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What's your beef with Roderick Long and "left-libertarianism"?

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Evilsceptic Posted: Wed, May 2 2012 3:29 PM

[split from here in May low content thread]

 

John James:

Replace self-proclaimed "left-libertarian" Roderick Long with Lew Rockwell, and I'd probably use that poster.

What's your beef with Roderick Long?

 

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a) I thought that poster was supposed to display anarchists.  (Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the "ANARCHISTS" thing at the bottom was a giveaway)

b) As far as I know, Long identifies as a "left-libertarian"

c) As far as I know, "left-libertarian" ≠ "anarchist"

 

That being said, I actually still don't know what exactly a "left-libartarian" is, so maybe it is somehow a synonym for anarchist...but I doubt it.  Either way, it's a confusing, contradictory, nonsense term that does nothing to help further understanding or explanation of the political spectrum and where people fall in it, and I suppose for that reason on those grounds I immediately have a problem with anyone who insists on using it.

 

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John James:

a) I thought that poster was supposed to display anarchists.  (Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the "ANARCHISTS" thing at the bottom was a giveaway)

b) As far as I know, Long identifies as a "left-libertarian"

c) As far as I know, "left-libertarian" ≠ "anarchist"

 

That being said, I actually still don't know what exactly a "left-libartarian" is, so maybe it is somehow a synonym for anarchist...but I doubt it.  Either way, it's a confusing, contradictory, nonsense term that does nothing to help further understanding or explanation of the political spectrum and where people fall in it, and I suppose for that reason on those grounds I immediately have a problem with anyone who insists on using it.

Dude... Roderick Long is the most anarchisty anarchist that has ever anarchisted! He founded the Molinari Institute which runs the Center For a Stateless Society, he's published articles defending anarchism including Libertarian Anarchism: A Response To Ten Objections and Market Anarchism As Constitutionalism, the latter is not only fantastic but was also his contribution to the book Anarchism/Minarchism which he coedited with Tibor Machan as a debate between minarchists and anarchists, in which he edited the anarchist portion. He also founded the Molinari Institute which runs the Center For a Stateless society which published the amazing book "Markets Not Capitalism:  Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty to which he contributed.

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Evilsceptic:
Dude... Roderick Long is the most anarchisty anarchist that has ever anarchisted! He founded the Molinari Institute which runs the Center For a Stateless Society, he's published articles defending anarchism including Libertarian Anarchism: A Response To Ten Objections and Market Anarchism As Constitutionalism, the latter is not only fantastic but was also his contribution to the book Anarchism/Minarchism which he coedited with Tibor Machan as a debate between minarchists and anarchists, in which he edited the anarchist portion. He also founded the Molinari Institute which runs the Center For a Stateless society which published the amazing book "Markets Not Capitalism:  Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty to which he contributed.

1) Then why does he take the "left-libertarian" position in a debate that I can't seem to find right now?  (Incidentally his lecture is the lead video in this "introduction to left-libertarianism" playlist.)

2) There's something fishy about that post of yours.

 

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Jargon replied on Wed, May 2 2012 5:05 PM

Founding the Molinari Institute is pretty cool, but founding the Molinari Institute as well? Badass.

Land & Liberty

The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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^ Epic

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John James:

There's something fishy about that post of yours.

Are you reffering to the fact that I mentioned the Molinari institute twice and generally rambled a bit? Sorry, I was a bit out of it last night, lol.

John James:

1) Why does he take the "left-libertarian" position in a debate that I can't seem to find right now?  (Incidentally his lecture is the lead video in this "introduction to left-libertarianism" playlist.)

I don't think you understand what left-libertarianism is. It's not a half way house between progressive statism and libertarianism. It simply holds that concerns of those on the modern 'left' such as inequality, the prevalance of wage labour and large corporations are the result of state intervention, not of free markets. I would recommend reading Sheldon Richman's article Libertarian Left to better understand where left-libertarianism is coming from, or go to the Alliance if the Libertarian-Left's site.

 

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John James:
That being said, I actually still don't know what exactly a "left-libartarian" is
Evilsceptic:
I don't think you understand what left-libertarianism is.

 

It's not a half way house between progressive statism and libertarianism. It simply holds that concerns of those on the modern 'left' such as inequality, the prevalance of wage labour and large corporations are the result of state intervention, not of free markets.

How in the hell is that different from "libertarianism"?

 

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John James:

It's not a half way house between progressive statism and libertarianism. It simply holds that concerns of those on the modern 'left' such as inequality, the prevalance of wage labour and large corporations are the result of state intervention, not of free markets.

How in the hell is that different from "libertarianism"?

In terms political prescriptions, very little, which is why I am often reluctant to call myself a left-libertarian. However, a lot of libertarians will defend aspects of the modern economy which are in fact the result of state intervention. For example, I've heard libertarians defend sweat shops or working conditions during the industrial revolution on the grounds that they are good for the poor because they are better than the alternatives, despite the fact that in many cases there are better alternatives which have been suppressed by the state. Left-libertarians are also typically anti-political and are "thick" libertarians.

