Anarchism in America


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Anarchism in America

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1Biomusicologist Primer missatge
ag. 4, 2007, 4:08am

For those who are interested, AK press has and excellent DVD available entitled, "Anarchism in America."

ag. 7, 2007, 10:12am

Got to admit I rather gave up on AK in the UK - they were really slack at sending stuff you ordered, and terrible at paying groups.

Hope they are better in the US!

ag. 17, 2007, 9:17am

I haven't heard bad things about them in the US. I admit I usually get their stuff at the bookfairs, at bookstores, infoshops, etc.

ag. 18, 2007, 1:38am

While I have encountered a couple of issues with delivery, I can say from my experience that they have always been quick and quite polite in correcting matters that have gone awry. What would an anarchist book co-op be without a little chaos, eh?

I may have an advantage being out here in the bay area. With their warehouse being located in Oakland, service has always been prompt. Perhaps it's the department of homeland insecurity interfering with orders headed for the UK?

Regardless of any issues with AK, "Anarchism in America" is really worth a view. A real treat.

5JayEm Primer missatge
oct. 11, 2007, 6:51pm

If you have problems finding "Anarchism in America" it can be downloaded from here:

More info here:

gen. 8, 2009, 7:39pm

Anarchism in America can be watched on google video, I did so. Overall its rather bad, I really wanted to like it, but much of it was libertarianism masquerading as Anarchism. And its one of those documentaries that has little or no narrative arch, I believe that it was made by an armature film maker as a masters project.

oct. 27, 2009, 1:00am

That's true, it did contain a lot of libertarian ideas. But it is precisely those ideals -- freedom from taxation, deregulation, etc. -- that would appeal to most Amerikans, even if they don't manage to express the core values behind anarchism from a anarcho-socialist perspective. Libertarianism is a close cousin of the American anarchist movement despite that many of us like to deny it, so I think it does have a place in the movie, if not a smaller one than it got.

feb. 26, 2010, 6:15pm

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març 7, 2010, 11:49pm

#8: "In America we have a great deal of freedom because of elections and choice, not capitalism, not competition. The object of competition is dominance, or controlling the market. If you cannot control the market what is the point of competition?"

I think you've got that backwards. Capitalism and competition do not connote the dominance of a market. "Failure" to dominate the market does not preclude prosperity. Rather, it is the dysfunctionality of our electoral system that allows corporate dinosaurs to expand further than the market would otherwise be able to bear by rigging the system in their favor.

Since this kind of conversation is steeped in the hatred of wealth (I reserve my hatred for state and mob violence), it might be helpful to draw an analogy within a different subject of study. Darwinian evolution is also based upon competition, yet only the uneducated would claim that evolution is about becoming the "king of the jungle." Rather, evolution is about species innovating and finding their niche within their broader ecology. Ecologies are not hierarchical in nature, but a web of interactions in myriad specialties.

març 9, 2010, 5:16pm

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març 10, 2010, 1:19am

#10: "Evolution also includes symbiosis which has allowed the human race to predominate on the planet."

Didn't I just say that?

"The issue of competition is victory."

There's no "victory" in capitalism until you get the state involved. Without aid from the state's monopoly on the legitimate use of force, businesses large and small can only compete based on what they can provide, not on what they can take.

Of course, it begs the question of why a fan of "antitrust" legislation is posting in the Anarchism forum...

març 10, 2010, 5:56pm

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març 11, 2010, 2:27pm

#12: "I think it is because the object of anarchism is the end of capitalism."

That may be your definition of Anarchism as an Anarcho-Syndicalist, but to me (and probably to many others) it's about the end of government coercion. Socialism is just another form of coercion for the fulfillment of mob greed.

"Ron Paul therefore is not an anarchist or a libertarian. He states that he would remove national power and render it to the states."

Actually, what he's said is that he would forego laying any hand on socialist legislation if only he could be allowed to dismantle the American military empire. It's far more than any of the socialists in Washington right now would be willing to do to end coercion. Socialism is not "Left." If you are familiar with the Nolan Chart, it is "Left and Right." There's one brand of socialism for the Left and another brand of socialism for the Right.

"Your freedom ends when you try to get a job and feed your family."

With the corporatism that exists now, entirely enabled by the state, sure, such choices are more limited. It's too bad that you and the corporatists are so well-aligned in perpetuating a coercive state to enforce personal morality on others. If your two sides butt heads, then that's just karma. Do not seek to control others or you will find yourself controlled.

març 13, 2010, 8:43am

an-arch, literally, no rulers. The end of all coercion, whether it be by state, capital (corporations, bosses), church, patriarchy, caste ...

