There are several different examples of political spectrums in use today. Most people in the U.S. measure the political parties and philosophies across a horizontal line, from liberal to conservative. Others see the political spectrum as a square with totalitarianism in the top corner and freedom in the opposing corner. We tend to disagree with most political spectrums because they misunderstand the eternal struggle of freedom versus tyranny and mistakenly believe that either the right or left side is closer to freedom, or that one is better than the other. This tyranny manifests itself as non-voluntary communism, statism, fascism, imperialism, and any other form of authoritarianism. The opposite of all these power schemes is Anarchism.
In the realm of politics, economics, and religion there exists many “false dichotomies” in which there seems to be a narrow field of two options to choose from. In reality, there is actually a larger set of possibilities beyond the pre-approved guidelines. In other words, you are asked to choose between black and white, leaving you to think that the only colors in existence are black, white and maybe gray, when in reality there is a whole palette of different shades and tints that are completely left out of the discussion. The statement, “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us” is a classic false dichotomy, because it only presents two options, both of which amount to violence, while completely neglecting the possibility of remaining neutral. Likewise, the traditional left/right paradigm is also a false dichotomy which forces people to choose between two seemingly different, but equally authoritarian sides.
Anarchists should not make the mistake of believing that they are a part of “the left” or “the right”. These terms are skewed beyond repair and have different meanings in different nations and at different points in history. Alliances with right and left have failed every time because ultimately the followers of the corporate political parties are still playing into the mainstream paradigm. This leaves them open to manipulation and adopting what Konkin called anti-principles. The mainstream left and right will always sell out the principled, but misguided anarchists who seek alliances with one side over the other. We should absolutely reach out to both the right and the left and attempt to bring our message to them as much as possible, but we must be careful not to sacrifice our principles. We should work to bring them towards our principled stance. Rather than believing the answer lies in one end of the political spectrum, freedom minded individuals should work to ally with like-minds from all sides. The danger is in believing that one end of the spectrum holds the one path to liberty and that the other side is the problem. This is the same false dichotomy that we sought to escape when we first abandoned the left/right paradigm and mainstream politics.
After waking up to the reality that the Democratic and Republican parties are controlled, many free thinkers have taken to a life of activism in hopes of changing the world. However, many of these people who broke through the mainstream left/right paradigm are now falling for another false paradigm leading to the same cycle of frustration and division that is seen in the mainstream political circus.The legitimate frustration felt by those seeking solutions has caused some on both the left and the right to become even more extreme in their dogmas and in their support of government. These individuals fail to remain consistent and instead fall prey to the deception of Statism once more.
An interesting aspect of the political spectrum in America is the fact that it is constantly changing and shifting. In America, Democrats and Republicans regularly trade positions and switch stances on important issues. For example, for a period of time after World War 2, prior to the red scare and the Cold War, the Republicans were known to take strong anti-war positions. The red scare and Vietnam War pushed conservatives towards a more pro-war position while the Democrats reacted in opposition, and subsequently became known as the anti-war party during the era of the New Left. In reality, neither corporate party is truly anti-war. They simply adopt anti-war rhetoric to gain the support of people who wanted peace. In terms of economic policy, “liberals” were traditionally advocates of free markets, while in today’s political climate most identifying with that label advocate strong government control of the economy. What this tells us is that both ends of the spectrum do not stand on principles, but are constantly manipulated by media hype, the whims of politicians, and calls for “pragmatism” in the face of both real and imagined political or cultural enemies.
In America, this has resulted in what has come to be known as the “Alt-Right” on one side and the “Social Justice Warriors” (SJW) or regressive left on the other. Many of those who now identify as Alt-Right came out of the 2008 Tea Party movement and the subsequent growth of the American Libertarian movement fueled by Presidential candidate Ron Paul. The former Congressmen from Texas was a student of Murray Rothbard and has actually been very outspoken against the Alt-Right. After the Libertarian movement failed to capture the presidency and end statism, many activists found themselves disillusioned with not only the political system, but with libertarian principles. Whether or not these people ever truly understood the message is debateable, but in the end this crowd went on to support Trump and has come to be associated with wanting to violently impose their vision of “freedom”. The Alt-Right has become obsessive with combatting their enemies: leftists, commies, cucks, SJWs and anyone else who does not support their heavy handed vision of society. In their obsession with their enemies they have lost sight of the goal of freedom.
On the other side of the spectrum are the social justice warriors, the hyper-vigilant group who focus on identity politics and seek to use the force of government to censor free speech in the name of political correctness. This group is constantly looking to shame any real or imagined instance of racism or bigotry. This often has the unintended consequence of emboldening bigoted people and taking away attention from legitimate instances of hate and bigotry. This group’s roots are in the progressive movement that believed the election of Barack Obama in 2008 was their moment. After eight years of expanding the wars, the Surveillance and Police State, targeting whistleblowers, and corporatism, the progressives lost faith in Obama. Many of this same crowd had their bubbles burst once more in the summer of 2016 when “Independent” Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders handed his revolution over to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Now they spend their time focusing on micro-aggressions, “call out culture”, and the bigotry of their perceived enemies on the right. Just like the Alt-Right, they have become obsessed with their “enemy” and have lost sight of developing solutions to the two-party system.
