December 2000

Anarchism vs. Right-Wing 'Anti-Statism'

By Brian Oliver Sheppard <bakunin@anarcho.zzn.com>

It is currently fashionable to claim to hate the government.
One could say it is the general, default position of most
you talk to. But it is not clear why this is so. While you
might think a popular hatred of government would mean the
ranks of anarchists are swelling, it actually isn't the
case.


ANARCHIST RHETORIC GONE MAINSTREAM

Over the past two decades something interesting has occurred
that the anarchist movement has yet to adequately address.
Rhetoric is coming from the mouths of politicians that a
hundred years ago (if not more recently) would have branded
them as "anarchists" or as seditious traitors. Though the
politicians employing this type of rhetoric are most
consistently Republicans, "big government liberals" in the
Democratic Party have also been drawn to this style of
speaking.

The idea they are voicing is a simple one: government is
bad. The bigger it is, the worse it gets. The smaller we
make it, the better for all. We don't want government
butting into our affairs, and we don't want government
regulating us right and left. And, unlike anarchists who in
the 19th century were saying essentially the same thing, the
politicians who endorse this view are not slaughtered en
masse by the National Guard, or framed up on anti-patriotic
conspiracy charges, but are instead elected into that
institution they claim to hate - the government.

Many are the politicians - sitting in the halls of congress
and living a life unknown to many working Americans - that
claim to hate government. They paint opponents as "big
government insiders," and vow to get in office to fight for
you, the commoner, who has a distrust of all those cheating
politicians and of government in general. A huge amount of
politicians ride into office on campaigns with such themes
as "eliminating government" or at least "shrinking" it. "He
wants to increase the size and the scope of the federal
government," George W. Bush said about Al Gore during his
campaign for President in the 2000 election. Vice President
Al Gore countered, "I'm for a smaller, smarter government
that serves people better, but offers real change."

If both sides are honest and are in fact committed to
shrinking government, then this must mean we are
tremendously close to living in a truly free, stateless
society where there is no government at all, right?

Well, no. In fact, just the opposite is occurring.


SELECTIVE SHRINKING, SELECTIVE EXPANSION

Politicians on the Right have co-opted a very long tradition
of anti-government sentiment and are using it, ironically,
to boost themselves into power and eliminate areas of
government that benefit the poor. This is occurring while
they actually increase government in such areas as military
spending, prison spending, corporate welfare, the size of
police forces, and the like. In the twisted Ideology of the
Right, hating that most dastardly of all enemies, the
Federal Government, means hating, in reality, only certain,
selective portions of it: the parts that interfere with the
untrammeled operations of private corporate power, the parts
that provide respite from wage slavery (such as Social
Security or unemployment insurance), the parts that help
underprivileged kids go to college, etc. This is what "big
government" is to them. "Big government" somehow does not
include subsidies to the military industrial complex,
subsidies to the prison industry, bailouts to troubled
mega-corporations, the banking industry, or any of these
things. These are conspicuously off the radar screen of
anyone who rails about the evils of "big government."

Now, historically, when anarchists spoke of eliminating
government, it was not a ploy to get into government and
perpetuate the evil of it, as it seems to be with our
tough-talking Republicans. Hating government meant hating
tyranny and hating the authority of any other human to be
able to tell you what to do. Anarchists literally got killed
for thinking this way. "Hating government" now, however,
seems to be code for hating things like affirmative action
or Medicaid. It doesn't seem to mean hating police officers,
hating war, or hating a defense budget that gets 50% of
every tax dollar. Somehow this extremely substantial part of
government is let off the hook (and is in many cases
venerated). This is what constitutes "hating government" in
this era of doublethink - not hating government really, but
in fact loving its most brutal and violent side in the form
of the military and the police, the courts and the prisons,
and disliking anything that has to do with social spending.


HATE THE GOVERNMENT, LOVE YOUR COUNTRY

"I hate the government, but I love my country," is a
sentiment you will hear a lot amongst the Right these days.
The idea seems to be that the government up in Washington
has become overrun with a politically correct, neo-Socialist
cabal that wants to punish the white man for his natural
success, and reward the failures of ethnic minorities, gays,
radical feminists, etc., through increased taxation upon
him. This has led to many "militias" being established by
bitter people who feel that the USA is dangerously off
course, that it is no longer a land of the free and the
brave, but is in fact a virtual slave state at the beck and
call of the United Nations, wealthy Jews, rich politicians
(usually Democrat), and the like.

