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Capital Blight - Bull$#@+!

By x344543 - May 1, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Now the Bureau of Land Management is part of the U.S.,
And they manage the Earth much better than anyone else I guess,
They know about the forest and the mountains high above,
And they know what each damn tree is worth 'cause trees are what they love.

Now they lease our land for cattle 'cause they love the wildlife so,
And keeping all the trees cut down helps the grass population grow,
But our land is reaping fortunes so the U.S. can survive,
Each acre stomped by cattle earns a dollar thirty five.

Hey BLM you ain't the friend of the eagle and the bear,
But the corporations love you 'cause they get the lion's share,
Could it be you're jealous of the world you're tearing down?,
'Cause if you was one tenth of a eagle, You'd be see better than you see now.

--Lyrics Excerpted from The Ballad of the BLM, by Darryl Cherney, from the album, I Had to Be Born This Century, 1986

By now many people have heard news from the western US state of Nevada about rancher Cliven Bundy's standoff with the United States Government--specifically the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)--ostensibly over grazing rights and land use fees. Between April 5 and 12, 2014 federally contracted wranglers had impounded approximately 400 head of cattle from federal land near Bundy's ranch in the southern part of the state, about 80 miles north of Las Vegas. However, on April 13, they ceased doing so, and the BLM released all of the cattle they had coralled.

The US government declares that they had been removing Bundy’s cattle and impounding them in a corral in nearby Mesquite, NV, because the rancher has kept his more than 900 head of cattle on a piece of 600,000-acre federal land for the past two decades and has refused to pay taxes since 1993, when the federal government increased the grazing fees in order to save critical habitat for the endangered Mojave Desert tortoise.

Bundy, a self-described "self-made" rancher, disputes the government's claims. He insists that his Mormon family has owned the land in question since the 1800s--before the creation of the Department of the Interior and before the government tried to save endangered species, which he says should make him immune from having to pay these federal taxes. He is also a staunch advocate of "states' rights", and as such, he challenges the US federal government's ability to charge grazing fees at all. Failing that, he claims that his faith also gives him special privileges to do as he pleases.

Bundy may claim that the BLM's sudden reversal was due to his claims having merit, but it's much more likely that the BLM backed down because the rancher received support from several hundred armed right wing "militia" and tea party zealots from various states including Utah, Virginia, Texas, Montana, Idaho and Wisconsin, all of whom were more than willing to come to the supposedly embattled rancher's aid, and the local government officials backed down hoping to prevent a violent stand off.

As a result, Bundy became an overnight sensation and a capitalist media darling, at least for the far right

Environmentalists have--with much justification--reacted disdainfully to this turn of events, opining that the results will be further degradation to the embattled desert environment (certainly due to Bundy's continued grazing activities, not to mention the further abuses that the BLM's capitulation will no doubt enable from others of like mind).

Meanwhile, crypto fascist ideologues, fake "libertarians", and other assorted right wing talking heads are spinning this as a "victory" against the "guv'mint", "communism", and "heathen environmentalists". No siree-bob, these "law abiding Americuns" aren't gonna be bullied by agencies being controlled by a secret cabal of "granola eating, Prius driving, commie loving, latte sipping, liberal elitist unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs."

Predictably, the Capitalist Media has been spinning this squabble as a case of an (overzealous, perhaps) land owner and an equally overzealous and over reaching government agency. It certainly hasn't helped matters that the television "news" outlets have shown images of one of the Bundy supporters being tazed by law enforcement agents, though, of course, this is an image taken out of context. The capitalist state has been, in general, far more violent towards peaceful unarmed demonstrators on the left.

Unfortunately, even some self-described anarchists who should know better have expressed sympathy for Bundy, "because"--they argue--"he's anti-government, taking direct action against the state, and fighting against (sic!) enclosures", and what's more, "he's no different that indigenous people being told they cannot engage in subsistence grazing on wilderness lands by privileged, white environmentalists"!

In truth, this series of events goes far deeper than a mere land dispute or a battle between those who support individual property rights versus those who desire a bureaucratic state and "burdensome" environmental regulations.


So many inaccuracies, untruths, and utter falsehoods have been uttered in the wake of this incident, it's difficult to tell who is producing more manure: Bundy's cows or Bundy's supporters, the naive and gullible "radicals" who actually believe Bundy is a closeted fellow traveler, and the all-too-compliant capitalist media.

