On the Declaration of Independence

Two hundred and forty-one years ago, the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Its second sentence is one of the most famous in the English language, and rightfully so. Draughted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by the Committee of Five, it reads:
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'
It was recognised by Sojourner Truth, by Harriet Tubman, by the masterful Frederick Douglass, by the heroic John Brown, and by our great old President Abraham Lincoln that, so long as black humans were subject to the cruelties, the whippings, the beatings, the murders, and the absolute denial of humanity that was slavery, these unalienable rights were not real.
It was recognised by Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, by Ida B. Wells, by Julia Ward Howe, by Margaret Fuller, by Ernestine Rose, by Abby Kelley Foster, by Lucy Stone, by Alice Paul, and by hundreds of thousands more that, so long as women were mere subjects of men, these unalienable rights were not real.
Eugene V. Debs, Big Bill Haywood, and Joe Hill fought for the 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness' of workers; Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Stokely Carmichael, Huey P. Newton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X struggled that, as 'all men are created equal', segregation was a denial of this statement to be overcome; Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Harry Hay, Allen Ginsberg, and Larry Kramer fought for LGBTQ+ people to be granted their unalienable rights.
Yet all of these fights remain unfinished.
When the Great Seal of the United States was first proposed, Benjamin Franklin, a member of the First Committee for the Seal, proposed this design:

The scene is one from the Book of Exodus, of God leading the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom in Canaan. It is a scene commemorated every year at Pesach, or Passover. And the lesson I learn nearly every year at Pesach is this: That so long as there is one suffering, we all suffer; that so long as there is one oppressed, none of us are liberated; that so long as one is enslaved, none of us are free; that so long as one is poor, none of us are rich; that so long as there is a single human being hungry, homeless, and naked, none of us are fed, sheltered, or clothed.
If 'all men are created equal,' if 'they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,' if 'among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness', then why is there such a great disparity between the wealth of the wealthy and that of the rest? (Jefferson had changed the Lockean phrase from 'life, liberty, and property' because he realised, as did Proudhon later, that property, when not in the service of liberty, becomes theft and the foundation of despotism!) Why does there still seem to be one law for the poor and another for the rich, one law for our brothers and sisters of colour and another for white people, one for women and non-binary people and another for men? Why do our police kill the innocent; why do we send our citizens abroad to kill and be killed? Why do we spy on all under the Sun, and assault the rights of people to freedom of speech, of assembly, of religion? Why do we leave so many without food, without shelter, without healthcare, without clean water, even without clothing?
Are these not denials of the rights which our Creator granted us? Is this the decree of He Who is the 'death of Death and Hell's destruction'? No! To say such would be the highest blasphemy! This is the will of the Adversary, the result of the worship of Mammon!
Throughout all of the history of Humanity, there has been a striving for the realisation of these principles, an impulse in the heart that the bounties of Creation must belong to all, that the hungry must be fed, that the widow and the orphan are to be comforted.
If we are to understand the words of Jefferson in their truth, we must allow their radical implications to be realised. Then, and only then, can we see it fulfilled, that
'with righteousness shall he judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the land;
'And he shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth,
'And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
'And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins,
'And faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
'And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
'And the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
'And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
'And a little child shall lead them.
'And the cow and the bear feed;
'Their young ones shall lie down together;
'And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
'And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp,
'And the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk’s den.
'They shall not hurt nor destroy
'In all My holy mountain;
'For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD,
'As the waters cover the sea.'

Isaiah 11:4-9, JPS Tanakh 1917.