The goal of the right wing militias and those who have
similar ideas is not to abolish authority, the tyranny of
capital, or any other oppressive form, but rather to simply
get the USA back on the "right track." The American system
is not fundamentally flawed, they say - it is just that
those at the helm of the ship right now are steering it in
an unpatriotic direction. Hating the government as it exists
now, then, is the best way to express one's true patriotism.

In a 1995 interview conducted not too long after the bombing
of a federal building in Oklahoma City, MIT Professor Noam
Chomsky summed up the situation in these words:

"[T]ake the angry white males who are maybe joining what
they mistakenly call militias, [but which are actually]
paramilitary forces. These people are angry. Most of them
are high school graduates. They're people whose incomes have
dropped maybe 20% over the last fifteen years or so. They
can no longer do what they think is the right thing for them
to do, provide for their families. Maybe their wives have to
go out and work. And maybe they make more money than they
do. Maybe the kids are running crazy because no one's paying
any attention to them. Their lives are falling apart.
They're angry. Who are they supposed to blame? You're not
supposed to blame the Fortune 500, because they're
invisible. They have been taught for 50 years now ... that
all there is around is the government. If there's anything
going wrong, it's the government's fault. The government is
somehow something that is independent of external powers. So
if your life is falling apart, blame the government."

"There's a reason why attention is focused on the government
as the source of problems. It has a defect. It's potentially
democratic. Private corporations are not potentially
democratic.... [The militia movement] is not the kind of
populism that says, 'Fine, let's take over the government
and use it as an instrument to undermine and destroy private
power, which has no right to exist.' Nobody is saying that.
All that you're hearing is that there's something bad about
government, so let's blow up the federal building."

Politicians advance their pro-corporate agenda by
consciously manipulating the popular discontent with the
state of things. Public anger can be channeled into a hatred
of "big government programs" that big business wants to see
dismantled anyway. For example, private insurance
corporations would gladly step in and take over and
administer the Social Security system. It was not until
workers began dying from starvation and holding mass riots
that anything like Social Security ever got established, and
ever since then it has been mercilessly targeted by
corporations who see it as a barrier to their ability to
expand markets. In the logic of people on the Right whose
campaigns are funded by big insurance companies, Social
Security is a "big government program." So, hey, if you hate
the government, elect me, and I'll eliminate government -
I'll hand it over to private power. This is, in effect, all
that anti-government sentiment means to the Right - handing
government functions over to democratically unaccountable
private tyrannies. This isn't eliminating government,
however. It is merely changing its nature.

Now, if a hatred of government were really a hatred of
government, one would expect to see police forces slashed,
jails and prisons torn down, laws that provide for the
establishment of corporations eliminated, and other things.
This never occurs, because this is actually the part of the
State the "anti-government" Right wants strengthened. As of
the year 2000, more than 2 million Americans are in jail. At
least 6.5 million are under some form of correctional
supervision nationwide. This means 1 out of every 32
citizens are under some form of direct government
supervision. And this means that the State is present in our
daily lives to a degree unknown to any previous generation.
Where are the anti-government populists who will rail
against this? Answer: They are busy writing legislation to
get "tough on crime" and make sure even more prisons are
built, even more drugs are outlawed, even more money is
given to law enforcement to increase the power of the State,
and worse. No one seems to see the irony here. Far from
wanting to eliminate the government, the Right wants to
increase the powers of the State and roll back whatever
civil liberties we may have remaining, and to abolish any
sort of social safety nets that previous generations of
workers fought to achieve.

Writer Tim Wise commented, "Amazing isn't it, that the same
folks who view government so cynically when it comes to
taxes, mail delivery, road construction, education, or
health care, and insist the state is incapable of addressing
these issues with equanimity and fairness, somehow find it
possible to believe this same state can dispense justice,
and even the ultimate punishment [of death], without a hint
of impropriety, bias, or error."

The ultimate goal of the Right is a strong police state. A
merciless and unforgiving state that punishes swiftly and
surely. A State that rewards patriotism and nationalism and
punishes failure and disobedience. This isn't eliminating
the State. This is making the State ever more powerful.


THE APOLITICAL, 'SICK-OF-IT-ALL' VOTER WHO VOTES FOR THE
RIGHT

It is hard to observe the profuse cynicism regarding the
government, the immediate skepticism regarding the integrity
and sincerity of politicians, and then watch people head to
the polls to vote for them time and again, and not think
something is terribly amiss. It seems people claim to hate
the government as part of their public front of being
irascible, skeptical, iconoclastic thinkers. No one wants to
feel like they are being "duped" by politicians, apparently,
so they claim that they distrust government officials as a
matter of necessity. They don't, however, want to do much
with their distrust in reality other than trudge back to the
ballot box every two or four years and repeat the same staid
ritual of plugging in their choice for one ruler or the
next. And it seems in practice that those who are teh most
vocally cynical of Washington are in fact the ones who vote
for the most reactionary and extremist right wing
candidates.

