(en) Part 2-Patriot Militias, Neo-Conservatives...

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Tue, 18 Nov 1997 15:23:22 -0700

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PART TWO ---------------- Patriot Militias, Neo-Conservatives, And Neo-Libertarians by Drifter "Bob" for @nt Press News


An Ideological Onslaught

Armed with an accurate understanding of these new realities, several elements of the establishment and extremist Right have been actively attempting to influence the development of this body of theory, and it has paid off to the tune of about 10-20 million near-fanatic followers. This is what all that "hate radio" is which has been bewildering and confounding the left for so long is all about. This is the key to the power of groups such as Pat Robertson's "700 Club" organization, which goes on the air with slick, well produced lurid paranoia theatre and discusses the hidden meanings of current events each day with its following.

By aggressively pushing detailed positions on every issue popular in the "Patriot" domain, certain vested interests are able to put their own insidious kind of "spin" on the libertarian impulses of the populist movement, and either neutralize them or interweave them with their own ideas. That is why the new right has both revolutionary and reactionary aspects, i.e. it's strong libertarian tendencies are warped into a more regressive tangent by these pressures. Thus on the one hand it is libertarian without being egalitarian, it is suspicious of government but leery of democracy, it equates civil liberties with unlimited corporate license, and mistakes healthy individualism for a kind of pathological social darwinism.

By far the greatest danger of this thing is the potential for elements of the more extreme right to gain control of it and reshape it into a real fascist counter-revolution. This is not meant euphemistically, in fact it is already well along the road toward becoming a reality. To use the clich=E9, a war for the ideological soul of the nation is being fought right now. The Right has recognized the undeniable fact that a very large segment of the population has to a greater or lesser degree become unhinged from the system of ideological control that beginning to roam the intellectual wilderness increasingly unfettered by orthodoxy.

Needless to say the potential of any large independent grassroots movement is inherently more of an immediate threat to the right wing, which is probably why they reacted to it so much more quickly. But regardless of how or why, certain elements on the right have quickly grasped the situation and are now aggressively seeking to gain control over it. They are fighting this battle virtually unopposed by any major effort from the left to challenge them within this realm, and in fact the only resistance to their ideological onslaught is from their own blunders and from the innate stubbornness and independence of the trend in general.

What the left has to realize is that this "Patriot" movement is only the tip of the iceberg. This phenomenon has influence that goes far beyond the realm of Right-wing Gun-Nuts, or even the borders of the United States. In fact a lot of the attitudes and techniques characteristic of that movement are showing up in other areas already. One example which right-wing elements in the Defense Industry intelligencia have recently become aware of is the "war of words" taking place around the Zapatista movement in Mexico.

The conservative RAND Corporation think-tank in Los Angeles released a pair of essays, entitled "Netwar" and "Cyberwar." In them the authors accurately, if crudely, describe the new types of informal communications networks, how they affect public opinion, and what they see as their political and social implications. Their enlightened opinion of the potential value of this quantum leap in technological and social development is as a new type of warfare.i.e. "Netwar"

Netwar is decribed as a struggle taking place between two or more entities for control of the access to and perception of information by the general public. In this specific case the players are agents of the Mexican State on the one hand, using State media; and the grassroots supporters of a rival political force - the insurgent Zapatistas, using informal networks of telephones, fax machines and the Internet on the other, with the goal of each being to influence the opinion of the general public toward their own slant on the situation.

The fundamentally undemocratic RAND Corporation sees the free and open exchange and distribution of information related to the Zapatista insurrection such as government documents, interviews with prisoners, the statements of the opposition, etc. as a form of "Cyber-Terrorism." However, faced with this new danger to Autocracy and the possibility that these information webs can't immediately be shut down they are not resigned to simply conceding defeat to their ideological opponents.

