Posts tagged Keith Preston

Re: Bartlett’s Quotation


As long as we’re playing “add to the hypo”, I’ll grant your addition, and add this: Those that the woman struck were standing by silently, watching the “pantsing” and doing nothing to assist. In some cases, they actively cheered on the instigator.

Is it now a tougher call as to piling on the woman?

You might think it’s a tougher call, insofar as bystanders have some kind of ethical obligation to intervene when they see someone being physically assaulted in front of them (and when the potential danger involved in intervening is such that not intervening would be cowardice or complicity).

But the problem, then, is that I think you’ve now extended the thought experiment to the point where it has lost contact with the situation it’s supposed to be analogous to. If you believe that everybody reading a comment thread, or writing on it, or whatever level of involvement is supposed to be, has the same sort of ethical obligation to come in to rescue Keith from uncalled-for insults or strawman presentations of his views, then you might find it odd that many people didn’t get involved into Keith started slinging insults based on gender identity or started pulling out the most colorful sorts of schoolyard taunts in order to bash whole groups of people based on their sexuality and suggest, at length, in a stand-alone essay that has nothing directly to do with any kind of personal back-and-forth with Aster, that those groups of people (identified with the crudest sorts of schoolyard taunts) be run out of the anarchist movement.

But what makes you think that there is such an obligation to intervene in such a case?

We are not, after all, talking about a physical assault; we’re talking about people calling each other names over the Internet. Is there some reason why I should feel compelled to put myself in the middle as long as the two parties are only engaged in bagging on each other in an open comment thread?

If you’re going to charge a double-standard, you need a case in which the things being evaluated differently are actually the same. But they’re not the same, and there are obvious reasons why people who do not care to intervene in the purely personal part of the sniping that both Aster and Keith engaged in, and who have no real reason to, might nevertheless have good reasons to get involved once Keith starts slinging the fag-bashing, not to mention the standalone essay-length extended arguments for running large groups of people out of the movement based on their sexuality, gender identity, or racial or sexual politics. (Which was studded with vile insults against all kinds of people, sure, but which was primarily objectionable because of the substantive position taken in it, not because of the tone or diction.)

Re: Bartlett’s Quotation


And yes, I agree Keith overstepped the bounds with his counter. But again, I’ll ask you whether you think you’d be piling onto (and making offhanded jokes and jibes about) a woman who over-reacted to being ‘pantsed’ in public by permanently crippling her attacker.

While we’re playing the analogy game, I wonder what you would say about a woman who overreacted to being “pantsed” in public by grabbing a crowbar and beating the shit out of not only her attacker, but also everyone else in the room, regardless of whether or not they had ever done anything to her?

I ask because that’s actually more like the situation that’s going on when Keith replies to Aster calling him names by going on a tirade about “cock-ringed queers,” “pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair,” “homosexualists” (?), and “persons of one or another surgically altered ‘gender identity,'” inter alia, and generally a bunch of other people who aren’t Aster.

This is not, actually, a two-person feud in which a bunch of bystanders have just inexplicably (or all-too-explicably, or whatever) picked on one side — the side you consider to have been the instigator — to pile on against. What happened was that Aster repeatedly insulted Keith and has in the past attributed positions to him that he claims not to hold, based on insufficient evidence; Keith in response has not only returned the insults; he has also, in the process, launched the most vicious sorts of broadsides against all sorts of people who have absolutely nothing to do with the purely personal aspects of the feud.

Perhaps this might just help explain why a number of folks who have mostly opted out of trying to intervene in the interpersonal sniping, have had something to say about Keith’s recent sorties of rhetorical saturation-bombing.

I don’t need to investigate or comment on the history of the fight in order to justify getting pissed off at Keith for punching me in the face, even if somebody other than Keith started the fight that got him swinging. If he doesn’t want to get piled on, he should start by fighting in a way that doesn’t involve bashing a lot of people other than his putative target.

Re: How to convert a big tent into a small one


Do you suppose that Keith Preston’s failure to call out the government’s violence against the free associations of peaceful immigrants, and his willingness to go further and call for dramatic expansions to the size, scope, and power of government surveillance and government force against immigrants, in a deliberate attempt to restrict free association along aritificially drawn government borders, might possibly have something to do with the kind of people — among them paleoconservatives, conservative Ron Paul voters, cultural isolationists, “race-realists,” “white nationalists,” “national anarchists,” and other supposedly populist hard-Right types; in the most recent essay there’s also what looks to me like a couple of clumsy attempts at outreach to a mythical contingent of nativist trade unionists, straight out of 1963 — the kind of people, I say, that Keith is trying to attract into his coalition?