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John James:
It's not a half way house between progressive statism and libertarianism. It simply holds that concerns of those on the modern 'left' such as inequality, the prevalance of wage labour and large corporations are the result of state intervention, not of free markets.
How in the hell is that different from "libertarianism"?
Evilsceptic:
In terms political prescriptions, very little, which is why I am often reluctant to call myself a left-libertarian.

If you notice, I didn't ask "how different"...I asked how is it different.  Simply claiming it's a small difference doesn't address the issue.  What is this difference you speak of?

 

However, a lot of libertarians will defend aspects of the modern economy which are in fact the result of state intervention. For example, I've heard libertarians defend sweat shops or working conditions during the industrial revolution on the grounds that they are good for the poor because they are better than the alternatives, despite the fact that in many cases there are better alternatives which have been suppressed by the state.

Defending the free choices of indviduals is not not-libertarian just because better options have been eliminated by state intervention.  It sounds like you're saying a "left-libertarian" would oppose "sweatshops" or "working conditions during the industrial revolution", meaning that they would argue such things should be outlawed.

If that's the case, that is not libertarian.  If it is not the case, then please explain what you're saying, and what exactly these "left-libertarians" say about (and more importantly, prescribe) for such situations.  (And of course, explain how it's different from "regular" libertarians).

 

Left-libertarians are also typically anti-political and are "thick" libertarians.

That's an interesting piece, as it attempts to shed light on a complex issue, but unfortunately I feel that author does an incredibly poor job.  But that's neither here nor there.

If the only difference between "left-libertarians" and "libertarians" is their being "thick", then why not say "thick"?  Or some other kind of term that more accurately describes the attribute that makes a difference...as opposed to one that implies a degree of socialism, as "left" does.  Shoving those two words together is contradictory and nonsensical, and therefore, as I said, does nothing to help further understanding or explanation of the political spectrum and where people fall in it.  It is not unlike the equally (or perhaps more so) idiotic terms "libertarian socialist," and "free market anti-capitalist", which incidentally, the description in this playlist actually uses.

As far as I can tell (and maybe someone can show me I'm wrong) those terms are purposefully contradictory so as to confuse any would-be critic or political opponent into a state of paralyzing befuddlement, as they have no way to codify what you actually believe, so they have no real way to form an assessment of your philosophy and either accept or reject (and possibly challenge) it.  I think terms like that exist because people are either insecure in their philosophy (which usually means they don't really have one, and that their beliefs are very inchoate and contradictory, and not suited for any serious consideration or challenge), or that they they are insecure in themselves (i.e. have low-self esteem) and cannot withstand any sort of criticism or challenge...so they create a barrior from criticism by surrounding their intellectual identity in a cloak of confusion and ambiguity which no one can really penetrate because there is really no way to clearly attack something that doesn't even seem to make sense.

It's not unlike the whole obsession with being "moderate".  Like I was saying here, there is a common exaltation for a Goldie Locks "not too this, not too that, juuuuuust right in the middle" mentality.

It's one of the most callow assessments perpetuated today. They're able to take advantage of the flawed way the majority of people understand the ideological spectrum where being "in the middle" is the most appropriate because that means you're not a "crazy extremist" (i.e. a "left-winger" or a "right-winger"). It makes people feel safe in that they are "moderate" and that they incorporate views from "both sides" to find a nice balance...as if they incorporate the "best of both worlds."  This is just short of being complete nonsense.  Most of the self-proclaimed "moderates" have no idea why they believe more than half the things they do. The policies and ideas they advocate are not rooted in any sort of principle they are simply a product of almost baseless "feelings" and are determined more than anything else not by actual results or deep philosophical study, but by simple interest in not being scapegoated as a "winger."

And while it may be true that many types of so-called extremists choose to ignore the facts, this does not automatically mean that self-proclaimed moderates have somehow reached "moderate" conclusions because of more intense study or careful consideration of information.

And this is extremely similar to the people (whom I would largely consider morons) who insist on using idiotic terms like "libertarian socialist".  Except these guys take it a step farther.  Instead of simply trying to maintain an aire of balance, these people go all out with terms that mean completely opposite things, to a point at which their self label makes so little sense than no one even bothers to challenge them on it.

Plus it makes them feel cool.  Like they're in this exclusive club that most people don't even understand.  This is basically what the Venus people do too, except they've taken it to an even greater extreme.  They're not "moderate".  They're not even both ends of the spectrum simultaneously.  They are apolitical and think the entire notion of "money" is evil, and think we should move to a "resource-based economy".  Sounds technical doesn't it?  That's how they like it.  They get to feel smarter than other people because they're able to act like they have the answer...and no one else has even heard it before.

That is my sense of terms like "left-libertarian".

Go ahead and tell me if I'm wrong.

