The Rancid Honeytrap FAQ

NOTE:  This post is now going on 7 years old and I have changed somewhat since I wrote it. I am not so embarrassed that I would take it down or rewrite it; however there are a few things I’d like to bring readers up to date on.

One,  I no longer identify as an anarchist and my simplistic use of “freedom” here makes me wince.  If you want a better snapshot of where my thinking is on power now, I recommend this lengthy dissection of free speech doctrine that I wrote some years later. That’s one of my better pieces and probably more useful than this FAQ in giving you a sense of my politics from around the time of writing to the present.  As to what I call myself now, I don’t feel qualified to identify with any particular sect, but I think it’s fair to say I am closer to a Marxist-Leninist than anything else. Usonian anarchism looks increasingly like a spook-infested psy op to me, aimed at giving radical cred to imperialism, discrediting Marxism and concealing covert operations. I am sorry I had anything to do with it. 

Two, I don’t have even tactical use for libertarians at this point, though my loathing for alleged radicals that find professional liberal Democrats obviously and vastly better remains intact.  

Three, I regret that there is nothing about veganism and animal rights in this FAQ. I was a vegan when I first came online, but I didn’t discuss it enough to make it germane to this post.  I wrote this FAQ primarily in response to dishonest campaigning against me, most of which was about other matters. Over the years veganism has become more and more important to me. Animal agriculture is both worse than, and separate from, capitalism and I have little respect for any revolutionary that would retain it under socialism.  I don’t think there is anything that makes me happier than readers who write me to say something I wrote pushed them toward veganism. 

With that out of the way, I still stand by most of what I’ve written on this blog and I’m even proud of some of it.  I hope if you are new here, you have found your visit worthwhile.  Please check out the comments. A good group used to convene here and some of the most insightful and skillful writing is below the fold.  Enjoy!


A lot of people ask me the same questions, or talk to me in a way that suggests they have no idea where I’m coming from. Explaining myself repeatedly is tedious. Hence this FAQ.

What are you, an extreme liberal? A socialist? An anarchist? A libertarian?

I don’t really like to define myself politically. I am heterodox by nature, and don’t like to leave myself open to accusations of either hypocrisy or heresy, mainly because I find such accusations, and the people inclined to make them,  really boring. I also don’t rule out any tactical alliance.

From an analytical perspective, I am a small a anarchist in that I reject coercive authority of all kinds particularly as wielded by the state, property owners and capitalists. I believe that the default position is freedom and that attempts to limit freedom should be justified.

That said, I do not expect to see the abolition of the state in my lifetime, nor do I think that the abolition of the state would be desirable under all social conditions. While I favor radical change, I do not see reform as being in opposition to it. To the contrary, I think traditional liberal reforms could actually set the stage for more radical change.  I therefore believe that, in most cases, radicals should agitate for and support worthy statist reforms while building non-state alternatives to state programs and institutions. I do not think it is prudent for anyone of any political affiliation to ignore the state.

Why Do You Hate Everyone?

I don’t hate everyone.  I strongly dislike, and, sometimes hate, almost everyone whose livelihood and/or public stature derives from a fundamentally conformist approach to politics. I also have misgivings about people who, for one reason or another, strongly identify with such people or uncritically parrot or defend their views. This is a lot of people, but it’s not everybody.

Why Do You Hate Liberals So Much? What about the right wing?

I don’t hate all liberals. I have many liberal friends, family, neighbors and business colleagues and we get along fine. I  dislike the ones (borrowing here from last answer)  “whose livelihood and/or public stature derives from a fundamentally conformist approach to politics.  I also have misgivings about people who, for one reason or another, strongly identify with such people or uncritically parrot or defend their views.”

As my About page says, my main interest as a blogger is in the self-subjugation of Americans to control by a predatory oligarchy, a capitulation which has practically no peer in the developed world. Within that realm, I am most interested in the intellectual policing and obstructionism at the margins by public liberals and lefts.

Criticism of the right and center is the liberal beat, and while they do a shitty job of it, they do it a lot and I am content to leave it to them. I think far too little has been written and said about the extent to which left media is subject to the same constraints as all media, and the considerable amount of blame public liberals and lefts deserve for our current crisis-ridden situation.

I am very wary of  the unconditional capitulation of public lefts to the Democratic Party and consider the establishment left consensus on this capitulation, despite widespread dissensus in the public at large, proof of how tightly controlled and policed the establishment left is. Put more simply, I think what most people regard as the American left is largely a status-quo fortifying fraud, regardless of how its individual members see themselves, and that exposing and ridiculing this fraud is a good thing.

You Talk a Lot About the Heat Vampire Left. What is A Heat Vampire?

