Ideology Chart


Libertarians are beloved of charts that place individuals and ideologies along two intersecting axes: left/right and libertarian/authoritarian. The most popular is the Nolan Chart, which uses the terms “liberal/conservative” and “libertarian/statist.” (You can place yourself on the Nolan Chart with this “World’s Smallest Political Quiz.”) The above chart, designed by Mitchell Halberstadt in the San Francisco Bay Area, is in my opinion superior, allowing the viewer to place him or herself more precisely. It uses the terms “communitarianism/individualism” and “anarchism/fascism.” I would place myself in the lower left quadrant of the chart, with anarchist (libertarian) and communitarian (left) leanings—somewhere between the designators “syndicalism” and “non-authoritarian communes.” The Democratic and Republican parties would both be in the exact opposite (upper right) quadrant—around the designator “corporate” (the Republicans slightly closer to the fascist pole; the Democrats, with their more communitarian instincts, slightly closer to the circle’s center). The capital-L Libertarians (free-market but liberal on social issues) are in the lower right quadrant. This is ostensibly where Ron Paul belongs—but his equivocation on civil rights and abortion rights (in the long-familiar guise of “state’s rights”) may actually place him outside the libertarian quadrant, closer to the fascist pole. The folks at New Centrist argue that Ron Paul is not truly libertarian but “paranoid populist”—a distinct “style in American politics” first identified by Richard Hofstadter.

  1. Thanks for the link!
    Thanks for the link, Bill. But I need to admit the New Centrist is a one-man operation. I’d like to devote more time to blogging but other responsibilities keep me away. As to debating the (de)merits of the centrist label I’m certainly open to discussion. It’s largely a way to identify myself as someone who has left the radical left but not embraced neo-conservatism ala David Horowitz. I’m a moderate who is very critical of utopian solutions for complex problems, whether they come from the radical left or radical right. On domestic issues I’m largely liberal (pro-union, pro-choice, support immigrant rights, etc.) even libertarian in some respects (gun ownership).

    BTW, there is a similar test to one you posted that includes the libertarian-totalitarian axis at

    In that test I’m in the lower left quadrant slightly to the left on the x axis and almost touching the line of the y axis but not quite. That places me in the “libertarian left” category but just barely. I’m not sure where I would position myself on your chart.

    1. No problem
      World War 4 Report is almost a one-man operation (me being the man), tho not quite. The Political Compass test placed me deep within the “libertarian left” field, as I anticipated. It sounds like our politics are actually fairly similar (although you fail to mention where you stand on the war, a rather glaring lapse). I have become extremely critical of the radical left, but I haven’t left it. I feel like my own politics haven’t changed, but everyone else’s have. I think most of the “radical left” has left the radical left, without realizing it. The flirtation with the likes of Ron Paul, Slobodan Milosevic, clerical jihadism—all exponents of the right—indicate that what we today call the “radical left” isn’t really. That’s why I call it the “idiot left,” though pseudo-left might be even more accurate.

      What makes me feel desperately lonely is that those who are calling out the idiot left are (with a few notable exceptions) centrists, post-leftists and neocons. I mean, I love it when Christopher Hitchens bashes the idiot left—but then he has to go and ruin it all by cheering on Bush’s stupid fucking war.

      The problem with the “centrist” label is that the “center” has swung so far to the right since Reagan. Calling yourself a “centrist” makes you sound like a Clintonian. When “centrism” and “moderation” mean ending welfare (“as we know it”), getting us into NAFTA and the WTO, and bombing foreign countries, I prefer to remain a radical, thanks—or I would, if all these idiots weren’t giving the word a bad name.

      By the way—are you a fascist? Take this easy quiz!

      1. Idiot Left, &c
        At one time, our politics would have been very close but I’m much less prone to placing the primary emphasis for the world’s problems on capitalism these days. In many cases—certainly not all—the market can provide better solutions than government. Back in my rad-leftist days this sort of thinking would have got me branded as a counter-revolutionary petit-bourgie scum.

        I empathize with feeling lonely on a political level. In your case I suspect you see the political tendency you identify with abandoning its principles and behaving in a reactionary manner (or something along those lines). I went through a period of this and eventually “left the left.”

        Idiot-left is good. Loony left or leftover left (Ron Radosh’s term) works fine for me. Bob from Brockley and The Contentious Centrist prefer “Rococo Left”:

        If you haven’t checked out Bob’s blog, you should. He’s further to the left than myself and you’ll find much to agree with (or at least find interesting). The Contentious Centrist’s politics are closer to my own. Follow the link above to view both blogs.

