By ann summers
The prototypical crypto-fascists terrorizing Eastern Oregon in the USA represent largely symbolic, yet armed, direct actions performed with the occupation of federal land and structures in order to promote issues of anti-governmental resistance on the behalf of land-owning individuals and their contracts with the Federal Government.
They are attempting to establish local states as quasi-governmental entities resembling but not identical to the county land divisions in the US with legal systems based only at the local scale. They have attempted to bring their own unofficial, anti-federal legal and judicial apparatus so that its current libertarian manifestation more resembles Medieval Vehmic Law applied like interwar National Socialists rather than a revival of vigilante frontier justice for land jumping in the 19th Century.
A key component of the followers of this cult-like group call themselves Sovereign Citizens which losely overlaps a variety of US hate groups. But the ideological purposes and the appropriation of public lands resembles more of an ethnic settlement program more familiar to those in Western Asia. That it is also anti-modern is anachronistically quaint in an age that still uses small arms technology from the 19th Century but also reactionary in its pre-modern bigotry that makes racial identity still at risk in the US 21st Century.
Other than attempting to impose a fictive justice and system of laws based on some quasi-religious texts couching itself in secular law, they are seeking a putative kind of relative autonomy for an often not so disguised religious and racist ideology which culturally recodes or dual codes a kind of inverted apartheid secessionism that creates rural enclaves or gated communities/compounds. As though county sheriffs could be the sole source of law enforcement in any US counties pretending to be sovereign and self-governing local states.
Such a separatism is derived from an evangelizing admixture of 19th Century American religions that attempt to revise history in often fantasic origin narratives. Not unlike other fundmentalist religious ethnicities in other global areas, the return to feudal legal practices is only the first stage in the attempt to revive stylzed versions of pre-modern value that somehow ignore property claims that exclude force.
While there is some structural similarity to the utopian socialist experiments of that same period, like a variety of ideologically driven cults, a series of institutional histories help to colonize nearly entire western regions dominated by such ideologies (the state of Utah). This of course was connected to the US subjugation of native peoples common to European colonial expansion resulting in the current system which the sovereign citizens have attempted to culturally annihilate. Some versions of republicanism supporting a variety of religious evangelisms often claim to be organized in these institutional gaps created during the American age of so-called Western Expansion.
The ideological backgrounds of the extremists. About two-thirds of the occupiers appear to have the anti-government “Patriot” movement – and more specifically, the militia wing of that movement – as their primary ideological affiliation. The remaining one-third of the occupiers have an anti-government ideology centered on opposition to federal regulation of public lands, a movement often referred to as the Sagebrush Rebellion or the Wise Use movement. Some of the occupiers also have associations with other right-wing extremist movements, such as anti-immigrant border vigilantes or the sovereign citizen movement. Almost a quarter of the takeover participants have expressed some sort of racism, anti-Semitism, or anti-Muslim bigotry.
That this current group has not been taken into custody or prosecuted should in terms of history signal why the federal government (The State) is acting cautiously even to the point of apparent negligence. Libertarians as a nostalgic pre-modernizing sect might see this as the “redemptive” attempt of which Sovereign Citizens are a more extremist form, to return to earlier capital forms like metals or new fiat money like Bit-Coin. That these groups could even ally themselves with certain varieties of resistant anti-capitalist sentiment shows the fluidity of false consciousness as race and class contradictions become the defining feature of the collection of right-wing groups now holding the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon.
…Two questions in particular dominated.
How was the continuing gap between the formal political equality of democratic institutions and the massive social inequalities of capitalist society to be understood and resolved?
How do the institutions and power structures that comprise the apparatuses of the state – ranging from the government to the judiciary, Parliament, police, bureaucracy, and educational institutions – shape the structures of civil society, and how are they shaped by it?
In response to these questions, the concept of the relative autonomy of the state emerged as a core theoretical premise
This notion is continually contentious especially as the 2016 election approaches to reveal the various regional inequalities that reemerge in their fulsome foolishness such as an anti-socialist discourse.
OREGON STANDOFF & THE ROLE OF THE STATE by Sara Flounders
So far, local and federal law enforcement have had a hands-off policy and not imposed martial law or called in the National Guard to end the armed occupation.
Law enforcement’s inaction in Oregon stands in stark contrast to the massive police response and hostile corporate media coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement. After the police killing of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., protests by the city’s African-American residents, Black Lives Matter members and their allies demanded “Justice for Mike Brown!”
The reactionary nature of the racist Bundys’ takeover must be exposed and the demands of wealthy ranchers for unlimited access to land and resources opposed. But a violent government siege of this grouping is not the answer. It would only strengthen the capitalist state’s power and use of repression — and that won’t help oppressed peoples, the working class or other progressive forces.
Rather than allowing the very individuals or companies that have devastated the land to grab more acreage, these lands should be put under the guardianship of Indigenous nations. That would be one step toward justice and reparations.
