Liberty and the Left

Freeman editor Sheldon Richman has published a sympathetic overview of left-libertarianism in The American Conservative. (Yes, a magazine with the word "conservative" in its name has run an article celebrating the fusion of two alternatives to conservatism. The political spectrum isn't as linear as it sometimes seems.) This isn't the "liberaltarianism" of Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson; it's both further left and more anti-statist than that. It isn't the collectivist anarchism of Bakunin either (though that's been praised in The American Conservative too), or the "left-libertarian" Lockeanism of Michael Otsuka. It's these guys:

These passages—the first by independent scholar Kevin Carson, the second by Auburn University philosophy professor Roderick Long—read as though they come not from libertarians but from radical leftists, even Marxists. That conclusion would be only half wrong: these words were written by pro-free-market left-libertarians. (The preferred term for their economic ideal is “freed market,” coined by William Gillis.)

These authors—and a growing group of colleagues—see themselves as both libertarians and leftists. They are standard libertarians in that they believe in the moral legitimacy of private ownership and free exchange and oppose all government interference in personal and economic affairs—a groundless, pernicious dichotomy. Yet they are leftists in that they share traditional left-wing concerns, about exploitation and inequality for example, that are largely ignored, if not dismissed, by other libertarians. Left-libertarians favor worker solidarity vis-à-vis bosses, support poor people’s squatting on government or abandoned property, and prefer that corporate privileges be repealed before the regulatory restrictions on how those privileges may be exercised. They see Walmart as a symbol of corporate favoritism—supported by highway subsidies and eminent domain—view the fictive personhood of the limited-liability corporation with suspicion, and doubt that Third World sweatshops would be the "best alternative" in the absence of government manipulation.

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  • Tyler||

    I'll just leave this here:

    A left-libertarian is exactly the same as any other person who chooses to put an adjective before the word "libertarian" - not a libertarian.

    A libertarian is a person who respects all choices made by individuals insofar as they do not harm others. An adjective-libertarian is a person who does not respect certain choices. Left-libertarians don't respect the choices made by people whose lifestyles don't fit in with their leftist ideologies. Right-libertarians don't respect the choices made by people whose lifestyles don't fit in with their rightist ideologies. Libertarianism is mutually exclusive to both left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism.

    -pssvr

  • Tyler||

    That is to say that once you get past the no-harm principle, it doesn't really make sense to then start labeling your actions as left or right or whatever.

  • The left||

    A libertarian is a person who respects all choices made by individuals insofar as they do not harm others

    Externalities!

  • cynical||

    Why? Are you suggesting that there is no qualitative difference beyond that? More to the point, priority matters.

    Getting from here to libertopia is a huge undertaking, and the order in which we tackle problems in not an irrelevant question -- aside from the question of which offenses against liberty are more grievous, there's also the practical fact that while libertarianism is a great way to preserve the stability of an already-free society, it can actually harm the cause of freedom when poorly introduced into a non-libertarian society, for example by disrupting the balance between two opposing non-libertarian forces that mitigated the effects of each other.

    Case in point, despite being the easier battle to fight, removing only the individual mandate would almost assuredly destroy the private insurance industry (or destroy it faster) and lead to direct, complete government control of healthcare.

    Or, consider introducing private property rights into a society that essentially lacks them, but doing it in such a way that screws the people that actually possessed and had informal property rights in things.

  • GILMORE||

    A libertarian is a person who respects all choices made by individuals insofar as they do not harm others

    ...

    I respect your choice to make up your own freaking definitions for words you use; i expect you to respect my rejection of your oversimplified, reductive definition in favor of one more more accurately reflecting the diversity of the populace that huddle under the (small l) libertarian umbrella.

    Meaning, you first need to define 'harm', and 'choices'... and do so in a way that clearly provides for all possible circumstances. If you can't think of *any* exception to such a simple precept, you're not trying hard enough.

    I think Wikipedia does a pretty good job of encompassing the whole range...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian

  • Dog's New Clothes||

    You didn't read the article, did you?

  • Tyler||

    No I get it, beyond the first principles they have a few more ideas... which I don't think is really much more important than whether they prefer Star Wars or Star Trek. As long as the first conditions are met I'm happy. I just don't like further adjective-libertarian labels.

    Its just as of late I've seen way too many flat out statist liberals (not referring to this article) arguing for a global military and single player healthcare that still declare themselves libertarian. Hyphenating the label feels like giving them an inch and they take a mile.... considering what they did with the term liberal, it upsets me.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    If calling Roderick Long a left-libertarian gets more left wingers to not want to steal my shit, then I'm all for the label. He can voluntarily have an awareness-raising singalong at a hippy camp and talk about the patriararchy all he wants too after that, and he is still one of the good guys.

  • ||

    But there are many actual, fundamental differences between left-libertarians and right-libertarians. Left-libertarians are prone to oppose private ownership of land, believe that the corporate entity is an illegitimate, statist socialization of risk, hold social mobility as an additional, freedom-reinforcing value (as correcting inequality is one of the easiest justifications for statism), support voluntary collectivist/community based alternatives to government, see hardly any merit in Ayn Rand's philosophy beyond perhaps the virtue of non-conformity, etc. Right-libertarians want anarchocapitalism now, damn the social consequences and don't address fundamental problems that got society to the point where we are today, whereas many left-libertarians believe breaking the largely government-created cycle of poverty needs to happen in transition, in order to be able to fully realize a free economy and society.

  • ||

    that got society government to the point where it is today

  • Frank||

    A "libertarian" abides by the principle of non-aggression. Therefore a "libertarian" is an anarchist. Labels are subjective so use whatever you like. No adjectives needed.

  • ||

    Depends. If the argument is that there would be far more aggression and initiation of force in an anarchist society, the basic initiation of force of taxation (perhaps on land value) can be justified for a standardized legal system, since not every action can be contracted. In an anarchist society, one could have a wealthy "victim" of secondhand smoke who argues their rights are violated, and they hire a mafia to kill the smoker and then protect them from a revenge hit by an alternative mafia. If you like the idea of a society where the rich are the only ones who can afford protection of their rights and administer punishment, the reality would be far from a free society.

  • MBH||

    A "libertarian" that refuses to be further classified can be safely labeled "right-wing" before their political affiliation of choice.

    "Libertarianism is mutually exclusive to both left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism." Yeah! And 'human' is mutually exclusive to both 'men' and 'women'!

  • ||

    Yet they are leftists in that they share traditional left-wing concerns, about exploitation and inequality for example, that are largely ignored, if not dismissed, by other libertarians. Left-libertarians favor worker solidarity vis-à-vis bosses, support poor people’s squatting on government or abandoned property, and prefer that corporate privileges be repealed before the regulatory restrictions on how those privileges may be exercised. They see Walmart as a symbol of corporate favoritism—supported by highway subsidies and eminent domain—view the fictive personhood of the limited-liability corporation with suspicion, and doubt that Third World sweatshops would be the "best alternative" in the absence of government manipulation.

