Scott Talks to Anarchist Keith Preseton

This note refers to a comment left on a post by Keith Preston. His Facebook states he teaches sociology at John Tyler Community College – Midlothian Campus. His account on FB features pro-gun ownership symbols and other things usually associated with the extreme right-wing of American politics. His Facebook ‘friends’ include conspiracy theorist, Holocaust deniers, activists for the Ron Paul Revolution, and someone who identifies himself as a member of the “Confederate States Army”. Of the 4500 Facebook friends held by the dummy account I use to spy on conspiracy theorists, 510 of them are mutual friends with Keith.

Keith describes himself as an anarchist. He runs the blog, Attack the System. If I understand him correctly, Keith is seeking an anarchist synthesis of left and right wing. The reason for this is contained in his comment below.

I once accused Keith of harboring “a group of provincial homophobic White men” among his editors. He replied,

Well, our assortment of “provincial homophobic white men” includes among its leadership and contributors an African-American anarchist, an Arab-American, a native American, a gay gentleman who edits our queer affiliate site, a left-libertarian, a Hindu convert, a black Englishman, a Bangladeshi immigrant and others who don’t really fit the model you’re describing.

And while Keith would be technically correct, the “gay gentleman”, for example, identifies himself as a National Anarchist, which I will portray below as a largely anti-gay idea. So either this shows the great diversity being attracted to these ideas or that Keith has been able to surround himself with some very confused people. If you look at the crew he lists on this page
one of the immediately obvious points is the heavy representation of National Anarchy. If it wasn’t for people from National Anarchy, he’d have almost no one. In fact, many of the people not listing an affiliation are also involved in National Anarchy. In a very real way, the success of Attack the System is predicated on its ability to attract people associated with National Anarchy.

National anarchy? Now that’s a mouthful. What is NA? There’s a lot written about NA, including the Great Wiki
but basically, NA foresees a collapse of the current economic system and the emergence of autonomous village communities. It’s not necessarily right-wing, except its current adherents propose this could include communities that exclude different racial and ethnic groups. I haven’t read a lot about it but it seems to be tied to biological theories of human nature and a bunch of other quasi-scientific gobbly-gook about how current governments are evil because they make us do things we aren’t supposed to be doing. In a move that makes it look like NA is trying to be hip and trendy, some of their folk also support a free Tibet.

Prominent National Anarchist Troy Southgate, who appears on Keith’s website, believes that homosexuality is “unnatural” and hence will be excluded from this future of humanity.

Questionable aspects of Keith’s crew abound.
Michael Strasser is a Holocaust denier
Craig Fitzgerald is a member of the John Birch Society and a prominent name in the 9/11 conspiracy group We Are Change.
His wife is Jamie O’Hara.
Troy Southgate is a former member of the British National Front.
Michael C. is affiliated with the Confederacy apologist group the Southern Nationalist Network, although I have to admit, reading the group’s website made me aware of the idea that the South of the USA could be labeled a post-colonial society.

Anyway, here’s Keith’s comment,

I think our core documents, the statement of purpose, the 25 point program, and the podcasts have outlined the philosophy, analysis, strategy, and objectives of ARV-ATS as thoroughly and clearly as anyone could reasonably expect. The core idea we promote is attacking the state and state-allied institutions by decentralizing political and economic power down to the regional, municipal, village, neighborhood, and individual level to the greatest degree possible. Most of the rest of what we do is about strategy and tactics towards that objective.

And, yes, we try to promote this idea to as many different kinds of population or political groups as possible including the entire spectrum of opinion on other issues. That includes Randian businessmen and anarcho-syndicalists, middle America types and outlandish counterculturalists, far right racialists and inner city black street gangs, native American tribes and evangelical Christians, eco-terrorists and gun nuts, vegans and survivalists, et. al. ad nauseum. The majority of our senior editors and contributors including myself, Jeremy, RJ, Vince, and Miles are or have their roots on the Left.

This is a movement for anyone who advocates the radical decentralization of power, for whatever reason and regardless of what their views on other issues are. This is part of the necessary process of anti-state coalition building. I don’t know anything about your personal views, Scott, but our critics from the Left almost 100% percent of the time regurgitate the same basic point: They don’t want anything to do with us because we recognize that an effective anti-state movement must include everyone with grievances against the state and who regards themselves as having something to gain from the decentralization of power. Instead, leftists want to add on all sorts of litmus tests regarding other issues, particularly social and cultural issues like those involving the usual laundry list of Isms, Archies, and Phobias that leftists criticize. To that I say, no, that has the effect of weakening and dividing the broader anti-state movement. Plus, it allows for easier co-optation by the system. And it’s not necessary. There can be secondary organizations that address other issues outside the core struggle for decentralization.

I agree that there are certainly leftists who are exceptions, but as a general rule the contemporary left is more of a cultural movement than a political one. Almost to a person, what I have found is that leftists could not care less about overthrowing the system. Instead, what they’re concerned about is making sure no one ever expresses bigotry along taboo lines, promoting same-sex marriage and advancing the sexual revolution generally, therapeutic values (“my parents didn’t love me enough”) and essentially using politics as a form of group therapy, falling over themselves to the point of self-parody to show how inclusive or non-racist they are, lifestyle issues like vegetarianism, narrow self-interest issues like crying about student loan debts, etc. All of that is fine if that’s what they’re into but it’s hardly going to bring down the state. If anything, I’ve noticed these people often have a strong fear of political upheaval (“destabilization will bring fascism!!!”) and have in many ways become cautious conservatives. They regard the real enemy not as the state or even the corporate class but church-going Middle Americans or poor uneducated, rural white southerners. They don’t seem particularly concerned about even the police state so long as it stays out of their sex lives and lets them have all the abortions they want.

The general attitude I’ve gotten from leftists is “I don’t want anything to do with fighting the state if it means ever having to sit next to those icky un-PC folks!” which basically means anyone outside their own narrow subculture. What exactly are we supposed to do to appeal to people like that? And why should we even bother?


One thought on “Scott Talks to Anarchist Keith Preseton

  1. Hmm. Interesting. I’d generally stand by the comments in the quotes from myself above, with the exception that I might have been a little too hard on the Left, in the sense that the the Left is obviously much more than the stereotypes I described.

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