I just watched “The Rum Diary”, the movie adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel about the U.S. exploitation of Puerto Rico. I grew up reading and enjoying Hunter Thompson, with much of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” memorized and still able to be rattled off the top of my head after consuming enough tequila. Although I thought “Where the Buffalo Roam” sucked royally I figured “The Rum Diary” was a safer bet to rent than one of the numerous vampire movies on the shelf.
Johnny Depp plays Paul Kemp, a down and out novelist who takes a job as a journalist with an ailing Puerto Rico newspaper. While there he encounters greedy American developers who plan on exploiting dozens of square miles of pristine coastline to the detriment of the environment and the local inhabitants. The developers turn to Kemp as a journalist whom they think they can use to write propaganda pieces in support of their (illegal) project. They want to use Kemp for what in real-life is termed “perception management”, otherwise known as “publishing bald-faced lies” designed to sway public opinion in their direction. It is also known as “Marketing” and “Advertising”.
Poor local people who may have grown-up on these very beaches were systematically locked-out by more and more private homes and hotels; forcing them away from their simple yet relatively carefree lives as fishermen and farmers into lives of servitude as porters and dishwashers in the new hotels. This movie provides a brief, humorous yet poignant view of the America most Americans prefer not to see, where the rubber on the wheels of the imperialist’s machine meets the potholes of the lives crushed on the road to freedom and democracy.
At one point Kemp is noticing the beauty of the landscape and the people who live there and realizing they both are about to change forever, he quotes Oscar Wilde: “They know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
What struck me most about this movie was not the good-ol’ boys and their greed but that they needed Kemp to write positive articles about their project so that the local laws could be changed in favor of their plan. This underscores the role of the media in perpetuating the justification of continuing the eat-your-neighbor evolutionary-stumbling-block-to-human-enlightenment known as “capitalism.” Even in the movies they admit if you can control the information that reaches the people, you can control the perception of the people who matter…namely those who believe what they read the papers. In this way an alternate reality is created for people of conscience who have money and want more of it, for as long as they are shielded from the impact of their own greed the system keeps chugging along and no one loses any sleep over it.
It was fitting for Thompson to quote Wilde, an anarchist who advocated socialism as a means to gain individual freedom. Thompson used his drug and booze-soaked shtick to mock American society but he realized that in order to be published he had to toe a certain line, and consequently he became a sellout and a gatekeeper whose work helped keep in place the very system of plunder and corruption about which he complained. Thompson compromised his ideals to be able to succeed within the system which he so despised, but he never sought to challenge that system, only to rationalize his role in it; with his failure to do so possibly providing the impetus for him to blow-off his own head in disgust.
Wilde on the other hand complained about people like Thompson:
“Wilde did not see kindness or altruism per se as a problem; what worried him was its misapplication in a way which leaves unaddressed the roots of the problem: “the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good” while preserving the system.”
The true anarchist is someone who states THE SYSTEM MUST STOP; furthermore, I believe anyone who honestly confronts the reality of the system must know this is true. You cannot fix a bad system from within. Ron Paul supporters who want to “return America to her former greatness” are suckers missing the point, the same as I was a sucker who missed the point while reading Gonzo-Journalism and voting for Clinton. THERE IS NO AMERICA TO RETURN TO FORMER GREATNESS. There are no liberals or conservatives, there are only participating Americans.
Looking back at the results of the American experiment I see 250 years of slavery, genocide and war financed by the labors of the people of America. What bottom line do you see? Do you see divisions of noble people who voted for this cause or that or do you see taxpayers who supported a system of oppression that would make the Nazis blush?
I reluctantly pay taxes therefore a sizable percentage of my lifetime goes to support a financial system which only benefits a small percentage of families who probably think I am on par with a maggot. I believe that in order for us to keep supporting this bullshit and to prevent us from collectively following Hunter’s lead, IE eating the wrong end of a shotgun, we are supplied a steady diet of pornography (read News, Popular Music, Television and Movies) and other trifles so that we don’t notice what happened until we’re too old and brittle to be of much use anymore. We are furless, two-legged versions of Pavlov’s dog, believing we are free because we are allowed select to our masters, while dismissing the chance to not be slaves.
The system must stop.
You cannot have a smartphone for less than a thousand bucks without fucking-up some other part of the world. Stop kidding yourself and Google “Rare Earth Elements”. Only you can stop the wars but you can’t do it and still reap the benefits of the wars. You’re in a trap, what are you gonna do, chew off your foot? There is plenty of wealth to go around, we can ALL live in harmony with each other, but this cannot be done while you still buy the products which can only be afforded by forcing slave labor on someone else.