The left and right fear one another so much that they end up embracing the rhetoric of dictators in order to vanquish their political enemies and save their version of civilization. It is common for those on the left to venerate historical dictators like Stalin or Mao, and now increasingly common for the alt-right to embrace murderers like Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet. In fact, many in the alt-right, and even some confused Anarcho-Capitalists have recently been promoting the idea of throwing political opponents or “counter-revolutionaries” out of helicopters into the ocean, an inhumane practice that was notoriously employed during Pinochet’s reign of terror. They justify this outright call for violence by citing insidious libertarian infiltrator Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s “physical removal” proposal. Hoppe is a conservative monarchist who masquerades as an anarchist and espouses authoritarian views that are in total opposition to true libertarian values. In his book “Democracy, The God That Failed” Hoppe outlines his vision of a “free” society:
“One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society.”
Hoppe goes on to express his distaste for “alternative”, non-traditional lifestyles:
“Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They–the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centred lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism–will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”
What Hoppe is describing is obviously a dictatorship, yet his supporters will insist that these type of aggressive tactics towards political enemies are necessary in order to save “western civilization.” Hoppe’s supporters have also said that he is being misinterpreted, but it seems fairly clear he imagines physically removing people from his ideal society, not just his own property. One common refrain from the alt-right is that they are here to save western civilization, or white culture, or European values, while disparaging “Eastern civilization”. This outlook tends to mask bigoted views and completely ignores the violence of the West and the accomplishments of the East. In reality, both eastern and western cultures are responsible for great achievements and systematic violence.
Essentially, the philosophy of the alt-right is that state violence or private violence is justifiable and necessary against political opponents who have ideologies that are deemed to be threatening or dangerous. According to their logic, the ideologies of their political enemies, whether it be communism, environmentalism or whatever, are viewed as acts of aggression in themselves, and thus they believe that they would be defending themselves by using violence against their enemies. While it may be true that certain ideologies can be precursors for acts of aggression, simply holding an idea is not an act of aggression, and does not warrant a forceful response.
This illogical sophism is not exclusive to the right either, leftists are regularly justifying violence against political enemies who have not aggressed against them, but have merely espoused views which they find threatening. This was seen clearly during protests surrounding the 2017 inauguration when white supremacist Richard Spencer was punched by a black-bloc protester while he was being interviewed on the street. The attack was largely celebrated by left leaning activists who felt that Spencer’s ideology was an act of violence which justified a forceful response. This is, of course, the same argument that the authoritarian right uses to justify violence against their political enemies. Spencer’s ideas may be absolutely disgusting, but if we allow violence to be used against his ideas, then that means anyone can arbitrarily decide that an idea is a threat to their existence, and then use philosophy to justify violence on any person they choose.
On the other hand, when Richard Spencer crosses the line from simply talking about having a white separatist community to wanting to physically remove or exterminate people of color, that takes a step closer to what we call aggression. No physical act of violence has been taken, but a threat has been issued. When someone has made it clear they want to use violence against you, do you allow them to grow in influence to the point that they might actually be able to get away with violence? Or do you preemptively attack them to stop their growth? And at what point do you decide to move? Should it be once they have become backed by the force of law? If so, we would argue that criminals are already in power and thus violence could be justified against them. We do not think such an action would achieve the goal of a free and ethical society so we choose not to initiate force. But some might propose that Statism is such a threat that they should use violence against those who vote. On other end of the spectrum someone might say that Anarchists are a threat to “law and order” so violence is justified against them. You see where we are going with this. This is a slippery slope that leads to barbarism and a reversal of our progress as a species. Remember, good ideas do not require force. We can convert hearts and minds with reason and logic, as well as leading by example.
Both the Alt-Right and the SJW’s are guilty of collectivizing their enemy and refusing to judge each individual according to their own behavior. This division can even be seen within the “alternative” and independent media. Journalist outlets once responsible for hard-hitting investigative news are now simply perpetuating the same false dichotomy while pretending to be anti-establishment, as they too have fallen victim to the trap of division. The divisive “alt” media has become no different than the divisive corporate media, with extremists on both ends having endless arguments and rarely discussing solutions.
In the end, the mainstream political left is manipulated by their compassion while the right is manipulated through their desire for independence. Compassion and a pursuit of independence are both admirable qualities, but they can be used against us. The right perceives compassion as negative because they can see how the left is manipulated, but at the same time, they do not see how they are being manipulated through their desire for independence. Likewise, the left perceives independence as negative because they see how it is used to manipulate their political enemies, but they can not see how their compassion is used against them.
Both sides play into the hands of the establishment by advocating violence and division and in this sense these groups work towards the same ends despite any apparent superficial differences. It is possible for rational people to be both compassionate and independent without being manipulated by government or being divided amongst one another.
The hate and division seen in politics should make one thing extremely clear: It is not a good idea to force large populations of people in a specific geographical location to live under the same rules, adhere to the same culture, fund the same projects and so on. People are unique individuals with a broad spectrum of beliefs and values. For optimum peace and prosperity each of these unique individuals should be able to live according to those beliefs and values, so long as they do not impede on their neighbors freedom to do the same.