Keith Preston Hopefully Not Victorious

left-libertarianism means pledging allegiance to Karl Marx Keith Preston, whose prize-winning essay on plutocracy occasioned some heated exchanges in this space a month ago, likes the economic aspects of left-libertarianism but isn’t so jazzed about the cultural aspects, at least in the version advocated by Charles Johnson and myself.

Keith’s newest essay “Should Libertarianism Be Cultural Leftism Without the State?” criticises our perspective.

I don’t have time to respond right now, but will soon (though I suspect my reply will mostly be refritos of stuff I’ve said before).


92 Responses to Keith Preston Hopefully Not Victorious

  1. Josh Rhodes December 3, 2008 at 2:06 am #

    Keith is very open about his intent, objectives and rationale- I don’t always agree with but have yet to be confused by anything he’s written, or to suspect that there is somehow some kind of hidden ulterior motive. I have noticed, also, that he seems to be remarkably civil, especially considering the weight of the issues involved, except when people attack him – that is, any “assholery” involved is surely not one-sided. For God’s sake, “Anonymous” keeps engaging in willfully dishonest misrepresentation of Keith’s views, calling him a hate-filled racist neo-nazi, spiritually hollow, flunking out of the human race, blah blah blah et cetera ad nauseum, with no real evidence or citations to back it up, and attempting to incite others against him for, really, no goddamn good reason that I can see, other than he proposes collaborating with people with un-PC social views in order to smash the state already. The horror.

    Let’s do a thought experiment, shall we?

    Keith proposes an anarchist-led alliance of regional secessionist movements to break up the all but openly genocidal U.S. empire, that has literally killed, in all likelihood, somewhere between six to eight MILLION people, and will, in all likelihood, kill MILLIONS more unless it is stopped. (And that’s just the political victims, not even counting the economic ones.)

    “Anonymous” apparently does not care about the millions dead from U.S. imperialism, has not responded to any mention of them, and in fact prefers to keep the system as it is. “Anonymous” is apparently an enthusiast, even, for “humanitarian war”, an obscenity of a concept if there ever was one. “Anonymous” calls people “collectivist filth” and presumes to judge who “flunks out of the human race” – literally dehumanizing people, which is perhaps not surprising given his/her apparent indifference to the victims, past and present, of the human meat grinder that is the system we are trapped in.

    And KEITH is the Nazi?

  2. Keith Preston December 3, 2008 at 7:14 am #

    Nick (not Nick Manley),

    You said:

    “While a strategic Left-Right alliance may not be absolutely necessary for this distinction to be made, it might still be a good idea for left-libertarians to pursue a strategy of:

    a) vigorously attacking the totalitarian humanist establishment (at least as vigorously as they would attack other authoritarian groups), and

    b) allying with all groups that struggle against authoritarianism, injustice, exploitation and oppression, even if they are not traditionally associated with the cultural Left.

    Such an alliance would, for example, criticize mainstream feminism (or more precisely what Christina Hoff Sommers calls “gender feminism”), male chauvinism, racial supremacists, race hustlers, etc. In contrast, it would support equity feminism, men’s rights groups, “equal opportunity” anti-racism, etc.”

    I don’t know anything about Christina Hoff Sommers, but I’m generally with you so far as the basic ideas you’ve outlined here, and this is pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. The only qualification I might add is that it’s more important to focus on the state and its emanations, such as the US empire, as the primary target rather than specific ideas about race, gender, etc. Do we throw people opposed to the police state and imperialism out of the movement for endorsing affirmative action? No, of course not. Do we reject enemies of the state who may also disapprove of homosexuality on religious grounds? No, because opposition to an institutional meta-structure of oppression is more important than personal views about sexual morality.

  3. Keith Preston December 3, 2008 at 7:40 am #

    Nick Manley,

    “I’d also encourage people to examine the Civil Rights movement to see what degree of success it had in changing attitudes or simply making the costs of active racism uneconomical before Lyndon Johnson signed a piece of paper in 1964. I watched a PBS documentary with my mom, and it spoke of how major store owners secretly dealt with the Civil Rights movement to desegregate stores. The South African racialist regime was brought down with non-violent grassroots action. The black members of the population were important employees/consumers of White racialist economic institutions. Of course, the economic interdependence of human beings proved to be the downfall of formal discrimination ( : ”

    This is an interesting question, but I would suggest that it has little to do with what ought to be the overriding issue so far as any kind of radical movement worthy of the name in North America is concerned. The first concern should be the question of how the American empire is to be overthrown. The empire has existed in its current form since the end of WW2 (though it roots obviously go back further than that). Since the end of the Cold War, the aggressively imperialist nature of the empire has escalated, to the dismay of even many former Cold Warriors.