They believe that this phenomenon is similar in many ways to the methods used by different grassroots organizations in recent North American political struggles, such as the resistance to NAFTA and the opposition to some of the recent firearms bans by the New Right here in the U.S., and has to recognized for the powerful new force that it is. So they are taking steps to learn how to fight this new kind of "war" on the terms that define it.

Webs vs. Hubs

Webs are more powerful than centralized information hubs because they are made up of multitudes of free individuals who have learned to work together in a new way. They are able, thanks to the Internet, short wave and AM talk radio, fax amchines, etc. to overcome the natural atvantages in expertise, organization, money, and technology which the Government, Mad Avenue, and the various other entities which have the means to influence public opinion have access to, by the sheer volume of people invloved. In other words, given the ability for rapid lateral communication, ten thousand ordinary people can outsmart a few dozen hired advertising executives, spin doctors, editorial writers, politicians, and professional propagandists, no matter how well trained they are, and no matter how much money they spend on the development or dissemination of their version of reality.

Even if they flood every single outlet of the mainstream media: TV, Movies, Radio, Newspapers and Magazines (as they regularly do for almost every major propaganda effort these days, such as the "linkage" and "symbiosis" currently employed by Disney-McDonalds-Pepsico, etc.) with their version of some issue, the scuttlebutt, the centuries old grapevine which is now boosted to lightening speed by turbo-supercharged technology like the Internet, often remains independent or unswayed by or even hostile to the opinions of the establishment media. Like a killer disease which is becoming resistant and ultimately immune to the overused broad-spectrum anti-biotics, insolent grassroots heresy is spreading out of control of the rulers of the world.


To summarize, I believe that the "Patriots" and gun militia groups which are appearing lately represent the visible fringe of a much larger social trend in the U.S. and the world, a broad grassroots movement characterized by a desire for greater individual liberty and autonomy, and empowered by the ability to communicate with these new technologies. This is in fact supported by polls and surveys made by a somewhat bewildered news media, and is becoming increasingly evident to a lot of people.

I also believe that elements in the Right Wing have already recognized the trend for what it is and are actively attempting to manipulate it to suit their own ends. While some powerful corporate and bureaucratic interests would prefer to simply neutralize it, other elements are actively seeking to build it into the base of an extremist revolution of the Right. If there is a significant threat of this tendency to continue to grow out of control the corporations will probably go along with the solution of a counter-revolution.

Is there really a threat of a real fascist counter-revolution in the U.S.? I think there is. There is in the new populist movements a large potential base, there are very powerful neo-fascist groups like the Christian Coalition which are attempting to from the intermediary organizations which would be needed to control them, and there is a certain amount of interest in the upper echelons of American society in openly making some kind of shift toward the far right.

It's increasingly clear to a lot of people that the current form of "democracy" that exists in the United States is not working very well, crime is getting totally out of hand, the people are becoming unsatisfied with their situation and therefore more and more unmanageable in general, the political situation is increasingly unstable. To some, the solution to these problems is to reshape American society in the image of some of our new economic competitors in the Far East, to form an authoritarian Business-State after the model of Hong Kong, South Korea, or Singapore.

The choice facing the future development of this nation seems to lie between either a dramatic increase or a dramatic decrease in grassroots democracy. Either direction will require radical, possibly violent change in the power structures of North American Society. Will the future political landscape of the United States more closely resemble those of Switzerland of Costa Rica, or will it look more like Singapore or Post-Communist China? Will a possible transition into a new phase of American history be peaceful or violent? These questions may be decided without us if something isn't done. Why is it that the Left- Wing is so detached from this?

I'm not in a position to delve deeply into all the root causes, but I think it is clear that most of the larger left leaning organizations in the U.S. have lost touch with their grassroots base. While some still have slightly radical positions on cultural or social issues, most of the establishment Left, like the big labor unions, the NAACP, and especially the democratic party have actually moved significantly to the right on most political (such as law & order) and especially economic issues, in spite of the sometimes frantic wishes of their constituencies (witness NAFTA).