That you think you’re bringing peace and freedom to places you’ve never heard of doesn’t change the reality that your labor is being used to screw the people who already live there. Our military is expensive; we launched hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libya, with each one tapping your taxpayers’ veins for a cool 1.4 million. On the first day the Military launched over 110 missiles so let’s say conservatively they launched a thousand missiles total. 1.4 million times 1000 equals 1.4 billion, and for what?
Are you better off spending this much money on the destruction of a country which otherwise might have welcomed you as a tourist had we spent the money on bridges and roads in America? Would what passes for education in this country have benefited from a billion dollars squandered on Tomahawk missiles?
Why do you keep doing this?
Well, if you listen to the message from sellouts like Depp and Thompson, you can thank the media, for without them, you would see the truth, and then you wouldn’t keep doing this. If we truly had an honest media they would remind us daily of the carnage our lifestyle inflicts on the rest of the planet, and in fact if we were better informed we probably would not even like our lifestyle as we know it anyway; and perhaps this is why we are offered no alternatives.
Without the constant crooning from the mass media we might be able to see that nothing we’re doing is beneficial to We The People. Were we not being conditioned to support a government leviathan we would need to work only a fraction of what we now do…think two days a week of work compared to two days a week off. How creative could you be with that much free time? You could build a house. Impossible you say? Sure it’s impossible, as long as you feel it’s more important to spend the money on the military required to secure the cheap labor and materials needed to keep you buying a new smart phone every year.
I am a proponent of a New World Order, a world without borders where natural law supersedes artificial borders and manmade laws. By natural law I mean common sense. I believe the lessons learned from the wars and civil upheavals of the last 100 years prove without a doubt that our definition of prosperity and success, indeed the definition of civilization needs to change. I believe some form of anarchist self-rule is inevitable as a part of human evolution and the only thing holding us back is our perception that maintaining our way of life as we know it is worth killing and dying for. I will offer historical examples and perspective which will give the reader a much different view of anarchy than that offered by the state system which the anarchist seeks to end.
First, let’s get past the Hollywood version of the masked anarchist instigating trouble at protests. This is a punk, not a political activist. I can’t help but notice how the logo with the encircled “A “looks like an encircled pyramid with a capstone, but that’s just me.
Many confused youths emboldened by masks and superior numbers try to invoke a response from the police at protests, often resulting in a violent backlash against the protesters. My wife and I protested a visit to Portland by GW Bush one year and we were surrounded by black-clad and masked youth who were obviously trying to instigate a response. They were moving the barricades, shouting obscenities and flashing Nazi salutes. In addition to the misguided punks we were also surrounded by older folks like us, so my wife asked the guys to settle down and to look around at the people near them. If they instigated a police backlash then the grandmothers and kids near them would be beaten and tear-gassed too. They looked around and realizing the innocent people at risk in their midst, they sheepishly stopped their antics.
But not all of them will see reason and some protesters are there simply to cause trouble. It is thanks to these protesters that we are reduced to “free-speech zones” nowadays. If the protesters damage property or become overly belligerent, all bets are off and the police have an excuse to wade in with teargas and batons, and the cops know it…in fact they’re poised and ready for it. In fact, if belligerent and violent protesters didn’t exist, the police will fabricate them, with the practice being so common the French actually have a name for it; Agents Provacateurs. At this protest in Canada the protestors confronted some violent members who wouldn’t back down, and neither would the non-violent protesters. It turns out the violent protestors were actually under-cover cops trying to instigate a violent backlash:
Anarchism is what the current State system fears most, therefore it is in the best interests of the State to keep up the impression that anarchists are violent thugs who just want to break windows and wreak mayhem. Unfortunately some of history’s most visible anarchists helped support this impression. Around the turn of the 20th century there was a spate of high-profile assassinations for which anarchists took credit.
“From 1890- 1901, a chain of assassinations took place: King Umberto I, Italy; Empress Elizabeth, Austria; President Carnot, France; President McKinley, United Stated; and Spanish Prime Minister Antonio C novas del Castillo. Unfortunately, these acts had the opposite effect of what was intended- they established the idea of the Anarchist as a mindless destroyer.”