    Okay, there are a couple things in there I disagree with (I'm indifferent to worker solidarity and disagree with the sweatshop statement based purely on empirical data) but on the whole isn't this just perpetrating the myth that libertarians don't give a shit about anybody else? I'm sick and tired of this bullshit about how liberals are caring and we're not when we're the only ones with the fucking stones to question the wars in Iraq and Iran and the War on Drugs... things that negatively impact people a billion fucking times more than fucking squatter's rights.

  • ||

    Okay, to be fair many of my liberal friends question Iraq, Iran and the WOD; they just continue to vote the status quo while paying lip service to those issues.

  • Paul||

    Interesting, I don't know anyone on the left (personally) that even pays lip service to ending the WOD-- I'm guessing because that lip service would conflict mightily with the War on Tobacco products/smoking and the war on Obesity/trans-fats/unhealthful foods/personal choices that have healthcare externalities (as snarkily noted above).

  • The "other" Left, I guess.||

    "Interesting, I don't know anyone on the left (personally) that even pays lip service to ending the WOD"

    Then you just have to read more. Real leftists (not neo-liberals) have been very vocal, if not the most vocal about opposing the WOD for quite some time. The argument generally being that this policy, as well as the WOD's ugly cousin the "war on pleasure", basically kicks the working poor in balls so the middle and upper classes can feel better about themselves.

    Anyways, what has described "Left-libertarians" seems strikingly similar to the orthodox, or Orwellian leftism of old. The original anti-statists, if you will.

  • Paul||

    "Interesting, I don't know anyone on the left (personally) that even pays lip service to ending the WOD

    Then you just have to read more.

    I don't know them personally if I'm reading about it. But I do appreciate the point.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Try Counterpunch. Plenty of real leftists there.

  • Paul||

    I rarely get over to Counterpunch, but I have seen a bunch of stuff on Gardner defending that smoking pot doesn't cause cancer. So I take it they want to legalize (medicalize?) marijuana. How did most Counterpunch voters vote in the '08 presidential?

  • Dog's New Clothes||

    My uneducated guess is that most of the writers didn't vote. And there were probably a couple Nader guys.

  • Dog's New Clothes||

  • Zeb||

    I know lots of people of the leftier persuasion who are quite firmly against the anti-tobacco/obesity/war on drugs stuff. You need to get out more.
    The really sad thing, though, is how many of them,when pressed on the WOD end up saying that pot should be legal, but those other nasty drugs still need to be tightly controlled.

  • ||

    And how many of those people have at some point in their lives used those other nasty drugs?

    That is the diference between the lefty drug warior and the rightwing one. The rightwing types really do hate drugs and usually havne't or won't touch the stuff. They have all sorts of crazy ideas about the evil weed and such. Lefties in contrast are often recreational drug users. They just think it should be illegal because lesser beings really can't handle it like they can.

  • ||

    I actually don't think there's any difference between the alcohol-drinking Righty who wants to keep all illegal drugs illegal and the pot-smoking Lefty who wants to legalize pot but keep all other illicit drugs illegal. In both cases, they're basically saying, "So long as I have my drug of choice, fuck everybody else." The only difference is the drug of choice is already legal for the Righty and it's not for the Lefty. But both are equally ignorant.

  • Tyler2||

    Totally agree. I think Fred says it best.

    "Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all." - Frederic Bastiat

  • Thomas Paine||

    Sounds like common sense

  • robc||

    Im with you. Also, that description didnt seem particularly leftist to me.

  • vaguelyhumanoid||

    They do care about the things you mentioned, they just care about other things as well.

  • GILMORE||

    While probably having no connection to the above-discussed flavor of 'liberaltarianism'... the impression i've gotten from the NH Free-State Project people (the Keene folks) is that they seem to have emerged from some kind of leftier origins... admittedly this is just an impression, and I know very little about them other than seeing a few videos on youtube. Maybe its just their particular 'activist' style, which I've never really associated with libertoids, who (in my experience) tend to shy away from 'movements' as a rule. Or maybe its that the Keene people tend to dress like they're perpetually in the parking lot before a Phish show. (maybe thats just everyone in NH..for all I know)

    Perhaps I just got used to 'movement' libertarians being more like the Paultards; a disparate collection of young Lew Rockwell types, older Lyndon LaRouche kooks, and a smattering of people from all over the spectrum. I have a preconception of libertarians being a motley, disparate, irascable bunch by nature; whereas the Keene types seem more communitarian, and more culturally homogenous in their brand of anti-institutionalism. (i.e. generally, 'all different in the same way')

    But anyway Id be happy to hear from anyone with any experience with the Keene crowd as to their impressions of whether the 'liberaltarian' label applies to them... or what exactly is their deal.

  • Paul||

    Speaking for myself, I'm not much of a "joiner". Most of the libertarians I know personally are also not "joiners".

  • Brett L||

    I consider myself part of Bill Hicks' old "People-who-hate-people" party. Libertarians are the closest thing I can find in real life.

  • ||

    Actually it has been my experience that the Democrats resembles the people who hate people party the most. They hate what they are and choose to use the state to bend and force them into something they might like.

    but maybe you are thinking of Florance King's Misanthropic version of hating people rather then the Democrats hating people for what they are but thinking they can use government force to change them into something they might like.

    In which case then you should know that King is a monarchist.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But anyway Id be happy to hear from anyone with any experience with the Keene crowd as to their impressions of whether the 'liberaltarian' label applies to them... or what exactly is their deal.

    They just started a food co-op.

    'nuff said. :)

  • GILMORE||

    Food co-op, ey?

    Yeah. that sort of fits with my impression of them. hippy-libertarians.

  • robc||

    Not my crowd, but preferable to hippy-communists.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, how the hell did so many hippies become communists? Communist is pretty much as pro-establishment as you can get. Was it the beards that fooled them? Or was it just the same problem understanding the word "voluntary" that so many people seem to have.

  • ||

    Hippies believe the floating head of Oz, refusing to recognize the wizened gnome behind the curtain--no matter how many times it is flung aside.

  • ching chung chang||

    So many people these days seem to want to describe themselves as left-libertarian, libertarian-conservative, etc. It's as if many ideologues are suddenly waking up to the truths of libertarianism, but they just can't let go of the crowd they've been traveling with for so many years. Thus, this fusion bullshit . . .

    I also think its motivated in part by the fact that most people simply fear true liberty. These fusionists know they are seeing the truth in libertarian thought, but shy away from fully embracing it due to the fact that they are pussies.

  • Paul||

  • Tyler||

    Totally, thats only reason I get defensive. I don't know if they are doing it to be hip or whittle away what the word means... but it scares me.