        I thought you would be able to discern my foreign policy perspective (hawkish) by the posts at my site and the Euston Manifesto button at the top of the page As to the specifics of Iraq, there is certainly much to critique (to put it mildly) but I do not support bringing the troops home tomorrow.

        I took the fascist test. My fascist scale is: 2.8 . Almost “within normal limits” but still in the “liberal airhead” range.

        One critique I have regarding these general political tests–even ones that add the authoritarian-libertarian axis–is they do not capture the complexity of people’s politics. For example, an individual may be considered “conservative” on foreign policy issues and “liberal” on domestic issues. Plus, when you actually start to examine positions on specific issues things get more muddled. I’ve known many working-class individuals who are very “liberal” when it comes to wages, health care, and pensions but very “conservative” when it comes to the environment or matters of concern to the lgbt community.

        Why this is the case is an interesting question to ponder. IMHO most Americans have similar ambiguities in their political identities. I suspect that part of it is we don’t have a long history of political parties tied to specific political ideologies like democratic socialism, communism, etc. in the United States. The parties espousing these sorts of ideas were all relatively short-lived, especially compared to those of Europe. This continuous institutional history goes a long way in explaining differences in worldview between American and European workers.

        One last comment, an interesting perception is your “own politics haven’t changed, but everyone else’s have.” Is this really the case? Haven’t similar things been going on for a long time on the radical left, even libertarian circles? I am referring to supporting individuals and regimes that run counter to everything that the lib-left supposedly stands for in the name of some vague anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism or anti-Americanism? I contend in case after case–going back to Russia, Spain, Cuba–the radical left supported the forces of totalitarianism.

        1. counter-revolutionary petit-bourgie scum?
          You said it, not me.

          It is a shame that you have allowed the pseudo-left’s idiocies to blind you to the obvious and fundamental reality that capitalism is destroying the planet. Market-driven solutions almost always turn out to be dangerous illusions. At best they are patchwork stopgaps. A system predicated on limitless growth cannot be sustained on a planet of limited resources. It amazes me how people can blind themselves to this.

          On a less theoretical level, it is even more depressing that you’ve allowed yourself to be deceived into thinking the US presence in Iraq is doing that country (or the rest of the world) one lick of good. Every minute the US military remains on Iraqi soil, the problems of jihadism and sectarianism get more intractable. Again, this should be painfully obvious. You are trying to sober up by drinking martinis.

          The Euston Manifesto is a mire of self-important, muddle-headed equivocation. No offense.

          Obviously all these fun little charts are by definition oversimplified. For instance, I think social control of the means of production and life’s necessities—or, failing that, at least rigorous public restraints on private power (e.g. rent control laws, labor standards, environmental regulations)—are the best defense of individual rights and autonomy. So I see “communitarianism” and “individualism” as being fundamentally united, not opposed.

          Yes, the radical left’s thinking (like almost everything else) has taken a nose-dive since 9-11. Like I said:

          The problem with the old “hard left” was a surfeit of ideology. Far from being soft on the jihad, the Stalinists chanted “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan” back in the ’80s. The “thinking” (if we may so flatter it) of the new dumbed-down idiot left (as Hakim Bey has written) “fails to achieve even the tarnished and untrustworthy status of ‘ideology.'” It is a mere Oedipus Complex, with no positive vision whatsoever of what it stands for—only sanctimonious, analysis-free cheerleading for any bloodthirsty extremoids who seem to oppose “empire.”

          Now maybe leftist support of the Soviet Union by the ’80s (as opposed to the ’30s) had already degenerated into a mere post-ideological Oedipus Complex, or was well on its way. But it still strikes me that a “qualitative leap” in the wrong direction—a sort of critical mass of stupidity—has been reached since 9-11.

          It is ridiculous to equate Fidel with Stalin (however much the former may emulate the latter). But in all the examples you cite, there were significant libertarian-left dissident currents that didn’t go along with the totalitarian bullshit. You yourself have ironically cited the late anarchist Sam Dolgoff’s work documenting repression of independent labor militants in Castro’s Cuba. Surely you are aware of the heroic anarchist resistance to Stalin’s (pro-capitalist, by the way) designs in Spain. Of the Makhnovists getting crushed and Emma Goldman having to flee Bolshevik Russia. I love the way capital-C Communists and Cold War anti-communists alike have a common interest in suppressing this history!

          Why Rococo? (Note correct spelling, BTW.)