Trump is consolidating power and using Russia as a distraction

I. Some background.

Back in April, political scientist John Bellamy Foster wrote an article entitled 'Neofascism in the White House' for the Monthly Review, a self-described 'independent socialist magazine'. In his piece, he painstakingly details how what Steve Bannon calls the 'deconstruction of the administrative state' is a component of fascist ideology, disturbingly similar to what the Nazi Party called 'Gleichschaltung', or 'bringing-into-line', in which all power of the German state was consolidated into the top rung of the executive branch—in the Nazis' case, Hitler and his inner circle; in the present case, Trump and his advisers.
In the latest episode of his radio show Economic Update, economist Richard D. Wolff explains that Trump's budget proposal is nothing short of an austerity budget. It's a massive redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top and to the military-industrial complex.
His infrastructure plan, as well, consists of privatising and selling off massive amounts of America's infrastructure. As Foster notes, 'an often overlooked Nazi policy was the selling-off of state property. The concept of privatization (or “reprivatization”) of the economy, now a hallmark of neoliberalism, first gained currency in fascist Germany, where capitalist property relations remained sacrosanct, even as the new fascist state structure dismantled liberal-democratic institutions and instituted a war economy. At the time of Hitler’s rise to power, much of the German economy was state-owned: sectors such as the steel and coal industries, shipbuilding, and banking had been largely nationalized. Under Hitler, the United Steel Trust was privatized in just a few years, and by 1937 all of the major banks were privatized. All of this increased the power and scope of capital.' He goes on to quote Maxine Yaple Sweezy in her 1941 study of Nazi economic policy: 'The practical significance of the transference of government enterprises into private hands was thus that the capitalist class continued to serve as a vessel for the accumulation of income. Profit-making and the return of property to private hands, moreover, have assisted the consolidation of Nazi Party power.'
I've seen barely any discussion in the mainstream media of Trump's austerity plan nor his initiative to sell off our infrastructure. Nor have I seen a lot of coverage of the fact that Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, Trump's chief strategist and senior policy adviser, respectively, are thinly-disguised white nationalists, with the former speaking of a 'Great Fourth Turning' which would spiritually regenerate America through violence (an idea drawn from the pseudoscientific Strauss-Howe generational theory, which, fittingly for fascist ideology, pertains only to America—particularistic national myth is a vital component of any form of fascism), hinting at the idea of a new Crusade against Islam and China ('There is a major war brewing, a war that’s already global.…You will see we’re in a war of immense proportions') while praising the French Front National, and even approvingly citing Julius Evola, a philosopher and left-hand path esotericist who declared once that '[f]ascism is too little. We would have wanted a fascism which is more radical, more intrepid, a fascism that is truly absolute, made of pure force, unavailable for any compromise.…We would never be considered anti-fascist, except to the extent that super-fascism would be equivalent to anti-fascism', all at a Vatican City conference in 2014, while the latter has a background of doing such things as helping Richard Spencer set up an event featuring fellow white nationalist Peter Brimelow (who coined the term 'alternative right') while they were friends in the Duke Conservative Union and having fans in David Duke and 'race realist' Jared Taylor. The closest I've seen to that kind of reporting was when it was revealed that Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President, is a member of the Vitézi Rend (Hungarian: 'Order of Vitéz'), an elite Hungarian secret society with links to the original Nazi Party; this reporting almost—and I emphasise almost—got him fired.
Trump's cabinet is full of 'deconstructors'—take, for example, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who bought her way into politics through her family's donations to the Republican Party, and who would like to dismantle public education and replace it with a system of vouchers for (preferably conservative Christian) charter schools, or Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (one of only two people of colour in the Cabinet), who recently said that poverty is caused by nothing but a 'state of mind' and that compassion somehow means not giving people 'a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: "I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me"', or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former Exxon-Mobil CEO whose security forces committed various human rights abuses (including kidnapping, sexual assault, and torture) under his watch and who's stated 'My philosophy is to make money', or Secretary of Defense James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, who plans to betray Kurdish forces including the YPG/YPJ and the Peshmerga after the siege of Raqqa and whose bipartisan hawkishness (especially toward Iran) is impossible to overstate, or Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a xenophobic racist who wants to make medical marijuana illegal, is restoring Reagan-era tough-on-crime policies, and is escalating the War on Drugs, or Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer and hedge fund manager, who, last decade, invested in two Trump properties and whose OneWest Bank (which included none other than George Soros, a bogeyman for Trump, on its board of directors) played a role in the financial crisis by aggressively foreclosing on over 80,000 homes using potentially illegal tactics.
