philipp on 20 Jul 2001 07:48:27 -0000

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[rohrpost] [Fwd: FC: Cato's Aaron Lucas replies to FBI investigation,globalization]

Interessante Diskussion zum Thema:
Internet und Demokratie am Beispiel China. Die Standpunkte sind A das
Internet kann kontrolliert werden und China bietet ideale
Vorraussetzungen fuer eine effektive Kontrolle der Internetnutzung und B
dass das Internet grundsaetzlich nicht kontrollierbar ist und so auch in
China einen demokratisierenden Effekt hat/haben kann.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: FC: Cato's Aaron Lucas replies to FBI investigation,
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 22:24:33 -0400
From: Declan McCullagh <>

[I don't usually send out discussions about globalization, but since
case involved Politech, I'll make an exception. Thomas Leavitt, who is 
quoted extensively below, says: "I don't have time, immediately, to 
translate my immediate response into a worthwhile communication. I do, 
however, have some comments that I feel would further the dialogue, and
will convey them at a later time." You can find Thomas' earlier post
. Background: 


From: "Aaron Lukas" <>
To: <>, <>
Cc: "Thomas Leavitt" <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: FC: FBI is investigating an alleged "Black Bloc" threat
to Politech
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 17:58:02 -0400

[Note: I meant to send this to Politech over a week ago, but I destroyed
knee in a soccer game and was hospitalized. So here's my response to
Leavitt (and others who emailed my directly) in regards to my National
Review article. apl.]


As a matter of policy, I generally don't respond to unsolicited emails.
Practicality demands this: If I wrote to everyone who emails, I wouldn't
have time to do anything else. I also hesitate, as many of my would-be
correspondents obviously do not, to waste precious spare time tapping
gassy manifestos that the recipient will immediately discard.

I'm breaking my rule this time not only because of the volume of
I've received, but because of the vehemence of my detractors. Indeed,
anti-globalization faithful seem to thrive on rage (or "righteous
anger," as
the Rukus Society training manual puts it). Even for basically sensible
folks like Thomas Leavitt, light-hearted insults become "slander" and "a
deliberate attempt to create a false idea of [the Rukus Society's]
and purpose, due to their extraordinary effectiveness" (snicker). And
here I
thought I was merely poking fun at silly people who do silly things like
hang themselves from billboards, march with oversized puppets, or chain
themselves to trees. Sometimes ridicule is directed at the ridiculous
isn't part of a broader smear campaign based on fear. Clearly the tight
underwear crowd needs to lighten up.

None of this is meant to imply that Leavitt isn't a smart guy. After
all, he
founded a Web company and is a friend of yours--how dumb could he be?
response--which I think you distributed on Politech--was among the more
thoughtful and substantive I received, which is why I'm taking the time
address his points. It's perplexing to me that sharp fellows like Mr.
Leavitt buy into the anti-globalization nonsense, but that's a different

On the other hand, not everyone in the "movement" is a deep thinker.
the contrary. When they're not worrying about fluoridation or metal
in dollar bills, Leavitt's ideological allies are fatuously cursing the
evil--and greedy, don't forget "greedy"--corporations that allegedly
them to buy hormone-saturated burgers, high-top basketball shoes, and
Michael Jackson action figures. (Actually, the critics are too clever to
have fallen for corporate mind control tricks themselves, but they fret
everyone else has been duped.) Such behavior is not indicative of great
minds at work.

On the other other hand, it's unfair for me to say that everybody on the
anti-globalization scene is a crank. Obviously, that's not true. But
forgive me if I don't go searching for pearls among swine. I'm not going
apologize for calling protestors nut-jobs or lunatics or snot-nosed
crybabies because that's what *most* of them are. I hate to break it to
Rukus Society, but the world just doesn't take you that seriously. And
the world should not. To the extent that there is any economic
associated with the anti-globalization movement, it's limited to
inaccurate "research" papers (sneer quotes mandatory) published by
groups and a few isolated professors in academia, many of who's work was
long ago discredited. There are, of course, some legitimate issues to be
discussed, but few, if any, serious points have been raised by people in
"the movement."

Now on to the substance of Leavitt's critique.