          1. Not intended to be ironic
            Those examples were not intended to be ironic. They were provided because they were minority voices at the time, even in the anarchist movement. Anarchists–at least anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-communists–were overwhelmingly supportive of the Bolsheviks, even after Berkman’s and Goldman’s writings were published. It wasn’t until people were being killed that they finally got a clue.

            Cuba is another sad example. Dolgoff was far and away a lone voice in the wilderness. The vast majority of the libertarian left supported Castro and his revolution. When you look at the behavior and slander of the broader radical Left, the treatment he received was shameful. Have a look at Dolgoff’s papers at the Tamiment Library at NYU and you’ll be able to understand he experienced something similar to what you are experiencing today. Your voice–along with the folks behind Three Way Fight and a few other small groups—is a small voice on the libertarian left today. I think that’s a big part of why you are so frustrated with the movement.

            Spain is obviously a complicated situation. Yes, on the one hand CNT militants certainly resisted Communist attempts at destroying the anarchist collectives. But, at the same time, the anarchists also implemented pro-capitalist methods themselves. These methods including tying wages to productivity, the implementation of the piece-rate, harsh punitive measures for slackers, even forced collectivization which most anarchists fail to admit. As historian Michael Seidman writes, “A dispassionate examination of the charges and countercharges leads to the conclusion that both anarchist and Communists were correct. The former used illegal coercion to initiate collectives, and the latter used it to destroy them.” (126) (see Michael Seidman Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002).

            Another thing to consider is the Spanish cause was not incredibly popular among anarchists outside of Spain. That’s one of the main reasons the numbers of international anarchist volunteers pales in comparison to those the Communists. Of course another major factor is the Communists were more organized but if you examine the anarchist press at the time—in France, Germany, even the United States—anarchist support for the CNT was lukewarm at the start of the conflict (Info on this in Robert Alexander’s two volume The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. London: James Publishing, 1999).

            Sorry, did not notice the typo but hope you had a chance to look at Bob’s blog.

            As far as my shifts in interpretation or ideology, I obviously don’t think I’ve “allowed myself to be deceived” about anything. I do think we have a difference in interpretation regarding “the good life” and how to achieve it but thoughtful people can disagree about these matters without having to resort to insults. After all, I didn’t mention anything about useful idiots or fellow travelers. 😉


            1. I smell revisionism
              I know you weren’t intending to be ironic. That’s the sad part.

              Speaking of which: how interesting that you will cite the work of anarchists like Dolgoff in order to discredit the left, but dismiss what they have to say about anarchism. Maybe I will check out the works you mention, but nothing I’ve read on the matter indicates that the anarchists in Spain engaged in forced collectivizations—principally, Dolgoff’s The Anarchist Collectives, Murray Bookchin’s The Spanish Anarchists, and José Peirats’ Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution. All these (anarchist) scholars explicitly say the collectivizations were not forced, and that those who chose to work a small parcel as “individualists” were permitted to do so. Unless you are playing word games, and by “forced collectivizations” you mean forced expropriations. Of course the farms and factories were forcibly expropriated from the capitalists, and I wholeheartedly support this.

              Anarchist support for the Bolsheviks defnitively ended with crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion in 1921. Emma Goldman didn’t write My Disillusionment in Russia until 1923. Plenty of anarchists here in New York, like Dolgoff and Sidney and Clara Solomon, organized support for the Spanish anarchists in the ’30s. And apart from muddle-headed quasi-anarchists like the Yippies (much as I love ’em), who are these supposed anarchists who uncritically embraced Fidel?

              I am nobody’s useful idiot. But a lot of post-lefty types have become useful idiots for a certain George W. Bush…

          2. Follow the Link!
            You ask, “Why Rococo? (Note correct spelling, BTW.)”

            Follow the link above:

            Rococco Left is a good term – for those of you who don’t know what Rococo means, the first image google throws up is this one of a cock and balls, which is pretty apt – basically it’s overblown, decorative, baroque. The word comes from the French rocaille, or shell, and the Italian barocco, or Baroque. The Rococco Left, like a decorative shell, is empty of substance, full of bombast, devoting time to the pointless frills and forgetting the important core.

              1. Another comment…
                Forgot to add these comments in my previous replies:

                The reason I brought up this sort of childish name-calling–“counter-revolutionary petit-bourgie scum”–was to point out the silliness of it all. When I was involved in the activist scene it would have really bummed me out if someone had identified me in this fashion. Today I could care less what these people think about me. People are going to think what they are going to think. Look at how people labeled you in the recent Ron Paul post. A “Zionist” of all things. Surprised they didn’t call you a “neo-con,” or maybe they did but I missed it.

