So your vision of society that you would aim for has no laws, no police, no courts, no incarceration—no institutions or roles with any degree of authority whatsoever? Or am I misunderstanding you and you believe there's a way to have these roles/functions without a "state"? And do you differentiate between governance and statecraft?
No, I’m not against written law, but we should honestly evaluate what written law does and can do, the inflexibility of it and its propensity to value efficiency over authentically dealing with individual circumstances. Written law in this way is innately conservative when it does not allow within its writing for rapid, easy adaptation (think of how badly outdated huge portions of the U.S. constitution are, and how rapidly it got that way in the context of state-sanctioned slavery to emancipation).
The reason law is written and enshrined in the way it is today fundamentally has to do with our idea of justice, which is rather punitive and not really embodying of Justice at all. Again, this goes back to “the law” as being efficient rather than holistic. There is a philosophy of the world that underpins this. If we are honest about that tendency we ought to then look back at the archaeology of how we came to value law and justice as measured by how efficiently and effectively we can be punitive toward other human beings who have been punitive toward us. It has a lot to do with Western concepts of what can be measured, with positivist and empiricist value systems.
You cannot measure real Justice, but you can measure a prison sentence.
It is the whole reason the modern court system is built on an adversarial relationship between what is perceived to be truth and what is not. The innocent must tell the truth, the “criminal” (criminality often being a fabricated construct) must lie, and by that clashing of narratives somehow justice will emerge. But, as another example, how has the War on Drugs given us any justice whatsoever when its battle between what is perceived to be the good guys, that is law enforcement, etc., and the bad guys, predominantly poor people and people of color, has yielded only more oppression of America’s historically most oppressed classes?
As many black men are in jail today as were owned in all of slavery, and a black man is killed by cops or vigilantes every 28 hours. Is this the kind of justice we accept? Because it is exceedingly efficient.
I make these points to say, we must be vigorous in understanding how we got here today. Part of that means deconstructing our ideas of “the law” and justice. It also means taking a close look at the institution of police and evaluating what function it is they serve. Do they serve we the public, or do they serve somebody else? I have made the case time and again that they do not serve us, they serve the moneyed corporate elite and the State, a white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalist system.
We don’t need them, people can govern themselves… and can do so very well when enormous systems of oppression do not beat them into poverty or social isolation.
Which leads me to your final question: Can we execute the functions needed for daily living without the State? Absolutely. Any honest inquiry into Anarchist societies will answer that question. Governance, aka, navigating the challenges of living in groups with one another, producing things, having economies, etc., is possible without centralized State power. This does not mean nobody has authority; it means we all have equal, vested authority in choosing how we’ll live our lives. We can choose to set up governing bodies if we want, but in doing so we must remember the difference between organizing for our own well-being and relinquishing our agency to some entity which will exercise power over us.
(As a sidenote, shout-outs to my girlfriend for having these conversations with me and helping flesh it out. Always learning with you)
“Representative government is a system which was elabourated by the middle class to make head against royalty and, at the same time, to maintain and augment their domination of the workers. It is the characteristic form of middle-class rule… By upholding parliamentary rule the middle class have been simply seeking to oppose a dam between themselves and royalty, or between themselves and the territorial aristocracy, without giving liberty to the people. It is moreover plain that, as the people become conscious of their interests, and as the variety of those interests increases, the system becomes unworkable. And this is why the democrats of all countries are seeking for different palliatives or correctives and cannot find them… In a word, they are striving to discover the undiscoverable.”—Peter Kropotkin | The Wage System (1888)
Can you explain what a "liberal" is? And what is the difference between being a Liberal and being liberal? I always hear them referred to differently, like "big L Liberal/little l liberal"? I'm just confused because I thought they were leftists? I know this is really stupid, but I'm a n00b, please bear with me haha
Liberal today is capitalist in nature. Wikipedia provides this:
Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property.
Well look at the contradictions there, namely the “ideals of liberty and equality” while advocating so-called “free trade” and “private property,” the bedrocks of capitalism which have given rise to massive inequality and debilitating poverty. So, and I am being brief here — and somewhat too reductionist so I apologize — liberalism, in the economic sense, is merely the cousin of its further rightwing family.
The reason it is perceived as “the Left” is because of the framing of our political system to represent only a tiny spectrum of political discourse.
Liberals and conservatives are two factions of the same team (read capitalists); we just perceive them as markedly different because of the degree to which the spectrum of political possibilities has been narrowed. A complex system of normalized indoctrination exists in our lives which ensure radical (read communist and anarchist) solutions are weeded out, or marginalized in one way or another.