Or take the new CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who in April branded WikiLeaks a non-state hostile intelligence service, announced an arrest warrant for Julian Assange, and declared that 'it ends now.' (This happened a month after WikiLeaks embarrassed the CIA by publishing the 'Vault 7' leaks, which reveal that the CIA has a collection of hacking tools that, among other uses, can be used to spy on people from any device or hijack any car with an onboard computer (this revelation in particular revitalised suspicions about Michael Hastings' death) and that many of these hacking tools are in the hands of third-party black-hat hackers.) Assange replied by saying that WikiLeaks is fundamentally a journalistic outfit that operates on the same principle as any other journalistic outfit ('to publish newsworthy content') and has done some incredibly important work (Chelsea Manning's whistleblowing helped spark the Arab Spring and thus, indirectly, the Occupy movement), and that to attack a journalistic outfit and issue an arrest warrant for its founder is nothing short of an assault on the very principle of freedom of speech.
Trump has repeatedly attempted to implement his Muslim ban, but each attempt has been struck down by the courts as unconstitutional; he's issued verbal attacks on individual judges in what could be an effort to delegitimise their power in his supporters' eyes. In February, he issued an executive order to deport eleven million undocumented immigrants by force, without reference to length of residency, age, criminal record, or visa or citizenship application status.
Trump has inherited over a hundred judicial vacancies; to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of reactionary Antonin Scalia, he nominated the even more reactionary Neil Gorsuch. Fifty-one Republicans and three cowardly Democrats voted to confirm. The other vacancies will allow Bannon and Miller, through Trump, to restructure the Judicial Branch in their own image.
Within the National Security Council, Trump created an organization, shrouded in secrecy, called the Strategic Initiatives Group, of which Gorka is a key figure; this was part of a January restructuring of the National and Homeland Security Committees, intended as a step toward the total transformation of the Executive Branch into a militaristic organisation with all power consolidated in the hands of the top rung.
Several agencies, including the EPA, have been blocked from reporting their research. Congressional Republicans have revived a defunct 1876 law that allowed for reducing government employees' salaries to $1 per year; this is almost certainly a threat of poverty against civil servants who refuse to be brought-into-line.
Trump has called for even more privatisation of prisons (a policy Sessions is already enacting), increased surveillance of Black Lives Matter and other activists, and expanded racial profiling. A draft of a now-cancelled executive order was leaked, containing religious 'freedom' exemptions to various nondiscrimination laws, including allowing corporations to reject access to goods and services relating to abortion, contraception, and protections for LGBTQ+ people.
Simultaneously, the Republican-dominated Congress is proposing a national 'right-to-work' law which would allow workers to receive union benefits without having to pay the dues (a.k.a. scabbing), which would send unions into financial crisis. The Supreme Court, with a conservative/reactionary majority, could do the same much more quickly in certain upcoming cases. DeVos' school privatisation is aimed at breaking teachers' unions. The point is to utterly crush de facto labour power in America; this was the first thing every fascist government did.
Perhaps the three most frightening things in the litany of steps toward total fascism are as follows:
  1. The new VOICE office publishes weekly lists of (alleged) crimes committed by (primarily non-white) immigrants, in a clear effort to deceive the public into falsely believing that immigrants are more likely to be criminal, when statistics show the exact opposite. This measure is strikingly similar to how the Nazi-controlled press would publish weekly lists of (alleged) crimes committed by Jews.
  2. Trump's aforementioned budget proposal includes massive increases for the military. His administration has plans for what amount to global crusades. They literally want an American Empire. (Which would definitely please the neoreactionaries and the radical traditionalists.)
  3. In 2011, Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. This law allows for the indefinite military detention, ordered by the President or any military or government authority, of any citizen or non-citizen suspected of any connections to terrorism. Given what Trump and his administration consider to be terroristic, the implications of the possible use of this law are disconcerting at best.