The Land Does Not Belong to Cliven Bundy

Bundy has made some rather bold claims about the land actually belonging to him. However this is akin to Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi government arguing that the lands they invaded in the lead-up to World War II "historically belonging to Germany". In any case, Bundy's claims have been shown to be bogus.

If anything--although the individuals raising the point are admittedly kooky--if the BLM's claims are on shaky ground at all, it's local indigenous peoples whose land is being contested, and not just in the sense of European colonial annexation either. "The Moapas, a band of the Paiute Indians, still have a map showing that the land comprising the Bundy ranch was promised to them by federal treaty," according to Las Vegas resident Thomas Kaenzig.

The Mormons are not especially known for having dealt with the indigenous peoples they encountered in anything remotely resembling a peaceful or equitable manner, and Bundy's ancestors were probably no different.

Bundy is Neither a Martyr nor is he "Self-Made"

Bundy is reportedly worth at least $1,000,000 and to call him self made is to make a mockery of the definition. This supposed go-getter has spent the better part of the previous twenty years grazing 900-plus head of cattle on publicly owned land, i.e. land that ostensibly belongs to everyone collectively, but he owes over $1,000,000 in unpaid grazing fees.

And those grazing fees are hardly exorbident. According to Tom Kenworthy, Senior Fellow at the progressive think tank, American Progress:

It’s not like the deal is so bad for public lands ranchers, either. Right now they are paying $1.35 a month for each cow/calf combination eating our grass. By comparison, the average grazing fee on private land in the West is $16.80 a month, according to the Congressional Research Service, and ranges between $2.28 and $150 on state lands in the region.

The federal lands grazing program is like supercharged food stamps for bovines. And it is massively subsidized. As the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported in 2005, the program brought in $21 million in fees paid by ranchers, but cost $144 million to run.

Given Bundy's extreme right wing ideology, it's most likely that had a African American single mother somehow managed to obtain $1,000,000 US over the course of 20 years in welfare payments--a daunting task given the fact that the average monthly welfare payment averages less than $150--substantially short of the at least $4167 per month Bundy pocketed given his refusal to pay the federally mandated grazing fees--Bundy and his followers would be screaming bloody blue murder about "Welfare Queens" and similar, racist nonsense (and in fact, he has done exactly that).

Anyone with half a brain knows that the whole "Welfare Queen" meme is largely bogus anyway--a notion conjured up by the likes of the late former US President Ronald Reagan, whose reactionary economic and political ideology is parroted to an absurd degree by Bundy and his ilk.

If anything, it's Bundy who's the welfare cheat, but he's hardly alone in this. Indeed, the very concept of allowing private livestock owners to use public lands in order to graze their cattle causes at least 1,000 times more damage to society (not to mention the environment) than any racist caricature conjured forth by the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute. It's a problem that has existed for some time and was challenged by Earth First! as early as 1988.

In spite of all of Bundy's howling and claims to martyrdom, the BLM has let him get off easy. According to Alan O’Neill:

I am familiar with the situation, as I served as superintendent of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area for the National Park Service from 1987 to 2000. In 1993, we reduced the number of cows that could be grazed on the Bunkerville allotment to 150 because of the emergency listing of the desert tortoise as an endangered species.

Because Bundy refused to remove his cattle to meet the 150 level and ignored repeated requests to do so, his permit was canceled in 1994 and the allotment was closed to grazing.

As the news coverage has reported, Bundy continues to graze his cattle and has refused to pay the BLM a grazing fee. The figure he owes the government exceeds $300,000. The estimate of cattle being grazed illegally since 1994 on the old Bunkerville allotment have ranged from 550 to more than 900.

It is unfathomable to me that 20 years after the Bunkerville allotment was canceled in 1994, we are still wrestling with getting his cattle off the range. And there were issues of overgrazing that allotment before 1994. It is my opinion that the BLM and the Park Service have done everything possible administratively to try to resolve the issue amicably. In addition, there are two federal court rulings upholding the agencies’ position, and the most recent ruling demanded Bundy not physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation.