 

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Left libertarians are socialists. Kevin Carson even calls himself socialist.

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Roderick Long is as much an anarchist and libertarian as Hans Hoppe.  I don't know if Long does call himself a left-libertarian but if he does he only means that his 'flavor' of libertarian-anarchism is different to the 'flavor' of libertarian-anarchism of Hoppe, which could similarly be called right-libertarian.  Hoppe's "thick" views are conservative, like Ron Paul, and Hoppe and Paul both appeal more to conservatives and pitch their arguments to conservatives more than to liberals.  Long is the opposite, where he targets liberals more and pitches his arguments more towards them than conservatives.  See his How to Reach the Left

So don't be put off by the left-libertarian label Long has.  I see it as a harmless and mildly useful label if understood correctly.  It could be said that Rothbard became a left-libertarian for a few years before turning back to being a right-libertarian towards the end of his life.  It doesn't mean his views changed, just that he had different approaches, different targets, different arguments... i.e. a different flavor.

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MaikU replied on Thu, May 3 2012 4:23 PM

Dude... Roderick Long is the most anarchisty anarchist that has ever anarchisted!

 

I farted, then I laughed out loud and then went for a smoke :D THANKS DUDE :D

"Dude... Roderick Long is the most anarchisty anarchist that has ever anarchisted!" - Evilsceptic

(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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It's interesting that you would comment on the "thick vs. thin" thing, as I think that ties into the discussion we were having in the tax thread.  I was actually going to cite that concept in my response to you (which is still coming...sorry I forgot for a while, plus you had a pretty lengthy post).

 

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My beef with left-libertarians (or left-anarcho capitalists) is that they're implict critical theory endorsers. Basically they're social socialists. At times, I cannot tell the difference between a Marxist and an (left libertarian) Austrian; this is especially true with most of Ron Paul's college kid supporters. Thank God Ron Paul doesn't buy into this nonsense.

Left-libertarians are obsessed with maintatining a value-free method of analysis for all fields in the social sciences. As with the case of economics and praxeology, this value-free method is extrapolated and extended over to the realm of sociology where it is not applicable. Sociology is not a praxeological science. That is the prime difference between right and left libertarians/anarcho-capitalists.

Rothbard called left-libertarians people that you don't want interact with, and compared them to neo-cons. I completely agree with him.

 

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Graham Wright:
It could be said that Rothbard became a left-libertarian for a few years before turning back to being a right-libertarian towards the end of his life.  It doesn't mean his views changed, just that he had different approaches, different targets, different arguments... i.e. a different flavor.
FunkedUp:
Rothbard called left-libertarians people that you don't want interact with, and compared them to neo-cons. I completely agree with him.

That would be quite a change.  FU, do you have a source for that?

 

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John James:

Graham Wright:
It could be said that Rothbard became a left-libertarian for a few years before turning back to being a right-libertarian towards the end of his life.  It doesn't mean his views changed, just that he had different approaches, different targets, different arguments... i.e. a different flavor.
FunkedUp:
Rothbard called left-libertarians people that you don't want interact with, and compared them to neo-cons. I completely agree with him.

That would be quite a change.  FU, do you have a source for that?

Yes, in this article. Read the whole thing, because he blasts left-libertarians throughout the whole piece: 

Rothbard: "In fact, I haven't had the personal experience of neocons that many of you have had, but I can assure you that left-libertarians can match neocons any day in the week as people you simply would not want to interact with. Trust me on that."

There's also this link, which contains even more links to his positions 

Rothbard was in no way a left-libertarian. This is a guy who was against open borders, blasted the women's liberation movement, defended racially based discrimination, and proudly declared that individuals are not equal. 

Left-libertarians and right-libertarians (of the ancap variety) both agree on privatization of all resources. That isn't the contention. The contention has to do with sociological matters. Left-libertarians are under the spell of critical theory, whereas right-libertarians are not. 

 

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Bert replied on Thu, May 3 2012 8:55 PM

From the sociological stance there are times I might fall under "left" libertarian, but whatever difference it may be it's simply like this: libertarians or "right" libertarians, aka anarcho-capitalist (of the Hoppean variety) are "right" because they are not fashionable, they do not cater to any group or position with the exception of their own position - this makes them very blunt and "stubborn" to others; left-libertarians "reach out" in ways to those interested in class analysis/privilege, racial inequalities, women's rights, and any other minority or "oppressed" group, etc.  The political structure of the theories may remain the same, but how one perceives certain social/cultural situations appears to change, the interpretation of certain actions.  That's how the differences appear to me, but it still doesn't change the fact I'd switch out Long with someone else on that anarchist pic.

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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@ FunkedUp

I'm no expert on Critical Theory, I have only done some reading on it, so I ask forgiveness if my questions sound stupid.

What is so wrong with Critical Theory? Can you explain the link between left libertarianism and critical theory? Can you explain why it is so bad to "be under the spell of critical theory"?