Yet the mainstream media, for the most part, neglect these disturbing details in favour of obsessing over Trump's team's alleged collusion with the Russian government.
And here lies the problem.

II. The problem.

We've seen a rapid succession of political shocks; the speed and convolution of it all is enough to make even me dizzy. The constant lies, distortions, firings, hirings, scandals…and we're literally only six months in!
Several prominent psychiatrists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists have said that Donald Trump is a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder. He must be the centre of attention at all times; anonymous White House staffers have noted that he gets irrationally angry if he gets too much negative press or if he doesn't get enough press at all.
A common feature of narcissistic personality disorder is pathological lying, and Trump is a pathological liar extraordinaire: two days ago, the New York Times published an online piece detailing each and every falsehood, distortion, and outright lie that Trump has shat out of his mouth since his inauguration and up to this point.
Just twenty-four days after his appointment, Mike Flynn resigned from his position as National Security Advisor under political pressure for…well, for meeting with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak and for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about it.
Just last month, on 9 May, James Comey was fired by Trump for such a plethora of mutually contradictory reasons that I have no clue why he was fired. Was it on a recommendation from the Department of Justice, or one from Rod Rosenstein (which has already been shown to be false), or Trump himself? That last option seems the most likely, as it's highly probable that he's under investigation and fired Comey to take the pressure off of himself, as he explained in a private meeting with a group of Russian officials, ironically calling Comey a 'nutjob'; the firing, along with this admission, may be evidence of an attempt at obstruction of justice. I'll discuss the significance of this act of firing in the next part.
Meanwhile, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus admitted on 30 April to ABC journalist Jonathan Karl that the White House has considered a Constitutional amendment to change what speech is allowed; when asked what Trump means when he says we should 'open up the libel laws' and informed that this would require a new amendment, Priebus responded, 'I think it's something we've looked at. How that gets executed, or whether that goes anywhere, is a different story.' That answer was not a mistake, as he repeated 'this is something that is being looked at' later in the same interview. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo explained the significance of this: 'The changes President Trump wants are blocked by decades of jurisprudence which is little contested, unlike other hot button points of constitutional law. If you want what Trump wants, you have to amend the Constitution—and not the Constitution in general but the First Amendment specifically. Amending the First Amendment to allow the head of state to sue people who say things he doesn't like amounts to abolishing it.' Yet despite how extremely concerning it is that the White House even considered this—and is probably still considering it—I only saw that one interview and a few opinion pieces in the mainstream media. They talk about how alarming it is when Trump declares the press 'the enemy of the people'—which definitely is concerning, considering how such a phrase is a hallmark of totalitarian regimes—but they mostly ignored the actual plans Trump and his team developed (and may still be developing) to really implement censorship in favour of covering—you know exactly what I'm about to say at this point—Russia.
But why the Russian collusion narrative, despite only a tiny amount of actual evidence? Who actually benefits from it? The American people? The Democrats? Or could it actually be Trump and his team themselves?

III. The hypothesis.

In Part I, I discussed the 'bringing-into-line' occurring in the Executive Branch to a large extent. In Part II, I discussed the mainstream media's incompetence in the face of creeping totalitarianism.
There's a very sinister purpose behind the Russia allegations and a very simple explanation.
As I noted, Trump is a textbook narcissist. All attention must be on him, all the time, and even negative attention is better than none. Anonymous White House staffers have reported that he gets irritable and irrationally angry if he's not featured in the news prominently enough. The Russia stories feed his ego by focusing negative attention on him and also provoking positive coverage of him in the right-wing media.
As well, they provide liberals with the fantasy that he can be impeached soon. Just as soon as the smoking gun is found…any day now…and maybe we can impeach Mike Pence and even Paul Ryan too!
As well, every minute spent on Russia by Congressional Democrats is a minute that could've been spent on fighting the Republican agenda. All of the horrifying things I listed in Part I and more are being developed and implemented. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the investigations are happening, but wasting too much time on them just allows Trump and the Republicans to restructure the government at a fundamental level. Do we want to fight Trumpcare or do we want another investigative session that leads nowhere?
Lastly, the allegations distract the general public from the Trump administration's consolidation of power. While ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are covering the Russian collusion allegations nonstop, ICE raids are increasing, our infrastructure is being sold off to corporations like Blackstone, and protesters are being tortured by police before even being tried in court. We're not getting the full picture. Our democracy is being destroyed before our very eyes, but we're too distracted by the mere possibility of Russian interference to even notice!
Remember: Steve Bannon is a master propagandist, and Trump has surrounded himself with PR people. Such a team can easily spin what amounts to an alternate reality game with a mystery story worthy of Ian Fleming. They've killed three birds with one stone.
We're being duped, taken for fools on a massive scale. And if you want to get wise to what's happening, you have to divert your attention away from Russia, away from demonising the Bernie crowd, the socialists, and the leftists, away from the superficial vulgarity Trump displays, away from Clinton and her managerial liberalism, and toward solidarity with the poor and oppressed, toward an authentic left (like Corbyn in the UK), and toward the little steps to totalitarianism:
“What no one seemed to notice,” said a colleague of mine, a philologist, “was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.
“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security…
“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised…as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes.
“To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.
“You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.
“And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic…
“Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.”

—Milton Mayer, 'But Then It Was Too Late', in They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1955, pp. 166-173.