British fantasy and science fiction author Michael Moorcock
commented on this phenomenon: "My experience of science
fiction fans at the conventions which are held annually in a
number of countries (mainly the US and England) had taught
me that those who attended were reactionary (claiming to be
'apolitical' but somehow always happy to vote Tory and
believe Colin Jordan to 'have a point')." The Right has
somehow managed to convince people that if you hate
politicians, you should vote for them. Somehow politicians
on the Right are not seen by many as "politicians" in the
sense that "politician" signifies someone who is by nature a
fast-talking crook. No, politicians on the Right are exempt
from a critique of government or politicians in general.
Voting for them is not voting for a "politician" or for
"government."

The Democratic Party, traditionally seen as the party of big
government programs and of "tax and spend liberals," was
compelled by the prevalence of anti-government sentiment in
the 90s to remake its image. And under "New Democrats" like
President Bill Clinton they swung to the right in adopting
the same sort of anti-government rhetoric while continuing
to increase prison populations, military spending, overseas
intervention, and actually build up State power.
Nevertheless, in a 1996 speech to Ohio Democrats, Clinton
could boast, "I want a government that is smaller and less
bureaucratic. We have given you the smallest government, not
the other party ... in thirty years, and the biggest
reduction in regulations."


THE SHAM OF RIGHT WING 'ANTI-STATISM'

It is clear that people are angry and dissatisfied with the
way society operates. The Right has simply succeeded in
capturing this anger, reflected it in their speeches, and
has capitalized on it to boost themselves into office.
'Okay,' they say to their constituents, 'we are in office
now, and, yes, we will eliminate government since it is an
evil thing you have elected us to combat. First up, we'll
hand over increasing chunks of the school system to private
corporations.' This is what 'eliminating' government amounts
to - placing it into the hands of CEOs and wealthy investors
who can run it how they see fit, effectively removing it
from the arena of potential democratic accountability. In
the meantime, the actual power of the State is increased as
the prisons swell and as the law clamps down harder on petty
criminals. With social safety nets eroding and millions more
falling into poverty, an expansion of the prison system
should be expected, as some method of dealing with all these
'superfluous' people has to be found. And the prisons can be
privatized, too.

Anarchists oppose the State because it is one of the
principle expressions of authority of man over man. Property
in the means of production and in the means of subsistence
is likewise another authoritarian institution. States exist
to protect these institutions and thus they largely serve as
a defense mechanism for the rich against the poor. This does
not mean workers might not become so unruly as to force some
form of seemingly charitable concession from the State
(like, say, OSHA), but in the end such concessions are
employed to defuse outright revolutionary fervor. A wealthy
man who owns vast amounts of land and who hates paying
property taxes, and, due to his soreness, comes to have an
intense dislike of the government, is not an anarchist. An
anarchist is someone who recognizes that if it were not for
the State such a man would not be able to exclusively own
land to begin with, and would not be afforded legal
protection (at public expense) for keeping it. He thus would
not be able to exercise despotic rights over a given
territory.

So it is that anarchists ultimately agree with the classical
liberal thinker Adam Smith - ironically held to be a great
classical exponent of laissez faire capitalism - when he
says that 'Civil government, so far as it is instituted for
the security of property, is in reality instituted for the
defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have
some property against those who have none at all.' The
right-wing 'anti-statists' who might otherwise venerate
Smith cannot bring themselves to admit this fact. While
seeking to enable private power to run government
institutions more openly, they do not undermine the State's
power but merely make sure it fulfills its classical role.

Copyright (c) 2000-2001 Brian Oliver Sheppard.

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DUKE STUDENT MOVEMENT

March 29, 2001

A little over one week ago, the Chronicle carried an ad that
amounted to a wholesale attack on the character of African
Americans, an ad which suggested that slavery was beneficial
for African Americans. This is an insult to us, to our
forebearers and everyone who detests injustice.

Numerous members of the campus community have come together
to re-affirm their right to be part of the Duke community.

As to what the Chronicle did, we have no quarrel whatsoever
with the fact that the ad was printed. Our objections are:

* that the Chronicle failed to acknowledge the article's
offensive nature. Papers on other campuses ran the ad but
with statements distancing themselves from the opinions
expressed in it, thus showing some respect for all members
of their community;

* that by accepting payment for the ad, the Chronicle puts
itself in the position of profiting from hate speech;

* that by claiming the ad conforms to current Chronicle
policy the paper is in effect endorsing the content of the
ad as accurate.