I mean, I notice that a bunch of these people don’t really like immigrants very much, or just don’t like Mexicans very much, and that they are happy to chuck out anti-statism, civil libertarianism, and anti-militarist positions when it comes to maintaining their illusory sense of control over “our” government-fortified borders. Maybe trying to cater to those sorts of people tends to undermine a serious commitment to free association?

Re: How to convert a big tent into a small one


I wonder what you think about the several paragraphs Keith spends, in an essay which, according to you, is mainly defending freedom of association and dissociation, attacking what he characterizes as “the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism,” by which he apparently means the plumb-line libertarian position against government border checkpoints, papers-please police state monitoring, and government prohibitions on hiring immigrant workers.

When Keith claims that the anarchistic position is in fact to enlist the United States government to enforce border checkpoints and police-state monitoring of national citizenship papers, to demand the use of government immigration enforcement to exile from the country those that the American government declares “criminals [or] enemies of America” (?!); when he suggests escalating government prohibitions against employing undocumented immigrants, and apparently also creating new government prohibitions against employing any immigrants at all during a government-recognized strike (?!) — when, in short, he calls, over and over again for the expansion of the state and an increase in the power of government border police, in the name of nationalist politics, for the purpose of a systematic assault on free markets and free association, and then attempts to justify this Stasi-statism by pointing to the majority opinion among those approved to vote in government elections by the United States government (?!) — what do you think of all that? Do you think that this is defending the claim that “people can associate however they want in a libertarian world”? Do you think that this propaganda for growing the size, scope, and intensity of government enforcement, is the sort of thing that would make libertarianism more attractive to “regular (?) anti-government” types?

Re: An Open Letter to Keith Preston


As I said in other threads, he’s contradicting his own position when he (I believe, facetiously) calls for a purge of the anarchist movement … Based on an email conversation I’ve had with him since yesterday, I think this is nothing more than a bad attempt at humor, not to be taken literally.

If you think that he’s contradicting his own fundamental positions, then how is that not a problem with the substance of his view rather than merely with his “tone”?

If he did intend the “purge, if not an outright pogrom” passages as a weak attempt at a joke, I have to say it’s a weak attempt at a joke he spends an awful lot of time belaboring. Of course, I don’t have access to your private e-mail correspondence, but the two paragraphs devoted to explaining in detail why he thinks “cock-ringed queers” and “pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair” are supposedly hurting recruitment of “average young rebels,” and the sort of women of whom he approves, “into our ranks,” read pretty seriously to me. As does his attempt to connect what he’s doing in his post to something that he clearly does seriously endorse, vis. Rothbard’s and Rockwell’s efforts “to purge [sic] libertarianism of this kind of thing” during the paleo interlude. If I’m not supposed to read this as a serious effort to organize without, and indeed in such a way as to deliberately alienate, the targets of his bile (notably, vocal gay liberationists, ‘self-hating whites,’ and queer people whose expressions of sexuality disrupt traditional gender norms) how exactly am I supposed to read it?

As for the immigration stuff, well, I don’t think he does call for an expansion of the state. He pretty clearly calls for immigration policy to be pursued via subsidiarity in a decentralized fashion.

Jeremy, I think you’re substituting what you’d like his position on immigration to be for what he actually says in the essay. The only place in which decentralization is mentioned in the discussion of immigration politics is to suggest that criteria for naturalization — that is, extending the status as politically-enfranchised citizens to immigrants — be spun off to “local community standards.” Once that’s done, though, he has nothing to say about changing how the central state treats people who are or are not counted as naturalized. Nowhere does he suggest dismantling existing centralized definitions of “national borders.” Nowhere does he suggest dismantling or even decentralizing existing agencies of border fortification, border checkpoints, border patrol, immigration-status documentation and surveillance, imprisonment and trial of alleged undocumented immigrants, paramilitary immigration enforcement, forcible deportation, etc. etc. etc. Instead he suggests giving these existing centralized government agencies more to do. He explicitly calls for deployment of the existing centralized government immigration control system: he explicitly calls for “designated checkpoints” to be run by the government, with “an objective screening process,” which is designed to screen out “criminals, enemies of America” (?! how the fuck do you suppose you ban entry to government-defined “enemies of America” in a decentralized fashion?) and people with “certain kinds of contagious diseases”; he calls for deportation of those who don’t have permission slips for their existence from the worthless megamurdering United States government (from where to where? if it’s outside the borders of the U.S.A., we’re not talking about decentralization, are we?); he adds calls for new government prohibitions on “employers … using immigrants as scab labor” and “employer use of illegal immigrant [sic] labor”. How do you suppose you go about enacting and enforcing these government prohibitions and government bans on peaceful, consensual labor contracts, without expanding the size, power, and reach of the State?