I see left and right libertarianism as different flavors of the same ice cream so to speak. Left libertarians seem to care more strongly about certain issues which most ordinary leftists care about, whereas right libertarians seem to care most strongly about simply respecting property rights.

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FunkedUp replied on Thu, May 3 2012 10:41 PM

 

Serpentis-Lucis:

@ FunkedUp

I'm no expert on Critical Theory, I have only done some reading on it, so I ask forgiveness if my questions sound stupid.

What is so wrong with Critical Theory? Can you explain the link between left libertarianism and critical theory? Can you explain why it is so bad to "be under the spell of critical theory"?

I see left and right libertarianism as different flavors of the same ice cream so to speak. Left libertarians seem to care more strongly about certain issues which most ordinary leftists care about, whereas right libertarians seem to care most strongly about simply respecting property rights.

 

All very good questions. To answer them, I will address what I call the de-facto religion of that state.

I always tell people that there are two things that make up this de-facto religion of the state: neoclassical synthesis (economics) and critical theory (sociology). Anyone deviating from these two "religions" is going to be an enemy of the state. Deviating from one is bad enough, but if you deviate from both then you're going to be demonized even more. Libertarians in the Austrian tradition, whether left or right, all unanimously agree on the bankruptcy of neoclassical synthesis. From the micro sphere of neoclassical economics to the macro Keynesian models, there is little discrepancy here between the varying camps of Austrians. However, the same is not true for critical theory, as I've already indicated. 

Left-Libertarians (LL) recognize how academia, the media, etc, "brainwash" the public into accepting neoclassical synthesis, but they cannot see how these same forces "brainwash" them by instilling CT. Quite simply, LL cannot see how the state and the so-called superstructure has influenced their thinking. CT is accepted by some LL, but it is slightly different than the Marxist version. The Marxist version of CT is a bit more ruthless and It essentially states that all white heterosexual men are responsible for everything bad in the world, and that everyone else is victim of their oppression. I don't think that many LL actually believe in this, but there are traces of similar thinking. 

For example, many LL share the "all non-white males are victims of oppression" view. Admittedly, there is some truth to this, but this fact often prevents LL from making value based judgements in the field of sociology (probably because they fear being called a racist, sexist, etc). If it is pointed out that blacks cause crime at a higher rate than other races, then the LL often comes to their defense. If it is pointed out that women have a lower marginal productivity in the workplace than men (on average), then the LL comes to their defense. These are just some examples, and not all LL do it to the same degree, but such lines of thinking represent an implicitly inherent egalitarian way of thinking (social socialism), which they are unaware of. As I've already indicated, LL do it because they carry the value-free methodology of economics and praxeology and extrapolate this same thing over to sociology.  

I do think that many libertarians think this is a bunch of nonsense, but are afraid to speak out against it. In todays world, you're considered to be a "racist" when you argue against universal health care; you're more of a "racist" when you argue against affirmative action in colleges and at the workplace; you're even more of a "racist" when you suggest that blacks and Latinos commit more crime than whites. While the Marxist version certainly does make value-judgements, the LL version does not; it's more of a white-guilt installation by academia and the media, and libertarians of all stripes have a fear of speaking the obvious because they might be called racist, sexist, or what ever. Either that, or they are just beaten into submission by the state, academia, and the media.

The reason that CT is sometimes harmful is because this line of thought can serve to increase the power of the state. For example, there was a rallying cry from LL regarding the Don't Ask Don't Tell legislation that prevented gays from openly serving in the military. In reality, repealing this legislation just empowers the state further. It would be better if gays were banned from the military entirely. It would be better if women were banned from the military entirely. It would be even better if men were banned too. See where I'm going? Why empower the state further? I also think that LL, under the spell of CT, are in error when they argue for open borders because they don't understand the sociological implications of such a policy (I don't want to address open borders here because I've already done so in other threads).

I don't think that it's unjust for the government to discriminate in certain instances. Rothbard makes this point in that article that I linked to "Big Government Libertarians." Hoppe makes it in "Democracy." Point being is that, even some Austrians, can implicitly empower the state. CT helps LL do this without them even knowing it. 

 

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That Rothbard article has little to nothing to do with the left-libertarianism of the C4SS and the ALL.

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John James:

However, a lot of libertarians will defend aspects of the modern economy which are in fact the result of state intervention. For example, I've heard libertarians defend sweat shops or working conditions during the industrial revolution on the grounds that they are good for the poor because they are better than the alternatives, despite the fact that in many cases there are better alternatives which have been suppressed by the state.

Defending the free choices of indviduals is not not-libertarian just because better options have been eliminated by state intervention.  It sounds like you're saying a "left-libertarian" would oppose "sweatshops" or "working conditions during the industrial revolution", meaning that they would argue such things should be outlawed.

If that's the case, that is not libertarian.  If it is not the case, then please explain what you're saying, and what exactly these "left-libertarians" say about (and more importantly, prescribe) for such situations.  (And of course, explain how it's different from "regular" libertarians).

