Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Americans You May Have Never Heard Of

A Wolf-Man's List of Americans You May Have Never Heard Of
Benjamin Ricketson TuckerEvil-looking devil, isn't he? He's Benjamin R. Tucker. Here's his Wikipedia entry. Note: it lists a whole lot of Americans you may never have heard of:

Tucker's contribution to American individualist anarchism was as much through his publishing as his own writing. Tucker was the first to translate into English Proudhon's What is Property? and Max Stirner's The Ego and Its Own — which Tucker claimed was his proudest accomplishment. In editing and publishing the anarchist periodical Liberty, he published the original work of Stephen Pearl Andrews, Joshua K. Ingalls, Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert, Victor Yarros, and Lillian Harman, daughter of the free love anarchist Moses Harman, as well as his own writing. He also published such items as George Bernard Shaw's first original article to appear in the United States and the first American translated excerpts of Friedrich Nietzsche. In Liberty, Tucker both filtered and integrated the theories of such European thinkers as Herbert Spencer and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; the economic and legal theories of the American individualists Lysander Spooner, William B. Greene and Josiah Warren; and the writings of the free thought and free love movements in opposition to religiously-based legislation and prohibitions on non-invasive behavior. Through these influences Tucker produced a rigorous system of philosophical or individualist anarchism that he called Anarchistic-Socialism, arguing that "[the] most perfect Socialism is possible only on the condition of the most perfect individualism." [1]

According to historian of American individualist anarchism, Frank Brooks, it is easy to misunderstand Tucker's claim of "socialism." Before "socialism" was monopolized by Marxists, "the term socialism was a broad concept." Tucker (as well as most of the writers and readers in Liberty) understood "socialism" to refer to any of various theories and demands aimed to solve "the labor problem" through radical changes in the capitalist economy; descriptions of the problem, explanations of it causes, and proposed solutions (e.g., abolition of private property, cooperatives, state-ownership, etc.) varied among "socialist" philosophies.[2] Tucker said socialism was the claim that "labor should be put in possession of its own,"[3] holding that what "state socialism" and "anarchistic socialism" had in common was the labor theory of value.[4] "Instead of asserting, as did socialist anarchists, that common ownership was the key to eroding differences of economic power," and appealing to social solidarity, Tucker's individualist anarchism advocated distribution of property in an undistorted natural market as a mediator of egoistic impulses and a source of social stability.[5][6]

He objected to all forms of communism, believing that even a stateless communist society must encroach upon the liberty of individuals who were in it.[7]

The Four Monopolies

Tucker argued that the poor condition of American workers resulted from four legal monopolies based in authority:

  1. the money monopoly,
  2. the land monopoly,
  3. tariffs, and
  4. patents.

His focus for several decades became the state's economic control of how trade could take place, and what currency counted as legitimate. He saw interest and profit as a form of exploitation made possible by the banking monopoly, which was in turn maintained through coercion and invasion. Any such interest and profit, Tucker called "usury" and he saw it as the basis for the oppression of the workers. In his words, "interest is theft, Rent Robbery, and Profit Only Another Name for Plunder." [8] Tucker believed that usury was immoral, however, he upheld the right for all people to engage in immoral contracts. "Liberty, therefore, must defend the right of individuals to make contracts involving usury, rum, marriage, prostitution, any many other things which is believes to be wrong in principle and opposed to human well-being. The right to do wrong involves the essence of all rights."[9]

He asserted that anarchism is meaningless "unless it includes the liberty of the individual to control his product or whatever his product has brought him through exchange in a free market — that is, private property." But, he made an exception "in the case of land, or of any other material the supply of which is so limited that all cannot hold it in unlimited quantities."[10] Tucker opposed title to land that was not in use, arguing that an individual would have to use land continually in order to retain exclusive right to it. If this practice is not followed, he believed it results in a "land monopoly."

Tucker also opposed state protection of the banking monopoly, the requirement that one must obtain a charter to engage in the business of banking. He hoped to raise wages by deregulating the banking industry, reasoning that competition in banking would drive down interest rates and stimulate entrepreneurship. Tucker believed this would decrease the proportion of individuals seeking employment and therefore wages would be driven up by competing employers. "Thus, the same blow that strikes interest down will send wages up."[11] He did not oppose individuals being employed by others, but due to his interpretation of the labor theory of value, he believed that in the present economy individuals do not receive a wage that fully compensates them for their labor. He wrote that if the four "monopolies" were ended, "it will make no difference whether men work for themselves, or are employed, or employ others. In any case they can get nothing but that wages for their labor which free competition determines."[12]

Tucker opposed protectionism, believing that tariffs cause high prices by preventing national producers from having to compete with foreign competitors. He believed that free trade would help keep prices low and therefore would assist laborers in receiving their "natural wage." Tucker did not believe in a right to intellectual property in the form of patents, on the grounds that patents and copyrights protect something which cannot rightfully be held as property. In "The Attitude of Anarchism toward Industrial Combinations," he wrote that the basis for property is "the fact that it is impossible in the nature of things for concrete objects to be used in different places at the same time." Property in concrete things is "socially necessary." "[S]ince successful society rests on individual initiative, [it is necessary] to protect the individual creator in the use of his concrete creations by forbidding others to use them without his consent." Because ideas are not concrete things, they cannot be held and protected as property. Ideas can be used in different places at the same time, and so their use should not be restricted by patents.[13] This was a source of conflict with the philosophy of fellow individualist Lysander Spooner who saw ideas as the product of "intellectual labor" and therefore private property.[14]

The rest of Ben's Wikipedia:

Or How About Max Cafard?
Here's a great intelligent reply of Max's to an article on Anarchism that ran in the New Jerk Times:

CAFARD, Max. "The Article that Deserves to Die ! "

(A Few Comments on a New York Times Article on Anarchism)" [1]

document 297

RE : Anarchism’s most memorable slogan, coined by Enrico Malatesta of Italy, is ’’propaganda by deed.’’

