Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

Libertarian Socialism?

Answered (Not Verified) This post has 0 verified answers | 177 Replies | 12 Followers

Top 50 Contributor
1,711 Posts
Points 29,285
SkepticalMetal posted on Sun, Oct 7 2012 7:09 PM

Lately I have been curious to know about libertarian socialism. The two terms seem to contradict each other, as I have absolutely no clue how a socialist society could exist without government coercion. The same goes for libertarian communism.

Could someone give me a simple breakdown of how this could possibly work?

  • | Post Points: 95

All Replies

Top 100 Contributor
871 Posts
Points 21,030
eliotn replied on Sat, Oct 13 2012 9:46 AM

"Anarchism simply means- the idea of no master, that is- of no hierarchy, as espoused by the first man who called himself an anarchist- Proudhon, so "anarcho-capitalist" is in fact a contradiction, being that capitalism is an economic system that has hierarchy in it."

The thing is, there is anarcho in anarcho-capitalist, as a rejection of state/involuntary hierarchy.  The idea of no master is still there, but people are free to agree to form and break hierarchies with people contractually.  The idea of no master for everyone is a self-contradiction unless arrived at by choice; by forcing people to have no master, you have become master over them.  Anarchno-capitalists don't seek to prevent all hierarchy.

Nitpick, but capitalism, freedom and free trade without government intervention, does not imply the existance of hierarchy unless people agree to it.  Having some people with more wealth and others with less is not hierarchy.

"Socialism is defined by workers' self-management (there being no boss) ... Socialism is an economic system that is non-hierarchical, where workers are free to organize according to mutualism, collectivism or communism;"

This is a contradiction.  Workers are free to organize, yet at the same time they can't choose not to self-manage or have a boss.  There must be a hiearchy if you want to prevent workers from choosing to have a boss, if only to require them to self-manage.

Schools are labour camps.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
165 Posts
Points 2,745

stsoc:

Yes, afaik, the explanation is- because scarcity (in a defintion of there not being unlimited everything) exists. But as I said, there are socialists who do accept property (in a very different definition then the capitalist one) as an ethical cathegory, me being one of them, even though I am for (voluntary) communism. The main socialist criticism of capitalism is that workers have their products of labor stolen in capitalism (actually any system where they have a boss), and when we talk about theft, we pressupose some form of property.

 

Scarcity is part of the reason. Under Anarcho-Communism the means of production is shared by a group of people, if I'm understanding it correctly, something that sounds fair. From my experience people aren't good at both sharing and taking care of what is shared. The best example I can think of is public restrooms in most places, the other day I walked through the door only to be hit in the face with a terrible odor, after looking around it was clear why. There was (forgive the crude language) a huge piece of excrement laying beside one of the toilets. (I almost felt sorry for the person which it came out of.) While visiting people's homes I have never seen something that bad. Yes, this is anecdotal evidence, but psychology has explained why people generally take poor care of things that aren't theirs. Reason being the more people that uses a machine, room, etc., the less responsibility each person feels they have to take care of it. (A disturbing study shows that if a large group of people see someone being beaten, raped, or murdered the less likely any of them are to help, thinking that since others are around that someone else will help the person being victimized.) With this in mind one can easily come to the conclusion that a society where all of the means of production, are owned by all people, that the means of production will not be taken care of, because each person will feel little responsibility to do so.

There's my two cents on the subject.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
4,922 Posts
Points 79,590

stsoc:
Libertarian socialism may sound like a contradiction when using terms in the meaning they don't historically have and are not consistent with their original definitions. That is to say that hijacking and redefinition of certain term have happened.

Are people free or not free to define words as they see fit?

stsoc:
so when using terms in their correct meaning, libertarian socialism is not a contradiction, but a pleonasm, being that libertarianism in it's real meaning of anarcho-communism is just a type of socialism.

There's no such thing as a correct/real meaning of a word.

stsoc:
Anarchism simply means- the idea of no master, that is- of no hierarchy

What do you mean by "hierarchy"?

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
192 Posts
Points 4,965
stsoc replied on Sat, Oct 13 2012 11:18 AM

From my experience people aren't good at both sharing and taking care of what is shared. The best example I can think of is public restrooms in most places

Which is an example that doesn't have anything to do with communism, being that people using a public restroom consider the restroom "someone else's", or simply state's. Roomates sharing a bathroom would be a better example.

With this in mind one can easily come to the conclusion that a society where all of the means of production, are owned by all people, that the means of production will not be taken care of, because each person will feel little responsibility to do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPl_Y3Qdb7Y

Anarchno-capitalists don't seek to prevent all hierarchy.