                One liberating aspect of “leaving the left” is realizing how self-isolated people in radical left politics truly are (talk about esoteric!). Using disparaging appellations like “counter-revolutionary” is just one symptom. More telling is the content (or lack thereof) of radical politics. In other words, why does an individual affiliate with marginal political ideologies and organizations? I contend a large part of it is psychological rather than political. Lee Harris does a better job of explicating this than myself in his analysis of “fantasy ideologies.”

                Please excuse the long excerpt:


                A friend of mine and I got into a heated argument. Although we were both opposed to the Vietnam War, we discovered that we differed considerably on what counted as permissible forms of anti-war protest. To me the point of such protest was simple — to turn people against the war…My friend thought otherwise; in fact, he was planning to join what by all accounts was to be a massively disruptive demonstration in Washington, and which in fact became one.

                My friend did not disagree with me as to the likely counterproductive effects of such a demonstration. Instead, he argued that this simply did not matter. His answer was that even if it was counterproductive, even if it turned people against war protesters, indeed even if it made them more likely to support the continuation of the war, he would still participate in the demonstration and he would do so for one simple reason — because it was, in his words, good for his soul.

                What I saw as a political act was not, for my friend, any such thing. It was not aimed at altering the minds of other people or persuading them to act differently. Its whole point was what it did for him.

                And what it did for him was to provide him with a fantasy — a fantasy, namely, of taking part in the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors. By participating in a violent anti-war demonstration, he was in no sense aiming at coercing conformity with his view — for that would still have been a political objective. Instead, he took his part in order to confirm his ideological fantasy of marching on the right side of history, of feeling himself among the elect few who stood with the angels of historical inevitability.

                Thus, when he lay down in front of hapless commuters on the bridges over the Potomac, he had no interest in changing the minds of these commuters, no concern over whether they became angry at the protesters or not. They were there merely as props, as so many supernumeraries in his private psychodrama. The protest for him was not politics, but theater; and the significance of his role lay not in the political ends his actions might achieve, but rather in their symbolic value as ritual. In short, he was acting out a fantasy.

                Over the years I’ve grown to realize the vast majority of people involved in radical politics are doing these activities for how it makes them feel rather than attaining any actual concrete political goal. After all, no thinking anarchist honestly believes they are going to “smash the state” but by participating in a largely meaningless protest or running a pirate radio station or infoshop they can validate their political identity and feel good at the same time. For those on the outside, we can see how pointless the behavior is. But when you’re in the mix, it really seems like marching with cool puppets or running a zine library is making a big difference in the struggle for social change.

                I still hold a great deal of affinity for the classical anarchists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The movement had relevance back then because it was rooted in working-class communities and spoke to their specific needs and aspirations.

                These days anarchism—-and radical politics in general-—is largely the domain of college students and the middle-class. Most of the activism in working-class and poor communities is derided as “reformist” and not “revolutionary” but it is precisely this sort of activism that is making a difference in folks daily lives.

                I’m sure you’ve wrestled with the question why radical groups—and by extension, radical ideologies—have such little support in the United States. It isn’t because American workers are duped, or dumb, or that we lack “political consciousness”. It’s because we know a dead end when we see it and that dead end is found on the radical lefitst road not the capitalist road. American workers by and large *did* learn the lessons of Russia and Spain and Cuba. The first victims of Communism are the trade-unionists and an honest of workers lives will find that the lives of workers are better under liberal democratic capitalist regimes than Communist ones. And let’s be frank, in the vast majority of cases where the radical left has prevailed, state-socialism or some other form of single party state has been the rule rather than the exception.

                Even in an “ideal” theoretical case, the closer a society moves towards a politically enforced uniformity of social classes the closer you move towards a uniformity of culture, of taste, of belief. In fact, I would go so far as to contend that an elimination of individual property rights is a major foundation of despotism. Without an individual right to property (in the classical sense), individual liberty (in the classical sense) is impossible. As Hayek argued, “The recognition of property is clearly the first step in the delimitation of the private sphere which protects us against coercion.”

                Is centrism the answer? Maybe, maybe not. The centrist position has opened me up to political pluralism, to many opportunities and perspectives that were closed when I walked through the world with more rigid ideological filters. I considered myself a pluralist when I was an anarchist but I was pluralist in my openness to other forms of anarchism: individualist, mutualist, collectivist, syndicalist, communist, etc. This ideological filter provided a great deal of clarity and order and made the analysis of events fairly simple (capitalism and imperialism are to blame!).