  • vaguelyhumanoid||

    What the fuck are you talking about? Left-libertarians are market anarchists... they're more libertarian then most people in the LP, Cato, etc.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    things that negatively impact people a billion fucking times more than fucking squatter's rights.

    A case of what is seen and what is not seen, maybe. The gubmit owns shitloads of land in the western US, effectively blocking all usage. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....ern-US.png) Propping up land value in the entire continent, propping up property tax revenues, propping up the social power of incumbent land owners, etc. There would be radical social changes if it could be homesteaded. It affects everything, you just don't see it because the feds squatted on it "first".

  • Robert||

    And what's funny about it is that it all goes back to European monarchs. They commissioned explorers, then claimed lands for settlement companies indefinitely westward from the Atlantic. The British crown wound up with it, then their grantee companies became independent and continued to press their claims westward until the US gov't got them to cede their claims to the USA. And that's where it sits today -- a succession of claims emanating from crowns long before those lands were even seen, and passed down to favored parties.

    What's really hilarious is that the (Hudson's) Bay Company keeps that name to run a retail chain business in Canada after long since having lost their crown-granted privilege.

  • ||

    I'm shocked, shocked to discover there's more than one type of libertarian! this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  • ||

    Don't count on it. See above:

    Tyler|2.3.11 @ 12:51PM|#

    I'll just leave this here:

    A left-libertarian is exactly the same as any other person who chooses to put an adjective before the word "libertarian" - not a libertarian.
  • Um||

    there's more than one type of libertarian

    Some "libertarians" believe that there is more than one reality, more than one truth. These moral and epistemological relativists call themselves "anarcho-libertarians" and, contradictorily, believe that theirs is the one true libertarianism.

  • PIRS||

    "These moral and epistemological relativists call themselves "anarcho-libertarians" and, contradictorily, believe that theirs is the one true libertarianism."

    I am an anarcho-capitalist and no, I do not believe that there is more than one reality or one truth. There may be some such people but I have never personally met any of them. I have never come across any writings by fellow anarcho-capitalists that would lead me to believe that they believe such. But, it is possible such people exist. What would lead you to make such a broad generalization about people who support alternatives to government coercion?

  • ||

    sounds like an Objectivist.

  • PIRS||

    "sounds like an Objectivist."

    I used to be one. It was the novel Atlas Shrugged that started me on my path from right-conservative to libertarian. I am thankful to Ayn Rand in many ways. But sometimes her philsophy is a double-edged-sword. I asked the question the way that I did in hopes that this poster will think about his statement and that he will “Check his premises.” One of my favorite quotes from Ayn Rand is the three word statement “Check your premises.” I hope that Um checks his.

  • ||

    No, I'm saying "Um" sounds like an Objectivist.

  • WasabiPeas||

    You can't be a real libertarian unless you say that other types of libertarianism are worse than anything.

  • PIRS||

    "They see Walmart as a symbol of corporate favoritism—supported by highway subsidies and eminent domain—"

    I am well aware that Walmart uses eminant domain to seize land from innocent people. I too oppose that very strongly. But I don't understand the point about highway subsidies. How does Walmart benefit from those any more than a mom & pop bakery shop? Yes, I, like Walter Block, would prefer a free market roads system but that is not what we have now. So how does Walmart benefit more from roads money than anyone else?

  • Paul||

    I am well aware that Walmart uses eminant domain to seize land from innocent people.

    Nitpick: WalMart doesn't use eminent domain to seize land from innocent people. The government uses eminent domain to seize land from innocent people upon WalMart's request.

    There's a seriously big difference.

  • PIRS||

    This is the difference between me, personally, taking a baseball bat to knock out someone's kneecaps and hiring someone to do it for me.

  • Paul||

    No, the difference is bigger than that. Corporations and private citizens will always try to manipulate the government to their end. The problem we have is that our government(s) are too willing and receptive.

    I understand what you're saying, and it certainly is reasonable to be mad, annoyed-whatever- with WalMart, but the real anger should be directed at the agents of the state who are supposed to represent you, the one who's property is being taken.

    That's the blind spot of the left. Their reactionary anti-corporatism focusses entirely on WalMart while literally ignoring and often excusing the agents of the state. You know, the guys who actually stand on your lawn and have you carted off when you refuse to get off your property? Yeah, those guys.

    It's not a bunch of managers from WalMart with their blue vests taking you away in cuffs, it's the agency with legislative and police powers doing it.

    It's important to remember that distinction. I may not like my neighbor, but he can't make me leave my property. There's only one agent that can do that, so focus your energy there.

  • PIRS||

    "Corporations and private citizens will always try to manipulate the government to their end. The problem we have is that our government(s) are too willing and receptive."

    The problem is BOTH of these things. If we had ethical people who were unwilling to use government to violate the rights of others this would not occur. Nor would it occur if did not have a government willing to do these things.

    "That's the blind spot of the left. Their reactionary anti-corporatism focuses entirely on WalMart while literally ignoring and often excusing the agents of the state."

    I do not consider myself either of the right or the left (I was once a right conservative in fact). On the Nolan Chart I am North. I certainly do not excuse the agents of the state. But nor do I excuse those who are willing to use, or effectively bribe, the state to have its power wielded in their favor at the expense of the equal rights of others.

  • ||

    The problem is BOTH of these things. If we had ethical people who were unwilling to use government to violate the rights of others this would not occur. Nor would it occur if did not have a government willing to do these things.

    Well until everyone embraces libertarianism, there won't be a population of fully ethical people who refuse to use the government to benefit themselves. That is why the government must be the agents of change and revert back to the limited role that it was designed to be.

    I have no hope that humanity will suddenly embrace its "inner goodness" and stop gaming the system. I have slightly more hope that the system can be changed.

  • PIRS||

    "I have no hope that humanity will suddenly embrace its "inner goodness" and stop gaming the system. I have slightly more hope that the system can be changed."

    I have far more hope that a significant number of non-politicians will embrace their inner-goodness than I do that a significant number of politicians will do so.

    I challenge you to name more than five ethical members of Congress who do not have the last name Paul.

  • Paul||

    I challenge you to name more than five ethical members of Congress who do not have the last name Paul.

    What about people with the first name Paul?

  • PIRS||

    Paul Ryan? That is one. Can you name four more?

  • SM||

    That was a good one...

    ....dead without SS. Look it up.

    Another intergenerational welfare queen.

  • Paul||

    Well until everyone embraces libertarianism, there won't be a population of fully ethical people who refuse to use the government to benefit themselves. That is why the government must be the agents of change and revert back to the limited role that it was designed to be.

    This.

  • PIRS||

    "That is why the government must be the agents of change and revert back to the limited role that it was designed to be."

    How do you expect that to occur without the support of a majority of the voting public?

  • ||

    The constitution was supposed to ensure this. Sort of its entire reason for being: that no matter what anybody voted on or how popular an idea was, these set of principles had to be followed.

    But that hasn't worked out perfectly either.