How has Bundy responded to the (rather feeble) attempts by the BLM and Park Service to enforce existing laws?  He has essentially declared open warfare on the US Government provoking an armed standoff with the BLM when the agency’s employees came to confiscate Bundy’s cows. His stand attracted opportunistic reactionary ideologues, including hundreds of self-described armed militiamen and other nut jobs obsessed with the (largely erroneous) notion that the US Government (under the Democratic Party at least) is openly hostile to "private property" (or even welfare ranchers).

As Ring of Fire radio show host Mike Papantonio described to fellow talk-show host Ed Schulz:

They’ve tried to negotiate with him, they’ve pleaded with him, they’ve said ‘ just do what you should do … do what other cattleman do,’” Papantonio said. ”The Cattleman’s association, as you know, has even distanced [itself] from him.

Contrast Bundy's experience to those of Mary and Carrie Dann. According to Alternet writer Evelyn Nieves:

The Danns, two Western Shoshone sisters, were not trampling over land set aside for sensitive plants and animals. Nor were they getting rich off the land while, in essence, robbing the taxpayers of grazing fees.

The Danns' ... tribe, the Western Shoshone, have lived in Nevada and parts west since time immemorial. The land was Shoshone land, and the U.S. formally agreed that was the case when it signed the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, which explicitly stated that the Shoshone would never have to give up their land. That is, until the U.S. began encroaching on the land, claiming it for its own without the tribe’s consent or knowledge.

The Danns’ battle goes back to the early 1970s, when the federal government first sued them to stop grazing horses and cattle on land the U.S. claimed as its own. The Danns said the land was Western Shoshone land that the U.S. had taken illegally, and refused to pay grazing fees. Mary waged this battle until her death in 2005 at age 82, in an accident while she was repairing a fence. Carrie, 82 years old, is still fighting.

Unlike Bundy, the Danns endured five roundups of their herds starting in 1998. These were operations more suited for what the feds confronted at Bundy’s ranch than at the ramshackle farmhouse of two elderly sisters barely five feet tall. Scores of heavily armed, jack-booted federal agents descended on their homestead, usually at dawn, and would confiscate hundreds of cattle and horses in helicopter roundups with dozens of trucks and other vehicles plowing through the land, as if anticipating an army. Many horses and cattle died during the roundups, starving to death in holding corrals where they were provided no food or water. The horses and cattle that managed to survive were sold at auction.

Both the Danns and their tribe tried legal means of support. The Western Shoshone filed suit decades ago to try to clear up the ownership of their land, which the U.S., through congressional legislation, began taking for various means. Some of the land was used for nuclear testing—-the Department of Energy has detonated more bombs there than anywhere else on earth—-while other plots were leased to mining companies digging for gold.

Here’s the catch to the Western Shoshone’s suit against the feds: A now-defunct U.S. department, the Indian Claims Court, ruled against the Western Shoshone’s claims that the U.S. had stolen their land on the grounds that the U.S. had already encroached on it for decades. In other words, the Western Shoshone couldn’t reclaim the land because the U.S. had already taken in. Finders, keepers.

The case continued, with the Western Shoshone losing each time. In 1979, the tribe was awarded $26 million for more than 20 million acres the U.S. had taken illegally, but the tribe, refusing the claim, refused the money. This backfired on them when the Department of Interior, acting on the tribe’s behalf without its consent, agreed to take the money (which has gathered interest ever since). When the Danns sued the federal government, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the federal government, claiming that because the U.S. had paid the tribe for the land, even though the tribe had refused the money, the payment extinguished the Shoshone’s land claims.

Desperate for relief, the Danns finally asked the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for help to recover the millions of acres of land in Nevada and bordering states that belonged to the Western Shoshone. The U.N. ordered the U.S. to stop its actions against the Western Shoshone, and agreed with all the tribe’s grievances. This victory on paper did nothing; the U.S. government ignored it.

This is Not A Simple "Range War" or an Isolated Dispute.

Bundy and his wing nut militia supporters would like the public to think that they are a heroic band of law abiding Americans (whatever that means) defending their Constitutionally mandated (or God given) rights against the big bad government, but this is a gross distortion of the whole truth.

In actual fact, Bundy is a right wing extremist who has been itching to provoke a confrontation with the US Government for several decades.  According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

He’s made statements that essentially endorse the idea of county supremacy–-the county rules, the federal government has no legitimate role whatsoever. And, you know, this is a doctrine that began with the Posse Comitatus, violent anti-Semitic and racist groups that really roiled the Midwest in the late ’70s and 1980s. The people who are joining him are...militiamen. They are coming from radical right-wing groups all over the country, bringing their weapons, bringing their camouflage fatigues, and bringing their hatred of the government.

