An Open Letter to Glenn Beck from the AK Press Collective

23

May 15, 2010 by Jason Brown

Re-posted from [http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpress.org/an-open-letter-to-glenn-beck/]

Hi Glenn,

How’s it going? Since Forbes magazine says your annual earnings are in the ballpark of $32 million, we’re guessing that it’s going pretty well. You can’t put a price on defending the little guy, right?

We are the AK Press collective. In case the word “collective” throws you, it means people who work together toward a shared goal in a democratic manner, without bosses or leaders, and with everyone having an equal say in each decision. For us, that shared goal is publishing and distributing books. If you want, you can learn more about us here: http://www.akpress.org/about/aboutakenglish.

We’re thrilled that you featured our book We Are an Image of the Future: The Greek Revolts of 2008 on your May 3rd show. We were, however, a little confused by your description of the book, and the way that it fit into the overall argument you made.

Okay, to be honest, we weren’t sure what your argument was. We watched the clip on YouTube a dozen times, but it was beyond us. Of course, you’re the guy with television, radio, publishing, and Internet empires. We probably spend too much time thinking about rent, food, and health insurance to fully understand the big picture you’re painting.

We do, however, know a few things. We’re anarchists and we publish books about anarchism. We Are an Image from the Future is one of them. Now, we assume that you actually read the books you talk about on your show. Yet you somehow managed to claim that a book written by and about anarchists was “written by communist revolutionaries.” “They are not anarchists,” you claimed, “but they will use anarchy to their favor.”

As you made clear earlier in your show, you know the difference between Communism and Anarchism. We don’t want to split hairs by bringing up the complex history of communism (with a small “c”), which includes both democratic and nasty authoritarian versions. So we’ll stay on your page here and say, yes, when Communists takes state power it’s always ugly. But, as you must know, anarchism has always opposed state Communism. State Communism is the ultimate “big government.” You won’t find an anarchist on this planet in favor of that. Not to mention that, historically, when Communists get in the driver’s seat, anarchists are usually the first to face the firing squad. The capitalists usually get cushy managerial positions.

So we asked ourselves: What could account for this guy waving around a book written and published by anarchists, while never quoting a single word from it, and then going on to associate the book with political groups—like the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Workers World Party—that no one in the book, or associated with the book, would endorse? How could he miss something so obvious?

Then it dawned on us: you’re afraid of anarchists. You’re not afraid of the fake media portrayal of anarchists as bomb-throwing maniacs: that’s your bread and butter. You’re afraid of real anarchists, the actual ideas they espouse, the real work they do.

We don’t blame you, Glenn. When we sift through your rants, we realize that there’s a lot of overlap between you and anarchists. The difference is that anarchists are more honest, aren’t part of the same elites they criticize, and they make a lot more sense. They see you, and raise you one.

Like you, we believe that people’s lives would be much better off without government intervention. Centralized power suppresses individual and community initiative and keeps people from achieving their full potential. Like you, we don’t think the solution to our current economic crisis lies in socialized industry or new layers of well-paid government bureaucrats. And, like you and many of your tea party pals, we agree that bankers and fat-cat corporate elites aren’t exactly concerned with our best interests. As you put it, it’s time to take down the folks who “line their pockets with wealth gained from enslaving a whole group of people.” And, although you seemed a bit confused on this point, that means putting “people before profits,” which is pretty much the central concern of the protestors in Greece right now. And we mean all people, regardless of income, race, gender, sexuality, or immigration status.

You’re right: we’re revolutionaries. But aren’t you? Remember the part of the Declaration of Independence that says that when a government starts screwing with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”? As anarchists, we’re dedicated to the idea of abolishing the state and capitalism altogether. We believe that without the coercive relations and competition imposed by governments and markets, people would be free to create a more just society in which resources are controlled collectively and decisions are made by the people who are affected by them. We don’t want a government (revolutionary or otherwise); we want a society based on cooperation and common sense instead of arbitrary power and exploitation.

From what sense we can make of your show, you seem happy with “altering” rather than “abolishing” a screwed-up system. For you, replacing the old boss with a new one (Sarah Palin?) is good enough. We understand that you’re confused–these are confusing times. But, deep down, you and the tea partiers know that you can’t trust any politician, or banker, or corporate hack, or union bureaucrat…or anyone who makes their living sucking power and profit from ordinary people. Which, unfortunately, probably includes multi-millionaires like you.