    I would suggest that things like non-violence worked fairly well against policies like Jim Crow, and to a lesser degree, South African apartheid, because these were archaic policies that had no real support among elites in the empire, and were in fact considered an embarrassment in many instances. As a case in point, US foreign policy elites at times objected to southern segregation because they believed it to be a powerful propaganda weapon for the Soviet Union and “Red” China, who were trying to portray themselves as friends of all the world’s oppressed. Also, many elites in the US regarded Jim Crow as an anachronism in the same way they would view things like biblical fundamentalism. How far would MLK’s non-violence have gotten if Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, had been determined to crush the civil rights movement with full-on repression? I mean, even as far back as the Eisenhower era, the feds were intervening on behalf of the civil rights movement against local racists in the South. When Johnson signed civil rights legislation, he remarked that he’d just turned the South over to the Republican Party. In other words, he acted against his own party’s interests.

    Overturning Jim Crow may have been a threat to the interests of local racists in the South, but it was no threat to the empire. It actually increased the standing of the United States on an international level. The same LBJ that was signing civil rights laws was escalating a war that killed millions of people in Southeast Asia. The same Nixon that expanded affirmative action and the welfare state launched the invasion and destabilization of Cambodia that eventually brought Pol Pot to power.

    A central point of my arguments is that all of this cultural revolution stuff that originates from the 60s, much of which I’m personally sympathetic to, though with some qualifications, has a done ZERO to bring down the US regime, ruling class empire. That has not only continued like it always has, it’s gotten more aggressive, more tyrannical, more fascistic, more exploitive, more driven by class conflict, often much more so, that what was around a few decades ago. What are we going to do about THAT?

  4. Keith Preston December 3, 2008 at 8:39 am #

    It’s rather ironic that some would attack me simultaneously for supposed Neo-Nazi ambitions on one hand, and my arguments concerning possible military alliances with overwhelmingly black and Hispanic street gangs on the other hand.

    I would point out that every major revolution in history that is regarded as a definitive marker in human political evolution involved at least some level of armed struggle. I always have to laugh when I hear modern, left-wing, do-gooder dumbasses decrying “violence.” Have any of these fools ever heard of the American Revolution? French Revolution? 1848? The Paris Commune? Slave revolts? Matewon? The Russian Revolution? The Spanish Civil War? The FSLN or FMLN? SWAPO?

    In the long run, no ruling class steps down without a fight. That will be no less true of the American empire. The models that I draw on so far as armed struggle is concerned are the revolutionary armies of the Continental Congress circa 1776, and the anarchist militias of Spain during the Civil War of 1936-39, along with modern, guerrilla movements of the “fourth generation” model like Hezbollah.

    In 1992, when the rebellion on the West Coast came, I began to realize that serious armed struggle against the US state was possible. Street gang organizations played a pivotal role in making that rebellion happen, and their fighting strength was enhanced by the fact that there was a truce underway at the time between the Bloods and the Crips (which black nationalist groups like the Nation of Islam had been instrumental in negotiating). When the militia movement came along a few years later, I started realizing this was the “red state” equivalent of the urban lumpenproletariat that had carried out the uprising in ’92, and that differences of race, culture, geography,etc. aside, these two forces were the natural allies of one another. When the “battle of Seattle” happened in ’99, I realized that the de classe elements who comprised the anti-globalization movement might well be the third wheel in a cross-cultural, cross-ideological but class based rebellion against the state and its institutions.

    It was also during my association with the militia/patriot/survivalist milieu that I came to secessionist ideas, recognizing that pan-secessionism would have the dual effect of overthrowing the empire and creating a method of accommodating the variety of cultural and ideological differences that a second American Revolution would necessarily involve.

    My primary orientation is towards the urban lumpenproletariat. I would consider these people to be my primary “constituency,” and it is with and towards this sector that I have been most active over the years, so far as domestic issues go. The “nazi” accusations towards me are particularly hilarious given that I regard the to-no-small-degree black and Hispanic urban underclass as one of the vanguard classes of the revolution. The “right-wing” aspect of my thinking is really more a side-issue or an afterthought. When I observed the emergence of the militia movement, and began to adopt pan-secessionist views, I realized that the “red state rubes” would be rural America’s natural counterpart to an insurrectionary urban lumpenproletariat. I also came to the view that the revolutionary Left should work to negotiate a truce with the “far right” who are out of power and against the system, with decentalization and mutual self-separation being the means to this end.