Meaning the "anarcho" part should not be there.

Workers are free to organize, yet at the same time they can't choose not to self-manage or have a boss.

I didn't say "workers are free to organize, period". Workers are free to organize into mutualism, collectivism or communism. In socialism the workers are not "free" to organize into slavery, feudalism or capitalism.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
4,922 Posts
Points 79,590

stsoc, I'd appreciate a response to my post.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
305 Posts
Points 7,165

 Workers are free to organize into mutualism, collectivism or communism. In socialism the workers are not "free" to organize into slavery, feudalism or capitalism.

Under what definition of "free" is this possible?

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
10 Posts
Points 290

As a former libertarian socialist, I may be able to help with an answer. The word "libertarian" was actually invented by socialists in the 19th century. This was because the word "anarchist" was outlawed from what I remember. But what would a libertarian socialist economy or society be like?

When I was an anarchist, I and my fellow revolutionaries envisioned a classless society where everyone had equal rights and equal opportunities. Socialism is an economic system that is, by definition, classless. This means that there is no capitalist class and no working class. The means of production are collectively owned, whether it's by the workers, by a given municipality, or a given district. Everyone had equal say if they were equally affected by a decision-making process but how much you got to consume depended on how much of an effort you made in your workplace. In a socialist society, everyone has personal property in the sense of having clothes, food, personal belongings such as CDs, watches, and so forth. But no one had private productive property such as a way of acquiring wealth. Everyone was rewarded according to the work they peformed but no one made a profit. I was especially attracted to the idea that libetarian socialism was essentially an economic system based upon mutual aid and cooperation instead of predatory, cutthroat compeition that I associated with capitalism. 

How is it libertarian? It is libertarian in the sense that there was no capitalist ruling class or state. The state, we believed, existed to protect the property of the capitalists who used such property to earn profits and acquire wealth. The state didn't exist and so there was nothing to commit force against anyone and violate their personal property. Law enforcement still existed, though, to protect individuals against force or fraud by their coworkers or fellow citizens. But there was no state and no capitalists to acquire profits or use the state to protect their profits against theft, force, or fraud. 

I was personally attracted to the "Participatory Economics" of Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel, although I liked the "Communalist" views of the late Murray Bookchin. 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
192 Posts
Points 4,965
stsoc replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 10:33 AM

stsoc, I'd appreciate a response to my post.

Being that you think that there are no correct meanings of words, and seem to think that it's ok to define words in any way one wants, firstly- I can't know what are you saying, you're typing symbols that are latin letters and are using their sequences that are words in english, but I can't know what you want to represent by them, but, if I do assume that in this case you use English as I and other people with common sense do, I don't have anything to talk about with someone with a different reality paradigm, much like I have nothing to talk about with a racists who defines words "man" or "human" as encompassing only white race. When you come to some sort of realist view of language, we can talk.

Under what definition of "free" is this possible?

Propertarians see capitalism as ok, some also thing the same about slavery.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 100 Contributor
871 Posts
Points 21,030
eliotn replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 1:02 PM

"Which is an example that doesn't have anything to do with communism, being that people using a public restroom consider the restroom "someone else's", or simply state's. Roomates sharing a bathroom would be a better example."

Problem with equating roomates sharing a bathroom is that there is far less people sharing that bathroom, and they are constantly with each other.  How is this categorically similar to many people sharing one thing in communism.

Since we are talking about words, and arguing about semantics, time to dig out http://lesswrong.com/lw/od/37_ways_that_words_can_be_wrong/: 37 ways that words can be wrong.

"24. You have only one word, but there are two or more different things-in-reality, so that all the facts about them get dumped into a single undifferentiated mental bucket."

There is a difference between people working for a boss because both parties want this, or because he has to since someone will physically attack him if he doesn't.  Similarly there is a difference between a society where aggressive violence is banned, or where boss-worker relationships are banned.  Trying to lump both of these things into the same thing is really confusing.  That is why we are trying to ask you to define how it is categorized.

"6. You try to define a word using words, in turn defined with ever-more-abstract words, without being able to point to an example."

Look at your previous definition of anarchy, and anarchism:

"Similarly with words anarchism and socialism. Anarchism simply means- the idea of no master, that is- of no hierarchy, as espoused by the first man who called himself an anarchist- Proudhon, so "anarcho-capitalist" is in fact a contradiction, being that capitalism is an economic system that has hierarchy in it."