  • #||

    "If we had ethical people who were unwilling to use government to violate the rights of others this would not occur."

    If we had ethical people, we wouldn't need a government period.

  • PIRS||

    "If we had ethical people, we wouldn't need a government period."

    I agree with you on this. Sometimes however, when debating with someone who is obviously not an ancap I find myself arguing as a minarchist. For some people doing so tends to be more effective (in the sense that they do not immediately shut off communication altogether).

  • ||

    I'm guessing they're referring to infrastructure improvements required to locate a Wal-Mart on taken land in some places. For instance, in Copley Twp./Fairlawn/Bath Twp./Akron in Ohio (yes, it's the intersection of that many entities), they want to move the Wal-Mart a mile or so down the road off a minor secondary road that is barely enough to carry the traffic to the well-hidden and barely visited HH Gregg nearby.

    That road has no chance of meeting the traffic projections of what a Wal-Mart would bring, but the road belongs to one or another of those entities listed above (Copley Twp, I think). In exchange for moving from what I believe is technically the City of Fairlawn, the other entity is willing to foot the bill for the road improvements instead of making Wal-Mart pay for it. These road improvements will also affect each of those other entities indirectly, as the massive agglomeration of retail that sits across those 5 entities (collectively known as Montrose) will have pretty drastically changed traffic patterns because of it.

    It's goofy and complicated, but I think that's a prime example of what that person may be referring to with the "highway subsidies".

    Fun fact: the telephone exchange of the Montrose area: 666.

  • PIRS||

    Thanks Timon19, that makes sense. It is an interesting philosophical question though. Given a paradigm in which government has a monopoly on roads and in which Walmart DOES pay taxes for roads, should the government charge EXTRA on top of what they already pay for these needed modifications? We can argue that the paradigm should not exist but that is not the point. It is an interesting question.

  • Jesse Walker||

    PIRS: You might find this thread useful in grokking the critique -- a whole bunch of issues get brought up, but that one is a big part of the debate.

  • PIRS||

    Thanks!

  • ||

    you should know that commercial property generates more tax revenue then residential property compared to its impacts.

    Those impacts include road impacts.

    I guess the left-libertarians have not read much material from the AICP.

  • ||

    From the link Jesse provided:

    Meanwhile, Jesse Walker also kindly posted a notice over at Hit and Run, which provoked a discussion in which Hit and Run commenters were fully able to live up to their reputation for fair, insightful, and thought-provoking discussion of issues in libertarianism. For example, here’s the top comment in its entirety:

    joshua corning | November 10, 2008, 2:14pm | #

    If libertarians are accused of carrying water for corporate interests, that may be at least in part because, well, they so often sound like that’s just what they’re doing

    Fuck you Roderick Long.

    I mention the Hit and Run thread, though, mainly because it contains the nicest illustration you could possibly hope for of vulgar libertarian reasoning. Roderick wrote:

    In a free market, firms would be smaller and less hierarchical, more local and more numerous

    classic gold

    I would like to meet the joshua Corning from 2008 he seems like my kind of libertarian.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    You don't think Walmart uses the highway system more than the mom+pop store?

    Anyone that uses government resource X more than others benefits more then they do, no?

    Governments spend a lot of money maintaining museums. A lot of people like going to them to look at old shit. I like old shit too, but I hate museums and never go. Doesn't that benefit museum goers more than me?

  • PIRS||

    Timmon19 and Jesse Walker above gave me good answers about my original question. But in answer to yours, yes, they do. But they also pay higher taxes. The customers of the mom & pop store also use the highway to get there.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Anyone that uses government resource X more than others benefits more then they do, no?"

    Customers driving to Wal-Mart counts as the customer's use - not Wal-Mart's use.

    And all of Wal-Mart's actual use - their trucks shipping merchandise - is paid for by gas taxes they pay the same as everyone else does.

  • SM||

    You think a gallon of gas in a moped does as much damage to the road as a gallon of gas in a semi?

  • ||

    It's a very interesting question whether a moped or a semi does more damage to the road per dollar of fuel taxes paid (and interestingly enough, it's in Western Europe where large trucks are definitely subsidized: the reason that diesel engines are so popular over there is that diesel is generally taxed less than gasoline as a means of subsidizing the trucking industry). It's also a question which is next to impossible to answer given that funding roads through gas taxes obfuscates the cost of those roads.

  • Half Wit||

  • Steve Chaos||

    I used to read Kevin Carson's blog for awhile, particularly because the left-libertarian critique can often bring up certain blind spots in orthodox libertarian thinking (case in point about the time order of corporate privileges and corporate restrictions).

    What finally turned me off to him however was that he basically has one or two points, which he just keeps making as if repeating the same thing somehow made it new or more insightful. It's like the left-libertarian mindset (or at least Kevin Carson) has maybe one or two original insights to offer overall, but that's about it. But by God, they're going to milk those points for what they're worth.

  • Ray Pew||

    Carson and Long are both intelligent thinkers on their topics. I don't agree with everything they write, but what they write tends to be well thought out.

  • ||

    about exploitation and inequality for example

    Ignored because they are wholly subjective judgments, the leftist solution to which always boils down to advocating for equal outcomes.

    Left-libertarians favor worker solidarity vis-à-vis bosses

    Are they able to grasp the difference between voluntary collective bargaining and bargaining done under government regulations that are biased toward unions? Because I don't know anyone against the former...

    support poor people’s squatting on government or abandoned property

    Depends on the definition of abandoned. And the nature of the government properties. Want to build a tent city in a park? I don't have much problem with that actually.

    and prefer that corporate privileges be repealed before the regulatory restrictions on how those privileges may be exercised.

    The typical and intentional mistake of confusing a defense of capitalism with apologia for corporatism.

    They see Walmart as a symbol of corporate favoritism—supported by highway subsidies and eminent domain—

    Walmart doesn't pay gas taxes or haulage fees? And find me a libertarian-libertarian with something good to say about eminent domain.

    view the fictive personhood of the limited-liability corporation with suspicion

    Yes, yes... You saw The Corporation. Bully for you.

    and doubt that Third World sweatshops would be the "best alternative" in the absence of government manipulation.

    Government manipulation? You mean like supporting unions and taxing the shit out of businesses for welfare and warfare spending? Or are you just talking about excessive regulatory hoops?

  • ||

    Want to build a tent city in a park?

    Fucking capitalists and their extravagant tents. (heh heh, "erect".)

  • Beezard||

    This.

  • ||

    While I appreciate you taking the time to go through detail by detail, there is a shorter version of what you just said:

    They believe in the moral legitimacy of private ownership and free exchange and oppose all government interference in personal and economic affairs...except for X, Y, Z, etc.

    Once you make exceptions, you have no philosophy, because if you can make exceptions, you can make any exception. This is the fundamental intellectual flaw of leftists, even smarter ones who embrace aspects of libertarianism. Exceptions are what will destroy any moral integrity you might have.