Achieving a mutualist society through decentralisation

Adam Kokesh, controversial anarcho-capitalist celebrity and anti-war activist, is planning to run for President of the United States on the platform of an orderly dissolution of the state.
As far as I can tell, he plans to do this by slowly privatising or abolishing each and every agency of the government throughout his term, and then fully dissolving the entire government as he leaves office.
I have a very similar yet radically different proposal. As I am not an anarcho-capitalist, but a left-libertarian, I figure that a similar plot may be used to replace the state with a mutualist social order.

Instead of immediately setting about privatising the government, we should instead build up a robust social-democratic system, akin to Jeremy Corbyn's vision for the UK.
Our first step should be to create a workable universal healthcare system, a Medicare for All. We should also create a free college system similar to Bernie Sanders' proposal.
As for our current welfare systems, they are in dire need of substantial reform. Unemployment benefits can be replaced with a guaranteed minimum income or universal basic income scheme. The latter can also replace retirement benefits.
The energy, water, and other utilities industries should be fully nationalised. The energy industry in particular should be transitioned as quickly as is possible to using clean, renewable power sources as opposed to fossil fuels and other pollutants.
Certain regulations should also be enacted: for instance, all workplaces should be required to unionise, overly-complex financial arrangements and actions (such as credit default swaps) should be restricted, and net neutrality should be implemented and strictly enforced.
At the same time, civil liberties must be restored. The USA PATRIOT Act and the USA FREEDOM Act should be repealed, along with the Controlled Substances Act, the Espionage Act of 1917, and any other law which infringes on the right to privacy, freedom of speech, or any other fundamental right.
The Department of Homeland Security should be abolished and the Department of Defense shrunk to only the minimum required to defend against foreign attack. At the same time, the state should adopt an open-borders policy. As I have suggested before, the state should not penalise immigrants nor penalise employers for simply hiring immigrants, but should rather penalise employers for not paying immigrants the same wage as native-born workers doing the same job.

Once this order is implemented, more radical measures must be taken. Taxation should be reduced to a land value tax, a capital gains tax, and a progressive general wealth tax. These have two functions:
  1. These taxes should be more than enough to fund all state functions; see Joseph Stiglitz' work on the land value tax.
  2. The taxes, combined with the social programmes, have the effect of restoring land and capital to their rightful places as common property to a certain extent.
A rule should be instated mandating that a failed or bankrupt business hand over its ownership to its workers to be managed as a cooperative; the same rule should apply immediately to any business directly or indirectly receiving government benefits. Extensive financial reform should be undertaken to remake each bank into a credit union.

As soon as this programme is running smoothly, the functions of the state must be not privatised but decentralised. Social welfare agencies and nationalised industries should be transformed into mutual aid networks. Regulatory agencies can be replaced by consumer watchdog collectives. The police and the military can be substituted for people's militias (such as the YPG/YPJ or EZLN). And so on.

For further elaboration on the relationship between anarchy and democracy, please refer to Gabriel Amadej's excellent piece for the Center for a Stateless Society, 'The Regime of Liberty'.
In the meantime, let us practise mutual aid and exercise compassion toward the aim of a fairer, freer world.

For compassion-based politics, or: a proposal for anarcho-Mohism


The Chinese philosopher Mozi postulated that the primary ill of humanity is too much partiality in compassion. (A further argument can be made that (post)modern society suffers from a deficit in compassion all around.)
Human beings have a bias toward the members of their ingroup. This bias can be exploited in horrific ways: when the Germans accepted themselves as the 'ingroup' and the Jews, Roma, LGBTQ+ people, etc. as the 'outgroup' in the 1930s-40s, the Nazis were able to provoke them to unprecedented levels of evil and cruelty. This rested entirely on the ingroup-outgroup classification.
(For a much more in-depth discussion of this same topic, please see Scott Alexander's now-(in)famous post at Slate Star Codex.)
The ingroup-outgroup bias can be benign, in the sense that a tumour can be benign, or it can reach the level of fascist atrocity.
Mozi's philosophy, known as Mohism, says that one would need to overcome this crude bias in order to become a truly ethical person; an ethical person will have compassion for all and act accordingly.


We can see how this applies to modern politics on the macro scale with attitudes on immigration.
Note this tweet about a young woman who is supposed to be protected under the DREAM Act (although ICE under Trump is trying to deport her):
Now the response from a self-proclaimed Christian and conservative:
For Natasja, undocumented migrants—even those who were brought to the United States as young children—are the outgroup.
Even if they had no real choice.
Even if they have lived their entire life as Americans.
Her rationale, when confronted with that fact, is that this Dreamer's parents made a choice.
For a Christian, she is surprisingly ignorant of her own Bible. For it is written:

'The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father with him, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son with him; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.'

