September 30, 2012


Filed under: Corporatism, Law, Reformism Can't Work, Sovereignty and Constitution — Russell Bangs @ 6:00 am

I still can’t get over all the ruckus our relocalization group’s innocuous little fundraiser stirred up, and all because there would be some wine there. Our mistake was to publicly advertise it. We should’ve communicated only with our e-mail lists and through word-of-mouth. The first sign of trouble was a cop calling one of our people, telling her she needed to talk to the town clerk. (I’ll mention that the cops have a nice little racket going in town, having their security services “required” for anything bigger than a lemonade stand, at exorbitant hourly rates of course. That’s probably why they ratted us out to the town, because if they weren’t going to get paid, an event shouldn’t happen at all.)
The clerk then regaled her with stories of all the permits and bonds that would be needed. Hearing of this, the wine supplier pulled out, on grounds of who needs the hassle. I can’t say I blame them. (They were basically donating the wine for a tasting, for community goodwill and to advertise themselves.) With that, the whole program had been gutted, so there was nothing to do but cancel the event. We’re scrambling to come up with an alternative on short notice.
But that wasn’t the end. At our most recent farmers’ market, two dirtbags in ratty-looking street clothes from the state alcohol bureau showed up to interrogate us about this upcoming event which had actually been canceled over a week earlier. Our guy was diplomatic with them but sent them on their way. They’d driven several hours from the state capital just to investigate this affront to the majesty of their authority. Afterward even liberals among us were griping like tea partiers about “our tax dollars” and nodded for once (instead of staring uncomprehendingly) when I used the word “thugs”.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we still haven’t heard the last of it. 
BTW, it’s not the same thing as, for example, a motorcycle track being built on farmland in a quiet rural neighborhood. Mass-produced machines are a creature* of big government, and so it’s a government responsibility to regulate them. (That it systematically abrogates this responsibility, as part of transferring nominally democratic government power to its anti-democratic corporate extension, doesn’t change the fact.) But people getting together on an ad hoc basis to drink wine and perhaps buy/sell some doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with government at all.
*For example, ORVs wouldn’t exist without big government, as mass-produced things. Sure, a tinkerer here and there could build one (if he had the fossil fuel to run it), but a handful of tinkerers aren’t a problem. Things become problems when they go onto globalized assembly lines, which can’t exist without big government.
Part of what’s sound about anarchism, how it’s intellectually and strategically elegant, is that not only does it want to abolish government/corporate structures on account of their intrinsic evils. Anarchism also recognizes that most of the bad features (and all the worst ones) of lots of other things are the result of corporate welfare and government thuggery. An anarchist never needs even to contemplate the question of “banning” something, or get bogged down in wonkery about how to “regulate” everything, because the answer is almost always, “without corporate welfare that thing would cease to exist, or wouldn’t be anywhere near as much of a problem.” In that sense anarchists are also the only TRUE “free market” believers. By definition a free market has no corporate welfare or corporate formation in the first place.



  1. I assume you are advocating not anarchy but outlawism where you live by your word and trust the intent of your neighbor to be the same as yours… to care about each others welfare

    Dave Outlaw

    Comment by W David Outlaw — September 30, 2012 @ 8:57 am

  2. Russ, have you ever seen “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest?” I feel like it’s a great metaphor for the current arrangements. Nurse Ratched represents the Government and dutifully enforces the “rules” of the asylum- which represents the entire State/Corporate merger structure. Brilliant peformance by Nicholson who spends the entire film fighting the relentless oppression and manipulation techniques provided by Nurse Ratched, who wants nothing more than to strip any possible feelings of humanity that the anarchistic McMurphy (Nicholson) tries to introduce into the mentally hostile environment (the battle of wills is intense). The asylum doesn’t need any of its “crazy people” feeling human or even alive for that matter…

    I can’t recall ever loathing another film character more than Nurse Ratched. Ironically, you end up feeling a bit sad for her in the end as you realize that she is the one who is truly “sick”.

    Comment by Pete — September 30, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    • No, I haven’t seen or read it, but I’ve heard it’s like you say.

      Comment by Russ — September 30, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  3. Lesson learned: stay under the radar.

    Comment by hardears pickney — September 30, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    • I’d prefer open civil disobedience, probing possibilities. But then, this isn’t an explicitly political group at all, let alone a consciously revolutionary one. Few would be interested in any kind of open resistance. Anyway, a fundraiser for an officially apolitical non-profit isn’t the best sort of thing to turn into a political demonstration. (I’m actually not clear on how “non-partisan” translates to apolitical as such. In itself that’s eloquent commentary on the two-party stranglehold.)

      So I suppose under the radar would’ve been the best way to do this particular kind of thing, and the only plausible sort of civil disobedience. It’s mildly encouraging that people seem inclined to think a little in that direction, given how likely that this too would bring down the heat.

      Comment by Russ — September 30, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

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