And this is not the first time this has happened. According to Christi Turner of High Country News:

In 1991 Nevada rancher Wayne Hage claimed rights to roughly 752,000 acres of public land, in a case that stayed tangled in the courts for decades. In 1997, illegal cattle grazing in Colorado’s Dinosaur National Monument proved a bigger headache than fossil hunters. And in 2004, 70-year-old rancher Wally Klump refused to move 28 head of cattle from public land in the Arizona mountains. He sat in jail for a year in contempt of court until he finally agreed to remove his cattle.

Bundy's supporters will no doubt argue that this is more proof that the government is out of control, but in actual fact--in this case--that's not the case.

Bundy is Not a Representative Voice for his Fellow (Welfare) Ranchers

Bundy cannot legitimately claim to speak for all, or even most, rural western cattle ranchers. Contrast the sentiments of Cliven Bundy with those of the recently deceased Bud Purdy (as described by the Idaho Stateman and quoted in Grist):

Purdy, 96, led the ranching industry into rest and rotation grazing on public lands that both protected the range and improved cattle production. He duck-hunted and skied with Ernest Hemingway and hosted Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper at his Picabo Ranch.

He helped start the Idaho Cattle Association, led the University of Idaho Foundation as president and was chairman of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. In addition to the ranch, he and his late wife Ruth owned the Picabo Store, the Picabo Elevator and Silver Creek Supply, a seed business. […]

Purdy donated a 3,500-acre conservation easement on all of the ranch along Silver Creek in the 1990s to the Nature Conservancy, adjacent to its own Silver Creek Preserve. Purdy didn’t even take the tax break on the easement valued at $7 million. […]

He loved the cattle business, he explained to writer, producer and author Steve Stuebner in an article in 2012 for the Idaho Rangeland Commission (which he co-founded). "Every morning, you get up and do something different," he said. "You turn out on the range and ride a horse every day. Even now, I go out and make sure the water is OK, check the fences and make sure the gates are closed.

"It's just a constant going out there and doing it," Purdy said. "I was never a cowboy, but I've ridden a million miles."

Purdy is not the only one who would likely have distanced himself from Bundy. There are many western ranchers, including self-described conservatives who do not support him, at least not as far as he had taken matters. According to Christi Turner, of High Country News, "The Nevada Cattlemen’s Association issued a statement expressing sympathy for Bundy’s situation, lamenting federal regulations that favor the environment over grazing. But it also said, 'We cannot advocate operating outside the law to solve problems.'"

The BLM is not Biased Towards Environmentalists

One of the more laughable claims being made by those on the right is that the BLM (and by extension, the US Government) is somehow controlled by "eco-fascists" who want to limit the peoples' (including Bundy's) access and "wise use" of public land, but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the BLM is too friendly to people like Bundy and other individuals and companies who seek to profit off of public land at the expense of the environment, and this is not a new revelation, but in fact a matter of dispute that is several decades old.

One has only to (again) revisit the matter of the Dann sisters to get a clear view on where the BLM's biases lie, but let's not stop there.

  • Environmentalists have had to fight tooth and nail to force the agency to be forthright about its coziness with fracking and tar sands mining companies
  • The BLM has been accused of fast tracking oil and gas leases;
  • Ecologists have struggled with the BLM's willingness to allow off-road-vehicle enthusiasts to have a free pass to encroach upon endangered desert landscapes for several decades;
  • Earth First! has documented numerous cases of the BLM's lax enforcement of environmental laws (such as they are) limiting over logging; 
  • Perhaps the supporters of Cliven Bundy might want to research the case of Tim deChristopher the infamous "Bidder 70" who used creative direct action to try and halt what he considered to be the BLM's illegal auctioning off of public lands under the all too resource extraction-friendly George W Bush administration; 
  • And maybe, just maybe, the folks at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) might have been on to something when they accused the agency of allowing politics to affect their willingness to reliably and consistently enforce grazing laws on their land. The BLM claimed it was a "lack of reliable data"; PEER argues otherwise. Based on the evidence, PEER's claims appear to have merit to me!