For many of us, the central issue is Duke's failure to
create a climate where the voices of minority people are
valued and supported. A university is supposed to foster
personal, intellectual and community development. Instead,
Duke creates an atmosphere that alienates us, an atmosphere
that makes Black students in particular feel they have to
continually defend their right to be here.

We are determined to see that Duke University fulfills its
responsibilities and lives up to its obligations to create
an inclusive, supportive climate on this campus. We have
decided that the following will be real steps toward that
objective:

* That a Task Force, headed by the Office of Institutional
Equity, be charged with publishing a yearly progress report
detailing the efforts to improve the treatment of minority
students at Duke. Part of this Task Force will be comprised
of minority faculty, adminstrators and students.

* That the University vigorously recruits minority faculty
and adminstrators through methods similar to the Black
Faculty Initiative, and will provide yearly reports on their
progress.

* That the University provide a permanent,
space-appropriate, visible center for African-American
cultural, academic and social programming.

* That the University act on its previous commitments to
establish a stable, well- supported African and
African-American Studies program and produces a written plan
for doing this.

* That the University formulates a plan to increase funding
for minority events and organizations, and that this plan be
made public.

* That the Chronicle will publish a clarification of its
policy governing the placement of advertisements and how
that policy was applied in the Horowitz case.

It is our sincere hope that the administration and the
general student body will join us in working towards
producing a university atmosphere sensitive to the needs of
its multiracial, multiethnic and otherwise diverse
population. Duke has done a good job of articulating an
ideal of diversity; it is past time to make that ideal a
part of actual institutional realities.


(Best address, spring term, 2001) 
African American Studies and History 
408 Old Chem Building, Box 90252 
Duke University
Durham, NC 27708 
phone: 919-684-9923 or 919-684-2830 
fax: 919-684-2832

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A NATIONAL CALL TO ACTION

Dear Friends,

Please join the Institute for Policy Studies, IPPN, and the Center for
Constitutional Rights in creating an immediate nationwide response to
the expected news concerning the fraudulent Florida vote count. We are
proposing *DAYS OF ACTION* to follow the release of the news media's
study of the 180,000 "undervotes" and "overvotes" in Florida. Please
give us your suggestions for action ideas, and consider joining us for a
press conference or organizing an event in your locality. We must speak
truth to power about the illegitimacy of President-Select Bush.

Following the news organizations' release of their recount study, we
will renew the call for a Pro-Democracy Movement, and the enactment of a
Voters' Bill of Rights. We will use this opportunity to announce
pro-democracy summer actions including Democracy Summer 2001 to be
convened in June at the scene of the crime, Tallahassee, FL, and a
massive pro-democracy convention to take place just before the 4th of
July in Philadelphia.

Democracy Summer 2001 will be a multi-ethnic and cross-generational
gathering to empower young people to take democracy back from corporate
interests and return it to the hands of the people. The Democracy
Institute will educate participants about different elements of
electoral reform, enhance their skills for organizing, and provide
summer organizing internships following the training.

Though the exact date is still undisclosed, in the coming days two sets
of news organizations will complete their exhaustive review of the
Florida vote. We expect an initial report to be release by USA Today and
The Miami Herald during the first or second week of April. Approximately
five weeks later, in early May, a second study will be released by
another newspaper consortium including the Washington Post the New York
Times, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Palm Beach Post, St.
Petersburg Times, the Tribune Co. (which owns the Los Angeles Times),
and CNN with another analysis. We hope you will take advantage of this
five week window to send a strong message that the electorate is moving
from outrage to action on electoral reform. (Please note that this
review is not the incomplete and biased "study" just released by
Judicial Watch, in an attempt to undermine this more complete review).

It is our expectation that this major media review will demonstrate what
all of us already know in our hearts-that the will of the electorate was
ignored, distorted, and subverted by the institutions that are supposed
to protect American democracy.

If so, it means that the man in the White House is not the people's
choice. It means that President-Select Bush lost both the country and
the State of Florida. It means that the most basic right in a
democracy--the right to vote--was corrupted.

The people's consent has not been given. The current rulers did not win
a free and fair election. They thus have no "just powers." They received
no mandate from the voters. Not for tax cuts for the rich. Not for
drilling on wildlife refuges. Not for limiting freedom of choice. Not
for infringing on workers' health and safety. Not for right wing judges.
Nada.

At the core of this issue is an illegitimate re-ordering of America's
national priorities.