I use the term ‘heat vampire’ as a metaphor for a kind of public figure that stakes a position on the left-most edges of permissible opinion so as to neutralize harder, more authentic lefts in the same zone. Heat vampires are distinguished by a clear eyed, even radical, assessment of all that’s wrong in the world coexisting with acquiescence in oligarch-approved methods for putting things right, no matter how often and resoundingly these methods fail.  So constituted, heat vampire liberals act as role models of acquiescence for the rest of us, reconciling things that aren’t logically reconcilable, successfully wrestling themselves into compliance with status quo fundamentals while bemoaning the particulars. All the so-called harder lefts inside the margins of  U.S. political discourse are heat vampires. This piece on Chris Hayes explains the concept in greater detail.

If You’re Not a Libertarian, How Come You are Always Defending Them?

As I’ve said elsewhere, I do not rule out any tactical alliance. At the moment, it seems that people identifying themselves as libertarians are among the most genuinely principled in opposition to police brutality, the security state, mass incarceration and the Wars on Drugs and Terror. Those are all issues of huge importance and I don’t think an effective politics can rule out a tactical alliance with any faction that is principled on these points, regardless of what else this faction might stand for.

Furthermore, I believe that anti-libertarian fear-mongering is increasingly being deployed as a stratagem of liberals and other statist lefts, in an effort to immunize the Democratic Party from any genuinely leveraged opposition from anti-imperialists and civil libertarians. In other words, the primary aim of stigmatizing libertarians is the fortification of state violence, as well as fortification of the primacy of the state itself. Its leading proponents are careerist idiots acting in the worst possible faith.  Hence I reject it with the most extreme contempt. 

Ok, So You Criticize All The Time, But Do You Actually Do Anything?

Even though my ‘Doing Things’ bona fides are sound, I find this question really irritating when it comes up in political arguments for several reasons. It’s usually used to derail criticism, the assumption being that if you are not attending meetings, protests etc, you are not qualified to have an opinion about those who are. It’s sort of the dissident equivalent of ‘If You Don’t Vote, You Can’t Complain.’

This is problematic because it creates a false dichotomy between the speaking/writing/discussion side of movement politics and the marching/lobbying/hacking/organizing side. It’s all necessary, and while it may be regrettable that more people would rather talk than walk, it’s really unbecoming for activists to tell people to shut up for any reason if the people who are talking or writing are doing so knowledgeably and respectfully. It’s also really tedious – among other things – to have to enumerate all the different things you’ve done as a participant before a discussion can even take place.

During Occupy’s encampment in New York, for instance, a lot of people probably had really good reasons for not attending the General Assemblies at Liberty Square, at least not regularly, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a stake in their outcome. Are they not to have an opinion, if say, a decision is made to not issue demands or to send election witnesses to Egypt or when something they care about, like imperialism, does not seem to be a high priority for the dominant participants? Isn’t it possible, likely even, that they’re not participating much because they’re unhappy with a lot of what they see and hear when they do? If so, doesn’t it make sense both tactically and ethically to hear them out? I think the answer is very obviously yes.

As for my own participation, I go in and out of activism and have been a protest organizer, grass roots lobbyist, fundraiser and an executive of a political advocacy group.  Lately I am happier doing things like a soup kitchen — which I do a few times a month —  than spending a lot of time with American leftists. I did participate in Occupy’s first phase, attending about five GAs, participating in most of the major protests including both attempts at preventing the city’s assault and assisting with housing when Liberty Square was closed down. I also participated in Occupy Sandy during its early days.  I am less and less interested in being among New York activists and am increasingly more inclined to give money than time to organizations and to help out directly when problems arise for people closer to home, as they increasingly do.

So Who Are You In Real Life? What Do You Do?

None of your business.  As the craziness and repression of this society grows, so too does my interest in remaining anonymous and private.

What Do You Mean by Rancid?

A writer named Rebecca Solnit wrote this hideous vilification of leftists who were unwilling to get on board the Obama bandwagon.  This article was so bad it inspired my #BiggestLiberalAsshole2012 contest and when I launched it I changed my Twitter name to The Rancid Sector, which I appropriated from the following cringe-inducing passage:

O rancid sector of the far left, please stop your grousing! Compared to you, Eeyore sounds like a Teletubby. If I gave you a pony, you would not only be furious that not everyone has a pony, but you would pick on the pony for not being radical enough until it wept big, sad, hot pony tears. Because what we’re talking about here is not an analysis, a strategy, or a cosmology, but an attitude, and one that is poisoning us.

Since then I have been using ‘rancid’ to describe politics that are radical, principled and combative.