So, Glenn, we’re guessing that’s why you’re so afraid of us. We don’t fit neatly into your black-and-white formula. You simply borrow some of the best ideas from our 150-year-old anti-authoritarian tradition. We take those same ideas and not only run with them, but improve on them. We follow the logic to its ethical conclusion. And we include corporate media moguls like you in our Hall of Infamy.

But we’re reasonable folk. We understand that you find it scary to think about what will happen when ordinary people realize that they actually have the power to make their own decisions and take control of their own lives. So, here’s what we suggest:

Just admit you’re afraid of us. Admit that your passionate and convoluted rants are a nervous dance around your inability to support real freedom (anarchism) over unbridled power (Communism and capitalism). And then use your massive wealth and power for the forces of good.

Yours,

 The AK Press Collective

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23 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Glenn Beck from the AK Press Collective

  1. elchupacabras says:

    Wowsers! That’s one hard-hitting letter! Kudos for publishing.

  2. tariq says:

    Glenn Beck is nothing new. A couple of years ago, when I was doing research for a history paper, I read alot of mainstream U.S. newspapers dating to the time period of 1880-1920, and those “news men” exhibited alot of the exact same kind of nonsensical hysteria about anarchists (and radical leftists in general) that we see today from FOX News crazies like Glenn Beck, some of them were even worse than Beck, as impossible as that may seem. Yet, anarchism lived on, despite all of the well-funded anti-anarchist propaganda coming out of the capitalist press. Glenn Beck makes millions of dollars every year by being a tool of the capitalist media, but despite that, no real people take him seriously. He has a few low-IQ teabagger types who think he’s a genius, while most of America (including me) thinks he’s an entertainingly unstable nut who is fun to laugh at. The more he makes these convoluted, irrational rants against the left, the more appealing the left becomes to most of the country.

  3. mormongandhi says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Tariq. But I just came across his call for all his viewers to sign Martin Luther King’s pledge of nonviolence. Not knowing so much about Glenn Beck, I posted the following article: http://mormongandhi.com/2010/05/17/glenn-beck-is-calling-for-nonviolence-signed-the-pledge-yet/

    it’d be great if you guys here at mormonworker could help me put this call for nonviolence into a context. i found a good article written by Jim Wallis himself on the same above mentioned pledge and hope that your readers might help me explain this beyond the suggestion that the guy is a wacko! 🙂

    • tariq says:

      Like most of what Beck says, this call to nonviolence really makes no sense whatsoever, especially considering the fact that just this past week he gave a talk at a National Rifle Association meeting, urging all the firearms fanatics in the audience to be ready with their guns because “revolutionary marxists” are plotting to destroy American freedom. He also is a vociferous supporter of the U.S. invasion and occupation of the middle east, so I guess his nonviolence doesn’t apply when the violence is directed against Arabs, Persians, Kurds, and South Asians. Heck, he is one of the few people in the country willing to defend Arizona’s racist SB-1070, so I guess he doesn’t mean for cops who attack immigrants to denounce violence. Interesting, though that he used Martin Luther King Jr. as his reference point, considering that MLK was the paragon of the “social justice preachers” that Beck instructed his followers to avoid. Perhaps Beck doesn’t realize that MLK stood for everything that Beck opposes. MLK wanted a more equal distribution of wealth and he spoke out against the Vietnam War. MLK didn’t just want integration, he wanted an entire transformation of our social and political institutions (see his letter from Birmingham prison). MLK stood for everything that Glenn Beck fears.

      When I say that Glenn Beck is an unstable nut, I’m not just using hyperbole or joking around. I really do think that the guy is mentally unstable. How else could he call for nonviolence one day, and then call for NRA members to arm themselves to fight “marxists” the next day? How could he tell everyone to leave their “social justice” churches one day, and then pretend to be down with the social justice church leader Martin Luther King Jr. the next day? He has absolutely no concern for consistency or clarity. If you’re looking for a prominent, well-known LDS example of Gandhian nonviolence, keep looking because it aint Glenn Beck, that’s for damn sure. Glenn Beck is the same guy who supports “I shoot wolves from a helicopter” Sarah Palin. He is like a drunk guy in a bar who says whatever crazy thing pops into his head, no matter how stupid or nonsensical it is, and, apparently, that makes FOX News alot of money so they keep paying him a fortune to do it.

      But, if you still don’t believe me that Beck hasn’t actually put any thought or consideration into his call for nonviolence, then ask him if he wants to abolish military and police. Ask him if he takes back what he told the NRA and if now he believes that NRA members should lay down their arms. A person who believes that military and police are great, is a person who really isn’t that much of a pacifist after all, and the NRA rolls its eyes at the idea of nonviolence.