Re: Taking sides on the right to be a complete jackass

Geoffrey Transom:

As I read Mr Preston’s piece, he – like me – doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether you, or I, or anybody else is gay, bi, bi-curious, or whatever:

I dunno, dude, when someone starts complaining about “cock-ringed queers,” “bearded ladies,” “pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair,” and “persons of one or another surgically altered ‘gender identity,'” quote-unquote, and states, without any qualification, that fewer such people ought to be “in our midst,” in order to make the kind of person he thinks of as the “average young rebel” (who, we can glean from the textual evidence, is supposed to be white, male, straight, and not an immigrant) more comfortable joining up — well, I get the impression that he does care, and moreover that he expects other people to care. Not so much about the fact of sexuality per se, but more about how far one is open about sex and gender in a way that makes things uncomfortable for those who believe in a very rigid set of gender norms.

the thing he is warning about is the futility of efforts to ‘buddy up’ to the GLBT LOBBY (by which, I am sure you know, we mean a militant group who seeks legislative action in its favour).

Geoffrey, I know what lobbying groups are, and I’m aware of several of the different lobbying groups concerned with a legislative “gay rights” agenda (HRC, OutFront, Stand OUT for Equality, ACT UP, etc.). However, I don’t know what “the GLBT lobby” is — there is no such single coordinated group. There are many different groups with many different aims and many different tactics. And I don’t know how “the GLBT lobby” is supposed to encompass who Keith Preston was actually talking about — his post was not about people engaged in lobbying the legislature or attempting to seek “legislative action in [their] favour”; it was about people currently engaged in the anarchist movement, who are calling for non-legislative, non-governmental forms of cultural activism which Keith feels to amount to “reacting to those with un-PC views on ‘gay rights’ with hysteria, shrillness, rudeness, slander, villification, and threats.”

Talking about ‘you and your friends’ in lieu of a ‘lobby’ is a tad disingenuous. After all, the leadership of the Soviet Union could have been said to be ‘Lenin and his friends’

Let me repeat this in case there is a chance of your getting it.

I talk about “me and my friends” in lieu of a “lobby” because I am not part of a fucking lobby, and neither are my friends. I (we) do not attempt to get legislation passed in my (our) favor. I do not attempt to meet with or communicate with legislators in an attempt to influence their opinions. There are groups that do these things. I am not a member of those groups, and I am opposed to both their agenda and their tactics. I am an anarchist, an anti-electoralist, and specifically an advocate of direct action and counter-economics. The people Keith Preston is complaining about in his post are people like me and my friends, not members or supporters of political lobbying groups. The activism that he is complaining about has to do primarily with calling him names and suggesting that people dissocate from him; it doesn’t have to do with attempts to influence the legislature. The people he is calling for a “purge” of are not members of GLBT lobbying groups — you can’t purge people who were never part of the movement to begin with — but rather anarchists who are vocal gay liberationists (which would include not only “me and my friends,” but also, presumably, organized, anti-legislative anarcho groups like Bash Back). If you want to have a conversation about statist GLBT lobbying groups we can have that conversation; it will be a short one: I’m agin’ ’em, just like I’m agin’ all statist lobbying groups. But you don’t get to rewrite the entire past conversation in order to pretend like Keith’s target is actually something completely different from what he explicitly said it was.

It’s straightforward that if there is existing group-owned infrastructure which has been funded by current inhabitants, then immigrants need to ‘buy in’ to that infrastructure if it is not priced on a ‘user pays’ basis.

Immigrants who use the roads pay gas taxes and other sales taxes to support the roads. To the extent that non-immigrants “buy in” to the government roads by funding them, immigrants “buy in” in exactly the same way. I think this kind of argument is nothing more than special pleading in an attempt to find an argument for a predetermined conclusion; for a more detailed discussion, see 1 and 2.

That said, Mr Preston makes no reference to the State monitoring the borders – he leaves that to militia (which at least renders it voluntary, and reduces the likelihood that such enforcement would last long or be very effective).

Bull. He calls for the use of Minuteman-style militias in addition to existing government border checkpoints (checkpoints staffed by whom? , screeners, Fugitive Alien courts and immigration enforcement squads (to do the screening of people coming here and the deporting of people already living here), etc., not in place of them. He calls for more government laws, not fewer (e.g. having government further criminalize peaceful labor contracts between immigrants and willing employers — to be policed and enforced by whom, if not by a government immigration bureaucracy much like the present one, with its “papers-please” I-9 form monitoring and its paramilitary workplace raids). There is no honest reading of his expressed position that would suggest any reduction to the intensity or scope of government enforcement of state borders.

The rest of the stuff he wrote about was predicated on the existence of state benefits, so it seemed clear that he was talking about current conditions, not some future state-free situation.