The left-libertarian analysis of such situations is that they are exploitative because they are the secondary result of coercion. The left-libertarian prescription for such situation is to free the market.  I don't think there is any real difference between 'right', 'left' and 'plumb line'  libertarianism except  the variety of thickness (or lack of, in the case of plumb liners) and emphasis on different issues. 

 

John James:

That is my sense of terms like "left-libertarian".

Go ahead and tell me if I'm wrong.

You're not, I don't call myself a left-libertarian for the very reasons you said. However, for all the fault with the labels, I still think left-libertarianism has important contribtutions to make to the libertarian movement. Markets Not Capitalism, for example, really is a great book, especially to give out to lefties to show them we don't want to eat the poor, and Kevin Carson, while economically 'challenged', has made some solid contributions to history and analysis of state intervention that are worthy of study. 

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Evilsceptic:
The left-libertarian analysis of such situations is that they are exploitative because they are the secondary result of coercion. The left-libertarian prescription for such situation is to free the market.

Then how in the heck are they different than "libertarians"??

 

I don't think there is any real difference between 'right', 'left' and 'plumb line'  libertarianism except  the variety of thickness (or lack of, in the case of plumb liners) and emphasis on different issues.

So "left" doesn't designate any sort of area on some political spectrum (as every thinking person would interpret it to mean), it just means they "care more about other issues"?  Seriously?

 

I still think left-libertarianism has important contribtutions to make to the libertarian movement.

Wha?  Like what?  You just told me they were basically the same...as in, the beliefs are the same, and the prescriptions/solutions are the same.  What in the hell do they have to contribute that "regular" libertarians don't?  (Aside from idiotic self-labels and confusion.)

 

Markets Not Capitalism, for example, really is a great book, especially to give out to lefties to show them we don't want to eat the poor, and Kevin Carson, while economically 'challenged', has made some solid contributions to history and analysis of state intervention that are worthy of study.

I'm pretty sure I've heard that term "Markets Not Capitalism" before.  Pardon my french, but fuck that.  Enough perfectly great words have been co-opted by socialists already.  I'm not content to just surrender one of the most important, (and arguably a cornerstone) of the entire free-market philosophy ("capitalism") and let them fully mutate its understood meaning into what is actually the opposite.  It's funny that you would point to something like that as a positive contribution because in my view that's a negative thing...playing along with (and ultimately acquiescing to) socialists.  I don't care whether you're an anarcho-syndicalist and actually agree with their socialist policy, or whether (you think) you're a libertarian and are just trying to "appeal to" or "reach out to" socialists.  You're not helping.

Let them make "capitalism" a dirty word, and then what?  Then you can't even talk about "capital" anymore, because that's just exploitative property.  Before you know it, you're fighting to maintain control of the word "property"...the very institution that allows our peaceful existence on this planet. 

They're going to take everything they can.  It's a hard enough battle as it is.  I do not see that simply handing over pieces of our language, the very thing we use to communicate these ideas, helps anything.

 

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z1235 replied on Fri, May 4 2012 11:33 AM

I'm with JJ on this one. I have no idea what "left-libertarianism" means. To the extent that  it refers to libertarians who have strong preferences (care strongly) about particular market outcomes (more brown people or women employed, less white men in power, less children breaking a sweat, etc.) I don't see how it makes them different from any other libertarian who strongly prefer blondes, Porsches, or chocolate ice-cream.

If they simply care about (strongly prefer) these outcomes while not interfering with the market process (free exchange of property and labor between consenting individuals) then they are simply libertarians (with preferences, but so are all other libertarians). If they DO propose intereference with the market process (aggression) as a path to realizing their preferred outcomes then they are not libertarians. 

No?

 

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 I have no idea what "left-libertarianism" means. 

 

It means: "you are misrepresenting my position", being "anti political" and yet insiting on tagging the wod "left" in front of your "non political" title, and saying you are not right wing.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

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John James:
It's interesting that you would comment on the "thick vs. thin" thing, as I think that ties into the discussion we were having in the tax thread.  I was actually going to cite that concept in my response to you (which is still coming...sorry I forgot for a while, plus you had a pretty lengthy post).

Wow, yeah, that was a long post, I do get carried away sometimes.  And my summary is pretty confusing, sorry about that.

Let me explain my understanding of the terms thick and thin.  Thick and thin are similar terms to left and right in that they refer to a libertarian's style or flavor, rather than being a modifier for what the word libertarian actually means.  Thick/thin/left/right... the NAP and associated libertarian principles remain intact whatever.  The left-right spectrum and the thick-thin spectrum refer to two different things within libertarianism, though they are sometimes conflated.  I referred to Hoppe and Long being on opposite sides of the left-right spectrum, but I'm not sure which one of them would be considered thinner.  They are both pretty thin, meaning they refrain from making broader sociological points and generally stick to libertarianism.