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33 Responses to The Rancid Honeytrap FAQ

  1. Burnley Barnsley says:

    David Bowie????

  2. Wow, you’re right about Young Stalin. I sometimes think if I had a time machine I’d use it primarily to sleep with Charles Lindbergh and Jacques Brel and go to David Bowie concerts.

  3. I’m a Proud Citizen of the Rancid Sector!

  4. dmantis says:

    I would like to defect to the Rancid Sector. However, about that whole Bowie thing…is that like a home-owner’s policy rule?

    Jk…Bowie is awesome! So where do I send these forms to?

  5. kokanee says:

    “According to Theodore Roszak, one of the movement’s adult profits, counter-culture will save the world from the “myths of objective consciousness.” It will “subvert the scientific world view” and substitute a new culture in which the “non-intellective capacities” will reign supreme.
    Within counter-culture’s freedom to believe , witches are once more as believable as anything else. This belief, for all its playful innocence, makes a definite contribution to the consolidation or stabilization of contemporary inequalities. Millions of educated youth seriously believe that the proposal to kiss away the corporate state as if it were an “evil enchantment” is no less effective or realistic than any other form of political consciousness. Like its medieval predecessor, our modern witch fad blunts and befuddles the forces of dissent. Like the rest of the counter-culture, it postpones the development of a rational set of political commitments. And that is why the witch has returned.”
    –Marvin Harris, “Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches,” 1974.

    I can guess what Harris would have to say about the Tea-Party, Osama bin Ladin, the fractured left, President Obama, terrorists and the GWOT.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Wow, kokanee, that’s a great quote. You left out conspiracism, btw.

      • kokanee says:

        Before there was ohtarzie’s “heat vampire liberals” theory, there was Marvin Harris. I messed up the quote. The end should read, “Like the rest of the counter-culture, it postpones the development of a rational set of political commitments. And that is why it is so popular among the more affluent segments of our population. That is why the witch has returned.”

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  8. Easy DC says:

    Top-notch writing, and a lot that’s right and true. It’s too bad though that what evidently motivates you most is eviscerating left media personalities for failing to belch “Revolution!” at every turn. As one who opts to hide your own identity, perhaps for reasons of continuing employment as much as anything, you know full well that the media market for radioactive radicals is nill. At least people like Hayes and Goodman have staked out a semblance of counterpoint in American mass media where none existed so recently. For those as self-congratulatorily well-informed as yourself, this may serve no purpose but to frustrate, because only all the way can ever be far enough. But at some moment when your pulse finally ticks anywhere below 130, try realizing that the mushy middle is the massive dark matter of the body politic. It must be moved, wait for it…incrementally. There is no cataclysm that bellicose radicals can conjure that can jolt such a well-fed and housed and accessorized majority as that of the American populace into sudden revolt.

    History is the story of incremental change. The most radical change rarely comes from within the thing to be changed. Terrorists stand a much greater chance of shocking America into a new age than any wisecrackingly brilliant commentary of yours or anyone else’s. So consider making one of those tactical alliances with those celebrity “heat vampires” you so despise by using your courageous anonymity for the purpose of going on from their work to say what you damn well know they never could. Be an additive property, not just an asshole.

    Sent from my Virgin Mobile Android-Powered Device

    • ohtarzie says:

      Easy DC —

      I appreciate the compliments on my writing. However, I regret that you’ve grasped so little of it, else you’d know how completely indifferent I’d be to your little lecture on getting along with well-compensated liars and sycophants. We differ on what an ally is. Also on what a ‘left’ is.

      I never tire of tactical Democrats holding forth on ‘incremental change’. What a shame incremental change for the good stopped some time ago, while ‘the left’ busily sets about institutionalizing everything it hated about Bush, giving Wall Street carte blanche and cutting Social Security. I’d love some old-fashioned incremental change.

      If you want to put me in my place, demonstrate what part of my ‘wisecrackingly brilliant commentary’ isn’t true. Your opinions on what my political priorities should be don’t interest me, for reasons that should be abundantly clear from this blog if not from the horrible political results your ilk’s quaint theories on social change and tactics have yielded the past 30 years or so. I’ve actually written a post about people like you. Take a look:

      Keepers of The Gatekeepers

  9. Easy DC says:

    We obviously also differ on what positive change is. I look forward to maybe sometime reading about what you WANT to have happen and taking a break from all the ways that MSNBC is preventing it from happening. How about, for instance, a piece on what a near-anarchist hopes to achieve? What is a near-anarchist’s near-utopia? From what you wrote above, may I presume it’d preserve Social Security?