These impatient and misguided people felt that the only way to stop the Behemoth of the State was to violently overthrow it so as to completely rebuild it. I call them misguided because a true anarchist will understand violent resurrection only ensures a regime more violent the last. Anarchy means respect, not destruction. Anyone with common sense knows that a movement which sports a picture of a punk with a black mask throwing a chair through a store window is not going to gain much of a following, so is there something wrong with the punk’s “movement” or is there something wrong with our interpretation of his motives?
More on provacateurs:
Next, here’s a brief history of the anarchic schools of thought:
“The History of Anarchism
by Brian Crabtree (1992)
The rejection of authority dates back to the Stoics and Cynics, and has been around for millenia. However, the terms anarchist, anarchism, andanarchy, from the Greek “an archos” (without a rule), were used entirely in a negative manner before the nineteenth century.
~ Proudhon and the Mutualists ~
In 1840, in his controversial “What Is Property”, French political writer and socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon became the first person to call himself an Anarchist. In this book, Proudhon stated that the real laws of society have nothing to do with authority, but stem instead from the nature of society itself. He also predicted the eventual dissolve of authority and the appearence of a natural social order. “As man seeks justice in equality, society seeks justice in anarchy. Anarchy – the absence of a sovereign – such is the form of government to which we are every day approximating.” He was a’peaceful anarchist’; he believed that within existing society, the organizations could be created that would eventually replace it. Proudhon was born in 1809, originally a peasant, the son of a brewer. His “What Is Property”and “System of Economic Contradictions” established him in the socialist community. Later he went on to write “The Federal Principle” and “The Political Capability of the Working Class”.
Although he declared in “What Is Property” that “property is theft”, he did not support communism, and regarded the right of workers to control the means of production as an important part of freedom. He never considered himself the originator of a movement, but he did propose a federal system of autonomous communes. He had many followers, but they preferred the title ‘Mutualists’ to ‘Anarchists’; Anarchism still bore a negative connotation. Proudhon and the Mutualists, along with British tradeunionists and socialists, formed the First International Workingmen’s Association.
~ Bakunin and Collectivism ~
“The passion for destruction is also a creative passion” – These words would accurately summarize the position of Mikail Bakunin and the Collectivists. Bakunin believed that Anarchy was only possible through a violent revolution, obliterating all existing institutions. He was originally a nobleman, but became a revolutionary and joined the International in the 1860’s, after founding the Social Democratic Alliance and modifying Proudhon’s teachings into a new doctrine known as Collectivism. Bakunin taught that property rights were impractical and that the means of production should be owned collectively. He was strongly opposed to Karl Marx, also a member of the International, and his ideas of a proletarian dictatorship. This conlict eventually tore the International apart in 1872. He died in 1876, but the next International that he and the Collectivists started in 1873 lasted for another year. Later, his followers finally accepted the title of ‘Anarchist’.
~ Prince Peter Kropotkin ~
In 1876, when he became a revolutionary, Peter Kropotkin renounced his title of Prince and became successor to Mikail Bakunin. He developed the theory of Anarchist Communism: not only should the means of production be ownedcollectively, but the products should be completely communized as well. This
revised Thomas More’s Utopian idea of storehouses, “From each according to his means, to each according to his needs.” Kropotkin wrote “The Conquest of Bread” in 1892, in which he sketched his vision of a federation of free Communist groups. In 1899 he wrote “Memoirs of a Revolutionist”, an autobiographical work, and “Fields, Factories, and Workshops”, which put forward ideas on the decentralization of industry necessary for an Anarchist society. He later proved by biological and sociological evidence that cooperation is more natural than coercion (“Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution” – 1902). Kropotkin’s writings completed the vision of the Anarchist future, and little new has been added since.
~ The Anarchist Movement ~
Even before Proudhon entered the scene, Anarchist activism was going on. The first plans for an Anarchist commonwealth were made by an Englishman named Gerrard Winstanley, who founded the tiny Digger movement. In his 1649 pamphlet, “Truth Lifting Up Its Head Above Scandals”, he wrote that power corrupts, that property is incompatible with freedom, and that men can only be free and happy in a society without governmental interference, where work and its products are shared (what was to become the foundation for Anarchist theory in the years to come). He led a group of followers to a hillside where they established an Anarchist village, but this experiment was quickly destroyed by local opposition. Later another Englishman, William Godwin, would write ‘Political Justice’, which said that authority was against nature, and that social evils exist because men are not free to act according to reason.
