(Not really) anarchists

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All of a sudden, beginning just a few days ago, these flowers are ubiquitous. They’re everywhere I go, sometimes in gardens, sometimes growing wild.


 

Antifa

So I’d made a couple errors on Twitter yesterday and meant to go to bed. I wound up tossing and turning—I was worried about money and yesterday was a dismal Lyft day when I really could have used a decent one—and wound up tangling with self-identified (but fraudulent) anarchists on Twitter. The point is simple and in the title of a new blog post, “Violence is the illegitimate authority that begets all other illegitimate authority.”

The context for this is Antifa, which claims to act in defense of marginalized communities and protesters. But a funny thing happens when you ask the folks at demonstrations if they want this intercession: They say, Hell, no.

The idiots on Twitter called me “bourgeoisie” and even white supremacist. But if you ask folks protesting police violence on the streets of Oakland, California, for example, they’ll tell you that Antifa (also known as the Black Bloc) is just a bunch of white kids wanting to smash windows and skulls and who hijack their demonstrations. And they’ll be right: You can find these kids doing just that even without provocation, even in the absence of a demonstration, and then bragging about it.

That is not, no way, no how, anarchism. But these kids seek to wrap themselves in the righteousness of anarchism as they harm both anarchism and the legitimate protests against state oppression they claim to defend. Which is bullshit.


Whaling

Ulrike Putz, “Japan resumes commercial whaling, but days could be numbered,” Al Jazeera, June 30, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/japan-resumes-commercial-whaling-days-numbered-190628083537070.html


Liberalism

On June 28,[1] I asked what sort of liberalism Vladimir Putin declared obsolete.[2] Most people don’t ask that question as they don’t recognize that there are, in fact several different usages of the term ‘liberal’ in current usage, and in my dissertation, I argued when people use the term, they need to be clear about which they mean.[3]

Today, I was in for a bit of a pleasant surprise: Pankaj Mishra is very clear about his assumption that Putin conflated ‘liberalism’ as favoring expansive individual rights and representative government emerging from the Enlightenment era with ‘neoliberalism.’[4] It’s a different take: I had not recognized liberalism in this way.

Existential Comics, July 1, 2019, fair use. I’m not familiar with Nozick, but assuming the (unknown to me) author of this comic is correct, he likely marks the departure of capitalist libertarianism from “classical liberalism” as I understand it.

My understanding was drawn from capitalist libertarians who seek to reclaim the term ‘liberal’ as derived from Adam Smith but in fact discount Smith’s context[5] and from Jürgen Habermas.[6] This is what I call “classical liberalism,” and I distinguished it from “New Deal” liberalism and “liberalism” as “whatever a conservative opposes.”[7]

If Mishra is correct (and I have little reason to doubt him), then the Adam Smith variant as hijacked by capitalist libertarians and neoliberals, accompanies the conception arising from the Enlightenment era,[8] a conception I hadn’t been aware of. The difference between us is not huge. I have not actually read Adam Smith’s works—sorry, I could only get to so much—but am aware that Smith’s advocacy of laissez-faire was accompanied (in a separate book all too conveniently overlooked by capitalist libertarians) by a recognition of a social context beyond capitalism. This context entails moral obligations and this in fact is the basis for my distinction between Smith’s “classical liberalism” and capitalist libertarianism.[9] (It’s also forgotten that even Friedrich Hayek recognized a need for the state to intervene for social goods that the profit motive could not support.[10]) Mishra, I should hasten to acknowledge, clearly recognizes those shortcomings and what they have wrought and complains of “liberalism’s self-appointed defenders[’] . . . reflexively fanatical faith in market mechanisms.”[11]

Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s ‘mark,’” Irregular Bullshit, June 28, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/06/28/vladimir-putins-mark/
  2. [2]Tom Parfitt, “Liberalism is obsolete, declares Putin,” Times, June 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/liberalism-is-obsolete-declares-putin-vx2xhhc2w
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  6. [6]Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991).
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  8. [8]Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]F. A. Hayek, The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, ed. Bruce Caldwell, vol. 2, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents; The Definitive Edition (1944; repr., Chicago: University of Chicago,
    2007)
  11. [11]Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals

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