    As for the actual application of these views, I have argued for the creation of anarchist-led populist movements whose purpose would be to gain political pre-eminence at the local and regional level, whether by taking over things like city councils or creating a parallel instrastructure that overwhelms existing institutions (like Hezbollah). I’ve actually been accused of liberal-reformism for taking this position, so I guess I’m a neo-nazi terrorist and reformist at the same time. The next step would be to begin building revolutionary armies at the local and regional level. This might be done through a combination of volunteer civilian militias, gaining control of local governments and therefore local police, sheriffs depts, etc. (“you will work for us, now”), forming alliances with defector units from the regular military, and yes, recruiting actually existing armed groups, such as these street gangs, many of which are quite sophisticated in their organizational and military structure, and many of which regard themselves as independent nations at war with the government. Any movement that has the urban underclass as a vanguard class will need to cultivate a positive working relationship with the racial-nationalist movements among the minorities. I’ve emphasized this point over and over again, though for some reason no one has ever accused me of, for instance, advocating “black supremacy.” It is through these groups acting as intermediaries that a wider alliance with the street gang organizations can be achieved. The necessary incentives are the obvious ones: political sovereignty, economic reparations and legal amnesty.

    What I ultimately envision is a decentralized, militia confederation of private or local “fourth generation” armies with their own social and economic infrastructure acting in opposition to the US regime. Think two, three, many Hezbollahs at war with Washington and you get the idea.

  5. Keith Preston December 3, 2008 at 9:04 am #


    Epithets like “racist” and “sexist” are about as significant to me as “your mother wears army shoes.”

    ” Your nazi is showing.”

    And your spoiled, bratty, “inner child” is showing.

    “I come from Virginia too.”

    Yes, you’ve mentioned you’re from the D.C. suburbs. I know many of your kind-spoiled brat, punk kids who think they’re hip, enlightened and progressive thinkers for recycling, purchasing a lifetime subscription to Maximum Rock n’ Roll, or reading Maya Angelou poems, that is, when they’re not listening to trance music, dropping ecstacy pills, driving drunk, trying to fuck each other’s girlfriends or passed out on the living room floor from a combination booze, pills, pot and heroin, paid for with withdrawals from the trust fund and cash advances on mommy’s credit card, and who have no more political or social insight than the usual stuff about prejudice, patriarchy, transvestism and global warming you can get from a freshman sociology, human sexuality or women’s studies course. It’s this kind of riff-raff that comprises so much of the so-called “anarchist” movement, which is why I have no doubt you fit right in with those circles. That pathetic leftoidal trash like this finds me so objectionable is powerful evidence I must be doing something right. Many of your posts read like some cultural leftist version of some right-wing, flag-waving Republican who goes on about what a great nation we have because, as Justin Raimondo so accurately puts it, “As long as they can abort their babies and sodomize each other and take as many drugs as they want to, they are happy. They don’t care who is being killed in Iraq and how many Iraqis are dying. That’s their hierarchy of values.”

  6. Keith Preston December 3, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    Here’s a very good summary of the nature of the empire:

    THIS is what I want to fight against, not greasy gas station attendants muttering about “niggers,” frat boys who use crude language when speaking about women, or churchgoers who think same-sex marriage is a little over the top.

    Right now, I would feel much more affinity with a very mainstream, politically moderate, Democrat and former prosecutor like Vincent Bugliosi or a right-wing southern conservative Catholic like Rep. Walter Jones who want to hold Nuremberg-like trials and executions of Bush and cronies than with the kind of airhead dip-shittery that the likes of “anonymous” represents.

  7. Nick Manley December 3, 2008 at 9:39 am #

    ““Anonymous” apparently does not care about the millions dead from U.S. imperialism, has not responded to any mention of them, and in fact prefers to keep the system as it is. “Anonymous” is apparently an enthusiast, even, for “humanitarian war”, an obscenity of a concept if there ever was one. “Anonymous” calls people “collectivist filth” and presumes to judge who “flunks out of the human race” – literally dehumanizing people, which is perhaps not surprising given his/her apparent indifference to the victims, past and present, of the human meat grinder that is the system we are trapped in.”

    Anonymous stated they thought most U.S. wars in the past half century were criminal aggression. See: “I’m not a pacifist and think that there are valid cases for humanitarian military intervention by more liberal countries as a means to stop bloodbath or despotism, but I consider most wars conducted by the United States in the last half-century to be criminal aggressions.”

    Anonymous has never said the actually existing state in America should exist as it is down to the last detail.

    Anonymous’s views are being misrepresented.

  8. Nick Manley December 3, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    And I timidly refrained from saying what Charles did due to preoccupation with emotional troubles– more apathy about what happens to the Libertarian movement. Keith, I’ll talk to you civilly like I will anyone else when they respect decent norms of discourse, but the TS insult is simply unacceptable. I am not a Christian, but I regard flame wars between strong personalities as pointless exercises that ultimately go nowhere.