                But filtering information in according to this lens inevitably meant a lot of important information was getting filtered out. I sincerely try to understand opposing points of view even when I wholeheartedly disagree with them. Not simply their framework of analysis but understanding the emotional and psychological attraction for specific constituencies. In short, I can begin to understand their appeal, maybe not for me, but for others with different thoughts, interests and goals. For the ideologue, this is an incredibly difficult if not impossible task. For the pluralist, it is part and parcel of what makes us human.

                Thanks for discussing these issues with me and feel free to visit and post comments at The New Centrist any time.

                1. another response…
                  I dunno, man, seems to me you are the one who is living in a fantasy world. “Smash the State” hasn’t been my fave slogan since I was around 20, but I can point to numerous concrete victories by anarchist-inspired movements just in my lifetime.

                  The Zapatistas have carved out a sustainable self-governing zone for themselves, put agrarian reform back on the agenda in Chiapas, and made indigenous rights a pressing issue throughout Mexico, resulting in a constitutional reform (if an insufficient one) as well as changes to several state constitutions. Many small municipalities now have the legal right to self-government in their own languages and according to their own traditions across Mexico—something that was unheard-of before the Zapatista uprising. Lots of land has been liberated from the cattle oligarchy in Chiapas, and the seizure of peasant lands for airports, golf courses, computer centers and the like has been effectively halted by Zapatista-inspired local insurrections elsewhere in Mexico. The democratic opening in Mexico is in large part owed to the Zapatistas, even if the free-market right has been its chief beneficiary (so far).

                  The Seattle protesters and the movement they inspired slowed (at least) the advancement of the WTO and effectively arrested other reactionary “globalization” initiatives, such as the Multilateral Agreements on Investment. The globalization elite have arguably (though perhaps not entirely—still no MAI!) recouped their losses since 9-11, but we’d be even further behind today if it hadn’t been for the anti-globalization movement.

                  The 2003 Aymara uprising in Bolivia got that atrocious gas pipeline canceled. The piqueteros in Argentina have still got barrios and factories under their control ten years after the financial collapse that sparked their movement. The indigenous autonomy movement in Colombia continues to reclaim land from the oligarchy while asserting the right to non-involvement in the civil war.

                  Earth First!, with their tree-hugging campaign, got Northern California’s Headwaters redwood forest saved from Pacific Lumber’s chainsaws in the ’90s.

                  The squatters here on the Lower East Side in the ’80s got the Tompkins Square curfew rescinded for three years at least, and held back the wave of gentrification long enough for many of them to get the homes they carved out of abandoned housing stock through their own labor legally recognized. (In more recent years, a similar struggle has ensued to save community gardens, with varying degrees of success.)

                  Anarchists, radical ecologists and the like were at the forefront of the movements that brought down the East Bloc in in ’89 (even if—as in Mexico—it has been pro-capitalist elites or outright reactionaries who have effectively exploited the political opening).

                  The anti-nuclear movement of the ’70s and early ’80s helped (along with unsound economics) to bring that industry’s expansion to a complete and hopefully permanent halt.

                  And oh yeah, didn’t the protest movement at home and the GI resistance in Vietnam have a little something to do with finally bringing that war to an end?

                  Running zine libraries may not be changing the world, but neither is voting for Democrats.

                  In contrast to your portrayal, the above-mentioned movements have been effective, largely untainted by apocalyptic nihilism, and for the most part working-class or subaltern in their composition.

                  Meanwhile, the “centrists” have offered us nothing but capitulation and regression. It was Clinton who got us into NAFTA and the WTO.

                  I know which side my bread is buttered on.

                  1. The Zapatistas and NYC
                    Point taken. “Smash the state” is more than a bit juvenile. I was simply using it an illustration. If you were a Leninist I would have used instituting a dictatorship of the proletariat as an example. In both cases we are talking about political goals that will not be realized in either of our lives. But accomplishing the goal isn’t what matters, what matters is being “down with the revolution” and all that jive.

                    Most of the current examples you provided were international (Zapatistas, etc.) and largely irrelevant to the vast majority of folks living in the United States. They are certainly relevant to people on the ground in those countries but the impact here is insignificant outside of the rad-left.

                    I understand why radical lefties focus on these movements, they are much more sexy than the mundane reformist struggles happening here in the U.S. But again, I think the reason people focus on what’s happening abroad is due to their impotency at home. Things aren’t working out the way you want at home? No social revolution around the bend? Then hop on a plane to Chiapas or Venezuela or the World Social Forum so you can play revolutionary! Woo-hoo!