The thinnest libertarian would probably be Walter Block.  Perhaps this is why Block doesn't give Clayton the warm-fuzzies.  His style is too thin for Clayton.  Block sticks to the NAP and doesn't bring in any cultural values or anything beyond what libertarianism says.  That post of Clayton is an example of a libertarian being thick, if you pardon the expression, or writing from a thick perspective.  Clayton's saying something about social theory - that prostitution ought to be 'in the shadows' even when it is legal - that libertarianism says nothing about, because it has nothing to do with the NAP. 

To someone being thin, it makes no difference whether the service being discussed is prostitution or hairdressing: both are identically non-violations of the NAP, and both industries would be better if they were free markets.  That's the thin, cold analysis.  This analysis isn't left or right, because those terms only apply to thick arguments.

Clayton's thick argument in this case would be considered 'right' (conservative) rather than 'left' (modern liberal).  A libertarian who wants to engage in a thick argument and who has the view, contra Clayton, that prostitution should be 'in the light', might counter Clayton's argument, and he'd be arguing from a leftist perspective.  His viewpoint would be described as left-libertarian and Clayton's as right-libertarian.

I prefer staying thin most of the time.  Nothing wrong with making thick arguments, as long as it's clear you're venturing outside of the strict realm of libertarianism and are making a 'cultural' point.  I'm not saying these distinctions are particularly useful - it's probably a case of over-labelling - but I did just want to say that they have meaning, at least to me.

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@ FunkedUp

I always tell people that there are two things that make up this de-facto religion of the state: neoclassical synthesis (economics) and critical theory (sociology).


I agree. I have begun reading about critical theory, I'm not yet comfortably making any strong statements about critical theory yet, however it doesn't seem like critical theory has to be Statist. Although critical theory is currently Statist for the most part, it seems like Libertarianism and critical theory aren't irreconciable. From Wikipedia: "Critical theory is a school of thought that stresses the examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism. This has led to the very literal use of 'critical theory' as an umbrella term to describe any theory founded upon critique. According to critical theorist Max Horkheimer a theory is critical in so far as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them" (Horkheimer 1982, 244)."

Max Horkheimer's quote actually sounds compatible with Libertarianism. It seems like the only problem with critical theory is that it is dominated by Statist sentiments, but that is probably because most people are Statist.

For example, many LL share the "all non-white males are victims of oppression" view. Admittedly, there is some truth to this, but this fact often prevents LL from making value based judgements in the field of sociology (probably because they fear being called a racist, sexist, etc). If it is pointed out that blacks cause crime at a higher rate than other races, then the LL often comes to their defense. If it is pointed out that women have a lower marginal productivity in the workplace than men (on average), then the LL comes to their defense. These are just some examples, and not all LL do it to the same degree, but such lines of thinking represent an implicitly inherent egalitarian way of thinking (social socialism), which they are unaware of. As I've already indicated, LL do it because they carry the value-free methodology of economics and praxeology and extrapolate this same thing over to sociology.


You are right, LL tend to be very "politcally correct", a bit too much in my opinion. Defending black people and women aren't necessarily a bad thing, it is how they are defended, some attempt to relieve them of all responsibility whatsoever which is problematic. The "political correctness" does get in the way of making value judgements but the LL do raise a very a good point, much of the problems that black people face is due to the government. Why do blacks commit more crimes than whites? Because on average they are poorer, live in poorer neighborhoods, in large part due to them being enslaved by the welfare system which was supposed to help them. The Left typically is concerned for the well being of disadvantaged peoples, such as black people, the Statist Leftists says that we need the government to protect them, the LL say that market anarchism will help the disadvantaged better than the goverment. I don't see the problem with wanting to help the disadvantaged, as long as it isn't at the expense of other people.

I believe now is the time to address what I believe is actually the problem with LL. The LL want to help the disadvantaged so badly that I think they too easily sympathize with government. They don't value freedom as much as Right Libertarians do (from my very limited experience of LL), they value things like fairness and harm-avoidance more, which makes them susceptible to the gravitational-like-pull of Statism. They see the government as morally wrong because of its use of aggression, they don't see the aggression as as bad as Right Libertarians do, because they see the government as trying to help the disadvantaged, or rather that the disadvantaged might be worse off in a stateless society. I think the "Big Government Libertarian Syndrome" comes from uncertainty in the market. LL know that in theory the market will better help the disadvantaged, howbeit they aren't absolutely certain of it, and thus they seem to at times defend government aggression because they think that the government might actually be necessary to help the disadvantaged.

Now we might say that LL aren't worthy of being called Libertarians because they don't value freedom as much as we do, after all the one thing that all true Libertarians have in common is the high value on freedom. A person who grows up with drunken, abusive, irrational parents, who never had anyone to protect them, is unlikely to have much faith in their fellow human beings however. Furthermore, when we think about how the media fear mongers constantly showing the worst side of human beings, can we really blame the LL, for not being certain of the ability of the market to improve the lives of all? I mean the market is simply people and their transactions with other people, when you believe (sometimes with good reason) that people are irrational and selfish it is difficult to be confident that people will help the disadvantaged. We know that it is in fact in people's interest to help their neighbors, but for some it is very difficult to be sure of that, given the fear mongering etc.