      To put this call into context, it sounds to me like he is simply urging dumbass teabaggers to be nonviolent at their tea party rallies, and that’s all. He’s worried that all these teabaggers showing up to rallies with guns slung around their backs are making the teaparty “movement” look stupid (although it still looks stupid even without the guns). He’s not a pacifist in any sense of the word, so don’t get your hopes up.

      • mormongandhi says:

        Thanks Tariq. I will post your reply at the end of my article. For what I’ve seen and heard of this guy over the last few days, it’s really beyond weird. I don’t get it – and yet, 50’000 people signed up? As you say, “He’s not a pacifist in any sense of the word, so don’t get your hopes up”.

      • Joseph says:

        Yeah, I have family members that love Beck. I believe in his freedom of speech, even when it becomes violent (until his actions become violent, he is protected by the 1st Amendment). But he clearly is either not very rational himself, or he is counting on his audience to not be able to connect dots outside of what he does on his blackboard on his show, or both.

        In terms of Martin Luther King and Ghandi, both are no longer living and have been accepted in the mainstream so they can be manipulated by whoever wants to. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in what those individuals stood for. At the time of Christ, Isaiah and Jeremiah seem to have been accepted as prophets, but once Christians tried to quote those prophets in context, they were killed. And of course I’m not even going to start on how everyone knows how badly misused and abused the name of the Savior himself has been. As Woody Guthrie said of modern Christians:

        “If Jesus was to preach what he preached in Galilee
        You’d all lay Jesus Christ in his grave”

  4. Do You Like Worms? says:

    “so I guess he doesn’t mean for cops who attack immigrants to denounce violence.” SB 1070 means cops are going to “attack” (illegal) immigrants?

    In terms of tone, truth stretching and over the top ranting youre a bit like Glenn Beck yourself, Tariq.

    • Joseph says:

      Worms #4

      Yes, the police will apprehend illegal immigrants by throwing their guns away and smiling at them.

      Maybe the word “attack” was slightly misused because of the connotations as well as denotations of that word (I know and respect a number of police officers, and I don’t perceive them as “attacking” everyone they deal with), but Tariq’s main point that trying to get people to take a pledge of non-violence and supporting police-state legislation like SB1070 is inconsistent.

      Beck seems to be trying to use what was popular from the successful civil right’s movements of the 50’s and 60’s and dovetail them to the fear-mongering, hate, and violence of the right. Kind of an odd mix. I don’t think it’s gonna work.

  5. Joseph says:

    *
    “but Tariq’s main point that trying to get people to take a pledge of non-violence and supporting police-state legislation like SB1070 is inconsistent”

    should be

    “but Tariq’s main point that trying to get people to take a pledge of non-violence and supporting police-state legislation like SB1070 is inconsistent is a valid point.”

    I got in the middle of the sentence and forgot to finish it.

  6. tariq says:

    Uniformed bullies already are attacking immigrants and have been for years. Several workplaces all over the country have literally been raided by ICE thugs and even a friendly soccer game near my house was literally raided by ICE thugs who were looking for “illegals”. When armed men arrest people at gunpoint or with the implied threat of gun point, handcuff them, and throw them in a jail cell or deport them (in some cases separating them from their own children who are citizens), I don’t think it’s stretching the truth to say that those armed men have attacked people. So, yes, SB-1070 will only encourage more police attacks on immigrants in Arizona, as well as encouraging police attacks on people who are not immigrants but have dark skin. Glenn Beck is all for that sort of thuggish police behavior, so he doesn’t really believe in non-violence. That’s all I was saying. I don’t think I’ve misused the word attack at all. They attack people physically, they attack people psychologically, as well as attacking people’s human rights. I meant exactly what I said.

    Furthermore, Worms, Glenn Beck doesn’t simply stretch the truth, rather, he completely disregards the truth.

  7. Joseph says:

    Tariq #6

    I do want to reiterate that I do agree with your main point. And the examples you give do better justify your use of the word “attack” earlier. I guess the “question everything” part of me needed more concrete support for that claim, which you just provided.

    And of course, police actions and a nonviolent philosophy really are not compatible. Whether or not a nonviolent philosophy is possible or not is something that has been discussed elsewhere in this blog, and I don’t want to get into that here, but Glenn Beck’s misappropriation of it here points to a significant irony of Beck’s message.