Limiting Bundy's Grazing Will not Necessarily Result in Fracking or Strip Mining

Some self-described (and largely anonymous) environmentalists are claiming that by taking a stand against Bundy and for the BLM is a trap being set by fracking and mining interests to hoodwink naive environmentalists into handing over the very fragile desert ecosystems they claim to be protecting to fossil fuel interests.In all likelihood such claims are actually being spread by the mining and fracking interests themselves.

While it is certainly true that the US Government has a history of allowing private capitalist interests--be they logging corporations, mining companies, fossil fuel conglomerates, (or welfare ranchers like Clive Bundy)--to profit carelessly off of what is supposedly publicly controlled (but poorly stewarded) lands, it is both cynical and naive to suggest that it's a Hobson's choice between allowing Bundy to continue to graze his 900-plus cattle on the land (without paying any grazing fees) or allowing an Alberta tar sands like devastation in its place!

To begin with, the BLM isn't trying to remove Bundy's cattle; they're simply requesting that he pay the back-fees he owes, and that he continue to pay fees according to law.

While it is certainly conceivable that the BLM might be considering alloing fracking or mining on that very same land (if they don't already), it would stand to reason that if the threat were as real as these supposed "environmentalists" claim, then we'd expect to see capitalist fracking interests opposing Bundy's efforts.

If anything, however, the opposite is true. Indeed, the fracking interests may actually be the real driving force behind Cliven Bundy and his band of thugs. As has been thoroughly documented by environmentalist organizations, such as Greenpeace, the mythology of heavy-handed government over-regulation of both public and private property is a myth spun by capitalist resource extraction interests.

The so-called "Wise Use" movement was purportedly organized by rural western US land owners, but in actual fact was really instigated and financed corporate agribusiness, logging, mining, and drilling companies. In northwestern California, for example, these groups helped the timber companies create the illusion that the environmental activists opposing the corporate clearcutting of the old growth redwood forests were little more than unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs who were a threat to the livelihoods of the timber workers. This distracted attention away from the actual situation, which was one where the timber corporations themselves were the outsiders and had already eliminated a majority of the timber related jobs due to over-logging, automation, raw log exports, and union busting.

In fact, these very same "Wise Use" groups willingly assisted the employers in recruiting scabs to help the latter bust the unions that represented the timber workers the companies and "Wise Use" groups so loudly proclaimed to want to protect! There is no reason to think the current situation is any different.

These resource extraction interests--all of them wealthy capitalists of course--have much support among the typically right wing political orientations of most western rural Republican (and some conservative Democratic) elected officials.

According to the Center for Western Priorities:

Several western states have passed bills demanding that the federal government turn federal lands over to the states,and  others have created “study committees” funded by taxpayers to take a more thorough look at the idea. For example:

  • Idaho created a “Federal Lands Interim Committee” in 2013 to study the potential benefits if the federal government were to turn Idaho’s public lands over to the state. The committee will be meeting throughout the summer of 2014
  • Montana passed a joint resolution in 2013 calling for an “Interim study on public land management” to be undertaken by a legislative committee.  This study is currently underway
  • Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) signed a bill in 2013 creating the “Nevada Land Management Implementation Committee” and the “Nevada Land Management Task Force.”  Interestingly, the costs of this committee are paid for by the counties from which members are appointed.
  • Earlier this spring, Utah passed HB 164, which authorized the “Interstate Compact on State Transfer of Public Lands” to coordinated political and legal challenges across states.  It remains to be seen which (if any) states decide to join.  The state has already authorized $3 million in legal fees to fight the federal government in the courts.
  • Wyoming passed HB 228 in 2013, “Creating a task force to investigate possible legal recourses to compel the federal government to relinquish ownership and management of federal lands.”
  • Similar efforts in Colorado and New Mexico have so far been stymied.

Of course, while states seizing federal public lands might be “Bigger than Bundy,” they are also unconstitutional, would be extremely expensive, and are not supported by the public.

Where does the support for such ideas come from if not the people? The answer isn't hard to find. Consider the following history (compiled by Brendan Fischer of PR Watch) of ALEC's attempts to provoke the very "Sagebrush Rebellion" that Bundy seeks to ignite (again): 

Since the 1970s, ALEC has taken credit for helping to advance the Sagebrush Rebellion, as CMD has helped document.

In 1995, ALEC corporations and politicians on its task force voted to make its "Sagebrush Rebellion Act" a national “model” to be introduced in states across the country. Its board endorsed that bill.