REPLY : Propaganda by the deed was NOT a mere "slogan" of Malatesta but rather a tactic of instigating rebellion through assassination and terror. It has NOT been advocated by most anarchists, who prefer to leave terrorism to the state, which specializes in it.

RE : Bakunin was "a heavily bearded Russian insurrectionist who helped foment uprisings across Europe in 1848," and whose "motto was, ’The urge to destroy is a creative urge.’Unlike Marx, Bakunin did not justify his theory as science. He described anarchists as people who know what they are fighting against more than what they are fighting for."

REPLY : Bakunin did NOT foment widely "across Europe" in 1848 (he stayed mainly in central Europe). His so-called "motto" was a phrase he came up with in an article of 1842, long before he was an anarchist, and he didn’t repeat it often. He DID think of his theory as science. He certainly thought anarchists knew what they were fighting FOR and wrote thousands of pages about it, including statements of principles and anarchist catechisms. He DID have a big beard !


RE : Anarchism reached critical mass as a revolutionary movement only once, during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

REPLY : It was largest then, but had long been a major mass movement in Spain. Revolutionary anarcho-syndicalism has also been a major force in the labor movements of France, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and other countries.

RE : "Anarchists . . . have also attacked the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund because these are seen as superseding national governments."

REPLY : The power of national governments is not really the thing dearest to the hearts of anarchists.

RE : "’For the first time since the 1960’s we are actually putting thought into action,’’ said John Zerzan, a leading anarchist thinker who lives in Eugene, Ore.

REPLY : I defer to local authorities, but many of us outside Eugene have not stopped putting thought into action over the past 30 years.

RE : ’’We are succeeding because the liberals failed,’’ he said. ’’We are less polite.’’.

REPLY : The liberals DID fail, but we are NOT succeeding yet, and we will NEVER do so because of what liberals do or do not do. Also, we know how to be much more radically polite than liberals do when we feel like it.

RE : "the computer and the Internet atomize society, create new divisions of labor, demand ever more efficiency and consume ever more leisure time. To cope with the increasing strains of our technology-driven society, alienated people by the millions are resorting to drugs like Ritalin and Prozac."

REPLY : True. Here I am atomistically sitting at my computer, typing away as efficiently as one possibly can with one finger, watching my leisure time slip away into the machine, desperately trying to cope, gulping down handfuls of Ritalin and Prozac.

To read the rest of this:

Ever Heard of "Dark Lucy"? She Was From Texas.
Lucy Parsons Picture

Lucy Parsons

"Anarchism has but one infallible, unchangeable motto, 'Freedom.' Freedom to discover any truth, freedom to develop, to live naturally and fully." -Lucy Parsons

for The Daily Growler

Years ago I worked for CBS-TV in their television production creative services department and as such I hung a lot with several would-be teevee writers, several of them who went on to become staff writers on some pretty big CBS and NBC shows, one becoming a writer on the early Saturday Night Live show, and what we mostly did when we all hung--believe it or not, we used to have booze in all the offices--our office had a liquor cabinet that our semi-alcoholic director had the key to which he kept conveniently in the top drawer of his desk and the CBS Sports staff had a coke machine out by the freight elevator that was full of Budweisers--and the writers were all heavy drinkers--I've actually smoked pot with the writers and the the girl that ran the art department in the art department before--and I know CBS Records had coke for those who needed it--I mean, there were big stars coming in and out of Black Rock (the CBS building on 6th Avenue in NY City) all day and night--but anyway, when we all got together, and though I was a copyeditor the writers considered me one of them and treated me nice because I had authority to cut their stuff and rewrite parts I didn't think worked so they either hated me or kissed my ass, and most of them kissed my ass because I really was one of them in a writer sense--one of them called me "the poet" because he said I edited like a poet--I knew it was a kid but I still resented it--but I had published poetry so...hell, OK, they even gave me a teeshirt that had "The Poet" stitched over the CBS single eye logo where the technicians and floor guys names went--and what we did when we got together besides getting drunk and high and talking about the office babes--god we were such low lifes when it came to our appreciation of the office babes--we respected the old gals, but the young ones were at our mercy, especially the up-and-comer assistant eds, picture researchers, reporters, news girls who were teevee gorgeous--anyway, when we were required to create what we did for hours was PUN. All of this to tell you all: While I was watching CBS's CSI-New York suddenly a reminder of those days came at me from out of the teevee set. A young woman is arrested and she's all bloody and hysterical and she's arrested for stabbing a rich spoiled brat to death--the rich boy had raped her and beaten the rap and she was getting revenge. When the CSI babe actress was bending over the back-stabbed rich boy's body, the knife still stuck deep in his back, her boss came up and told her how they'd arrested this woman for the murder and then he told her the rape story and how the rich boy beat the rap and that's why the woman had stabbed him to death...and the CSI babe says, "Well, she certainly made her point," and the camera did a close up of the knife sticking in the guy's back. I immediately thought of those days at CBS and all that punning the writers and I used to do and how like those old days these new writers are still crazy 'bout the PUN--I mean, how cool is "Well, she certainly made her point." Get the point? Take a stab at it. Those were some glorious days in NY City--we were free as birds it seemed like--so many wonderful slices of life I still have preserved from those, I thought, cutting edge days--

an addendum for The Daily Growler

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