Did I "slander" the Rukus Society? In my National Review article, I
that "vandalism, violence, and harassment are acceptable behavior for
Black Blockheads and Ruckus-Societarians of the world." That's a wide
of actions that doesn't necessarily entail hurting someone. And while
Rukus Web site uses the phrase "non-violent" precisely 256 million
times, it
also has a section called "How to Hang Yourself from an Urban
There are also little gems like, "Crane lifts are of particular interest
action aficionados due to their vulnerability to direct action,"
throughout Rukus materials. That may not be a call to throw bricks at
Starbucks employees, but it definitely gives at least tacit approval to
vandalism and harassment, and it sure as hell ain't "mainstream".

Besides, since when did "non-violent" become the yardstick for civilized
behavior? I may not like the garden gnome my neighbor puts in his yard.
it may not cause him physical harm if I let the air out of his tires as
punishment for his bad taste. But that's still a nasty, juvenile thing

Then there's the central subject of my article: the Public Citizen/SSC
that encouraged activists to "send large numbers of e-mails, faxes, and
phone calls to corporate free-traders." Ignore for a moment that a
reasonable person would interpret "large numbers" as a call to harass
people on the list. Mr. Leavitt defends the email by noting that he
personally has written numerous emails, and made phone calls, to the
of the Board of Directors of the Pacifica Foundation. Well, good for
But his comparison is flawed: Mr. Leavitt is an individual, not an
organization. I work for the Cato Institute and it's fine--though
pointless--for me to personally call, say, Ralph Nader and tell him that
think he's a socialist weenie. It would be another matter entirely for
to send a dispatch to its donors urging them to call Nader a "large
of times" to tell him what they think of his anti-consumer agenda.
that wouldn't be illegal, but it *would* be sleazy.

Finally, the rosy picture that Mr. Leavitt paints of anti-trade
protests--that of a few radicals tarnishing the image of a thoughtful
majority--simply isn't true. I've attend most major gatherings since
and each one of them has been dominated, perhaps not by the Black Bloc,
by thuggish, self-interested labor unions, budding young communists,
leftover 60s leftists, and hipster college students seeking to escape
oppressive reality of being ordinary. Politically, the short-term aim of
those factions is to deny the elected representatives of the people the
opportunity to conduct their business. They don't want a debate; they
to shut dissenters down. Their larger goal is even less laudable: to
restrict the economic freedom of their fellow citizens by promoting an
intellectually bankrupt leftist agenda.

Their "unorthodox" tactics would be questionable even if the issues
were weighty and the motives of the protestors were noble. But they
Organized labor, obviously, wants to squelch foreign competition. They
care if free trade is good for society as a whole because they're not
interested in society as a whole. They care about retaining favored
treatment, pure and simple. The student contingent is generally well
intentioned, but woefully under-informed. That's partially a commentary
the state of America's education system, but it also reflects the
tendency of youth to oversimplify world's problems and how they can be
solved. It's comforting to think that poverty is a creation of
companies and can be legislated away, but unfortunately, the world
work that way.

Worst of all is the not insignificant number of neo-Communists, fringe
Socialists, and other pinko fossils that infest the anti-globalization
movement. These are the folks who march with pictures of Castro, Mao, or
Stalin and pass out Xeroxed pamphlets that make Ted Kaczynski seem
reasonable. Whether explicitly violent or not, they promote an ideology
is the antithesis of human freedom and dignity. They're apologists for
most brutal, murderous governments that have ever existed. I used to
that people who excuse or defend Communism are merely ignorant. But I've
come to realize that many of them simply crave the power to oppress
and people with whom they disagree: on trade, the environment, or
They may be tolerant in the narrow sense that they aren't racists, but
simply can't stand the thought that somewhere, somehow consenting adults
might be making an unregulated economic exchange. (Good Lord, a doctor
be accepting payment for his services or a trader hauling goods across a
national border without being penalized at this very moment! To the

These are the people that make dictatorships possible. Their ideas have
to untold human misery and tragedy throughout the world. Their agenda is
neither moderate, mainstream, nor innocent. God help us ever they ever
to power.

Finally, as to "preaching to a converted choir," well, it would be tough
me to publish in National Review and have that not be the case. One
make the same complaint about just about anything that appears in a
ideologically-oriented publication. When writers for The Nation expound
nauseum about the supposed dangers of Social Security privatization,
anyone seriously think that many Nation readers disagree? There's
wrong with presenting evidence that confirms suspicions that people
have. I'm guilty as charged on this count, but so what?