Ezekiel 18:20, JPS Tanakh 1917.

I must note that I do not consider illegal immigration 'iniquity'; rather, I consider it iniquity that we have a system which leaves many with no other choice but to risk life and limb to come here and I consider it iniquity the way we treat undocumented migrants:

'And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.'

Leviticus 19:33-34, JPS Tanakh 1917.

Were not Natasja's ancestors strangers in the land of America when they came here?
Was my own father not a stranger when he came here, and my great-grandparents before him?
Show me in the Holy Bible, or indeed the Holy Qur'an, or the Bhagavad Gita, or indeed any sage text, where it says that only sojourners or strangers who have had to pass through invasive security theatre are worthy of compassion.
The Oxford English Dictionary says that the word 'iniquity' comes ultimately 'from Latin iniquitas, from iniquus, from in- ‘not’ + aequus ‘equal, just’.' The etymology of 'inequity' is the same.
What, if any, distinction can be made between the two? For this is the truth that has been understood for so long, and which has levelled great empires and laid barren the noblest of republics: Inequity is iniquity, and iniquity can never remain unpunished.


In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus Christ says that '[t]he kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17:21, Lamsa.) And as Charlie Chaplin expanded in The Great Dictator, 'within you' means 'not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men.'
It is in this spirit, and in recognition of the above principle, that Nikolai Berdyaev, the great Russian philosopher and mystic, wrote:

'There is absolute truth in anarchism and it is to be seen in its attitude to the sovereignty of the state and to every form of state absolutism.…The religious truth of anarchism consists in this, that power over man is bound up with sin and evil, that a state of perfection is a state where there is no power of man over man, that is to say, anarchy. The Kingdom of God is freedom and the absence of such power…the Kingdom of God is anarchy.'

—Nikolai Berdyaev, trans. R. M. French, Slavery and Freedom, New York, Charles Scribners, 1944, p. 147.


Mozi 'advocated a form of state consequentialism, which sought to maximize three basic goods: the wealth, order, and population of the state' (P. J. Ivanhoe and B. W. van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing, 2005, p. 60). By 'order', Mozi does not necessarily mean hierarchy, but rather the prevention of violence and the avoidance of warfare, which he saw as destructive and pointless; and by 'material wealth', he meant wealth for all, and not merely for a few.
But taking into consideration that we are embarking upon a fundamentally libertarian project, we must reject the idea of the state as part of our ethic. It also does not seem obvious to us that population growth is an inherent moral good.
Let us now turn to the words of the philosopher himself:

'It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit men he will leave alone.'

—Mozi, Mozi, 5th century a.e.v.; Mozi et al., Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu, trans. Prof. B. Watson, New York, Columbia University Press, 1967, p. 110.

From this summation of Mozi's moral philosophy, we may deduce that the state is not a necessary part of the ethic of universal compassion; rather, it is the effect upon the world that determines what is right or wrong.
Let us finally turn to the moral philosophy of St. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazis, of St. Karl Barth, who wrote much of the Barmen Declaration, which laid the cornerstone for the Christian German resistance to the Hitler regime, and of Paul Tillich, who summarised this philosophy, known as situation ethics, in his statement that 'Love is the ultimate law.' (P. Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1951, p. 152.)
The ideas of situation ethics harmonise with those of Mohism, as situation ethics demands only those actions which produce the most love, the most agapé, and nothing more. Any laws, any norms, any dictates or decrees which inhibit love are to be broken.
Here we see a clear return to that truth which Berdyaev stated so clearly: namely, that 'the Kingdom of God is anarchy.' The law of Love, of universal compassion, being the highest—no, the only law, has profoundly radical implications. The state, being an inherently violent institution, is an impediment to compassion, as is capitalism, which utterly negates compassion in its inhuman logic of profit and growth for the sake of growth ('the ideology of the cancer cell', as environmentalist Edward Abbey put it).
'Think globally, act locally', the slogan of social ecology, is a guide for a Mohist anarchy. Whatever action increases the well-being of a given community will, in a holistic manner, increase the well-being of the whole world.