The end result is a set of normalized choices manifested in a political cartel, or an association of political parties with the purpose of maintaining concentrated political power and restricting or repressing competition. What is valued as acceptable within this cartel comprising the modern political sphere then is a tiny spectrum which reflects only the range of needs of private corporate power and nothing more.
…Liberals and conservatives wholeheartedly participate in the concentration of power when they take a set of political positions which express the basic ideas of capitalism and then present a range of indoctrination within that framework — so any “solution” only enhances the strength of capitalist institutionalization, ingraining it in our minds as the entire possible spectrum of choice that there is.
This is the purpose of electoral politics, to present from our capitalist masters individuals whose ideas keep the flow of power moving upward; to normalize indoctrination; to, in effect, control the market by maintaining the perceived pedigree of capitalist ideas and restricting competition through the marginalization and repression of ideas new or contradictory.
The central point I am making is this: Liberals are not leftists, they are only perceived to be because we have ruthlessly destroyed real leftist movements in this country.
Democrats embrace the populism and sentimentality of proletarian emancipation while simultaneously advocating their enslavement to a wage economy (read capitalism), albeit a more equitable — word used loosely — distribution of wealth than the far right alternatives. They legislate from the Keynesian model, accommodated by welfare safety nets. This is why Democrats gladly accept “the Left” epithet.
Conservatives on the other hand use the same label (“the Left”) to disenfranchise would-be Keynesians through associating the failed USSR with real leftist ideology, contradictingly calling liberals “socialist.” The effect, therefore, is that both major American political parties benefit from falsely portraying one capitalist faction as “the Left”, granting it widespread however fallacious legitimacy in the eyes of the American public.
All this is to say that a Liberal/liberal is a capitalist, oftentimes imperialist, rightwinger who happens to be just slightly “left” of their further right cousins, the free market capitalist. Liberals, essentially, are “left” because they advocate trying to humanize an inherently exploitative system.
I suspect the difference between the capital and lowercase iterations has more to do with identifying as a Liberal, synonymous with Democrat, and generally being more liberal (as in open-minded, accepting) of new ideas, change, different people’s and cultures. Still, even with the fore-mentioned attributes, lowercase “liberal” people often fail to address systemic issues like institutional racism, heteropatriarchy. and imperialist foreign policies while claiming to love and care for oppressed peoples.
When a self proclaimed ‘realist’ tries to call me an ‘idealist’ they are trying to decouple my claim to legitimacy by marginalizing it as utopian. If this ever happens to you, know this:
What the person you are speaking to is really saying is 'I do not believe people ultimately are capable of being the arbiter of their own lives', which indirectly says about themselves 'I am not capable of being the arbiter of my own life.' Going further, what this says about what it means to call me an idealist is that any substantive deviation from the status quo is utopian, unreachable; thereby we know that to be a realist means to be so hopelessly inured upon the system, they will marginalize all others to protect it.
The U.S. media coverage of the Israeli occupation and invasion of Gaza is grossly biased against Palestinians. The litmus test should be what would U.S. media coverage look like of a nearly 50 year Palestinian occupation of downtrodden Jews or massive Palestinian military massacres of innocent Jewish men, women and children in homes and hospitals backed by U.S. politicians, money and military technology?
Our moral and political response to the actual Israeli occupation and invasion should be the same as that of a non-existent Palestinian occupation and invasion. Our righteous indignation at the murder of hundreds of Palestinian babies should be the same as that of the murder of Jewish babies. Let us not forget that ugly war crimes of any occupying power always outstrip those of the occupied, yet every human life is precious and resistance to occupation is inevitable.
[A]ll nationalism is not inherently bad (see ethnic nationalism), but when connected to the State, as it was in Nazi Germany and is in Zionist Israel, it propagates an irrational sense of superiority over other peoples and ways of life insofar that it is willing to use war and genocide — and all the dehumanization therein — to gain hegemony. [Zionism]… falls victim to the same pitfalls of any other nationalist tendencies which root themselves in the hierarchy of the State, that is, the willingness to use war and genocide — and all the dehumanization therein — to maintain hegemony. This is because it is the transformation of ethnic nationalism into nation-state nationalism, or the inseparability of the two.
We see the ramifications of this in Israel’s deliberate, systematized, state-sanctioned murder of Palestinians.
The whole "I support Palestinians but Hamas is an extremist/terrorist" yadda yadda yadda line is annoying. Occupied peoples have a right to resistance and armed struggle MUST be a part of any liberatory praxis when the oppressor has forgone consciousness and dehumanizes an entire people.