Join us for "the National Days of Action." Wherever you live, gather
people together to fight back. Be creative and be fun! Wear orange
ribbons as a symbol of resistance. Send your suggestions for actions in
to IPS. Pass on this "National Call to Action" to everyone on your
e-mail list. Call a local press conference. Support electoral reform
that counts every vote, and insures that every vote counts. Give your
Senator and House member the support to "just say no" to right-wing
judges and public policies. Turn outrage into action.

_____________________________________________________________

If your organization can become involved, please fill out the form below
and e-mail to Karen Dolan, Progressive Challenge, Institute for Policy
Studies: kdolan@igc.org

*Please give us your suggestions, and sign on to the Day of Action.

Organization______________________ Contact____________

E-mail_____________ Phone/fax_________________

____Yes! We would like to join you for the Press Conference.

[Keep watch for details at the IPS web site: www.ips-dc.org



____Yes! We want to be on the organizing committee for the Day of
Action.

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Sumter Hospital Boycott Gaining Momentum

March 29, 2001

by Dr. Ridgely A. Mu’min Muhammad

 

On, Monday, March 26th close to 200 demonstrators marched around Sumter Hospital and sang spirituals lead by local ministers. Rev. Holley lead the protesters by saying, "We’re fired up and we ain’t go take it no more." Rev. French praised the ministers that came out and those that were helping move patients to other hospitals, "We got the vans fired up and we’re moving the people out of here."

Dr. Ridgely told the crowd that, "When we stand on the picket lines and the people say bad things to us, it justifies our being out here. They prove by their behavior that racism is real thick in Sumter County. So we just say, ‘Thank you very much, have a nice day."

The hospital officials took out a full page add in the local newspaper last week trying to explain their position on the dismissal of Dr. Marshall. However, they made a tactical mistake by waffling on whether Dr. Marshall was under a "peer review" process. The hospital attorney had earlier, March 15th, emphatically stated that Dr. Marshall was disciplined by his "peers" or other doctors and not the administration of the hospital. It seem that lies are a hard thing to keep straight.

The Americus Times-Recorder, the daily newspaper for Americus, has over the last two weeks have featured articles around Dr. Marshall’s expulsion and the subsequent protests. However, Dr. Marshall and his supporters have accused the newspaper of willfully distorting the facts and leaving out relevant facts while they know. In particular, the newspaper correctly reported that Dr. Marshall’s "suspension from Sumter Regional is a heavy-handed attempt to stop the local chapter of the NAACP and the

Americus Sumter Observer newspaper from being critical of entities of the hospital that are involved in discrimination against African Americans in Americus and Sumter county."

However, Dr. Marshall claims that the newspaper did not report on the documents that he provided to them concerning the state laws which say that the only reason that a doctor can be dismissed from the hospital is an issue of "patient care" and not hospital "confidentiality". Dr. Marshall and his lawyer have repeatedly demanded from the hospital any incident concerning him and "patient care". The hospital has thus far failed to bring up one issue or incident of "patient care".

The message is stay out of there and its working. Spokesmen for the boycott say that the boycott is working, "People are going to other counties to get hospital services and are staying away from Sumter Regional Hospital. They can’t take it much longer. The publicity is eating them up."

It may be premature to evaluate the effect of the boycott, however the hospital does a daily census in terms of beds filled. On Wednesday, March 28th there were only 18 beds filled on Second Medical, whereas there are usually 28 to 31 patients in this portion of the hospital. In CCU, Cardiac Care Unity, there are 17 beds, only 6 filled. In Obstetrics there are15 beds but 8 filled: Pediatrics 18 beds , 3 filled; Surgery 23 beds, 14 filled. So out of the 104 beds in these units only 49 or 47% are filled.

Reports are coming in from other areas such as Albany that an increasing number of patients are coming from Sumter county to get medical services. The question now is how long can Sumter Regional Hospital withstand this kind of boycott?

See Pictures of protests

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USA: Farmers joining fight against gene-modified crops
26 Mar 2001
Source: Reuters 


NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - Environmental and consumer groups that are opposed to the planting of genetically modified crops are increasingly being joined by farmers who had been supporting such crops, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The paper cited a bill in the state of North Dakota to ban the planting of genetically engineered crops that has been bolstered by support from farmers, who fear losing the ability to export crops to Europe, Japan, and other areas where consumers are shunning such food.

Many farmers continued to appreciate genetically altered crops because of their useful traits, like pest resistance, the paper said. But others, it said, remained concerned that the crops have not been studied thoroughly enough to rule out links to health problems.

The efforts against the crops have not stopped companies such as Monsanto Co. from putting up a stiff fight, the Times said. The company is developing wheat that is resistant to a herbicide that can kill weeds, the paper said.

(C) Reuters Limited 2001. 

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