    I’d note that neither Anonymous or Keith has yet to change their basic worldview or gain a legion of “followers” who agree with them. This is illustrative of why I have not viscerally joined either — what Anonymous thinks of Keith Preston and what Keith Preston thinks of Anonymous is less important to me then the ideas under discussion.

  9. Sergio Méndez December 3, 2008 at 10:53 am #


    Regarding the issue of insults, I think Charles is into something. I do not care to insult back somebody who insulted you (I probably share that trait of character with you, althought I consider it a character flaw. If you think it, insulting somebody back does not really make you gain any points. Nothing like the cold, reasoned non insulting answer to make anybody look silly when they start calling names).

    But I think that even if you are insulting back people, there are ways of doing so. Using innate or physicall traits of the other guy to insult them is clearly low. And in many cases is politically charged to use the stablished predjuices (you know, against women, gays, or race, or socio economic condition) is unaceptable. Is like you are recognizing there is anything valid in using those hot buttons as insults, You may think it is “PC”…so what? Conservatives and right wingers decry “political correctness”, but I haven´t seen them provide a valid argument about the importance of political correctness? Calling a black people “nigger”, as derrogative manner to refer to him or her is wrong, no matter if somebody cries about how evil and “PC” that is. Even on the liberal side I think it is silly to use those kind of insults. Margaret Tatcher was evil, and so were most of her policies, but I don´t need to call her a “bitch” or any other mysogenistic word to insult her. Margaret Tatcher sucks not cause she is a women, nor I am going to attack her based on that. And anyways, why would I when there are so many other ways to insult her without making any calls on her sex?

  10. Nick Manley December 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Well put! Sergio.

  11. Josh Rhodes December 3, 2008 at 8:37 pm #

    Well, maybe I’m misinterpreting their views… but I didn’t mean to misrepresent them, that’s just what it seems like he/she’s saying, basically.

    I should’ve looked back over all the comments to make sure that Anon had actually not responded to mention of U.S. imperialism. Mea culpa. But, I mean, you can denounce “criminal aggressions” all you want, but if you hysterically react to the idea of taking action to end them, how sincere are your objections, really?

  12. Nick Manley December 3, 2008 at 8:59 pm #


    I suspect Anonymous disagrees that Keith’s solution is necessary to end them. There are a lot of unsaid premises at work here. If Anonymous really is Aster, then I probably have the best understanding of her world perspective among the commentators here. And I can assure you that she is not quick to use coercion. I would point you to an active blog, but I don’t think she has one right now.

    That said, if the Anonymous person isn’t Aster, then I still don’t read an unwillingness to take the warfare state seriously in their comments. To prefer a ruling class as a contextual necessity or lesser evil is not automatically an endorsement of genocidal warfare. Anarchists and Libertarians have historically argued that statism tends to end up that way, but that’s an argument to be put forward in this discussion. So far, I don’t see it being talked about very explicitly,

  13. Nick Manley December 3, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    I see it assumed in Keith’s arguments, and I know he explicitly mentions this point in his writings. I personally have a Charles Johnson T-shirt collective shirt with the famous quote: war is the health of the state on it ( :

    I am at least partially on your side of that debate.

  14. Josh Rhodes December 4, 2008 at 9:48 pm #

    Well, I’d say that “lesser-evilism” is probably a valid perspective for anyone who hasn’t heard of or explored any alternatives to Corporate Kapitalist Democracy and the Westphalian Nation-State, but if you understand anarchist and/or libertarian theory, and especially if you claim to be an adherent of one of those philosophies, I can’t see that you’ve got much ground to stand on. Is the State a criminal band writ large, or not? If so, well, let’s “disband” the fucker already. I respect genuine, principled pacifism, and I really do despise unnecessary violence, but what do you do when you’re in the room with a cannibal?

  15. JOR December 4, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    While I very strongly disagree with Preston’s stoicism and “Give me rule by gangstas and racialist militias or give me death” political obsessions, I haven’t seen any indication that he is a racist, or a sexist, or anything of the sort. Anonymous has been consistently, and clearly deliberately, dishonest.

  16. Peter Bjørn Perlsø - December 5, 2008 at 8:06 pm #

    “Anonymous’s views are being misrepresented. ”

    Even if it was true, who cares. “Anonymous” functionally means nobody. Who can take a nobody seriously?

  17. Marja Erwin December 5, 2008 at 10:26 pm #

    We ought to debate claims, not people. Tit-for-tat ad homines won’t get us closer to the truth.

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