Only through universal compassion can an anarchist order be maintained and even created, and only through anarchy can compassion be realised.
It finds its purest expressions in the reemerging mutual aid movement, in the credit union, and in the cooperative. Though times are dark, and wars and genocides are raging, and it appears that all promises of a better future are lost, the hope of ages, which guided the Israelites to the Promised Land, which guided the Diggers and the Quakers to endure brutal repression in order to spread a Gospel of love and generosity, which led the Parisians, the Ukrainians, and the Spanish to establish free territories in the face of authoritarian assault, which led the Partisans of Warsaw and Vilna to rise up even when they knew they faced certain defeat, which led millions of black Americans to march against brutal segregation, which led the unemployed and the homeless to camp in Zuccotti Park to demand justice for the poor and destitute, which still leads the poor of Chiapas and Rojava to fight against their oppression, still burns in the hearts of human beings, and if I squint hard enough, I can see the Sun on the horizon ready to rise—but only when we reject all fear and hatred and hold on to compassion.

On punching Nazis

By now, almost everyone has seen the video of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer getting punched.
Notice how he got decked instantly after mentioning Pepe? It appears that Kek has turned on him. Praise Kek!

I've noticed left-wingers. both my friends and random people online, celebrate Dick's decking. Myself, I'm mildly amused by it. He's a hateful white nationalist bastard, and while I cannot condone the unidentified protester's action, I feel like he got what he deserved.
Until I saw this tweet:
Oh dear God.
(Hat tip to Spinosauruskin for pointing it out in his video.)
Leading ethicists have weighed in on whether it is acceptable to punch a Nazi:

Are you familiar with this video of Richard Spencer getting punched?

Yeah. Do you really not know if it's ethical to punch someone even though they have odious politics? I mean, should we call your mother? Or my mother? Or anybody's mother?

—David Cohen, interviewed by Newsweek
Some people have even argued that not punching Nazis leads to genocide:

Let me read to you one comment that I saw on Twitter: “If you don't punch Nazis, Holocausts happen. That's what we learned from letting Nazis speak in public the last time. You have to punch them.”

That’s ridiculous. That's nonsensical. One does not flow from the other. Because one of the most monstrous catastrophes in human history occurred, it is not because people failed to punch Nazis. It simply doesn't follow. Nor does it follow that if you fail to punch Richard Spencer, there will be dire consequences. It would seem to me Gandhi's example or King's example are quite to the contrary. Where even allied against incredibly powerful armed opponents, genuine social change is possible without resorting to the gutter tactics of people like Spencer.

There are two different arguments here. One is: Is the behavior justified on its own terms? Is physical violence a morally justifiable response to the expression of odious ideas. In my view, it is not. The argument you're reading on Twitter is what's called a consequentialist argument. So this person is asserting that the only way to stop the rise of Nazism is with physical violence. And I think that's a quite dubious assertion. Even if one were doing a consequentialist analysis here, this is a dubious assertion. The assertion becomes: It is necessary to punch Richard Spencer in order to halt some impending Holocaust, and I just don't think that's true. It seems to me this fails both on the grounds of moral reasoning and on the grounds of political strategy.

Cohen went on to note that, while the act of punching is itself immoral, there's nothing wrong with laughing at the video and its various remixes (as I have done myself; my favourite remix is the one set to New Order's 'Blue Monday':

This next question is not really an ethical question. But did you personally watch the video of Richard Spencer being punched?

I did not. It wasn't because I was averting my glance; I just didn't see it. I would make one other exception. I have read about images of Richard Spencer being punched set to music. That sort of thing. To delight in a kind of comeuppance when someone is hoisted by his own petard—when someone who advocates violence against others meets a kind of of nonlethal violence—to enjoy hearing about that, that's not a crime. That's not an ethical transgression. That's asking more of human beings than they can resist. When someone who's truly despicable gets punched in the nose, you commit no ethical transgression by enjoying that idea. Now we're describing—


Yes, yes. In the recesses of my heart, do I take any pleasure in this? Well, yes. Would I advocate this as an action or defend the action? Well, no. There are no thought crimes. If in your heart of hearts you're enjoying this, well, you do no one any harm. But no, you do not get to go out and respond to contemptible political ideas with physical ideas.