As for socialism = anarchism: It all just depends on what you mean by "socialism". State-based socialism necessarily involves coercion and is perforce not anarchism. The idea of a voluntary socialism, however, is an anarchist egalitarian ideal -- how to achieve it without state compulsion, however, is a serious practical problem for the ideal.

març 13, 2010, 12:13pm

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març 14, 2010, 12:52am

#15: Capitalism can never be anarchist because it depends on the power of the state to enforce private property.

I certainly don't think that the government should have the role of enforcing private property rights, but it's ludicrous to think that abolishing the state would make them dry up. Rather, it is up to each individual to protect their own property. A common regard for property rights is something that tends to arise naturally among sedentary societies merely as a cultural norm. It's a form of spontaneous order, no hierarchy needed. Unfortunately, the history of private property has indeed been tainted by the hand of state coercion, and it is by that coercion that the idea of private property has expanded into such unsustainable notions as chattel slavery and intellectual property.

The Right looks to the past for utopia for while the Left looks to the future for utopia.

I absolutely agree. But that doesn't disqualify either of them as socialism. Socialism is merely the state's means of reorganizing society's resources. For what purpose it is done is a separate issue. And to speak of some kind of anarchic "socialism" it is perhaps more accurate to discuss it as communalism. Communalism is one of those things that works "ok" on a very small scale, like roommates, couples or families. But the larger the group the greater chance there is of it just breaking down entirely.

març 14, 2010, 1:39pm

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març 15, 2010, 1:27am

#17: It's all semantics to me, but I'm pretty sure that the term "socialism" is pretty safe to use in reference to the practice of economic interventionism. I don't care if you're socializing the gains or socializing the losses or both. No matter how you parse it, corporate welfare is still welfare, and just as much wrapped up in the language of the "good of the whole" nonsense as whatever it is you're spouting.

març 15, 2010, 4:16pm

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Editat: març 16, 2010, 3:52am

#19: You cannot say State subsidized health care is socialism and the Pledge of Allegiance, the American flag and all of those monuments in D.C. are celebrations of capitalism and individualism. Patriotism in any form is a form of collectivism.

Yes. What I'm wondering is why you're attributing that to any claim I've made. I thought I had made it clear that, Left or Right, I'm an equal opportunity anti-collectivist. I guess hard-core collectivists really cannot see individuals. Everyone must fall into neat pre-defined groups in their eyes. Otherwise, the "anti-capitalist" talking points would be useless.

Without some sense of equality there can be no freedom.

The cause of "equality," especially when championed by self-identified socialists, is more often an excuse to espouse institutionalized theft. Again, Left or Right, I don't care on whose behalf you claim you must steal to "put things aright." The only "equality" I favor is the kind that says that everyone deserves not to be subject to coercion.

Every single race (and both genders) on planet earth has blood on its hands.

Biggest load of collectivist drivel I've heard all day. Only individuals can possibly have blood on their hands. This collective guilt nonsense differs from traditional bigotry only in the number of collective groups for whom you hold disdain (a difference of one, the group which the bigot self-identifies with).

març 16, 2010, 2:07pm

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març 16, 2010, 6:19pm

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març 17, 2010, 12:05am

#21: "Your nonsense is stupendous. America's profit driven capitalist state was based on stealing."

See, the funny thing is that all this time I've agreed with all your points about corporatism, and yet you have the gall to make me out as a supporter of corporatism. I guess this is the trap that socialists must fall into when advocating theft. They can only promote their brand of theft by claming it is morally superior to other forms of theft. Kind of a one-trick pony.

#22: "Another thing I would like to add about capitalism is that when it comes to education and health care it is an abject failure. Trying to get an education or health care in this country is akin to a Kafkaesque nightmare people normally associate with Communist countries."

I'm not sure what world you're living in, but in this one both American healthcare and education have been heavily socialist for decades. That can be a whole separate discussion, but there was an interesting study recently published about both healthcare and education in India in which even the poor are choosing private options over the public option. That's because even though the government doctors and teachers are technically more qualified than their private counterparts, the private doctors and teachers provide superior quality of service. It's a matter of individual incentive. You give me what I want and I'll give you what you want. There is no room for such spontaneous order under socialism.

març 18, 2010, 10:19am

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Editat: març 20, 2010, 2:33am

#24: "Like all capitalist organizations they are supported by the State."

OK, whatever. I can get behind the idea of US healthcare and higher education being described as being on corporate welfare.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, your brand of anarchism faces two impossible hurdles whereas mine only has one. We both share the hurdle of delegitimizing the coercion of the state. But your added hurdle is the one of delegitimizing every person's notion that they should be able to keep what they own from any of the roaming bands of larcenous anarcho-syndicalists that you envision.