Should conservatives and libertarians take the anti-globalization
seriously? Absolutely... in the same way one should take it seriously
cockroaches invade your kitchen. But the Luddite policies pushed by the
majority of the protestors don't deserve genuine consideration. The
packaging and tactics have reached novel heights of childishness, but
ideas are as stale as ever.


Aaron Lukas

----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Leavitt" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: FC: FBI is investigating an alleged "Black Bloc" threat
sent to

 > Declan,
 > Also, the conflation of the Ruckus Society and the Black Bloc by the
 > Institute commentator is a slander against the former group:
 > ...


From: "Thomas Leavitt" <>
Subject: Re: FC: FBI is investigating an alleged "Black Bloc" threat
to Politech
Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2001 19:40:24 -0700
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
Message-ID: <>


I invite ChuckO to clarify whether his statement represents a threat of 
violence (which is certainly something that I, personally, initially
into it), or a mere declaration of intent to target the Cato Institute
as a 
part of a mass protest - the statement below, absent the historical 
assocation of Black Bloc actions with violence against property, says 
nothing explicit about violent intentions. It seems rather absurdly
to telegraph one's intentions in this manner and create personal

To me, ChuckO sounds eerily similar to the thirteen year old script
that took Steve Gibbon's web site down after he inadvertently insulted 
them... ChuckO's statement certainly does nothing to disprove the Cato 
Institute commentator's disparaging remarks.

I wonder if other Black Bloc members would care to comment about their 
intentions - I somehow doubt ChuckO represents anyone but himself.

Also, the conflation of the Ruckus Society and the Black Bloc by the
Institute commentator is a slander against the former group:

"Focus and Mission

The Ruckus Society provides training in the skills of non-violent civil 
disobedience to help environmental and human rights organizations
their goals."

"Wherever the location, regardless of the subject, we condemn and do not 
train activists in any technique that will harm any being."

Many people I know work with the Ruckus Society, and none of them are 
people who would contemplate violence, intimidation, or harassment of
sort implied by the Cato commentator. His comments, in my view, are a 
deliberate attempt to create a false idea of that organization's mission 
and purpose, due to their extrodinary effectiveness in "aid[ing] and 
abet[ing] a growing number of organizations in action planning,
and tactics, preparing staff and volunteers for high-profile direct 
actions." I.e., acting in a way that threatens the ability of the 
multi-national elite to perpetuate their hold on power.

Their actions are well within the "mainstream" of protest in America.

Also, again, his attempt to defame the anti-globalization movement, as I 
pointed out in an earlier email to Declan, by tarring 50,000 peaceful
the brush of a few hundred violent protestors doesn't hold water. See: for
example of what is really going on with the anti-globalization movement, 
and how the press has failed to properly report on it.

Again, the I call the original commentator on his slanderous attempts to 
conflate the entire anti-globlization movement (which is really a
against a global deregulation process which lacks balance, as even the 
Director General of the WTO admits [see link to speech you distributed 
earlier today]) with the actions of the Black Bloc. First and foremost,
incident described in no way can be equated with the direct violence 
against property engaged in by the Black Bloc. Secondarily, one incident 
does not demonstrate a consistent pattern of behavior, as can be
with regards to the Black Bloc.

On the merits of his complaint:

I've written numerous emails, and made phone calls, to the members of
Board of Directors of the Pacifica Foundation, using information 
distributed over the Internet via advocacy organizations. I'd never 
contemplate calling someone at a home phone number, but again, it is
within the "mainstream" of public protest to contact corporate
at work numbers or via email, about the actions of corporations and 
organizations they are associated with. This is a hazard of being a

Even calling people at home, ala Howard Zinn's "we must not let the 
perpetrators of these crimes sleep peacefully" (a very rough paraphrase, 
I'm sure), does not equate the to physical violence, threats, and 
intimidation implied by the article's author.

On a personal note, the original commentator's article struck me as
as much of a "tantrum" as anything he mentions... material of this sort 
preaches to a converted choir, displays an ignorance of the true nature
one's opposition, and, if it represents the true views of it's
in my opinion, bodes well for the anti-globalization movement ... anyone 
this blithely ignorant and dismissive of the true nature of the movement 
opposing them, is likely to significantly underestimate their opponents.

In summary, Aaron Lukas' article represents a careless and sloppy screed
I would expect far better work from a member of any organization as 
prestigous as the Cato Institute, and especially a published article.

Thomas Leavitt


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