy. Sam passed away last year, and the American Libertarian movement lost a consistant anarchist critic of psuedo-libertarianism of the neo-cons.

I discovered a kindered spirit in Sam, back in the early seventies, he was originally from Edmonton and we shared common interests in Anarchism and Sci-Fi.
He introduced me to right wing anarchism, and we debated off and on over the years.
Prior to his passing we had revived short belated coorespondence, and he had actually asked me to represent him at the New Left reunion at the University of Alberta, the graduating class of 68, where Sam was the only right wing Anarchist on the Gateway amidst a horde of socialists.

There is a certain irony that the scion of American Libertarianism should be a Canadian. But it is not unusual when you look at where he came from, the Social Credit movement in Alberta. Another of the radical prairie populist federalist movements. But unlike the current ilk around Ralph Klein or Stephen Harper in this province, or the more extreme Seperatist right, Sam was a Libertarian. He, like Hess and Rothbard would have no cant with the likes of Kenney, Solberg, or Anders.

As Sam developed his particular economic philosophy of mutualism which he called Agora, he left his old militancy behind him. But a new challenge has seen his comrades seek to revive his project for a Libertarian Left, as the American State bares its Imperialist Authoritarian nature for the world to see.

This July 4th the American masses will cry "We're Number 1", as your Ruling Class wars are fought by a volunteer army of black, asian, latino and white working class men and women, as Fox news cheers them on.

The disparate and disfunctional Anarchist movement in North America needs of a new socialist indvidualism that a real Movement of the Libertarian Left could provide. A Proletarian Monism is needed for the Libertarian Movement in North America. A move beyond the labels of right and left, not as a third way, but in the dialectical understanding that as indivduals we are not merely the subjects of our property but that we are social beings who subject (individualize) collective property through the free association of producers.

The proletarian monism of Joseph Dietzigen and Foucault's critque of Governmentality/State Theory allow us to once again posit an anarchist alternative to the capitalist market place in this age of global bio-political crisis.

Anarchist comrades of the Movement of the Libertarian Left your country needs you. You live in the heart of the beast as Che said, and the world needs you to expose it to the light of reason in the name of Freedom and Liberty for all.

We need a federation of the left and the right in the Libertarian movement based on consistant principals of our historical struggle for the liberation of the working class. Karl Hess and SEK3 saw that years ago.

[The following, which I co-authored with the late Samuel Edward Konkin III, originally appeared in slightly different form under the title “Smashing the State for Fun & Profit!” in Tactics of the Movement of the Libertarian Left (Vol. 5, No. 1), May Day 2001. I offer it here as a clarification of “Libertarian Leftism,” an illuminating piece of political revisionist history, and a contribution to Tom Knapp’s ongoing Symposium on Building a New Libertarian Movement.

The New Libertarian Manifesto
by Samuel Edward Konkin III.

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