NY Times, Jan. 10 2016 The Ideological Roots of the Oregon Standoff By ALAN FEUER
IT is tempting to dismiss the antigovernment gunmen who took control of an animal refuge in Oregon on Jan. 2 as fanatics working at the fringes of American politics. But if the methods used by the rancher Ammon Bundy to seize the federal property were radical, the ideological roots of the operation were somewhat more mainstream.
By storming the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and vowing to return it — by force of arms, if necessary — to the people of Harney County, Mr. Bundy and his men were echoing the teachings, if not the tactics, of the Wise Use movement: a conservative land-use doctrine that has been a part of the national discourse for nearly 30 years.
A successor to the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s (itself a successor to the anti-national parks Boomers project of the early 1900s), Wise Use answers the question of who should own the West by granting moral primacy to natural resource companies and to logging and ranching families like the Bundys, some of which have worked the land since the pioneer expansion.
Though composed of many activists and scores of organizations, Wise Use found its voice in the late 1980s when a timber industry adviser named Ron Arnold published “The Wise Use Agenda.” The manifesto offered an expansive plan to gut environmental regulation, increase private ownership of public land and compel the federal government to open its holdings to mining,
This antagonism between modern industry and science on the one hand, modern misery and dissolution on the other hand; this antagonism between the productive powers and the social relations of our epoch is a fact, palpable, overwhelming, and not to be controverted. Some parties may wail over it; others may wish to get rid of modern arts in order to get rid of modern conflicts. Or they may imagine that so signal a progress in industry wants to be completed by as signal a regress in politics. On our part, we do not mistake the shape of the shrewd spirit that continues to mark all these contradictions. We know that to work well the newfangled forces of society, they only want to be mastered by newfangled men — and such are the workingmen. They are as much the invention of modern time as machinery itself. In the signs that bewilder the middle class, the aristocracy, and the poor prophets of regression, we do recognize our brave friend, Robin Goodfellow (Puck), the old mole, that can work in the earth so fast, that worthy pioneer — the revolution. The English workingmen are the first-born sons of modern industry. They will then, certainly, not be the last in aiding the social revolution produced by that industry, a revolution which means the emancipation of their own class all over the world, which is as universal as capital-rule and wages-slavery. I know the heroic struggles the English working class have gone through since the middle of the last century — struggles less glorious because they are shrouded in obscurity and burked by the middle-class historians to revenge the misdeeds of the ruling class. There existed in the Middle Ages in Germany a secret tribunal called the Vehmgericht. If a red cross was seen marked on a house people knew that its owner was doomed by the Vehm. All the houses of Europe are now marked with the mysterious red cross. History is the judge — its executioner, the proletarian.
One can see how so much medievalism in punishment was visited upon ethnic peoples and political dissenters in the 20th Century much as we still see it today. But unlike the rise of mass movements and utopian experiments in the 19th Century, today, tiny warlord elites exploit reactionary sentiments.
The Vehmic courts were the regional courts of Westphalia which, in turn, were based on the county courts ofFranconia. They received their jurisdiction from the Holy Roman Emperor, from whom they also received the capacity to pronounce capital punishment (German: Blutgericht) which they exercised in his name…
Following the abandonment of the Vehmic courts, the term acquired a connotation of mob rule and lynching. In Modern German, the spelling of Feme is most common. Other variant forms are: Fehme, Feime, Veme. The verb verfemen is in current use and means “to ostracise”, i.e. by public opinion rather than formal legal proceeding. A noun derived from this is Verfemter “outlaw, ostracised person”.
In an 1856 lecture, philosopher Karl Marx used the Vehmic courts as a metaphor to describe his predictions of the working-class revolution that would sweep Europe.
Within the politically heated turmoil of the early German Weimar Republic after World War I, the media frequently used the term Fememord to refer to right-wing political homicides, e.g. the murder of Jewish politicians such as Kurt Eisner (1919), Matthias Erzberger (1921), or Walther Rathenau(1922) by right-wing groups such as Organisation Consul. In 1926, the 27th Reichstag commission officially differed the contemporarily common Fememorde from political assassination in such that assassination was by definition exerted upon open political opponents, whereas a Fememordwas a form of lethal vengeance committed upon former or current members of an organization that they had become a traitor of. This definition is also found in the common pseudo-archaic, alliterating right-wing phrase, “Verräter verfallen der Feme!” (“Traitors shall be ostracized!”, i. e. killed), as it was often quoted throughout the 1920s in mass media reports regarding violent acts of vengeance among the German Right
The beginning has ended. Ammon Bundy has been arrested, along with several other leaders of the insurrection. One of them, Ryan Payne, suffered multiple gunshot wounds. My guess is he popped a cap or two in the direction of the arresting officers. Not a good way for one to guarantee oneself to live long and prosper.
Here is the local TV station news department Twitter feed:
Latest news is one dead, one wounded. Harney County Hospital on a precautionary lockdown. Name of the dead protester not released pending notification of next of kin.
I apologize for being cynical, and the death of anyone diminishes us all. However, the main thing I regret is the possibility that we have handed the Sovereign Citizen movement a martyr.
If one tickles the tail of a dragon, then don’t complain about being eaten.
Heck of a way to do a book promotion…