The reason that CT is sometimes harmful is because this line of thought can serve to increase the power of the state. For example, there was a rallying cry from LL regarding the Don't Ask Don't Tell legislation that prevented gays from openly serving in the military. In reality, repealing this legislation just empowers the state further. It would be better if gays were banned from the military entirely. It would be better if women were banned from the military entirely. It would be even better if men were banned too. See where I'm going? Why empower the state further? I also think that LL, under the spell of CT, are in error when they argue for open borders because they don't understand the sociological implications of such a policy (I don't want to address open borders here because I've already done so in other threads).


I understand what you are saying and I agree to some extent. It's true that it would be nice for as little people as possible, (hell, none at all would be ideal, too bad that's too much to ask for), to be allowed in the military. To say that people should be banned from doing something which doesn't directly violate the non-aggression principle though is problematic. Yes joining the military will likely result in the violation of the NAP, but if we start stopping people from doing things which might cause harm to others then a whole list of other things must also be banned, once that happens then rampant Statism occurs. I agree with you completely on how under the current Statist system, opening the borders would cause massive problems though.

I will comment further on critical theory and it's effects on Libertarianism at a later time. (Probably after I finish reading about critical theory and have given it more thought.)

This post ended up being longer than I thought it would be, sorry about that.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Several people have mentioned how Left Libertarianism is poorly defined, I think I can answer that question.

What's the fundamental difference between Right Libertarianism and Left Libertarianism?

I think Left Libertarianism is a radical form of Libertarianism while Right Libertarianism is a reactionary form of Libertarianism. (I don't mean reactionary in a bad way.) When I say radical I mean "favoring or seeking political reforms which include dramatic changes to the social order" and when I say reactionary I mean "a movement towards the reversal of an existing tendency or state". Which I can already see will be misunderstood. I will try to better explain what I mean. The left libertarians support libertarianism because they think it will make society better, the right libertarians seem to support libertarianism because it fits their values. (This isn't to say that the right libertarians don't care about making society better.) The impression I get is that left libertarianism is more consequentialist in nature and right libertarianism is more deontological in nature.

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Serpentis-Lucis:
What's the fundamental difference between Right Libertarianism and Left Libertarianism?

What's the fundamental difference between Right Statism and Left Statism?

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"What's the fundamental difference between Right Statism and Left Statism?"

I felt the urge to say there is no difference but that would be imprecise. I see there as two kinds of Right Statism and Left Statism. The Elite Right Statism, these people are the neocons who want to tell everyone else what to do and start wars so they can make money off it, then there are the just the Average Joe Right Statists who want small to medium size government. (The Republican voters who believe the Republican rhetoric.) Then there are the Elite Left Statism which also wants to tell people what to do, and the Average Joe Left Statism which wants to help the poor and fall for the usual Democrat rhetoric.

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John James:

Markets Not Capitalism, for example, really is a great book, especially to give out to lefties to show them we don't want to eat the poor, and Kevin Carson, while economically 'challenged', has made some solid contributions to history and analysis of state intervention that are worthy of study.

I'm pretty sure I've heard that term "Markets Not Capitalism" before.  Pardon my french, but fuck that.  Enough perfectly great words have been co-opted by socialists already.  I'm not content to just surrender one of the most important, (and arguably a cornerstone) of the entire free-market philosophy ("capitalism") and let them fully mutate its understood meaning into what is actually the opposite.  It's funny that you would point to something like that as a positive contribution because in my view that's a negative thing...playing along with (and ultimately acquiescing to) socialists.  I don't care whether you're an anarcho-syndicalist and actually agree with their socialist policy, or whether (you think) you're a libertarian and are just trying to "appeal to" or "reach out to" socialists.  You're not helping.

Let them make "capitalism" a dirty word, and then what?  Then you can't even talk about "capital" anymore, because that's just exploitative property.  Before you know it, you're fighting to maintain control of the word "property"...the very institution that allows our peaceful existence on this planet. 

They're going to take everything they can.  It's a hard enough battle as it is.  I do not see that simply handing over pieces of our language, the very thing we use to communicate these ideas, helps anything.

 I said the book is a good compilation of essays which highlight issues which are often ignored by mainstream libertarians. Whether you think we should keep the word 'capitalism' or not, my point stands, as does my point about Carson's contributions.

As for the correct use of the word 'capitalism', I personally think it's an utterly useless term, and I don't use it in any sense. When people use the term 'capitalism', I'd be willing to bet 99% of them don't mean the free market. They talk of 'capitalism' not as if it's some far off hypothetical, but as if it's already here. Go to Google News and type 'capitalism' and most of the articles entitled  "Capitalism Saved - For Now" or "Politician X Bashes Capitalism". Most people just use it as a term for whatever we have now, I don't see why we should want a genuinely free market to be associated with that.