    Gandhi and Martin Luther King were speaking to people who were disenfranchised. They were on the receiving end of police actions. When they encouraged nonviolence, they were basically telling people “You need to have the courage to get beat up for what you believe in.”

    Glenn Beck on the other hand, as noted in the above open letter from AK Press, is not disenfranchised (yes, that is an intentional understatement, blame it on the fact that I’ve been reading Raymond Chandler novels lately, though Marlowe could have said something more biting I’m sure). He’s part of the crowd that can get government to write laws that order police to beat up and imprison those he disagrees with. When he is telling people to be nonviolent, he’s basically saying “Don’t get your hands dirty, let the police (often hired from the working classes the rich are oppressing) do that for you.” Beck and his minions (oops, I mean “followers”) aren’t likely to be on the receiving end of police actions.

    Even more sinister, as I mentioned above, he’s capitalizing (pun intended) on the popularity of the methods of the civil rights movement for purposes that actually undermine what that movement accomplished, or was trying to accomplish anyway.

    It also uses that universal appeal of siding with the underdog by acting as if he were one (“Hey, everyone wants to beat me up, but I’m not fighting back with violence, never mind that I have police forces and armies that do that for me”).

    Well, I’m going on too long here (blogs are for thinking out loud, aren’t they?) but I hope that clarifies better what I was trying to say.

    • tariq says:

      Good points, Joseph.

      If Glenn Beck actually did face the kind of violence that black people in the 50s and 60s did, or that Indians in their struggle for independence against England did, I wonder if he actually would have the strength and endurance to face that violence with the kind of bravery that King and Gandhi did. The irony of it is, Beck actually has more in common with the conservative forces that sent in cops and soldiers to put down the movements of King and Gandhi than he does with those visionary teachers of nonviolence. As Jim Wallis pointed out, many conservatives in the United States tried to discredit Dr. King by calling him a communist, the very same way that Beck calls everyone he disagrees with a communist.

      (Not to say that King and Gandhi were gods or something, beyond all criticism. I actually think there are some valid criticisms of both of them,which I don’t want to go into on this thread, and I’m not a pacifist, but one thing that is beyond question is their bravery and willingness to sacrifice and endure suffering for what they believed in.)

  8. Do You Like Worms? says:

    are you sure it wasn’t an “unfriendly” soccer game?

    Nothing you mentioned really constitutes an “attack” in which physical violence is unavoidable. Physical violence is what was implied in your statement “so I guess he doesn’t mean for cops who attack immigrants to denounce violence.”

    Exaggerating your case usually makes it sound cheap. Or… Sleazy…

    • Joseph says:

      Worms,

      What’s your point?

      Even if Tariq were exaggerating, and you haven’t shown that he is, it doesn’t demonstrate that Glenn Beck is any less full of hot air. Instead of attacking individuals commenting on this post, why don’t you come up with something substantial that would defend Glenn Beck or his ideas? Otherwise, your comments are just going nowhere.

  9. Do You Like Worms? says:

    ? that wasn’t my point at all. My point was the ridiculousness of Tariq’s rantings put him in the same category as Glenn Beck.

    here’s a few gems.

    1. Enforcing laws = attacking people. Period.
    2. people who enforce laws are always thugs and bullies (uniformed) while people who break laws are always victims. Always.
    3. abolishing military and police and expecting that will result in nonviolence? That simple?
    4. ranting about the sovereignty of nations one day then ranting about imaginary borders the next.

    all nonsensical, irrational, exaggerations.

    Funny though, that this “AK press collective” the AK is for what? AK-47? feels the need to explain how much they are against state communism, yet uses one of the most widely recognized symbols of state Communism (AK-47) in their name. And really what’s an AK-47 but a copy of an STG-43 invented by Nazi germany. Sleazy, stupid. not very dangerous though.

    • tariq says:

      Oh, Worms, you’re just mad because I’m making fun of your hero Glenn Beck. Plus, we both know that I’m cooler than you. Seriously though, I imagine you reading the letter from AK-Press, and then scratching your head and “furrowing your brow in a vain attempt to understand the situation”, as principal Skinner would say. It’s always an amusing sight when right-wing nuts are exposed, for the first time in their lives, to something that goes against all of the canned propaganda they’ve been mindlessly scarfing down their whole lives.