                    As far as the domestic movements you mentioned, LES squatters? I’m sure you’re aware that most working-class folks have no interest in living the squatter/fregan lifestyle. Yes, Seattle was a fantastic moment. But rather than heralding the grand emergence of the “anti-globalization” movement in the U.S. it really was the movement’s last hurrah.

                    I first read the Bookchin, Dolgoff, and Peirats books quite a while ago, when I was in my 20s. At the time they were fantastic. But as I grew older and acquired more knowledge I began to see the first two books for what they are, polemic rather than history. The Bookchin text is practically a hagiography. Dolgoff is a bit better. Peirats is far and away the best of the three but even he admits “lack of access to Spanish archives.”

                    The difference between these accounts and Seidman’s is largely in the approach. Bookchin, Dolgoff and Peirats wrote their books to make a political point, which is fine. But Seidman’s books are historical analyses based on archival research. This is evident by the sources they each use. If you have a look at the sources used by Dolgoff in “The Anarchist Collectives,” or by Bookchin the overwhelming majority of their citations are from secondary sources. With Seidman, primary sources prevail. In other words, Seidman did original research, in archives, to come to his conclusions. That’s what makes Seidman’s book different from these three and in many ways superior.

                    Seidman shows the CNT had to resort to tying pay to output, like in capitalist firms. The CNT did engage in forced collectivization and other unsavory methods–including forced labor. Seidman’s research discovered that certain CNT unions copied the “Stakhanovism of the Bolsheviks in order to promote production”, used forced work camps for “delinquents,” and in a meeting of officials of the Metallurgical Union (CNT) on May 27, 1937, it’s president Rubio declared that in a war and Revolution workers must work until exhaustion. By May 1938, CNT unions also reestablished the hated piecework wage scale. As Seidman writes, “When the unions were faced with industrial problems such as poor productivity and workers’ indifference, they were forced to tie pay to output, just as the capitalists had done.”

                    In addition to Republic of Egos, Seidman also wrote Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). Another excellent historical account is Benjamin Martin’s, The Agony of Industrialization: Labor and Industrialization in Spain (Cornell: ILR Press, 1990).

                    I realize it’s difficult to communicate tone through typing. I definitely do not consider you a useful idiot or fellow traveler. I’ve linked to your website on my blog. However, I think you are a lone voice in a vast wilderness. You are a small drop of lucidity in a sea of lunacy. When I look at the broader lib-left, to say nothing of the rad-left, I think the vast majority of people involved in these forms of “politics” are bonkers.

                    As far as the anarchists and rad-lefties speaking out against Dolgoff and the Cuban libertarians all I can say is look at the man’s papers. They are open and available to the public.

                    This excerpt may give you an idea what anarchists thought about the Cuban libertarians (MLCE) after the revolution. It’s from Frank Fernandez’ Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement:


                    “[A]lmost unbelievably, certain sectors of international anarchism refused to accept that the “Cuban Revolution” (that is, the Cuban government) had become a
                    totalitarian system that persecuted, imprisoned, and shot their Cuban comrades..

                    The confusion in the anarchist camp regarding the Cuban situation was fomented by the Castro government’s propaganda apparatus, which had enormous resources, talent, imagination, and great political ability…

                    They called the Cuban anarchists “CIA agents, go-betweens, drug traffickers, Batista supporters,” and many other epithets common to Marxist propaganda. But above all they circulated the DDG in all of the libertarian milieus to which they had access, in this manner creating confusion first and doubt later in regard to the MLCE…

                    Of course, one would have expected this maneuver. What really surprised the Cuban anarchists was the reaction to it in the anarchist world…given the justness of their charges against Castroism, the rest of the world’s anarchists would naturally and spontaneously rally to their aid, as they had to the Spanish anarchist victims of Franco.

                    But this didn’t happen. Doubts were raised in anarchist groups in Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay, France, and Italy. Initially, these doubts were comprehensible in relation to the revolutionary process that was coming to a head in Cuba – especially so given that the same Cuban anarchists who were now in exile and attacking Castro had initially supported the revolutionary system.”

                    Check it out. It’s all there for you to see with your own eyes. From this brief exchange it’s obvious that neither one of us is going to change the other’s opinion so that isn’t my point. All I’m trying to do is provide sources of information that you may be unfamiliar with. How you interpret this information is up to you.

                    Have a nice day.

                    1. Reading
                      I will put Seidman and Fernandez on my reading list, but I remain totally from Missouri on the charges of CNT forced labor, and I think the portrayal of anarchist enthusiasm for Fidel is very overstated. I’m curious which “archives” Seidman got his facts from.