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Evilsceptic:
I said the book is a good compilation of essays which highlight issues which are often ignored by mainstream libertarians. Whether you think we should keep the word 'capitalism' or not, my point stands, as does my point about Carson's contributions.

Could you please demonstrate what some of these "ignored issues" are?  And more importantly, exactly what unique contributions these people bring to the world that "regular" libertarians haven't?

 

As for the correct use of the word 'capitalism', I personally think it's an utterly useless term, and I don't use it in any sense. When people use the term 'capitalism', I'd be willing to bet 99% of them don't mean the free market.

Gee.  I wonder why.

 

They talk of 'capitalism' not as if it's some far off hypothetical, but as if it's already here.

"Capitalism" does exist.  It is "already here."  "Capitalism" does not inherently mean "market anarchy", and to pretend it does just so that you might be able to claim the word is essentially never used properly and is therefore useless, is wholly dishonest.  "Capitalism" exists in every voluntary transaction that takes place.

Regardless, that is a sidebar debate.  The focus here is the nonsensical term "left-libertarian" and what exactly makes someone who calls himself that different than "regular" libertarians.

You have tried to make a case that there is a difference, and so far I am not at all convinced.  I've asked you multiple times for what this difference actually is, and the most you seem to have been able to come up with is they "care more about other issues".  First of all, z1235 already elucidated the fact that this is essentially a non-answer, as it's essentially a distinction without a difference.

Second, I've ask you if that's really the answer to my question, and you offer no response.  I asked you what exactly these "important contributions" "left-libertarianism" has made to the libertarian movement, and you haven't named any.  You've simply restated that contributions were made and they were important.

So again,

Could you please demonstrate what some of these "important contributions" that "left-libertarianism" has made?  (And of course, differentiate and explain how these contributions are unique to "left-libertarianism".)

 

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Could you please demonstrate what some of these "important contributions" that "left-libertarianism" has made?  (And of course, differentiate and explain how these contributions are unique to "left-libertarianism".)

 

The word "left" placed directly in front of the word libertarian - which make it  the most revolutionary (and leftists love to be revolutionary) contribution to political theory ever.

PS:  If you want some links where we were just as confused as you are about what the hell LL means, there are some pretty funny threads I can link where there was an LL influx - and no one had any clue as to what the hell they were saying.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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I have no clue as to what you are saying.

 

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I'm saying left liberterians have no clue what they are saying - it's just sloganing

 

oh, and if you want links from about a year and a half ago when there was a LL influx; there were threads of us asking what left libs where trying to say - and they never were able to say anything.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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vive la insurrection:
asking what left libs where trying to say - and they never were able to say anything.

That's basically what I feel like is happening here in this thread.

 

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John James:

I have no clue as to what you are saying.

 

 

I think what they're saying is that;

suppose we are in a hypothetical free market private paradise.  They're still going to call you out, and call you a dick, for being a raicst (not to say YOU are, just the general "you" as in a hypothetical person).

In States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. ... In short, a law everywhere and for everything!

~Peter Kropotkin

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agisthos replied on Fri, May 18 2012 10:00 AM

LL's seem to not have their emotional and analytical sides integrated. For example the left side of the brain, the analytical side, understands the economics of private property and libertarianism, but the right hand emotional side wants forceful intervention to right percieved and imaginary injustices.

What most distinguishes anarcho-libertarians in my view is the ability to reject personal biases based on emotion and envy as being irrational. For example, when I make a market  transaction with a wealthy business to buy some goods, yes I FEEL they have authority over me, yes I FEEL they are dictating the terms of the exchange, yes I FEEL it is all unfair and I should just be handed the goods without having to work. But I know this to be irrational.

The LL's just gives in to these emotions, they make constant appeals to social justice, talk about heirachies, bosses, inequality e.t.c A lot of it sounds no different to what Marxists and progressives talk about.

But when you push a LL as to whether we should violate property rights or use coercive force to achieve these aims, most of them quickly revert back to their analytical framework, and deny that such a thing would be a good idea.

I agree with EvilSkeptic that there is something to be learned from them, Kevin Carson, Guy Chartier e.t.c makes great points about State Capitalism that is very often lacking in the libertarian movement. Roderick Long is the least irrational and I do not consider him a LL like a lot of the rest. 'Markets Not Capitalism' is still a great book.

In my opinion, all the things Left-Libertarians worry about are solved by the spontaneous order arising from private property rights and the free market anyway. The fact that LL's cannot see this means they still cling to the Marxist theory of exploitive capital accumulation, even if they do not know it.

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My personal disagreement stems from the labor theory of value and absentee ownership (though I have yet to read Carson's new work on property).

I think C4SS is a ver valuable tool. I personally enjoy their ideas on micro-manufacturing and networking. Co-op and Communal workshops may be a good alternative for some people.

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