In 1996, after then-President Bill Clinton designated 1.8 million acres of land as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, ALEC corporations and politicians passed a resolution declaring that Clinton "failed to adequately consider the environmental implications of national monument designation" since "given the vast reserves of clean-burning coal available, it is not environmentally nor economically sound to continue to 'waste' clean-burning coal reserves." Its board approved that resolution.

In 2000, ALEC corporations and politicians voted for a "Resolution on Local Jurisdiction Consent of National Monument Designation" declaring that "the Legislature of the State of _____ . . . denounces the designation of national monuments in the State of ______ without full public participation, consent and approval" of local and state government. ALEC’s board approved that resolution.

In 2005, ALEC corporations and politicians voted for the "Public Lands Policy Coordination Act" and "State Standards for Federal Resource Management Act" -- based off of legislation in Utah -- to create a state-level public lands office. Its board approved that bill as a national model for other states.

In 2010, ALEC corporations and politicians voted to adopt the "Eminent Domain Authority for Federal Lands Act," which asserted a state's right to appropriate federal land -- and which almost certainly would be unconstitutional. ALEC’s board ratified that bill as a national model to be introduced in other states.

In 2011, ALEC corporations and politicians voted for a "Resolution Requesting that the Federal Government Confer and Consult with the States on Management of Public Lands and Energy Resources," declaring that "public lands should be managed to encourage environmentally responsible energy development," and calling "on Congress and the Administration to commit to greater consultation with the states." That resolution was approved by ALEC’s board.

In 2012, ALEC corporations and politicians voted for the "Disposal and Taxation of Public Lands Act," an updated version of the "Sagebrush Rebellion Act" modeled after a Utah law from 2012. A state passing the bill would assert control over federal lands being protected as wilderness preserves, in many cases to allow for resource extraction. That bill was approved by ALEC’s board as part of its national legislative agenda. At least seven states have considered or passed similar legislation.

In 2013, ALEC adopted a "Resolution Demanding that Congress Convey Title of Federal Public Lands to the States." ALEC’s board ratified that as an articulation of its national agenda. One of ALEC's arguments in favor of this resolution, in its own words, was the following:

"Because of the inordinate buildup of fuel in the national forests due to decades of unduly restrictive federal 'preservationist' policies, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have recently issued criminal activity alerts warning that Al Qaeda is actively publishing in their 'Inspire' terrorism magazine of the opportunity to burn down our national forests — causing billions of dollars in damage and destroying our watersheds for decades — with only a few matches."

In other words, we need to transfer public lands to state control because there are too many trees in national forests, and Al Qaeda might come burn them down.

And, as it turns out, in 2013, Bundy spoke before a Nevada legislative committee in support of AB 227, an ALEC-backed bill to transfer federal land to state control.

Furthermore, Bundy has received support from the Koch Brothers, as detailed by Evelyn Nieves

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch (which spent $122 million trying to defeat Obama and other Democrats in 2012), is already instigating a campaign against the Bureau of Land Management on Bundy's behalf. It began a social media campaign, using the hashtag #BundyBattle, and is taking to the Internet to mock the time and money the bureau has wasted (some $1 million according to its poster) fighting the "little guy."

The implications of this are much greater than one might imagine. If anything, based on the ALEC and Koch Brothers associations with Bundy and vice versa, a reluctance to oppose Bundy's ridiculous claims and support for his evasion of grazing fees are likely to enable fracking and mining, not vice versa.

And it make sense that the fossil fuel capitalists would turn to ultra rightist ideologues like Bundy and others--such as the NRA, which is increasingly happening--and that is because growing numbers of the people, most of whom are not part of the employing class, are increasingly opposed to fossil fuel extraction because of the enormous social costs associated with the process and the growing availability of cleaner, greener alternatives. Due to the threat of global warming, the depletion of fossil fuel reserves, and the impending "carbon bubble", a substantial of economic and political power held by one of the most powerful wings of the capitalist class stands upon a very precarious precipice.

In spite of the fact that ultra rightist forces enjoy very little actual public support, they are nevertheless very well organized and (especially in the case of the NRA) browbeaten enough elected officials into subservience to support their increasingly unpopular positions.

