I still think this whole leftism thing is confused. Subordination unless anchored to aggression is vague and not necessarily unlibertarian, for example. This is mixing the precise, narrow field of libertarianism with other concerns.
MBH: “There are so many bridges between leftism and libertarianism that I find it silly for either side to rule the other out.”
May be right but it’s amazing how some sides see it differently. Gene Healy, e.g., of Cato, today in an editorial writes, “What lessons can the GOP, nominally the party of limited government, learn from all this?”
The very question presupposes the Republicans are a more natural ally to libertarians. It also implies they are nominally for limited government–I don’t think they even nominally are. How can you favor social security and war and muscular gov’t and be for limited government? They are not.
When the Republicans are in power the left seems to have more potential to convert to our side: their sympathies seem better; and their biggest weakness seems to be economic ignorance (unfortunately, similar economic fallacies are also perpetuated by some “left-libertarians”). But when the left comes to power, the leftists–most of them, not all–show they are as bad as or worse than the Republicans in hypocrisy and turning a blind eye to–or favoring–tyranny. The right seems better when the left is in power, because it seems like they are a bit less dishonest when they give lip service to quasi-limited state mantras.
The left are emotivisit, dishonest, hypocritical, and economically illiterate. The right are nationalist, religious, insincere, pro-war, and more socialist than they’ll admit (socialist in the pejorative sense, that is!).
The truth is both are terrible. Equally terrible–who can say. They are terrible in different ways. Neither is a friend of liberty. Neither is libertarian. Left and right are both statist; and this is a classic problem with the left-right spectrum as pointed out by libertarians. It’s not that there are no distinctions; it’s that there are few relevant distinctions between them, from the libertarian perspective. From the libertarian perspective, both left and right are statist–both favor institutionalized aggression. Of course looking at it this way requires a clear-headed return to our libertarian roots: an awareness that what we are opposed to is, in fact, aggression–not “oppression,” not “subordination,” not “bossism.”
And for the same reason the left-right spectrum itself rests on unlibertarian presuppositions, there is little to be gained by confusion and distraction by the right- and left-libertarian subclasses. I am neither right not left qua libertarian. I don’t think most people here are either, despite protests to the contrary. To the extent someone is seriously leftist, to that extent they deviate from libertarianism, in my view.
Some more of my comments on Rodericks’ The ParALLax View:
“the use of the term “socialism” to refer to movements that favour radical worker empowerment by free-market/non-state/non-aggressive means has been around for over a century.”
That’s fine, but it has a different connotation now, so I think calling a strand of libertarianism “socialist” is confusing.
“I myself tend to avoid both “capitalism” and “socialism” as terms with too much confusing baggage.”
Me, too; though I think “capitalism’s” modern meaning is much closer to libertarianism–less confusing–than is “socialism.”
“Such as Rothbard, who described Marx as “relatively libertarian” and Lenin as “congenial to the libertarian”? Or Hans Hoppe, who maintains that “the theses that constitute the hard core of the Marxist theory of history” are “all … essentially correct”?”
Well played, Sir Roderick–well played.
“Well, there are connections between Marxism and Austrian thought too. A number of writers have pointed out similarities between Marx and Mises/Hayek on the business cycle. Sciabarra has written three books on parallels between Marx and libertarian thought generally. And George Reisman — no willing Marxist propagandist I presume — defends, and argues that Böhm-Bawerk held, a version of the cost-of-production theory of value.”
It is the adoption of his fallacious views that I oppose.
“‘I have trouble taking the left-libertarian program seriously.”
“But you do spend much time attending to it, no? And time is our most absolutely scarce commodity… there must be some reason you like reading us.”
As I have said, it is primarily out of respect for people like Roderick that I do.
“I’m more interested in Carson as a brilliant thinker than one whose specific program is necessarily systematically right.”
I can appreciate that. While I place more emphasis on getting it systematically right.
“I certainly think that the currently hegemonic formulations of libertarianism excuse classist heirarchies, corporate statisms, and neo-imperialism. These confusions are sometimes completely innocently intended, sometimes a symptom of unconscious privilege, and sometimes a culpable product of vile socioeconomic authoritarianism, with Hoppe being the most obviously demonic example. In such a context, the appearance of a powerful and original thinker like Kevin Carson is a blessing, and his work is a prominent part of a necessary correction whose time has come. Carson provides a shift in perspective to show us a libertarianism in which the working class gets to seriously sit at the table of radical individualism. This is good stuff, and his lesson of ‘vulgar libertarianism’ is invaluable.”
Hoppe is a wonderful person and significant libertarian thinker; applying the word “demonic” to him is insane.
“Stephan, I don’t know that I understand your position. Are you saying that what we mean by left-libertarian is not distinguishable from what we mean by right-libertarian, or that left-libertarianism isn’t libertarianism, or that left-libertarianism is a back-seat driver to right-libertarianism, or something else?”
I think the left-right spectrum is confusing and useless. I think it groups unlreated ideas and characteristics in an ad hoc, unprinipled way-and this is true for “right-libertarian/left-libertarina.” To the extent “left” really means something, it deviates from libertarianism, or is beyond it (bringing in the thickism debate). To the extent it means something that is compatible with libertariansim, it is not “left,” it is just part of libertarianism.
I think the most charitable spin I can put on left-libertarainism is either a useful reminder not to conflate modern corporatism with what would exist in a free market–that is, to not be too vulgar; and/or an activist emphasis. But the latter doesn’t interest me since I find this is what leads people to compromise, sell-out, rah rah boosterism, and self-delusion.