  • Beezard||

    Exceptions are what will destroy any moral integrity you might have.

    Yes, but more often then not, they do have a degree (usually in History and/or Philosophy). In my experience that means a lot more to left leaning folks than abstract concepts like "moral integrity".

  • Steve Chaos||

    They believe in the moral legitimacy of private ownership and free exchange and oppose all government interference in personal and economic affairs...except for X, Y, Z, etc.

    Except... that's not really the case Carson (et. al.) are making. It's, "Wal-Mart and other corporate behemoths wouldn't exist without the current set of privileges afforded to corporations," and, "Sweatshops are the end product of government land-grabs from the poor." In other words, they are not stable equilibria resulting from a free market, but rather from a government-rigged system.

    There's nothing fundamentally unlibertarian or unphilosophical about this critique; in fact, it's fairly instructive. The problem is, that's all they say - there's no explanation offered to the question of, "So now what?"

  • ||

    Should have refreshed before posting. That's exactly what I gathered from the original article and SF's post.

    The standard, "I'm okay with freedom, but..." or "I'm a libertarian, as long as..." arguments, that essentially equate to not being a libertarian.

  • ||

    I wouldn't go that far. The problem for these guys is that they are claiming two diametriclly opposed philosophies. It is like trying to be a Christian Buddhist. Well, the point of life is to exstinguish the soul and end the cycle of birth and death except you also need to accept Christ so that your soul can live forever in heaven with God. It makes no sense. You can't square the libertarian commitment to the supremacy of the individual and the leftist believe in the state and collective action. You just end up spouting nonsense or lying.

  • Steve Chaos||

    Again, I don't see specifically (at least from reading Carson's blog) where he has advocated state action itself; mostly what he does is to argue that the frequent hobby-horses of leftists (like sweatshops, etc.) are not naturally occurring features of a free market, but rather are the direct result of government action.

    As far as collective action goes, everything I've read by Carson seems to indicate the direction of voluntary cooperative action - more like a peaceful hippie commune than Stalinist Russia. I think this part is pretty oversold, but I would argue there's a world of difference between voluntary and coerced collectivism.

  • ||

    Voluntary cooperative action is just a softer name for statist bullshit. It is like Cass Sunstein and his whole power of pursuation bullshit. I don't want to be a part of Carson's or the governmetn's collective. I want them both and Sunstein for that matter to leave me the fuck alone and stop trying to build utopia on earth.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Voluntary cooperative action is just a softer name for statist bullshit.

    No it isn't. You are a moron.

  • ||

    You are a moron. Collective action assumes that the people running it have the knowledge to understand the second order effects of the action. It has all the same problems that make government action such a failure. And while the constant nagging and rah rahing to join in on the collective action de jour is not as dangerous as when done by the state, it is still fucking annoying and capable of doing a lot of damage. People collectively and voluntarily deciding to do something stupid isn't much better than the being forced to be stupid by the government.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    So, not statist bullshit. Got it. Just shut up already, you fucking stooge.

  • Steve Chaos||

    I don't want to be a part of Carson's or the governmetn's collective.

    Nor should you want to be. However, any reasonable definition of "libertarianism" would clearly affords the right of any given hippie drum circle to go form their own co-op, no matter how smelly or otherwise offensive you may find it. Similarly, the same principle means that you shouldn't be compelled to join.

    It's almost as if it was a matter of voluntary association...

  • ||

    They are not talking about hippie communes. They are talking abotu collective actions like boycots and strikes and the like that will directly affect me. When I can no longer shop at Wall MArt or buy an incandesent light bulb because these assholes have through large enough collective action to shut such businesses down, I am by implication a part of the collective.

    These people are not your friends. They just want to control people's lives and mold the world to their little vision of utopia. No thanks.

  • Steve Chaos||

    They are talking abotu collective actions like boycots and strikes and the like that will directly affect me. When I can no longer shop at Wall MArt or buy an incandesent light bulb because these assholes have through large enough collective action to shut such businesses down, I am by implication a part of the collective.

    You can also no longer buy and Edsel due to the collective (albeit uncoordinated) actions of the consumer market. Would you rail against the free market now?

    Boycotts, while proposed for causes and objects you don't like, are a perfectly defensible voluntary mechanism for affecting change in a free market. Far better that than running to the government for yet another new law.

  • ||

    Sure, they can call for boycotts all they like. But that doesn't make the boycotts any better of an idea or these guys any less of dumb leftist assholes for doing it.

    You seem to miss the elefant in the room. Their economic ideas are wrong and fucked up. Just because they want to do it through voluntary rather than government enforced stupidity, doesn't make them any smarter.

  • ||

    "Their economic ideas are wrong and fucked up. Just because they want to do it through voluntary rather than government enforced stupidity, doesn't make them any smarter."

    Nice to know that you believe that the ends outweigh the means.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Voluntary cooperative action is just a softer name for statist bullshit. It is like Cass Sunstein and his whole power of pursuation bullshit.

    It doesn't actually have anything in common with Sunstein at all. He calls for government policies that "nudge" people into making the "right" decisions. There's nothing like that here.

    You're always quick to point out that libertarianism has room for socially conservative beliefs and (peaceful) pressures outside the state. The only difference here is that the beliefs and pressures come from different cultural quarters. Are you really against that?

  • ||

    Fair enough Jessee. But what kind of "collective action" are they talking about? It looks to me like it is mostly just cajoling people to do stupid leftist policies as opposed getting the government to force them. I don't think all of the workers getting together and voluntarily demanding urealistic and unsustainable wages and benefits from a company is any smarter or much better than the government mandating it. Social conservatives, if you keep them from enforcing it on everyone else, get people to do pretty much harmless stuff or in some cases (like getting married and being faithful and having kids) good things. These guys would have people out collectively doing dumb leftist shit and joing cargo cults like AGW.

    No thanks. Just because they don't back it with a gun, doesn't make their ideas any smarter.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Well isn't it just kind of your opinion that people on the Right get people to do good things while people on the Left don't?

    Personally, I don't give a fuck what someone's personal values are. I'm more concerned about how they feel about government power.

    If a libertarian wants to put left in front of it because they care about the poor and the environment, more power to them.

    Same for someone on the right if they want to express their belief in promoting the nuclear family and clean living.

    My problem is with the parts of the Left and Right who believe in using the government, particularly the federal government, to force everyone else to conform to their values.

  • ||

    You seem to confuse "demand" with "get".

    Me demanding ONE HUNDRED MEEELLION DOLLARS from you is not the same thing as me getting ONE HUNDRED MEEELLION DOLLARS from you.

  • ||

    I don't know, a more emotion neutral term for "sweat shops" seems like an inevitable product of a free market. You take your businesses to places where labor costs (per amount of productivity) are the lowest. In countries where education and literacy levels are low, labor costs will also tend to be low, and in countries where education and literacy levels are higher, labor costs tend to be higher.