    As for incremental change, it doesn’t matter whether or not anyone “holds forth” on it. It’s just what happens (or doesn’t). I’m not encouraging it as a strategy. That would be like planning a strategy to make the sky blue, and Ted Cruz a saddle-faced fuck. If you really want to start something, it’ll take not words, but rapidly DEPRIVING PEOPLE of the comforts that keep them calm. Such behavior on the part of individuals and small groups gets termed terrorism, unless the cause is some natural “act of god.” Are you a non-violence advocate? Let me not forget to ask what you meant in saying, something like, that reform is not necessarily opposed to radical change? I would think that leaves room for increments.

    Give me time to read more entries. I’ll be glad to challenge where appropriate. I just hope there’s enough issue-oriented meat in there to chew on because from what I’ve read so far, it seems that learning your prescriptions requires a process of elimination based on understanding the figures whom you detest.

  10. ohtarzie says:

    How dull you are.

    One day I’ll understand why people who dedicate so much time and energy to tone trolling radicals like me find my preoccupation with establishment left charlatans like Hayes — you know, people with real influence — so particularly misplaced. If there are better things for me to do, that most go double or triple for you.

    As for what I want: end to the War on Terror, an end to the Drug War, more equality, less corruption. Stuff that many of you liberal asshats say you want but seem so incapable of getting. I already copped to being ok with incremental change. But I don’t see it happening. I see radical leaps backward.

    I get it. You don’t like me. Guess what, I don’t like you, either, not least because I feel I have met you, and been bored by you, a thousand times already. You people are robotic with your unending stream of parental lectures to the radical kids. Say something else or go away. Got no time for one more condescending liberal bore and his fact-free crackpot realism. Theres MSNBC for that.

    If you want to continue with this, I’d appreciate your reading this post and replying to it. It explains why I take the approach I take to the establishment left and why I find your approach so unhelpful.

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  12. John Sawyer says:

    Tarzie, I’m going to make a fool of myself and say I wish there were “Like” buttons here that I could hit several times. But I’m not suggesting you implement that.

  13. Libertarian * Enlightenment * Progressive = #CooperativEconomics
    tags: Voluntaryism, NonIntervention, MengerForTheMasses, FreeMarketUnions, VoluntaryAssociation, ThePeoplesWealth
    reference: (New Austrian Economics)

    • Libertarian the foundation, conserving energy the principle. Progressive the Future. Who has the courage to throw out the money changers? I’m betting on a peaceful transition to Rand Paul from Obama via the building of insurance mutuals, health care cooperatives, journalism coops, cooperative roads. Let’s restore the rule of law. If Hillary gets into office, drones are going to rule America. It seems obvious from where I live, along the border, TexMexico. I’m saying for those of us who can afford to (I understand not everyone can) let’s just take off the anonymous mask and call it like we see it. I’m a single parent. I don’t have time to politick or protest. I don’t think it’s necessary quite frankly. I was a union organizer but in a corporatized environment. I want to push the easy button. I believe it’s called the blue Republican movement. I don’t see much difference between the two parties. However, I do believe Ron Paul has built a base and that base can be leveraged in a harmonious fashion. Whoever the “candidate” for the doves is going to be, to end this shadow empire and restore the US Constitution (and the gold standard), let’s figure it out. Like I said, Rand Paul seems like the easy button. He could actually be held accountable by an indie media network simply by adhering to free market principles. Who has really experienced the free market? The Fed was created in 1913, America is built around this lie!

      fyi, I came here via twitter, via James Corbett of the Corbett Report. Good to be reading some fresh discourse.


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  16. di is in los angeles (@tovangar2) says:

    Aw, Bowie. I knew Davy before he was famous, but not after. It was touch & go there for a minute, but he’s done rather well. (Set your time machine a little earlier. The Arts Lab was closed by ’72)

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  18. James Poling says:

    Hey, I live in Brooklyn as well. I blog at We should meet up for coffee or a beer sometime. Email me at james at

  19. Pingback: The Limits of Libertarianism?: A Dissenting View | A Theory of Kinsella and Liberty

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  21. etrgtergrt says:

    get more bizee on twitter, see also @stopnypdspying

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  23. notlurking says:

    Is that Brad Davis…………….

  24. Tarzie, I have been asked to explain your views on the whole Snowden Show on a national Danish radio show. It airs Sunday and they want to interview me tomorrow by phone. I said they should interview you directly instead, since they sometimes do English speaking bits.

    But if they want to keep it Danish, would you be interested in sending me some talking points? The radio show is called Aflyttet at the 24/7 radio station. You can contact them if you like:

    My email is patpending78 at

    Anyway, I will be back from work around 6 tonight, Texas time.

  25. Pingback: The Limits of Libertarianism?: A Dissenting View

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