The Politics of Keith Preston

by Keith Preston

A reader writes asking me to briefly describe what my own political views actually are. My views are rather complicated and are certainly outside the paradigms and narratives that most people are familiar with. It’s rather difficult to attempt a brief description of all that but here’s a try:

I consider anarchism, libertarianism, and anti-state radicalism in their myriad of forms to be an evolving form of generalized political radicalism in the same way that classical liberalism evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries and classical socialism evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries. I consider these modes of thought rooted in critiquing and opposing the state to be the probable next wave of radicalism that continues the trajectory rooted in Enlightenment rationalism, liberalism, and socialism.

This evolving anti-state radicalism in its mature form will have the same relationship to the Left that classical socialism had to the classical bourgeoisie. Just as 19th and early 20th century states were a hybrid of feudalism and capitalism, an overlap of traditional society (the “old order”) and liberalism, modern states are a hybrid of capitalism and socialism (liberalism fused with social democracy and the managerial revolution). Just as the historic socialists, like Marx, regarded the liberal bourgeoisie rather than the conservative aristocracy (which was a dying force) as their primary enemy, I regard the historic Left (which is now the status quo in all Western industrialized countries) as the primary enemy as opposed to the historic bourgeoisie, “conservatism,” or, in the case of the USA, the dying traditional WASP elite.

Just as classical socialism was a myriad of sects and philosophical tendencies that eventually coalesced into a political mass movement, the varying sects and philosophical tendencies that today comprise the anarchist, libertarian, and anti-state milieus will eventually coalesce into an actual mass movement. We see some of that in a very embryonic form at the present time.

Theoretically, I’m a synthesist in the tradition of anarchists like Voline or an “anarchist without adjectives” like Voltairine de Cleyre who favors creating a united revolutionary front of anti-state radicals from across the sectarian spectrum on the model of Spain’s historic FAI. This anarchist front will then fill the role of what Bakunin called “principled militants” who are the leadership corps of a much larger populist movement with an anti-state, anti-imperialist, and anti-ruling class orientation. In North America, this radical populism would be oriented towards organizing what I have elsewhere identified as the “ten core demographics” that would be our natural constituents and the vast array of anti-state or marginalized political, social, and economic tendencies I have identified as part of the “liberty and populism” strategy. The primary tactical position of this anarchist-led anti-state populism movement would be what I called “pan-secessionism” i.e. secession by regions, cities, towns, and communities from centralized national regimes and the global plutocratic order in a way that cuts across conventional cultural, economic, ethnic, religious, linguistic or political boundaries. As no state steps down without a fight, the anarchist and anti-state revolutionaries will eventually need to achieve victory through “fourth generation warfare” i.e an insurgency on the model of groups like Hezbollah or the Peoples War Group.

While the strategy outlined above was designed primarily for North America, some modified variation of it as well would likely be applicable in the struggle against other states and empires, i.e the EU, PRC, etc.

Beyond this very generalized task of overthrowing states, empires, and ruling classes, there are also many other secondary or wider projects to pursue, of course. These include creating an alternative social infrastructure that will replace the functions currently assumed by the state (e.g. health care, social services, education, transportation, et. al.), alternative economic arrangements to replace business corporations, state bureaucracies, and the international financial apparatus, and many single-issue and population-specific tasks to engage in.

Note than none of his has anything to do with wider philosophical orientations. While I am an Nietzschean, there are many others with politics similar to my own who are Kantians, Lockeans, Hegelians, utilitarians, contractarians, implicit Marxists, or who have some kind of religious or mystical perspective.

Nor does any of this have anything to do with specific opinions on contentious public issues like abortion, the death penalty, immigration, religious beliefs, sexual morals, race relations, gender norms, animal rights, etc. There are anti-state radicals on all sides of these kinds of issues. My view is that disputes of this type should be handled by invoking the wider anarchist principles of individuality, decentralization, federalism, mutual aid, and free association. This means that social, cultural, or moral conflict should be a matter of individual freedom, free association to form groups of individuals with like minded values, pluralism, and peaceful co-existence to the greatest degree possible. To the degree this is impossible (for instance, there’s no reconciling the views that abortion is child genocide or that abortion is a sacred inalienable right), we should invoke the principles of decentralization, secession, local autonomy, and mutual self-separation of those with irreconcilable differences (like a divorce).

5 responses to “The Politics of Keith Preston

  1. “Hezbollah or the People’s War Group”? And so on. I confess I do not know what the “People’s War Group” is – but I know what the Iranian government’s “Party of God” people in Lebanon are.

    Perhaps it is a language thing – rather than saying “is this person in favour of liberty-freedom” (everyone is going to say “yes I am” to this question) or even “is this person anti state” (quite a lot of collectivists just redefine the state as “the people” and do a lot of collectivist murdering and robbing for the standard Social Justice reason), it is best to ask different questions – “does this person want to take the property of the rich?” and “does this person think that an individual (or an institution – church, college, trading company ….whatever) employing lots of people is unjust?”

    Historically if an organisation has the world “property” and “defense” in its title (such as the Association for the D… of Liberty and Property or the Liberty and Property D… League) it will tend to be O.K. – if it does not (and is still dealing with political matters) then one should be careful about it. It may still be O.K., but it might not be.

  2. Maybe the question is, “do you think people should be left alone to make their own decisions?” or “do you trust other people to make their own decisions?” and then disqualify anyone whose reply starts, “Yes, but…” :)

  3. I cite Hezbollah and PWG not because they are libertarians in any identifiable sense (clearly they are not) but because they are prominent examples of “fourth generation” warfare organizations (i.e. non-state military actors) of the kind that are currently challenging the state’s post-Westphalia monopoly on warmaking. They are examples of the non-state military forces that will eventually eclipse state militaries over the next century. See the work of Martin Van Creveld, John Boyd, William S. Lind, and John Robb on this question.

  4. Paul and Ian,

    I consider anarchism, libertarianism, anti-statism, and even liberalism to be manifestations of a wide body of thought that is skeptical of state power and places a high premium upon individual liberty. At the same time, I recognize the existence of many variations of libertarian thought that draw from these larger traditions (much like the sectarian denominations within the major religious traditions). Are you familiar with Peter Marshall’s “Demanding the Impossible” which gives a very good overview of the historical trajectory of libertarian thought and ideological subtleties and variances within these traditions? If not, I highly recommend it.