Now for me, as a lefty and an armchair philosopher, there are two main questions here: ethics and tactics.
I've already stated that my ethical position is one that I call rational extrapolated preference utilitarianism; essentially, everyone's preferences should be fulfilled unless they're in an irrational state, in which case their preferences if they were in a rational state should be extrapolated from circumstance and fulfilled.
It seems to me that Richard Spencer has a preference not to feel pain, and thus his preference to not feel pain was violated. This is unethical.

But there's also a tactical argument to be made here: Most people have no idea who the hell this Richard Spencer guy is. They don't know that he's a white nationalist and they don't know that he's called for a 'peaceful' ethnic cleansing of America. They don't know that he has refused to disavow people within his movement who have advocated violence.
But when Dick got decked, his name and face were plastered all over the media. It gives him a platform to spread his odious views and makes ordinary conservatives start to think that 'the intolerant left' is coming for them next. When Richard spencer gets branded (correctly) as alt-right, and people like Milo Yiannopoulos or Alex Jones are branded (incorrectly) as alt-right, it just muddies the waters and makes it seem that ordinary Trump-supporting conservatives are under attack.
And remember the tweet I embedded above? Well, guess what: he's right.
His being punched makes it seem that his ideas are valid and that the only possible response to them other than agreement is violence. It makes it seem that his 'race realism' is true and his white nationalism is just a normal political position that just happens to provoke 'the intolerant left' to irrational violence.

Let me tell you a little story:
In the 1980s and '90s, there was a Dutch MP named Hans Janmaat. He was vocal in his opposition to immigration based on economic reasons: with immigration having to be addressed, it was difficult to focus on unemployment and slow economic growth for the native population. He had a cordon sanitaire imposed on him by the majority of other MPs, which basically meant that they would walk out of the building when he began to speak and only return when he was finished.
In the early 2000s, Pim Fortuyn became a notable and controversial public figure in the Netherlands. He opposed immigration on cultural grounds, arguing that Muslim immigration into the Netherlands would end up reversing the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people and stated that Islam is a 'backward culture' (the Dutch word for 'backward' can also mean 'retarded'). He was assassinated by a mentally-ill schizoidal left-wing activist who believed he was going to 'save the Netherlands' from the right-wing.
In the late 2000s, Geert Wilders, an outright Islamophobe who has compared the Qur'an to Mein Kampf and advocated for its banning, believes that the European Union and Muslim organisations are conspiring to 'Islamise' Europe, and was convicted of hate speech last December, is now a major political force in Netherlands, having become the de facto leader of the populist right in the Netherlands. The aforementioned conviction has only led to more popularity, since Dutch right-wingers can now claim persecution.

Let me tell you another story:
Holocaust denier Bradley Smith took out a full-page advertisement promoting Holocaust denialism in multiple university newspapers in the United Kingdom. Rather than refusing to run them, those papers ran them alongside an editorial on the opposite page refuting every point made in Smith's advert. Today, his influence is negligible and his group, the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust is minuscule and its influence limited to the fringes of the far-right.

I know I won't convince some people with these examples, but banning or using violence against white nationalists is only going to expand their influence. It'll just help them thrive in the shadows and on the fringes until they can refine themselves enough to mainstream their views.
Violence is not the key. Effective debate is.

Eva Gnostiquette

Eva Gnostiquette
My name is Eva Gnostiquette.
I'm a multimedia artist, podcaster, game developer, programmer, and aspiring physicist and neuroscientist. I'm a Gnostic druid.
I enjoy reading, music, and various other things. I write about nerd stuff, spirituality, and conspiracy theories, alongside more mainstream politics and science.
I am also a queer trans girl of Jewish, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish descent with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, OCD, and PTSD.
Please enjoy my blog!


Friend me on FC2

Latest posts
Latest FreqRes episodes
Latest comments
Radical Second Things №1,edited by Michael Orion Powell-Deschamps
Buy in Print and/or Digital
Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right by Angela Nagle
Buy in Print
Fringe Knowledge for Beginners by Tom Montalk
Buy in Print | Buy for Kindle | Free PDF | Free ePub
Chasing Phantoms by Carissa Conti
Buy in Print | Free PDF
How I Got Rid of My Recurring UTI Problem: And Reclaimed My Health and Comfort by 'Shaney Taylor'
Buy for Kindle
Economics: The User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang
Buy in Print (paperback) (hardcover) | Buy for Kindle | Free Audiobook (with 30-day Audible trial)