Bundy is no Anarchist nor is he an Oppressed Landowner

Cliven Bundy has been mislabeled an "anarchist" by at least one liberal commentator, but this is an erroneous description. It is true that anarchists and Bundy oppose state enforced regulations, but they do so for entirely different reasons. Anarchists, in general, oppose state-enforced regulations, not because they think that the regulations are a bad idea themselves (indeed, anarchists support horizontally enforced regulations, as long as they do not create unequal power dynamics or needless bureaucracy), but because they believe that the enforcement mechanism itself, the armed force of a top-down, hierarchical and centralized government is inherently conducive to oppression and--in what few cases that regulations make perfect sense--said regulations are never seriously enforced, accept against the most downtrodden communities or in very rare cases against powerful and wealthy individuals and groups if and only if a mass based movement of the downtrodden rises up in demand of such oversight (and in these latter cases, the enforcement lasts only as long as those in power deem necessary before the masses can be pacified).

Certainly the US government's relative reluctance to take a harder line against Bundy (relative to the Dann sisters) should be proof enough of this double standard.

No true environmentalist or anti-capitalists would argue that the capitalist state is an institution that shouldn't be dismantled. It is a tool of the capitalist class that is enabling in the destruction of the environment and the oppression of the masses by protecting capitalist interests (which are inherently oppressive and destructive). And no anarchist would ignore the fact that states have their own internal logic of self preservation which furthers that destructiveness and oppression.

However, just because the idea of centralized, hierarchical government is flawed doesn't mean that anarchists should support Bundy.

Bundy is an ally of the Koch Brothers and ALEC; they're not supportive of the goals of anarchism or anarchists in the least.

I haven't seen Bundy or any of his supporters marching on any union picket lines, much less calling for a general strike.

And when was the last time Bundy or his supporters appeared at a direct action to stop clearcutting, mountain top coal removal, fracking, or offshore oil drilling?

Has Bundy shown one iota of support for the Cowboy and Indian Alliance that is opposing the Keystone X-L Pipeline? Has he shown any interest at all in any indigenous claims to protect their land, such as those of the Dann sisters? I suspect not. based on what we know about Bundy, it's probably safe to assume that he supports their adversaries which--though certainly protected by the US Government--are actually capitalist resource extraction interests.

And what anarchist is in favor of "States' Rights" or "County Law"?!?

No, indeed, Bundy is not an anarchist. He is, if anything, a crypto-fascist, and the company he keeps would think nothing of oppressing actual anarchists, such as those in the Occupy movement, those engaged in direct action to oppose tar sands mining, fracking, the Keystone X-L, clear-cutting, or other such "legitimate uses of 'private' property".

While it is true that hierarchical, top-down control and centralized government are indeed oppressive, people of Bundy's ilk only want to make it more so (as long as it benefits them). If anything, Bundy is reacting to government power having been decentralized (albeit to an extremely limited degree) in the form of a bureau with some modicum of regulatory oversight (albeit one largely corrupted and controlled by the very interests it should be regulating anyway) and wishes it were more centralized (with control maintained by people like himself).

Bundy is a Dyed-in-the-Wool Racist, Right Wing, Authoritarian Fascist

Bundy is certainly no anarchist, nor is he even likely to be convinced to become one. He is an ultra rightist with an ultra-rightist axe to grind, and even his fellow reactionaries have begun to distance themselves from him because they either find his stances too extreme, or his iron fist isn't sufficiently hidden in a velvet glove for their tastes.

After Bundy's star rose, right wingers tripped over themselves "a hero" and " a patriot" (terms that have become little more than buzzwords for ultra right wing ideologues anyway), that is until their figurehead publicly declared that African Americans were better off under slavery as well as other racist diatribes.

Now they were faced with a quandary: distance themselves from their champion or say nothing, because--fortunately, in today's world, Cliven Bundy's sentiments--while perhaps shared by far too many still, do not sit well with most. Faux News was particularly glaring in their silence over the matter.

However the assorted "militia" members, tea party "patriots", and other assorted right wing wackos that have come to Bundy's aid are just like him, a bunch of violent, extremist crypto-fascist nuts who have even invoked Nevada Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (himself hardly a progressive, let alone even remotely liberal) to denounce them as "domestic terrorists", an epithet generally reserved for radical environmentalists (at least in the eyes of the capitalist class).

