“Libertarians regard the state as the supreme, the eternal, the best organized aggressor against the persons and property of the mass of the public”
“In Reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another.”
So a Marxist walks into the DMV and joins the Libertarian Party… No, that’s not the set up to an impossibly wonky dad joke, that’s the story of my life, or at least it was last summer. It was a simpler time. A time before COVID, when the cops were only brazenly shooting Black children in the back every other week. That sunny day in July, I put on my best crack-whore-red lipstick and my biggest Jackie-O sunglasses and made my way down to the local Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my license with a special side mission motivating me to actually show up before the last possible second this time. After strutting past the usual throngs of sullen teens and sexy foreigners with the riff from “Rebel Rebel” on repeat in my skull, I approached an angry little man in a clip-on tie, took a horrific picture, swallowed a mouth full of stomach acid when the little prick misgendered me, and became the first self-declared Marxist in Pennsylvania history to join the Libertarian Party. I got a bumper sticker and everything, and I have every intention of voting for Jo Jorgensen this November.
But why? You may ask. What in the name of god’s green dick could inspire a person to do such an absurd thing? Am I just trying to piss off and confuse people at this point? As if my calamitous gender identity wasn’t enough. How could any sane Marxist join the party of Ayn Rand and the Koch Brothers? Well, maybe that’s just it. I’m not a sane Marxist by any stretch of the imagination. Not literally or figuratively. While I thoroughly believe that history is defined by cycles of class exploitation and that a lack of equality in the distribution of power over the means of production is the source of most if not all human oppression, I am very far from an orthodox Marxist, or an orthodox anything for that matter. I have no time for stagnant dogma and little patience for long-winded theory. I was turned on to Marx in the 7th grade because the first chapter of the Communist Manifesto filled me with the same kind of fire as Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The words exploded off the page with such cataclysmic fury and righteous indignation, condemning all the stupid little terrors from my Catholic childhood that my latent genderqueerness proved to be a lie. Jesus didn’t want me for his sunbeam, but roaring fires were made of sparks like me.
But for the most part, like any true lumpenproletariat, I’ve always preferred cliff notes and history books to pseudo-scientific gobbledygook, and with the exception of a brief and painful dalliance with Third World state socialism, my Marxism has always been tempered by a devotion to anarchism, making it downright libertarian in nature. I’ve always preferred the Sorelian and Luxemburgist schools of thought, the ideas championed by Friedrich Engels after Karl’s death with his daughter Eleanor and dear Mr. William Morris of the Socialist League, that crazy notion that the state itself is the fucking problem, that working people don’t need wonky professors or vanguard parties or bloated bureaucracies to free themselves from the chains of class oppression. In fact the thing that finally pushed me over the edge from libertarian Marxist to Marxist Libertarian was the sobering realization that the state itself, any state at all, regardless of intention, is simply another class hierarchy in red clothing.
I came to this conclusion after watching the painful implosion of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. In spite of everything he did and everything he sacrificed, in spite of doing everything right and revolutionary and democratic and constitutional, Hugo Chavez couldn’t prevent his nation from becoming another managerial thug state, much like the one he replaced. Once Hugo died under mysteriously abrupt circumstances, it took his Dengist successor, Nicholas Maduro, and and his Yanqui antagonists less than a year to tear the whole thing down in ribbons. Everything that is, but the favela collectives that predated the Bolivarian government and inspired Chavez to embrace democracy in the first place. These councils didn’t require a state to be constructed and they didn’t require a state to survive. They are what Marxism is supposed to be about, and they help expose what I see as the philosophies greatest contradiction.
There is no such thing as a benevolent state. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, at least as it’s commonly interpreted, as a temporary state in place to manage production while the rest of its institutions magically whither away, is an epic oxymoron. A state, any state, is by definition an institution of the ruling class. In fact, it’s an institution that requires a ruling class to exist. A ruling class that serves as a group of people not held to the same standards as the proletariat they supposedly serve. If the poor have no right to steal, then how can the state justify taxation without holding its bureaucracy to a higher authority and a lower moral standard? And once this bureaucratic class tastes the fruits of this awesome power, how can it ever be trusted to give it back? All states ultimately exist largely to justify their own greedy existence. Thus for there ever to be any hope for a classless society, destroying the state must be priority number one, by any means necessary.
Is this going to happen through an election? Fuck no. But that doesn’t mean that the electoral system can’t be used to further a greater revolution. The number one function of the electoral system for true radicals against the state must be to delegitimize the state through its propaganda. This means getting as many votes as possible for the candidate whose platform represents the greatest threat to the state, especially its deadliest and most existential organ, the prison-warfare state. The only party that consistently threatens to gut these institutions at the federal level is the Libertarian Party, and after three cycles of lame-dick ex-Republican poseurs running their presidential tickets, they’ve finally nominated a truly libertarian candidate with Jo Jorgensen. With Ron Paul and Ralph Nader retired and Rand and Tulsi sold out, Jo is the loudest voice left against empire. Howie Hawkins and the Green Party talk a good game on the antiwar front but what they advocate isn’t weakening the state itself but rather shifting its weight elsewhere. I guarantee that if by some miracle a Hawkins White House became a reality, the predators that run the war machine would simply change shape and devote themselves to hacking down Joshua trees and imprisoning the wrong kind of polluters for the Green New Deal. There’s no room for half measures when it comes to reigning in the state or using electoral propaganda to shift the zeitgeist against it.
If the radical left in this country truly wants to retain its lethality at any level, it needs to radically rethink its methods. The priorities are all there; peace, equality, mutual aid. But relying on increased state power to achieve these goals is a fool’s errand. Venezuela tried that. Now the Bolivarian Revolution sicks its troops on the barrio. Egalitarianism can only sustain itself from the ground up. We the proletariat need to build the voluntary communal institutions that can make this utopian dream a reality, through autonomous grass roots communes, syndicates, councils, guilds, and credit unions. The only thing the state can do for us is fuck off and die. A vote for Jo Jorgensen is a vote for that happy dagger. A vote for Howie Hawkins is just a vote for Bernie Sanders lite. More social democratic FDR progressivism. Another silly costume for the state to wear for Trick or Treat. Only a vote for Jo is a vote for Marx, and if Charles Koch wants to foot the bill for his own suicide then I’ll gladly be Jack Kevorkian for Halloween, or at least Dr. Frank-N-Furter.