                      There is a tendency to focus on radical movements abroad due to impotency at home, but it isn’t universal. Did you read our story about the Movement for Justice in El Barrio? They are a fine example of combining solidarity efforts with the Zapatistas and actually bringing the praxis of neo-zapatismo to bear in local struggles.

                      Most of the LES squatters were working-class, and by no means were they all “fregan” types. (I only use the past tense because now they are legal homesteaders.) You are painting with pretty broad strokes there, buddy.

                      Seattle marked the emergence of the anti-globalization movement, not its end. It is true the movement never quite equalled the power and effectiveness of Seattle, but big mobilizations continued at every globalization summit at least through the Genoa G8 summit in the summer of ’01. They didn’t do too badly at the Edinburgh G8 summit in ’05, and we’ll see how they do Hokkaido this year.

                      You are using quotation marks incorrectly.

  2. Fascinating discussion
    Fascinating comment thread! I like the comments on the idiot left. I empathise with your loneliness, Bill. And thanks, NC, for the plug.

    Ron Paul is an excellent litmus test for levels of idiocy on the left: those that were taken in by him represent very high levels of idiocy, but it was shocking (even for someone as jaded as me) how many people were taken in by him.

    I guess I’m positioned somewhere between Bill and NC on these questions. I still think capitalism is the greatest evil, and that the working class is ultimately the only political subject that can help the world escape capitalism, so that puts me in the ranks of the “left” in Bill and NC’s terms. As NC says, there have always been plenty of idiots on the left who have gone along with reactionaries and totalitarians. I guess in the good old days, they justified it by some complicated false logic that had to do with the working class, whereas now conspiracy theory, hatred of Bush and America, and support of anything that challenges America has replaced any semblance of logic for most of the idiot left.

    On the anti-Stalinist left tradition you both point to – Bookchin, Dolgoff, Orwell, Goldman, etc: I’m not sure it helps to claim EITHER that it was so totally marginal as to be the exception that proves the rule of the left’s accomodation to totalitarianism OR that it was a big and robust enough movement to absolve the left of this charge (to stereotype both your views). Rather, the left has always been a site of struggle; there have always been both democrats and authoritarians in it.

    I’ve decided that I don’t want to spend time either attacking the left or trying to rescue it, but instead try and articulate the values I think we need to defend whether they are leftist or not: cosmopolitanism, solidarity, workers’ rights, social justice, freedom. (But then I come across another example of idiot-leftism and I find myself launching another attack, and never get round to the articulation of positive values…)

    These points relate to why I don’t like it when “the war” is used as the correct arbiter of someone’s worth (talking as someone deeply ambivalent about “the war”). For a start, “the” war is not the only one going on in the world… But more importantly, I believe that values like democracy, women’s rights, a secular public sphere, a free market in ideas, the right to dissent, etc are too important to jettison, just because Bush advocates for them too.

    Some posts where I discuss these issues:

    And, of course, the post where I struggle to spell rococco:

    By the way, the F-test makes me a liberal airhead. More disturbingly, the Nolan quiz put me in the left/liberal quadrant (which is fine), but exactly half-way up in the libertarian/statist axis. I think I ought to be a few dots higher, where left, libertarian and centrist meet. The questions are flawed, or rather there are too few to get a good picture. I like the chart above better, except for the way it puts all socialism in the top half, even democratic socialism, which I would say is in the libertarian half of the circle. (I’m certainly more anarchist than fascist, but I’d rather call myself a democratic socialist than an interest group opportunist or a syndicalist!)

    1. We do our best
      I am not trying to “absolve” the left. I am trying to set the record straight. The left-libertarian tradition was and is a dissident current. It has, at times (e.g. Spain in the ’30s), been a very significant one.

      Cosmopolitanism, solidarity, workers’ rights, social justice and freedom are values that belong to the left. Equivocating on that may be very fashionable right now, but it is precisely what opens the door to the populist right’s attempted leveraged buy-out of what’s left of the left. (Or, in the case of cosmopolitanism, the neoconservative right’s attempted buy-out.)

      “The war” certainly isn’t the only one going on the planet, but that’s rather beside the point. One hopes it is not necessary to elaborate on the rank hypocrisy of Bush’s claims to be defending democracy, secularism and women’s rights in Iraq (or anywhere else).

      You are still failing to spell rococo. And the sheer crudity of idiot-left pseudo-thought makes a tradition of minute and over-elaborate ornamentation a poor metaphor, in my opinion.