Among Italian Anarchists, an activist attitude was prevalent. Said Errico Malatesta in 1876, “The insurrectionary deed, destined to affirmsocialist principles by acts, is the most efficacious means of propaganda.”The first acts were rural insurrections, meant to arouse the uneducated citizens of the Italian countryside, but these were unsuccessful. Afterward this activism tended to take the form of individual acts of protest by ‘terrorists’, who attempted to assassinate ruling figures in the hope of demonstrating the vulnerability of the structure of authority and inspiring others by their self-sacrifice. From 1890- 1901, a chain of assassinations took place: King Umberto I, Italy; Empress Elizabeth, Austria; President Carnot, France; President McKinley, United Stated; and Spanish Prime Minister Antonio C novas del Castillo. Unfortunately, these acts had the opposite effect of what was intended- they established the idea of the Anarchist as a mindless destroyer.
Also during the 1890’s, many French painters, writers, and other artists discovered Anarchism, and were attracted to it because of its individualist ideas. In England, writer Oscar Wilde became an Anarchist, and in 1891 wrote “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”.
Anarchism was also a strong movement in Spain. The first Anarchist journal, “El Porvenir”, was published in 1845, but was quickly silenced.
Branches of the International were established by Guiseppe Fanelli in Barcelonaand Madrid. By 1870, there were over 40,000 Spanish Anarchists members; by 1873, 60,000, mostly organized in workingmen’s associations, but in 1874 the movement was forced underground. In the 1880’s and ’90’s, the Spanish Anarchist movement tended toward terrorism and insurrections.
The Spanish civil war was the perfect opportunity to finally put ideas into action on a large scale. Factories and railways were taken over. In Andalusia, Catalonia, and Levante, peasents seized the land. Autonomous libertarian villages were set up, like those described in Kropotkin’s ‘The Conquest of Bread’. Internal use of money was abolished, the land was tilled collectively, the village products were sold or exchanged on behalf of the entire community, and each family recieved an equal share of necessities they could not produce themselves. Many of these such communes were even more efficient than the other villages. Although the Spanish Anarchists failed because they did not have the ability to carry out sustained warfare, they succeeded in inspiring many and showing that Anarchy can work efficiently.
Although two of the greatest Anarchist leaders, Bakunin and Kropotkin,were Russian, totalitarian censorship managed to supress most of the movement, and it was never very strong in Russia. Only one revolutionary, N.I. Makhno, a peasant, managed to raise an insurrectionary army and, by brilliant guerilla tactics, took temporary control of a large part of the Ukraine from both Red and White armies. His exile in 1921 marked the death of the Anarchist movement in Russia.
Throughout American history, there has been a tradition of both violent and pacifist Anarchism. Henry David Thoreau, a nonviolent Anarchist writer, and Emma Goldman an Anarchist activist, are a couple of examples.Activist Anarchism, however, was mainly sustained by immigrants from Europe. In the late 1800’s, Anarchism was a part of life for many. In 1886, four Anarchists were wrongfully executed for alleged involvement in the Haymarket bombing, in which seven policemen were killed. President McKinley was assassinated in 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, a Polish Anarchist.
Especially since 1917, Anarchism has appealed to intellectuals In 1932, Aldous Huxley wrote “Brave New World”, which warned of a mindless, materialistic existence a modernized society could produce, and in the ‘Foreword’ of the 1946 edition, he said that he believed that only through radical decentralization and a politics that was “Kropotkinesque and cooperative” could the dangers of modern society be escaped. After World War II, Anarchist groups reappeared in almost all countries where they had once existed, excepting Spain and the Soviet Union. In the 1970’s, Anarchism drew much attention and interest, and rebellious students often started collectives still published is a monthly British publication, called “Anarchy”, which applies Anarchist principles to modern life.
Anarchism, although often mistakenly thought of as violent and destructive, is not that at all. Anarchists, though some may advocate a swift and violent revolution, envision a peaceful and harmonious society, based on a natural order of cooperation rather than an artificial system based on coercion.”
Anarchy stems back to the Taoists in ancient China:
What anarchy seeks to solve is the problem of a coercive monopoly. A monopoly of coercive power always results in a suppression of liberty; ever heard of “Crossing the Rubicon?” This refers to Caesar breaking the laws of the republic when he brought the Roman army across the River Rubicon and entered Rome as its leader. It was a military coup only made possible by having a monopoly of coercive power…in this case, a Roman Legion:
“Exercising imperium when forbidden by the law was a capital offence, punishable by death. Furthermore, obeying the commands of a general who did not legally possess imperium was also a capital offence. If a general entered Italy whilst exercising command of an army, both the general and his soldiers became outlaws and were automatically condemned to death. Generals were thus obliged to disband their armies before entering Italy.