In my opinion, none of the major players on the Left are in a position to thrive in this new realm. This is true for the "radical" elements as well as the establishment, neither has a strong populist appeal anymore. I think a whole new kind of movement such as we haven't seen since the 60's will have to arise in order for the Left to play a role in a populist upsurge.

The unsuitability of most of the current left-wing institutions for the new populist realm goes to the very ideological core. Trends like "Political Correctness" will not hold up well to independent critical examination. Like authoritarian conservatism, P.C. is fundamentally group-think ideology that must be enforced by a tight-knit community, and it's partisan emphasis must be justified by a sort of submission to the "big picture" that is difficult to convey in the free medium of an open information network.

But a new type of very radical grassroots genre does exist which relies on sardonic wit, black humor, an unflinching examination of political, economic, and social realities, and even the sorts of conspiracy theories which are so popular with the Right wing. The first examples of this which have appeared in the last few years (such as Michael Moore's famous film about Flint, Michigan, "Roger and Me") seem to illicit a much broader and much more enthusiastic reaction than even the most popular Zionist-Martian conspiracy theories on the Right. So why, therefore, aren't there more left-libertarian players out there? The answer is two fold.

On the one hand, the demographic of the Left has changed, and the bourgeois elements which make up most of the current base now favor a more paternal, more authoritarian approach to their cause than at any point in recent history. They quite simply are not sympathetic to or even aware of libertarian ideas, or for that matter the real concerns or issues of the grassroots.

The other reason is that people are reluctant to move into a left-libertarian direction because it is just too extreme. Most folks tend to try to avoid radicalism at all costs. Any ideology which advocates or implies the possibility of major political change is considered to be inherently threatening, even evil (and this is not a particularly unreasonable sentiment if you consider some of the more radical political experiments of the 20th Century). In fact, the implication of a left-libertarian ideology are indeed potentially dangerous to most of the middle-class Left, because they imply the empowerment of the poorer, more marginalized elements in society.

But perhaps most significantly the Government and the establishment in general are likely to take a much dimmer view of the existence of a left-libertarian movement of any significance. Basically it boils down to this: an authoritarian left movement isn't really a threat at all as long as it knows how to do business (and they do); a movement that is right-wing and libertarian is bad, posing a serious threat of unmanageability and insurrection; but a left-wing libertarian movement is the worst of all possible worlds, it means almost by definition revolution , pure and simple. To any government, to the forces of Capital, to the system itself, it is all but intolerable.

This is why you've never seen even a vaguely left-libertarian politician (like Jerry Brown or Jesse Jackson) make it into the North American political system in the last 100 years or so: the closest you ever find are Republican "Libertarians" and a few Democrats who lean toward Laissez Faire Capitalism (such as Paul Tsongas) - they all sing the song of liberty when it comes to "Free Trade" between big corporations but they wouldn't dream of applying libertarian principles to the lives of common citizens.

It seems like the implications of a left-libertarian perspective are inherently too far-out, too damming of the system in general. There appears to be no way that a reasonable, moderate person can be a left-wing libertarian these days. This is the crux of the dilemma: how can one expose large groups of folks to these kinds of ideas in such a way that they can explore them without identifying themselves beforehand as radicals?

The answer is of course through the same kinds of techniques that the right-wing agencies are using to introduce their ideas into the debates going on in the electronic and grassroots underground. Fortunately, I am not after all the first person to realize this.


What I am advocating is that instead of shying away from the entire genre, from the entire world of the new grassroots "Right," we should take up the torch and forge ahead, we should be bolder, push harder and farther than the Right could ever dare to go, because the truth is on our side if we are willing to honestly face it. In order to be able to do this the Left will have to find a credible voice in the grassroots, an honesty born of righteous fury and fierce independence rather than compromise or paternal middle-class guilt complexes.