      1. He is exercising his belief
        He is exercising his belief in bucking the oppressive system of needless anal retentiveness. Get over the spelling/grammar thing. If you can get the gist of the ideas of the other person, that is what matters. To concentrate on something as innocuous as spelling and grammatical errors is petty and actually detracts from the rest of your points. Otherwise I, and likely many others are enjoying your conversation.

        Rusty Sullivan
        Resident Shit Stirrer
        Annoyer of Bill Weinberg

          1. I suggest that you brush up
            I suggest that you brush up on paying more attention to content.

            I place a high value on correct speech, writing, grammar and spelling. I personally believe that such things enhance clarity. That being said, I don’t allow myself to lose the message based on an errant letter here or there.

            Your sparring partner on the above issue is presumably an adult who is capable of making his own decisions concerning his methods of communication. I would venture that he doesn’t need someone interfering in his choi–Wait a minute…I suppose that “choice” is only a right for people who conform to your “progressive” ways of thinking.

            You know, the more I think about it, the more hypocritical every word that flows from your keyboard becomes. You call yourself “progressive” and an “anarchist” among other “rebellious” terms to tout your credentials as fighting for the rights of this group or that group, but all I am seeing from you is “I’m right and you are wrong, and you are an oppressive sack of shit if you don’t go along with me.”

            Now, there are true progressive thinkers who post here from time to time and I have already learne3d to enjoy their posts, many of which are completely contrary to my personal philosophies. You, on the other hand, are stagnant, static, and completely unwavering and unwilling to see anyone else’s point of view. While your philosophies are in line with many progressive thinkers, your progressive ideals are great and may have true substance, but no one will ever know it because you wrap it in a thick layer of fascism. Attempting to ram ideas down someone’s throat is an injustice, no matter what those ideas may be.

            I began posting here under the impression that I would be able to engage in discourse with intelligent, original thinkers of varying political backgrounds and philosophies. In some cases (JG, thanks for the engaging debate) that was what I found. This site has a lot of potential to be a real resource for people seeking information and understanding of non-mainstream political philosophies. It’s a shame that the chief poster on the site is a hypocritical fascist-in-freedom-fighter’s-clothing douchebag on the highest order. To even attempt to control the manner in which a person types is the utmost in totalitarianism.


            Here’s your wish granted: I won’t be posting anymore of my “self-important” writings to clutter up “your blog”. Now, commence your half-witted attempts at parting barbs and then return to your dimwitted homogeneous status quo.

            Rusty Sullivan

            1. “learne3d”?
              Reminds me of the old Monty Python routine. “Help, help! I’m being oppressed!”

              If you think this website represents the “dimwitted homogeneous status quo,” you’re pretty far out in right field.

          2. Spelling and grammar do count
            I agree spelling and grammar count. I’m an Orwell fan too. Oddly, over at my blog, the semi-colon has aroused one of the more vigorous debates it’s seen in a while. However, I have a bit of dyslexia when it comes to single letters and dobule letters, and I blogspot isn’t very good for spell-checking!

            OK, “rococo left” (did I get it right this time) is not the best term for the idiot left. “Idiot left” is far, far better. I like “trad left” too (see here:

            Yes, traditionally solidarity, workers’ rights and so on have been leftist values. But the problem is, far too many people on the left have forgotten them.

            Incidentally, I know from reading WW4 Report that you know “the” war is not the only one. One of the values of the site is the genuinely cosmoplitan, global vision. But many on the left act as if “the” war is the only thing that matters, and where one stands on it is the ultimate arbiter of one’s political worth. Hence the rush to support Ron Paul, or the casual acceptance of Lyndon LaRouche originated conspiracy theories in the left public sphere, or the number of leftist websites which link to the paleocon, or the support for far right groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, etc etc etc. And your request to NC that he makes it clear where he stands on “the war” resonated with that tendency.

            Good luck with saving the left!

            (P.S. not only can I not spell rococo, but just got the maths problem wrong.)

            1. Neither trad nor rococo
              Sorry, but I don’t get the “trad” thing, either in music or politics. Modern jazz emphasized improvization to a greater degree than traditional jazz. And as I said in an earlier post in this thread, the “traditional” (old and “new”) left suffered from a surfeit of ideology, while the contemporary left is basically allergic to thought in any form (beyond the most vulgar enemy-of-my-enemy quasi-thought). They are actually opposite maladies.

              Supporting Ron Paul because he opposes the Iraq war is no more stupid than supporting the Iraq war.