In 49 BC, supposedly on January 10 of the Roman calendar, G. Julius Caesar led one legion, the Legio XIII Gemina, south over the Rubicon from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy to make his way to Rome. In doing so, he (deliberately) broke the law on imperium and made armed conflict inevitable. According to the historian Suetonius, Caesar uttered the famous phrase ālea iacta est (“the die has been cast”). Caesar’s decision for swift action forced Pompey, the lawful consuls (G. Claudius Marcellus and L. Cornelius Lentulus Crus), and a large part of the Roman Senate to flee Rome in fear. Caesar’s subsequent victory in Caesar’s civil war ensured that punishment for the infraction would never be rendered.
Suetonius’s account depicts Caesar as undecided as he approached the river, and attributes the crossing to a supernatural apparition. The phrase “crossing the Rubicon” has survived to refer to any individual or group committing itself irrevocably to a risky or revolutionary course of action, similar to the modern phrase “passing the point of no return“.
In our society the police and armed forces have that monopoly; therefore we who are born into this society have no choice but to participate. We accept these conditions as part of what is required as citizens (read subjects) of the United States, but we are anything but free. Just try not to participate and you’ll see how free you are.
It is the lack of a coercive monopoly that makes true freedom possible, and the early Romans knew this, but they weren’t wise enough to avoid creating a coercive monopoly to begin with.
Most people can’t imagine a nation without a standing army, but if you can believe the writings of many of the slave and land-owning American aristocracy who formed our current form of government they were well aware this was something to avoid. However non-altruistic were their motives, a monopoly of coercive power meant a loss of even THEIR freedom; therefore they wrote into the constitution that a well-armed MILITIA would be in place of a standing army. This is the basis of the second amendment, that the local people were ultimately responsible to themselves to prevent not invaders from other nations, but the coercive power of oppressive government.
This is the same rationale behind the Swiss militia which many people like to point out avoided conflict in both world wars. Every house has a modern military firearm, and everyone is trained in its use. Every citizen is required to participate in their own protection, as it should be. This is not a utopian concept, this is just common sense. But lest you think I’m too forgiving, I’m not forgetting another reason the Swiss weren’t invaded or even bombed in WWI or WWII; their banks were financing both sides of the conflicts. It is for this reason I don’t consider the Swiss to be valid models for the second amendment. We are allegedly armed in this country as a last defense against home-grown tyranny, but firearms will do nothing against the money power. The only way to fight that power is through non-violent non-participation. You can’t out-gun a multinational banking conglomerate, but you can starve them by not using their products.
Survival of the Collaborative
What most States want us to believe is that without their order and protection; without a central government human society will turn to chaos. If art imitates life then our movies and novels are filled with post-apocalyptic tall tales like Mad-Max, The Postman, The Road, etc. because in times of trouble people turn on each other. This theme may do well to fill the box-offices but in reality when humanity is left to their own devices and far from the security of a central government jungle rules do not rule. In reality most people help each other; sure there will always be bad apples in any society, but as a rule it is not survival of the fittest, it is survival of the most collaborative that seizes the day, and for my first supporting example I bring you the not-so-wild Old American West.
The Wild, Wild West
In the mid-19th century the supremacist ideology known as “Manifest Destiny” fanned the normal flames of human pettiness and greed resulting in the rapid western expansion of the United States. Over-land migrations of American and European immigrants took place pressing ever westward into ancient native homelands more quickly than the military could keep up with them. Most of us are taught to believe this is what started the Indian wars, as they attacked settlements not guarded by the army, but this is not the case.
In the diaries and other records left by the thousands of over-landers it can be seen that the most successful settlers were those who kept it simple and flexible, relying on their collective common sense to survive. As a rule, the vast majority of the successful immigrants succeeded thanks to reasoned collaboration, even in dealing with hostile natives. The key was in setting the ground rules and allowing people to renegotiate contracts as new needs arose. The Old American West is not a perfect example of anarchy because the army was always available to someone who wanted to turn-back, but it is a very good example of human nature in the face of adversity.
What you will find in reading the below PDF is that when faced with adversity and without a formal government people do not turn on each other, they turn to help each other. You will find that the West was calm, not chaotic, and it only became violent with the arrival of the US Army; only then did the atrocities begin, and until then it was more peaceful than it is even now.
“An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West*
Terry L. Anderson
P. J. Hill
Department of Economics, Montana State University “