In this case, however, "domestic terrorist" is an apt label, because numerous accounts detail how these so-called "patriots" have a history of terrorizing the very communities they claim to want to protect.

This isn't just a political label either. Video evidence and police reports show that Bundy and his crowd, "poured lighter fluid around" news trucks, Issued "bomb threats" against Hotels where Federal employees were lodging, told hotel staff they would be "dragged out in the parking lot and shot", and asked Metro Police Sgt Jenkins if "he was ready to die".

The Perverse Ideology of "Private" Property

Even though this is a dispute over public lands (such as they are) this entire debacle does raise debates about deeper issues involving land use rights, government oversight, political ideologies, and the environment.

Let's begin with the notion of "private property". In the classical sense, if an individual claims title or deed to a piece of land, capital, or some other thing, it is said to be "privately owned," and as such the "owner" has a right to do what they wish with that property--within reason or at least the limits of existing laws.

Within a state-capitalist context, of course, the disputes over private property rights generally center on to what extent the individual is overstepping the boundaries established by law. Certain activities by the property owner (not to mention anyone else) are considered to be unlawful, such as committing murder, enslaving others, or launching an armed assault on neighboring property owners or the existing local, regional, state, or federal authorities. Being the "owner" of the property conveys no special rights to commit such acts, nor does it preclude any prohibitions from refraining from doing so. Beyond that, the struggle between what is considered "liberal" and "conservative" (or--in some contexts--"authoritarian" and "libertarian") rages over what activities that take place on "private" property an be regulated, and to what extent.

Classical liberalism--which is often today, in the united States at least, mislabeled "libertarianism"--argues that a private property owner may do whatever they wish with their property as long as it doesn't interfere with the rights of their fellow property owners to do what they wish with their property or commit a small amount of very serious crimes, such as committing murder, enslaving others, or launching armed assaults, for example.

Leaving aside for the moment that this is as far removed from actual libertarianism--which is another word for anarchism--which declares that "private property" is a concept that requires the existence of an armed and authoritarian state authority in order to make it enforceable, there are very sensible arguments against the classical liberal minimalist concept of "private property" that contemporary "liberals" (better described as "social democrats"), socialists, and anarchists more or less agree upon.

To begin with, let's for the sake of argument, take the propertarian argument to its logical conclusion. Under a minimalist, laissez faire regime, a property owner could frack their land, establish a nuclear fusion plant, or dump toxic waste in a water course that runs through it, even if that property were next to their immediate neighbors' land. Under such a regime, the property owner could pollute their own land, even if it polluted their neighbors' land and the latter would have no recourse to stop the former, because of that sacred right of "private property".

Naturally, the laws of nature do not recognize the rights of property. Property boundaries are arbitrary in the natural world. A property line is often an invisible line drawn on a human made map that has no relevance to the natural processes which take place in the real world, and it is for that reason that laws have been enacted by government authorities, due to pressure from the masses, to prevent the most egregious activities from taking place on "private" (as well as "public") property.

Bundy claims ancestral rights to the public land in dispute, but who "owned" the land before Bundy's Mormon ancestors? Does he believe that the Mexicans or the indigenous tribes have a right to take up arms and evict him? I suspect not.

In any case, the land was here before humans walked the Earth and the land will be here long after each of us have returned to the dust of the land itself. The land and all that is on it will continue to exist in some form or another. For Bundy, his supporters, or ALEC to claim some divine right to do as they will is absurd.

And in any case, the results of such arrogance are a dying planet, polluted communities, oppressed peoples, and destroyed societies.

Bundy's tantrum is not a case of "the people" reclaiming access to the commons; it's a case of the powerful trying to enclose the commons.

It is Largely Spectacle

The BLM is largely a tool of capitalist interests (including Bundy) and their role is to defend those interests. The Cliven Bundys of the world scream and howl each time they perceive the state pushing the debate too far to the left and giving too much power to the masses. The state, by contrast, singles out the Cliven Bundys to hoodwink gullible liberal supporters into defending it. Meanwhile, the capitalist class, run by the likes of ALEC and the Koch Brothers, play both ends off of the middle and laugh all the way to the bank while they over graze, clearcut, strip mine, frack, drill-baby-drill, and suck the lifeblood out of the Earth (by oppressing the downtrodden laborers who make this work possible) in the holy name of profit and "private property". Meanwhile, our chances of survival diminish by the day.

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