The problem with this is that it isn't clear how you are trying to categorize systems that have no master/no hiearchy, which is why Autolykos is asking you to define it.  It might be better to instead categorize what is and isn't anarchy.  I use anarchy in the context of no publicly enforced government.  Since almost every place has a government that forces people there to abide by laws unless they leave, I do not consider those places to be anarchistic.  As Autolykos said, "What do you mean by "hiearchy"?", if you define anarchy as no hiearchy?

"I didn't say "workers are free to organize, period". Workers are free to organize into mutualism, collectivism or communism. In socialism the workers are not "free" to organize into slavery, feudalism or capitalism."

But, slavery and feudalism aren't things that, by definition, both parties choose to do voluntarily.  Anyways, we are at problem #6 again.  Instead of listing off words, can you give a list of examples of organizations that would be permitted or forbidden then?

"Being that you think that there are no correct meanings of words"

"16. You think a word has a meaning, as a property of the word itself; rather than there being a label that your brain associates to a particular concept."

There is no "correct" meaning of a word, they are merely labels.  Of course, there might be generally accepted labels.

"seem to think that it's ok to define words in any way one wants"

"37. You think that definitions can't be "wrong", or that "I can define a word any way I like!""

However, this does not follow from there can only be one meaning as the property of words itself.  Its important to be clear but there isn't necessarily a single, "correct" definition.

"Propertarians see capitalism as ok, some also thing the same about slavery."

The question is, what is the difference between capitalism and all these other ways of organization that you think are ok?

Schools are labour camps.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
2,258 Posts
Points 34,610

Willy Truth:

 Workers are free to organize into mutualism, collectivism or communism. In socialism the workers are not "free" to organize into slavery, feudalism or capitalism.

Under what definition of "free" is this possible?

This is true, actually. It just requires voluntary organization into these structures. So, the definition would be, under voluntarism.

Most of these structures are artificial and un-workable however and would quickly break-down without imposition from without and support by coercion, so we don't expect they would last in a free society.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
539 Posts
Points 11,275

"And you have freedom of religion only if you have the right to build a church or the like. What use would it be to a jew to have freedom of religion if the government owned everything and did not allow the jew to make matzah balls?"

 

Libertarian-Socialism is about workers' control of the means of production rather than state control. So if a community wanted to build a church for example, there would be nothing to stop them so long as the machinery employed in this endeavor was held by a representative body. Be it a workers' council or a community co-op, I do not see why it would not be possible to build temples, churches, mosques, or any other such amenity.
 
I'm taking a few liberties here by speaking on behalf of left-libertarians btw. This is just me guessing what the response would be from a left-libertarian.
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
539 Posts
Points 11,275

"From my experience people aren't good at both sharing and taking care of what is shared. The best example I can think of is public restrooms in most places, the other day I walked through the door only to be hit in the face with a terrible odor, after looking around it was clear why. There was (forgive the crude language) a huge piece of excrement laying beside one of the toilets."

Socialism doesn't mean 'sharing' everything like a big happy family of stoners, it is about holding to account those who wield power because of their ownership of the means of production. I'm not  sure a toilet can be considered as a part of the means of production, so there is no reason why socialists will not be able to sh*t in palatial, rose scented surroundings if they so choose.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 500 Contributor
165 Posts
Points 2,745

Consumariat:

Socialism doesn't mean 'sharing' everything like a big happy family of stoners, it is about holding to account those who wield power because of their ownership of the means of production. I'm not  sure a toilet can be considered as a part of the means of production, so there is no reason why socialists will not be able to sh*t in palatial, rose scented surroundings if they so choose.

Sharing was just another way of saying the means of production is collectively owned. Anything used by a large group of people, which isn't owned by any particular one of them, won't be taken care of as well. (That was the point being made.) Someone can even test this under controlled conditions if they want, I'd bet what I've said would hold true, but believe what you want.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
2,258 Posts
Points 34,610
Anenome replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 11:34 PM

In practice, "collective ownership" still means oligarchical control by a few power players in that society. True collective ownership is a material impossibility unless someone invents a way to create a literal hivemind between people.

Socialism is impossible on many levels. It is, for this reason, a truly Utopian ideology, in the sense that it is unobtainable.

By contrast, libertarianism is not utopian, it is in fact perfectly obtainable. What remains is simply to bring it about and, I strongly suspect, the dominoes will begin to fall shortly thereafter. Within 100 years, we could be living within a fully libertarian world--as long as we get that first place or places running right now.

 

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
539 Posts
Points 11,275

" but believe what you want."

Lol. Erm.. ok. The rest of the post was heading in an interesting direction too. Oh well.

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 3 of 12 (178 items) < Previous 1 2 3 4 5 Next > ... Last » | RSS