    That all seems to be bog-standard free-market stuff.

    I guess the key when talking about "sweat shops" is the difference between people working their due to actual direct force by some thug (government or otherwise), and people working there due to a complete lack of any more attractive options.

    Now they could argue that if it wasn't for lousy governments around the world there would always be more attractive options, but such an assertion is so grounded in utopianism that it's not worth even arguing whether it's true or not. That's not the world we have, so who cares?

  • Steve Chaos||

    Without pretending to make the argument for Carson et. al. (I am on the fence as to the accuracy of the claim), their response would be that labor prices are artificially low due to displacement of the rural poor, driving them into cities. Ergo, still not a stable equilibrium - the depressed labor prices and migration to cities is the result of government action. Carson et. al. would assert that the equilibrium wage in these countries, as people would not be driven from rural areas.

    Now, I can't speak for the accuracy of this claim - all I am trying to do is represent their argument the best I can. Further, this is where their argument annoys me, because they assert this argument quite a bit, without ever getting to the logical follow-up, "So now what?" It's fine and dandy to complain about exploitation due to the corrupt government policies of the third world, but what follows from here?

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    There are some Christian Buddhists out there, mostly because Buddhism makes less metaphysical claims then Abrahamic monotheism.

  • ||

    I wouldn't go that far. The problem for these guys is that they are claiming two diametriclly opposed philosophies. It is like trying to be a Christian Buddhist. Well, the point of life is to exstinguish the soul and end the cycle of birth and death except you also need to accept Christ so that your soul can live forever in heaven with God. It makes no sense. You can't square the libertarian commitment to the supremacy of the individual and the leftist believe in the state and collective action. You just end up spouting nonsense or lying.

  • nekoxgirl||

    How is leftism necessarily statist? Leftism is a set of values: social freedom paired with concern for the less fortunate in society (and more recently with the environment).

    Obviously social freedom (i.e. mostly the right over what you do with your own body) squares well with libertarianism.

    Traditionally, leftists have thought the government does the best job in protecting the poor and the environment, but we all know that is bullshit. If you truly want to help the poor and perserve the environment, then the free market is the answer.

    So no John, I don't think it's impossible to be both. I actually came from a leftist background. The reason I became a libertarian isn't because my values changed but because I realized liberty helps the things I value while big government destroys them.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Also, I like aspects of Christianity and Buddism so I guess we disagree on a whole bunch of things :P

  • Sheldon Richman||

    Where does it say, "except for X, Y, Z, etc."

  • ||

    While I appreciate you taking the time to go through detail by detail, there is a shorter version of what you just said:

    They believe in the moral legitimacy of private ownership and free exchange and oppose all government interference in personal and economic affairs...except for X, Y, Z, etc.

    Even shorter: "I'm a libertarian, but..."

  • ||

    ...I hate Ayn Rand and corporations?

  • SM||

    So you are an anarchist?

  • ||

    I pretty much agree with you SF. They lost me at the Wall Mart hate. Like Wall Mart is the only company that benefits from imminent domain. And as corporate welfare queens go it is way down the list. You want to get angry about corporate welfare, go for it. But start with the big Ag companies or the NFL, or Lockheed Martin. Wall Mart? Really? The fact that Wall Mart is their target tells me that they are just a bunch of lefties looking to find a new way to decieve people about their views.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    You might consider that they discuss those other things, but that would involve actually knowing what you're talking about, which is rare.

  • ||

    This is what I thought reading through the article as well. They are mainly just all points that libertarians stand behind, but then instead of saying "let the free market decide most if not all of these outcomes" they still try to game the system to benefit their leftist pet-projects.

  • ||

    Little to add to SugarFree's exposition. Two points:

    Left-libertarians favor worker solidarity vis-à-vis bosses

    Do they want that solidarity expressed via freedom of association and contract on all sides, or do they favor something like the status quo, with unions as favored rent-seekers exercising state-granted privileges?

    view the fictive personhood of the limited-liability corporation with suspicion

    Well, this is one strain of ignorant leftism that has come across pretty much undiluted.

    Corporations are associations. They are "persons" in that the organization itself can contract, sue and be sued, etc. Got a problem with that? I didn't think so.

    Limited liability? Well, that is a straight application of basic agency and personal responsibility principles. Limited liability corporations mean that persons who have invested in the corporation but who have no active management or other role may not be held liable for what the corporation, in which they have no active management or other role, does.

    I don't have a problem with that, personally. Seems like common sense, to me.

  • ||

    You pretty much have to be an economic and historical illiterate to think that personhood and limited liability for corporations is a bad thing.

  • Zeb||

    An amazing number of people actually believe that "limited liability" means that the corporation itself is not fully liable for harm it might cause.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Do they want that solidarity expressed via freedom of association and contract on all sides, or do they favor something like the status quo, with unions as favored rent-seekers exercising state-granted privileges?

    The former. However, in the current unfree labor market - where labor unions are restricted as much as, if not more than bosses - they favor the worker over the boss.

  • ||

    So what? Is it better for the worker not to have a job? And what about the consumer who gets a better and cheaper product thanks to the efforts of the boss to keep wages down? And what do they plan to do to "favor the worker over the boss"? And when they succeed, aren't they just taking money out of my pocket by driving up the price of goods? It is just statism by mob as opposed to government action. Fuck them. Who gave them the right to favor anyone over anything?

  • Amakudari||

    where labor unions are restricted as much as, if not more than bosses

    Explain.

    What freedoms that unions would normally possess in a free market are denied them, and how are they worse than bargaining privileges granted to company owners?

  • SM||

    Besides the fact that labor can all be fired and replaced the next day? So they have no bargaining power at all, unless those WITH the power, ie, the bosses, decide to give some of it up?

    It goes like this: they strike, you just replace them all from those in the 20% who are unemployed. Got it? It only works if you have skills that few others have - ie, a nurse - who is only rare because the GOVERNMENT regulates them to be rare. In your libertarian world, you can get ANYONE to do whatever job you train them to. I'd pick a cheap mexican, sounds good to me. $1 a day.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Remember kids, cartels aren't evil when labor does it.

  • Nipplemancer||

    your nurse comment makes me laugh because it makes our point for us. other than that, fuck off troll.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Limited liability? Well, that is a straight application of basic agency and personal responsibility principles."

    I have heard leftists like Robert Riech spouting this notion that limited liability for corporations is some sort of "subsidy" as a rationale for fleecing them over even more for some collectivist scheme.

    As if the concept of limited liabilty was somehow MORE of an artificial construct than the concept of unlimited liabilty. Unlimited liabilty is just as much an artificial construct as limited liabilty is.

  • roystgnr||

    Isn't limited liability a pretty common moral belief, even with no corporations anywhere to be seen? If your brother-in-law asks to borrow your car to go to the bank, and you only later find out he *robbed* the bank, does anyone think you should be convicted of a felony?