      As for your shot at AK-Press, you’re really grasping at straws. I don’t understand why people who are of very low intellect, like you, think they are qualified to take on people of above-average intellect, like the folks from AK-Press who wrote the letter. Perhaps an inferiority complex is at play? Whatever it is, keep it up. The more people like you open their mouths, the better the left looks in comparison. Well, have a good day watching FOX News and listening to AM talk radio. I’m sure those guys will tell you exactly what you want to hear without challenging any of your preconceived notions.

    • Joseph says:

      Um, you didn’t answer my question. You just continued to attack Tariq, which I already pointed out wasn’t accomplishing anything. Not only are your accusation unfounded, it also does not show how Beck’s call to pacifist principles while endorsing police action is anything less than incongruous.

  10. Do You Like Worms? says:

    really, what is with these Anarchists with their inflated sense of “dangerousness” they’ve never made a significant impact and probably never will.

    but yeah, youre a lot cooler than me Tariq, you probably put a lot of effort into “looking the part” of an “anarchist”. Probably get up every morning and think “man, what can I do to make people think i’m a dangerous anarchist” Maybe wear a lot of black clothes, sneer a lot, scratch the anarchy symbol into your desk or scrawl it on your trapper keeper (the one with some 50’s russian propaganda crap on it, black and red, gotta look the part.) Youre far from dangerous little man. I think it’s YOU that has the inferiority complex.

    Anyways these AK press types and you are ultimately insignificant because 1. You probably don’t know how to flip the selector lever from Safe to auto on an AK and 2. wouldn’t have the balls to if you did.

    • tariq says:

      Worms,

      1. Sure, go on thinking like that if it makes you feel good about yourself.

      2. If we’re so ultimately insignificant, then why are you wasting so much time on the internet trying (poorly) to discredit us?

      3. I’ve shot plenty of guns, and, contrary to what you seem to think, it doesn’t take any amount of “balls” to do it. I fail to see what your macho-man gun talk has to do with anything. Yeah, I get it; you’re a really tough guy, much tougher than any anarchist, because you know how to shoot guns. Good for you. Congratulations.

      4. I know I’m far from dangerous. I never said I was “dangerous”, and have no interest in being dangerous. I am, however, cooler than you. It’s just a scientific fact.

      5. I don’t know any anarchists with trapper keepers with “50s Russian propaganda” on them. I don’t know any anarchists that “sneer a lot”, and I don’t wear any more black clothes than anyone else, nor do I see what wearing black clothes has to do with anything. Most anarchists I have associated with over the years look the same as anyone else. You know as much about anarchists as Glenn Beck does. Your shallow, uneducated characterization of anarchists says more about your own ignorance than it does about anarchists.

      Now, let’s get back on topic, shall we? The point was, AK-Press wrote an excellent letter to Glenn Beck pointing out the inconsistency and plain nonsense of what he said, on his show, about anarchists and “revolutionary communists”. Your rebuttal was that anarchists wear black clothes, have trapper keepers with 50s Russian propaganda on them, are non-dangerous, and don’t know as much about guns as you do. Very good. Let us all give you a big round of applause. You must have been on the debate team back at Harvard.

  11. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    I believe that guys point was that youre as nonsensical as Glenn Beck, Tariq. Which I would have to agree with.

    Because if you go far enough in either direction on the political spectrum, you’ll end up meeting your diametrically opposed political enemies in the land of nonsense.

    • Joseph says:

      #11

      That’s what I thought Mr. Worms’ point was. As I point out above, it’s an argument that’s going nowhere and does nothing to defend Beck’s incongruities that are the subject of the above post. “Ad hominum” attacks on individuals commenting here at the MW might be fun for you and Worms, but they don’t make any important points or ad to any significant discussion.

      The basic assertion of this post that Beck is inconsistent and doesn’t understand anarchism remains unchallenged.

      Oh, and Worms, the whole AK-47 tangent you went off on wasn’t really all that funny, but it still might have made me laugh if I were in a better mood (that is, laugh at you rather than at the failed attempt at a joke).

  12. Do You Like Worms? says:

    Joe, I guess i’m just not terribly interested in “defending Glenn Beck” but since my point was “off topic” the AK thing seems more interesting… So why exactly is this AK press named AK press?

  13. Joseph says:

    Worms,

    I don’t work for AK Press, so you’re gonna have to ask them. Or you could do an internet search for “Ann Kanaan” (allegedly the mother of one of the founders) and “AK Press”. Make sure you’re wearing special glasses, though, to protect you from all the brainwashing Russian Communist propaganda that might come up!

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