And if you delve deeply enough, you will find some traces of this kind of movement already forming in the darker recesses of the sub-cultural underground. Unknown to the establishment, there is even in the United States a large cultural base of politically conscious left-libertarian rebellion within some youth movements. There are also a handful of increasingly influential thinkers, writers, artists, and speakers laying the intellectual groundwork for a new, much more vital kind of far-left ideology.

This new philosophy does not ask people to forfeit political freedom to achieve economic or social justice, does not attempt to mold reality into 19th Century political models, or even demand allegiance to some sort of rigid utopian scheme for society, but rather embodies a living, growing trend toward liberty both political and economic, and unblinkingly confronts the reality of the human condition. If the left is to reclaim a role in the future of this nation and of human development in general, it will have to learn to incorporate the best of these kinds of trends into a new type of political movement that can beat the right-wing at their own game.

One cannot, however, find much of a base for this in the mainstream. Today one has to turn over some remote cultural logs indeed to find any honest thought at all, particularly in North America. The best way to protect authentic radical political ideology so that it can mature into strong and resourceful real life movements is to hide it from both the myopic intellectual corrosion that comes from broad media scrutiny and from the potential ethical corruption of money and power. The best place to do this is deep within the broad grassroots, but one can also find a lot of the best and most promising new political forces on the far left coming from deep within the counter-cultural underground.

Punk Rock, Hip Hop, and Hellbilly Music

One place you can find a lot of really strong revolutionary ideas is in popular underground music. For example, most people in the mainstream completely misunderstood Punk Rock when it first appeared in the late 70's, assuming it was just a particularly repulsive nihilistic obsession of the most decadent elements of the youth culture. Behind this screen of obscurity, extremely radical groups like the SUBHUMANS, CRASS, and in the U.S. especially the Dead Kenedys probably turned more people on to really revolutionary political ideas in the last 20 years or so than all of the "real" far-left political movements in North America combined.

This tradition has quietly continued to this day. Literally thousands of politically oriented punk rock bands all over the globe, from Germany to Greece, from Mexico to Malaysia, have, have been spreading radical and revolutionary social criticism, left-libertarian political ideology, and most importantly, concrete factual information in the underground, finally becoming so influential that they broke back into the mainstream in the U.S. 20 years after the entire music industry thought punk was dead.

The new popularity of punk music will probably have an unanticipated small but subversive political effect. For example, while many orthodox punkers were disgusted when some relatively ideological groups like Bad Religion "sold out" by signing with major record labels and appearing on such vulgar media as MTV during the recent revival of interest in Punk music, the net effect of the exposure of millions of kids to a band that has a 10 minute speech by Noam Chomsky on one of their albums will probably be benificial to the left-libertarian cause.

The same kind of stuff can be found in the deep underground of Rap music. In the lyrics of groups such as the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopricy (another Chomsky fan), Paris, KRS-1, Arrested Development, and The Coup, even to some degree the more popular mainstream bands like Public Enemy, you can find a great deal of shockingly clear, incisive social and political criticism, as well as a treasure trove of all the important factual data; details of specific government programs, dates and locations of incidents, the inside scoop on historical events. Of course, like punk, the best, most radical Hip Hop groups exist even deeper in the underground, and dozens of relatively unknown local groups can be found in every city neighborhood in the nation, probably 5 political and extremely radical groups for every famous "gangsta rap" group on MTV.

They can get away with this for the same reason that there is so much healthy, untainted radical thought in punk music: the establishment just doesn't understand what the hell those musicians are talking about, it just sounds like "angry noise" to them or "jungle music" so they assume it's all about drinking malt liquor and gan-banging, and at worst maybe shooting cops. This sort of thing also exists to a lesser extent in the underground realms of all sorts of popular music: reggae; heavy metal; techno; industrial; "grunge"; there are even subversive left-libertarian "country" singers such as the marvelous and miraculous Mojo Nixon.