  • SM||

    How about you drive your brother to the bank and loan him your gun?

    You have any idea with limited liability is? It means i can get my company to do anything i want, but as long as i've transferred my profits out to me, you can't touch them. Its not what you think it is, you've obviously never owned a corp or an LLC.

  • ||

    And here exactly is where left-libertarians find right-libertarians to be fundamentally wrong. Corporate personhood allows actors WITHIN the corporation (not just the non-managing stockholders) to violate rights of others in the name of the corporation and not be personally liable, except in extreme cases where the "veil" is pierced. In a free society without the corporate protection, individuals can not claim that their association justifies such actions. Most of the violations of property and individual rights of corporations are direct results of the individuals in the corporation making decisions realizing that they won't be held personally responsible (at worst, they'd lose their job and retire with a large executive parachute package.) Proprietorships and partnerships, which ARE free market entities, have to purchase liability protection for their personal assets, and growth involves increased risk and caution. Thus, in a laissez faire market you will have more smaller entities, and "regulation" would be done via insurance company instead of government.

  • Red Fish Blue Fish||

    The fundamental political question of our day is how will "Classical Liberalism" find its way back into mainstream American politics. We have a solidly two-party system today, however, there are openings and precedents for "third-party" successes. Assuming we as human beings will always have one or more political parties dedicated to the antithesis of "Classical Liberalism", there are three choices - Red, Blue, or Purple. The answer is not at all obvious on any level, practical or moral. Articles like this help focus and distill the boundaries and ultimately real options - and are not bullshit.

    It is admittedly a bit of a canard to say someone who is critical of the interaction between business and state (in today's world) is "leftist"...but it also true that most Republican *politicians* show no fear in embracing an ever tighter bond between the state and economic activity, when it suits their purposes...this is not moral or economically healthy.

    If Democrat politicians were to magically checkout of the mental-institution, drop their delusional mindless rantings, and focus on the real world, they could be a home to "Classical Liberalism"...however, I see no indication that any Democrat alive today is capable of even grasping the fundamentals, let alone setting up a viable CL shop.

    Fusionists may not have the right answers, but the tend to ask the right questions, and at least demonstrate intellectual honesty to far greater degree than many of their primary color counterparts.

  • ||

    " Yet they are leftists in that they share traditional left-wing concerns, about exploitation and inequality for example, that are largely ignored, if not dismissed, by other libertarians. "

    That is a complete mischaracterization of libertarianism. Libertarians in fact have much concern for exploitation and inequality since most if not all cases of these are perpetrated by government.

  • ||

    Fool! The State is love! It shall embrace you as a brother! Or else!

    Was it TR that decided any land not claimed by private owners belonged to the government automatically?

  • affenkopf||

    Aren't these terms almost meaningless? A left-libertarian anarchist like Long and a right-libertarian anarchist like Hoppe have much more postions in common with each other than they have with a left- or right-libertarian minarchist.

  • ||

    The stateless nature might be the same, but the economic organization within the stateless society would be different (and co-existent). The left-anarchists would organize themselves into voluntary communes, divide responsibilities and share property, while the right-anarchists would live independently, defend the sovereignty of their property and contract businesses to replace the functions of government.

  • T||

    Same old same old. It's the same shell game of which of your liberties they want to restrict.

  • Bradley||

    You could at least read something by Long or Carson before mischaracterizing their beliefs.

  • ¢||

    See, what's wrong with other libertarians is that so many of them don't begin in total abasement before the moral perfection of leftism (and its -ists)—the unwavering, relentless, sadistic statism of which (and whom) is just an epiphenomenal and accidental thing, like how Mello Yello is green—and that's just not scholarly.

    I mean, presuming, based on the mere totality of contemporary and historical evidence, that all leftist "concerns" are rhetorical smokescreens for the preservation of the "concern"-addressing and -delimiting class's parasitic privilege—where does that get you? Kicked out of Whitey, that's where.

  • sevo||

    "and doubt that Third World sweatshops would be the "best alternative" in the absence of government manipulation."

    First, I'd like to see a definition of 'sweatshop' that isn't in comparison to developed-nations' pay schedules.
    Then, I'd like to hear what a better alternative is.
    I doubt I'll get either one; the people involved have chosen this alternative as the best they can find. Third parties probably aren't going to help matters.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    The better alternative is to have their homes and land returned to them. Here's how it works:

    1. Large corporation works with oppressive government to steal ancestral land from peasants/cottagers and give it to large corporations.
    2. Owners of said land have lost their livelihood and needs to work elsewhere to avoid starving to death.
    3. Another large corporation sets up a disgusting, unsafe factory and pays dirt-low wages to former peasants/cottagers.
    4. Said second large corporation works with oppressive government to make sure workers are docile, are submissive, and cannot unionize, holding down their wages through tyranny.
    5. Former peasant/cottager works for slave wages instead of working ancestral land.
    6. Idiot says, "Free market works! What's the better option?!?"
    7. Not an idiot says, "Give them their land back."

  • sevo||

    Sorry, I was looking for some factual information, not lefty fantasies.

  • ||

    That is how it works? Where? In your head? That is the worst and dumbest charactature of the nonWestern world I have ever read.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    John, it's not often you're on the same side as the Vietnamese and Chinese communists. Anything for the bosses, I suppose.

  • sevo||

    Jersey Patriot|2.3.11 @ 2:55PM|#
    "John, it's not often you're on the same side as the Vietnamese and Chinese communists. Anything for the bosses, I suppose."

    Strawmen? Check.
    Lies? Check.
    Fantasies? Check.
    Braon-dead ignoramus? Check.

  • Amakudari||

    6. Idiot says, "Free market works! What's the better option?!?"
    7. Not an idiot says, "Give them their land back."

    Okay, so given the oppressive governments there, those people aren't getting their land back.

    What do now?

  • roystgnr||

    It also works this way:

    1. Peasants thrive on ancestral land.
    2. Thriving population doubles every 30 years.
    3. 90 years later, great-grandkids wonder why they've only got 1/8th of the good ancestral land they were hoping for.

    Population growth reduces per-person available resources and forces people to find new ways to be productive; I'd guess this is one of the few cultural features in the world *more* common than kleptocracy.

  • SM||

    Safe, stable, developed societies have less kids. We help these people, their child rearing reduces. But you're educated, you should know this.

  • Spazmo||

    Of course, all those agrarian societies that the United States has pulled out of poverty. How could I have forgotten.

  • Paul||

    First, I'd like to see a definition of 'sweatshop' that isn't in comparison to developed-nations' pay schedules.
    Then, I'd like to hear what a better alternative is.

    Unemployed people toiling on the land who are starving, but aren't specifically being exploited by Nike's association with a particular factory owner.