As for the socialist angle and your repeated insistence that freedom requires equality, I think I should reiterate that the only equality we should all share is to deserve freedom from coercion. When you speak of equality what you really mean is that everyone should share in the coercive power of the state and to be able to hide behind its legitimacy. That's not a pretty picture.

març 20, 2010, 12:52pm

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març 21, 2010, 1:08am

#26: What a ridiculous and self damning argument. You sound like one of those morons who conflate chattel slavery with socialism.

Universal serfdom is a better fit. But can you tell me what is egalitarian socialism if not the equal right to enact state coercion on eachother?

març 21, 2010, 9:29am

One thing that puzzles me with many socialists, here and elsewhere, is the frequent use of derogatory adjectives. Something that I believe must be seen as an obvious waste of time, writing them as reading them, if the communication of ideas and the changing of other’s opinion should be the goal.

I know several theories that are meant to explain the phenomenon: there is the “curse a lot to show solidarity with the worker's crude language theory,” which is plain silly when true, as it is of course seen as a demeaning caricature when workers in this way are attempted imitated by socialist intellectuals.

And then there’s the ”truth in emotional spontaneity” explanation. In it left wingers present holy anger on behalf of the victims of the brutal capitalists, and in this way prove the intermittent arguments to belong on the good side. Something that might function as self praise, but hardly as something that could convince the opposition. One will also have to doubt the spontaneity in any very deliberate chosen curses.

Then there is of course the traditions laid down by Karl Marx et al, and truthfully the out and out Class War Socialists are the verbally most belligerent; the content of what is screamed by them perhaps not often meant to have much instructional value – as the way they probably see it, you don’t convince evil people of anything but your readiness to fight.

None of these explanations are perfectly satisfying to me, as they all demand seeing the socialists as more stupid that I know them to be, so alternative explanations will be received with thanks:-)

Editat: març 21, 2010, 12:35pm

I would propose that classic American tv show Star Trek is the best (unintended) media representation of pure communism (in which each gives according to their abilities, and receives according to their needs), which I think equates to pure anarchism.

All physical needs are provided for by replicators. No one works for a business or a government but dedicates themselves to the exploration of the physical and conceptual universe. Star Fleet regs provide only for emergency command and control and relieving someone incompetent is accepted and expected. Uniforms remove any obvious signs of heirarchy and the crew can be anyone (or anything) as long as they freely accept the rules.

març 21, 2010, 12:33pm

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març 22, 2010, 12:13am

#30: Dude, I love Thomas Paine too. I once quoted the first paragraph of his first chapter to The Rights of Man (which is absolutely FTW) in a discussion over at Pro and Con and then Geneg had the gall to compare Paine to Glenn Beck. I'm glad we both know better.

març 22, 2010, 8:19am

For sure belligerent garrulousness, as in the spewing of heaps of synonyms for idiot over those one disagrees with, is not something completely restricted to leftists.

Answering my own question of why some people act this way, I will suggest that someone that argues from a premise not acceptable to those one wants to discuss something with, will soon be left with no alternative to stomping his feet or keeping silent. As without a common premise you are without the possibility of disputing the coherence and cohesion of any line of reasoning made from it.

You just can’t start a discussion of the value of capitalism versus that of socialism based on either capitalism or socialism being evil. With that as a premise the only thing left to discuss is how to crush the enemy; you then demand others using your conclusion as a premise.

The idea of class war as a fact to be discussed can produce nothing but Marxian hermeneutics; if you want to demonstrate the value of a class war model you must start from for example a wish to alleviate poverty, and then from there demonstrate that wealth among the poor can be produced with it.

This is the way Mises argued in his book “Socialism.” He never disclaimed the value of the socialist visions for the future, as in the alleviation of poverty - he merely tried to demonstrate that the methods presented would not produce the goals intended. (Of course you don’t need to read the 550 pages to reject it, if a rejection satisfactory to yourself can consist of: “Mises was an idiot!”)

març 22, 2010, 12:39pm

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Editat: març 23, 2010, 11:08am

Mises invents plenty of clever ways to justify slavery. Capitalism is an evil because privilege is an evil. Mises books are like Sartre's: deliberately complex and obfuscatory. If you claim to understand them the joke is on you. The same logic goes into a discussion of credit default swaps and Ponzi schemes. They are deliberately complex so that they can be sold to rubes who think they are smart. Occam's Razor applies to these scenarios.