It’s true that if you combine something fundamentally moral (free immigration, without government monitoring or control, and without respect for politically-fabricated “borders”) with something completely immoral (a coercive welfare state), you may get bad results from the combination. But when somebody responds to that situation by crusading against the moral part of the combination, and calls for massive saturation deployments of state surveillance and state violence, which target everyone on the basis of a morally irrelevant feature (their nationality) regardless of their intentions or their conduct, to suppress the moral part of the combination, rather than, y’know, focusing on the immoral part — well, then it seems to me that that’s a pretty cracked way of responding to current conditions. One which happens to strengthen the State rather than weakening it, to move us further away from a future state-free situation rather than closer to it, and to guarantee that lots of innocent people are going to get jailed or shot right here and right now, for no good reason at all.

Still, immigration ‘policy’ is one in which even the most ‘with it’ anarchists can disagree;

If your idea of a “with it” anarchist includes Anarchists For National Borders And Police States to Enforce Them, well, then, yeah, I suppose you’ll see a lot of disagreements.

Frankly, I would like to live in a world in which you didn’t feel obliged to mention that you’re ‘an out bisexual man’.

I’d like to live in such a world too, because the reason I “felt obliged” to mention the fact had to do with the fact that LGBT folks were being rhetorically attacked in the conversation, based on a number of claims that are not actually true of me or of a number of other LGBT folks here, and mentioning that we are present in the conversation is an important part of dealing with such attacks. I’d much rather live in a world without such attacks, and hence without the need to go out of my way to formally declare it.

Re: An Open Letter to Keith Preston


I don’t think the issue here is Keith’s “tone.” I think the issue is the substance of his position.

Calling for vocal gay liberationists, feminists, and anti-racists, to be run out of the movement, apparently in order to boost recruiting among those who are put off by that kind of thing, is not just a matter of tone. Do you see nothing wrong with the substance of the position? Do you think that there is a right way to call for such a quote-unquote purge of people who care about these things from the movement?

Similarly, I wonder what you think about the several paragraphs Keith spends attacking “the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism,” by which he apparently means the plumb-line libertarian position against government border checkpoints, papers-please police state monitoring, and government prohibitions on hiring immigrant workers [?!]. When Keith claims that the anarchistic position is to enforce border checkpoints and police-state monitoring of national citizenship papers, the use of government immigration enforcement to exile from the country those that the American government declares “criminals [or] enemies of America” (?!) and suggests government prohibitions against employing undocumented immigrants, and apparently also government prohibitions against employing any immigrants at all during a strike (?!) — when, in short, he calls, over and over again for the expansion of the state and an increase in the power of government border police, in the name of nationalist politics, and attempts to justify this Stasi-statism by pointing to the majority opinion among those approved to vote in government elections by the United States government (?!) — what do you think of that? Do you really think of that as just a problem of “tone”? Or is a problem with the substance of his position?

Re: Taking sides on the right to be a complete jackass

That said, in my experience the groups he identifies (the homosexual lobby, inter alia) are seldom remotely interested in genuine liberty: they are interested in obtaining a seat at the table of power, not in dismantling the table altogether. … You never hear GLBT types demanding that government reduce funding for their pet projects: quite the opposite.

Look, dude, I’m an out bisexual man. I’m also an anarchist. I’m one of those “GLBT types” and I’ve spent the past seven years or so of my life not just calling for defunding this or that project, but in fact calling for, and working for, the immediate, complete and permanent abolition of the State as such. I happen to know a lot of other Gs and Ls and Bs and Ts who have been and are doing the same.

This conversation is not about “the homosexual lobby,” whatever the hell that is. It’s about me and my friends. The folks that Preston wants “purged” when he talks about holding “a revolution within anarchism itself.” This isn’t about attempts to reach out to statist outfits like Human Rights Campaign (who cares?); it’s about Keith’s explicit intention to run us — that is, people who are anarchists and are also vocal gay liberationists — out of the movement, apparently in the name of better recruiting among angry young white cis straight non-immigrant males. (Not to mention his similar suggestions for running out feminists, vocal anti-racists, trans folks, pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair [sic! he says that like it’s supposed to be a bad thing…], people who oppose government immigration checkpoints and “papers-please” ID monitoring, etc.).

I read Mr Preston’s entire piece (or ’screed’ or ‘rant’ if you want to be pejorative) and there was one single sentence in a sea of reasoned argument (the whole ‘cock ring’ bit) upon which people have seized as evidence of some deeper ideological shortcoming.

Oh, well, we can discuss more than just that one pull-quote, if you want.

For instance, how about the several paragraphs that he devotes to arguing that anarchists, of all people, ought to be calling for the expansion of government checkpoints, documentation requirements, and prohibitions against immigrant workers? I don’t know about you, but I’d say that there’s some ideological shortcoming going on when a professed anti-statist goes around arguing for the escalation of police state tactics by government border thugs (because, hey, a majority of government-approved voters want it! well, hell, sign me up!).