Another even more unlikely place you find highly subversive left-libertarian ideas festering out of control is on the leading edge of the most radical conspiracy theories. About 20 years ago two men (one a former editor of Playboy Magazine), wrote an extremely influential book that absolutely mastered every conspiracy theory known to man, as well as several that weren't, examined them to a level of detail and a degree of sophistication that has yet to be matched by anyone else before or since. Instead of supporting any particular one of the theories and maybe starting a mew major religion like Scientology or something, which they could have easily done due to their absolutely convincing arguments and inside information, the authors took another tangent.

Through the course of the 3 main books, in which the authors casually explore in equal comfort such diverse subjects as the influence and techniques of the Kabbalah, the inner-workings of the mind of James Joyce, the implications of Quantum Mechanics, and the curious daily habits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, they systematically and utterly discredit each successive conspiracy theory in favor of other, larger ones until they finally reach the conclusion that the greatest and most terrible conspiracy in the world is the blind conspiracy of entrenched stupidity and ignorance, the innate willingness of people to be manipulated, to be lead blindly like sheep.

But these two and their other equally creative friends DID eventually invent a religion after all. Throughout the Illuminatus trilogy the mischievous thread of a new, sophisticated mock-philosophy begins to emerge, an ideology of pure insolence, a free-form church of unlimited rebellion which seems to be the only consistently rational idea that can be found there. What originally started as a joke, a mock religion worshiping the ancient Greek Goddess of chaos, is now the surprisingly pervasive "Discordian" movement, a simple iconoclastic "religion" for lighthearted freethinkers that has sparked the invention of at least one wildly popular spin-off, the "Church of the Sub-Genius," and influenced the growth of an entire new genre of neo-libertarian thought.

This new ideological landscape is populated by some lively and unorthodox new publications such as the hilarious "Paranoia" Magazine, which prints both Right and Left-wing conspiracy theories both for their sheer amusement value and the small amount of true information contained in most of them, and another great example, the brilliant bible of "culture jamming"; Adbusters, which promotes the sabotage of all stupid ideas and "intellectual pollution," particularly the flood of mental vomit that comes out of MAD Avenue on behalf of Corporate America, and contains creative examples of ani-media guerilla art in each issue.

"Light" at the End of the Tunnel

Combined with the small but important new left-libertarian activist groups, these seemingly bizarre (no more weird than the popular right-wing crap) trends are actually forming an intellectual foundation for what could become a strong potential new base for a left-libertarian movement. Symbolic endeavors such as the punk-influenced radical squatters movement in New York, and some of the recent innovations of the Anarchists like Food Not Bombs and Anarchist Black Cross groups, and especially the new pirate radio stations, together with the rest of the subversive media such as the underground press, some popular comedians, radical liturature, and even a few movies such as "Roger and Me," can hopefully lay some of the groundwork for the more serious ideas of some of the new left-libertarian thinkers of the 90's, and the ones to come in the 21st century.

Hopefully, in the near future the ideas of people like Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Murray Bookchin, William Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, Lorenzo Komboa Irvin, and Hakim Bey will be doing intellectual battle with the primitive racist, reactionary anti-green, capitalist apologist ideologies of the right-wing on all the outlets of the grassroots media, on the Internet, on the short-wave (and pirate!) radio, on public access TV.

Engage these issues rather than ignoring them, conspracies about the government don't exist exclusively among "angry white men," but are experienced in every segment of society, black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, straight, Christian, Moslem, Jewish (Discordian!). If we have to cut off all contact with the establishment groups, so be it. Learn what people are saying and get involved. Then maybe when we reclaim the underground, we will see some kind of truly progressive new grassroots political movement arise in the United States, one with a goal that perhaps more closely resembles the democratic organization of the poetic Zapatistas than the racist, paranoid, middle-aged bourgeois-with-an-attitude evil boy scout society that seems to be the goal of the visible element of the "Patriot" militias.

-end of part two- -end of article- __________________________ Radio4All: http://www.radio4all.org/ The A-Infos Radio Project: http://www.radio4all.org/radio http://radio4all.web.net/

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