Look, Ludwig von Mises is not obscure. I’ll accept that epithet for his ideological neighbour F. A. Hayek (which might be valuable information to those who have read none of them). If you have finished off “Finnegan’s Wake” and “Sein und Zeit” before dinner, you might wade through Hayek’s “The pure Theory of Capital” before downing you nightcap, but if you are an average reader (me), reading Hayek may make your eyes glaze over often. (But deliberately “complex and obfuscatory” this man was not either, and he wrote clearer texts as he got older. As for J. P. Sartre and Bernie Madoff, they belong elsewhere.)

Reading Mises one might, I admit it, justly complain of Teutonic thoroughness. His three big tomes: The “Theory of Money and Credit,” “Socialism,” and “Human Action” takes a bit of stamina to get through, and one will ask oneself a couple of time if every now forgotten competing theory really must have to be disproved. And yes, he knew Latin, Ancient Greek, the knowledge contained in a very large library and the experience of great political upheaval from having stood in its centre, and he did not exactly hide it.

But he is clear: his syntax is traditional – the sentence-parts are to be found where you expect them, his ability to find the precise word is impressive – and his arguments follows in coherent and cohesive sequences from clearly stated premises.

The work mentioned by me, “Socialism” is best known for having informed the world that free market prices informs an entrepreneur of the relative scarcity of the material he needs in his production processes. He can by help of those prices calculate the most economical use of alternative materials, and society will thereby automatically restrict the use of its scarcest resources. A society without free market prices has a “Socialist calculation problem.”

To put it in a Hayekian way: you can get an overview of what you yourself have got much of, little of, and lamentably nothing of by looking in your own cupboard, but not even a genius dictator and his super efficient bureaucracy can see what everybody has or finds missing; to see this, you need the prices generated by private property and an open market. The free market prices have more information available to all than any authority could ever collect.

If a diamond is as expensive as diamonds now are, diamonds you can be sure are not carted around in big dumper trucks between football field size heaps, but their price actually represents a serious scarcity in diamonds.

The same goes for screwdrivers. If screwdrivers are priced as high as diamonds, some quick witted entrepreneur in a Capitalist society will start producing screwdrivers at a fast rate, and so redress the screwdriver scarcity problem immediately. How would the screwdriver scarcity be discovered and redressed in a Communist society?

This is an idea no more complex than that it can be sold to rubes who mistakenly think they are very dumb I believe – even as an example of Ockham’s Razor, or the correctness of simple explanations.

(Did the Soviet Union collapse because of this calculation problem? The Misesians say yes of course, and often puts the question this way: did they last as long as they did because they had spies “stealing our free market prices?” I have not seen any story reported of an office for distribution of Western prices to managers in the USSR though, and they might not have been wholly relevant.)

Understanding the “Calculation problem” one has understood much of Mises. Reading his shorter pieces, from his period as Capitalism defender in the USA, one will find much the same idea explaining the necessity of uneven wealth distribution with the term “Consumer Sovereignty.” That some become very rich is – according to Mises – because they produce what is most urgently wanted by the consumers, who will then vote for them with their wallets, which again will direct others towards production of like products (goods or services). The tower of richness presented by successful entrepreneurs is thereby a signal, just like what high prices are, that a redistribution of effort is needed in order to serve the consumer best – to fill a scarcity gap. Capitalism functions best because it unifies people’s efforts spontaneously.

The economist Armen A. Alchian have supplied the theory that great entrepreneurial success might not necessarily represent great entrepreneurial ability even (somewhat in opposition to Ayn Rand's grand theme), but might be pure “evolutionary” luck: the survival of the fittest business idea so to speak, and so leaving not a trace of “justice” in regard to what individual gets what extreme wealth. (Well, I guess lying on your back will not make you rich even with natural selection doing the selection of good business ideas).

març 23, 2010, 4:13pm

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Editat: març 24, 2010, 5:57am

For one who doesn’t want to communicate you sure produce a lot of words, and admittedly they’re not completely random either. You seem to be able to curse more or less the same group, as continually being worthy of more cursing.

That is not worth much though; every child can find things worthy of improvement, it is the workable ways and means that counts as helpful.

Nobody doubts that private ownership has its problems, but without it – some of us suggest – you got larger problems. I tried to present one well known contention as regards common ownership, what is known as the “communist calculation problem.” You avoided considering that, and immediately got down to a jumbled heap of mere claims of ill will on the part of everyone and his aunt.

I will try anew and say, fine OK, consider you have now gotten rid of all the evil people, executions, jails, whatever, there’s only you and other foot stomping, teeth grinding, spluttering, anti evil people left – how are you all going to make a living?

Oh well, I don’t expect anything but a long list of loose hanging claims, but I really wish I could get across with a pair of instructive words, so please consider this:

The lines across an average book page, or a magazine or newspaper column, are relatively short (and the backgrounds are not irritatingly luminous), so it is not that difficult to find the beginning of the line below the one you just read.

This is not so with a computer screen, so many blog owners just demand a bit of air between paragraphs for posters not to get ejected. With sentence lumps of no more than five to eight lines, an average reader can easily keep track of where he is among them without this effort disturbing the reading process.

Now maybe your form of arguing is more understandable to you, in which case I humbly present the following:

The non-spacing terrorist posters here find their best political allies in the toilet for one simple reason: pure crap spouting supremacist, misogyny and intolerance are common to every form of non-spacing shits fart piss types around the world. Non-spacing toilet thinkers make the mistake of thinking Bin Laden is a non-spacer. Hah! He has no aversion to spacing, he writes Arabic with a totally different sort of intermissions and non-intermissions. But what he, shoot-bang-kill, hates, and other idiots of that space intolerance form of mind hate is progress in economically extended syntax utility formulations. Women must be kept at typewriters and the mullahs have the right to determine commas and paragraph spacing policy. This is why they are opposed to damned sensible intermissions (incessant rambling are shared methods between Angela Davis, Donald Duck and Paul Robeson’s Russian uncle). Ranting wholly without lulls is the communicative philosophy in Gagaland which has led to skyrocketing deficits and ghost towns where once there were productive blogs. It is a self serving philosophy whose time has come to be cast aside into trash can of history. Yes! The Soviet Union collapsed because the KGB could only write enormously long curse filled rants and was continually short of paper. Gorbachev survived the falling of the Berlin Wall until there was a coup attempt to restore the non-spacing policy of his incessantly rambling predecessors. In some ex-Warsaw Pact countries they have many of the things (e.g. periods) that the über-Capitalist U.S.A. cannot provide its angry garrulous random curse producers. The Reagan quotations from Marx have led to astronomical page numbers and the curses run on and on without intermissions. The survival of the most insistent rage splutters led to the collapse of Wall Street. And when big polemics screws up the U.S. Jon Wayne is here to save it no questions asked and with the ability to draw at 0% interest. The best "minds" of the socialist schools of economics did not see writing on Pc screens as fit for Hollywood. Please spare me your privilege arguments that are neither type-writers nor freedom. Socialism is about typing continuously line after line after line and crapola movies. (The "Ballad of Cable Hogue" I thought was pretty good though, but perhaps I was drunk.) The economic arguments for running on forever are trumped by human psychology. Marcuse had a halfway good way of describing socialist sentences: one-dimensional. But one dimensional indicates a sentence tunnel; some sort of space that is, better would be “diaphragmatically sequential,” all words running through all words of the swamp-brained non-spacers stupid mind. “I am what don’t stop even intermittingly.” I'm a PC. I'm an IBMer, I swirl around and around, I am dizzy, help me Mom. Appropriate I suppose since the people running aimlessly around with yellow posters saying this, in French - are all automatons in the hire of Ferdinand Le Fou! Yellow dynamite sticks around their blue heads… no it is not a quotation from Rimbaud we hear in the air, but an anonymous blogger behind the mountains saying "it is the end of the reign of good spacing and the beginning of the reign of the unceasing word producers." I thought for a while he was actually referring to Tati’s “Traffic,” but I am now convinced he is talking about a certain book I will never even hear of, no more music Marianne.

març 25, 2010, 12:19am

#36: For one who doesn’t want to communicate you sure produce a lot of words

Well, yes, that's part of the trap. I think it best to keep it short and sweet.

març 25, 2010, 11:17am

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març 28, 2010, 8:28am

On a lighter note, here’s a ”Political Compass,” a test that shows where, according to the test results, you belong within a square consisting of four squares; the right side being politically right wing, left being left, the top authoritarian, gradually reaching full anarchy at the bottom.

Several pages of, to me, intelligent questions, make this test quite interesting. (Btw, I found myself in the lower right square of course, but not as far down, or to the right as expected – so I must be a “moderately anarchistic moderate right-winger.”)

abr. 7, 2010, 1:42pm

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nov. 28, 2012, 5:20am

I ordered something from AK Press UK last week and it arrived in 3 days, so not bad going at all!

nov. 28, 2012, 5:43pm

So... has this group been taken over by capitalists or what?

nov. 29, 2012, 7:32am

Ha ha! I was replying to PaulStott (2) early in the thread as he remarked on AK Press. I thought they deserved some acknowledgement for good delivery.