  • ||

    "I'd like to hear what a better alternative is"

    Their central point is that if the government had not interfered with the rights (social, economic, political, etc.) of the people from the get-go, it's highly unlikely sweatshop exploitation would be the primary option for the third world poor to get to prosperity, since most people would have found their own way out of poverty a long time ago.

    Left-libertarians recognize this history of statism, corporatism, favoritism, discrimination, exploitation, oppression and theft is the cause of poverty.

    This inequality is the basis for the modern Left's argument for government redistribution of wealth, as our corporatist system largely cements the historic inequalities caused by government. "Pure" Marxist utopianism would argue that with government redistribution of wealth for equality and reparations for all past injustices, combined with state re-education to defeat exploitation and greed once and for all, the state could eventually become redundant and thus in the end society would need no state.

    Left-libertarians argue that the means to this utopian end could never be justified and would be far worse than the problem itself, that those in power would never relinquish it, and that equality of outcome is not even a desireable end (although social mobility and increased equality of opportunity is). Material desire is natural and integral to our human nature, it's the way in which that desire materializes itself (theft, fraud, and violations of the rights of others) that is fundamentally wrong. Corporate personhood (not to mention corporate-state collusion) detaches moral burden and personal responsibility from the individuals making bad decisions within that corporation to fulfill the material desires of the stockholders. The less radical left's "solution" to inequality (welfarism and regulation) end up increasing inequality by making the lower class reliant on substandard living instead of engaging in entrepreneurship and education, and prop up the largest corporations who eat up the smaller businesses who can't compete in a regulated, uncompetitive market.

    Ending the corporate entity, replacing the entire tax structure with a single tax on land value today while government is being greatly reduced (thus reducing oppression, regulation and corruption), devolving federal power to local governments, etc. would be a good start on the road to prosperity for the Third World.

    Ending corporate personhood and reforming land ownership are corrections to moral hazards and historic injustices that would not violate any person's rights and would bring about a more permanently free society if implemented in conjunction with "conventional" libertarian solutions.

  • Thom||

    Regular old leftism is just a lazy version of left-libertarianism, as described. Instead of trying to actually solve problems, the left just reverts to a stock solution for everything ("the government should do it!"). Some people on the left want the government to do everything because they really seem to love the idea of a powerful state dictating people's lives, but most leftists I've met are driven by the ideal of solving the problems that they're trying to solve. They're just too lazy or to uncreative to think beyond tax/spend or prohibit/punish solutions to those problems.

  • Amakudari||

    No one's addressed the obvious point about sweatshops and government manipulation?

    In the absence of government manipulation, labor is as free as capital to cross borders, and the attraction of a sweatshop is considerably diminished. At worst, it forces those wages up. But if you're an uneducated laborer in a rural part of Southeast Asia, you don't have the option of moving to Europe or the US or anywhere else. Much greater (or total) labor mobility is standard in libertarian-libertarianism.

    Until that glorious day arrives, though, opposing sweatshops without proposing a meaningful alternative is pointless. If the article's hypothetical left-libertarian get the time-order right on removing corporate privileges before restrictions (debatable, but I'd somewhat agree), this gets it dead wrong.

    Moving on,

    For:
    - worker solidarity vis-à-vis bosses
    - poor people's squatting on government or abandoned property
    - prefer that corporate privileges be repealed before the regulatory restrictions

    Against:
    - highway subsidies
    - eminent domain

    Does any libertarian-libertarian actually take issues with these? I'm for collective bargaining, just no laws giving preference to unions. Squatters' rights, sure, but almost completely irrelevant. The rest should be obvious. As for corporate personhood and limited liability, by God I don't want to be involved in a discussion about that.

  • Zeb||

    Why do supposed libertarians who are anti-immigration fail to understand this point? A free market can never exist without free movement of labor. I would think that essentially forcing people to stay in the shithole where they were born is behind a lot of the inequality one finds in the world.

  • SM||

    If only they could move from shithole to shithole to be exploited.

    You know your job wasn't always so cushy til those labor unions got the government to kick some ass, right?

    You'd be working from childhood til death in terrible conditions for little pay...no education, etc.

    Read history. Its informative.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    "Coming [is] a shorter workday, and so is the daily wage. It will be a daily wage of five dollars, perhaps as much as ten dollars, and maybe more. We are just beginning to get moving in the automobile industry, and the men who build the cars are entitled to better wages and better hours."

    -Henry Ford, c. 1911

    Contrary to leftist fantasy, not every business owner or manager is a moustache-twirling sociopath who delights in maiming children in Dickensian factories that pump smog into the air and rain soot on the cold, cobblestone streets below.

  • SM||

    Tell me what "collective bargaining" is if they can replace everyone tomorrow with some of the other people begging for work...

    ...there is an unlimited supply of labor...you people are hilarious..."i like unions buy don't want them to have equal power."

  • cynical||

    "Tell me what "collective bargaining" is if they can replace everyone tomorrow with some of the other people begging for work."

    Useless.

    But that's a big if for all but the most unskilled labor. At any rate, if you sit around waiting for some nebulous, hated but needed "they" to create a job for you, you're pretty much at "their" mercy anyway.

    If labor was interested in being in control of their own destiny, they'd put those union dues toward buying co-op factories, rather than putting Democrats in office.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    and prefer that corporate privileges be repealed before the regulatory restrictions on how those privileges may be exercised

    Every once in a while I think I'm going to start agreeing with a person of the left-wing type (libertarian or not) on this particular subject. Let's get rid of those Corportate priveleges! But besides Limited Liability, I can never figure out exactly what the hell they are talking about. What priveleges are they talking about? Any ideas here?

  • Robert||

    Even limited liability isn't a privilege, because anybody can incorporate.

  • Tim||

    Its really hard to respect individual rights without respecting economic rights.

  • SM||

    That's a pretty slogan you got there.

    Who's economic rights are you talking about exactly?

    What about people born into nothing, surrounded by people born into everything? You think they like your pretty little slogan?

    You think it means a lot in somalia?

    Who's enforcing those rights, btw? I got a private army. Good luck.

  • cynical||

    "What about people born into nothing, surrounded by people born into everything? You think they like your pretty little slogan?"

    It's cute when you try to elevate character flaws to virtues. Look, I'm sure that a guy whose family member was murdered by African American criminals won't like pretty little slogans of racial equality/harmony, but (unlike some people, Dr. Sweeney excluded) I can understand how someone can go wrong and even empathize without feeling the need to absolve.

  • ||

    Drink?

  • vaguelyhumanoid||

    Left-libertarians are free market. You clearly don't know what you're talking about.

  • ||

    I think the fallacy starts right here:

    Large corporation works with oppressive government to steal ancestral land from peasants/cottagers and give it to large corporations.

    The problem, as Mr. de Soto has amply demonstrated, is that in these third world countries, there aren't any property rights worth a damn
    in anything.

    Who the hell knows who has a claim to that land, and what that claim is? Keep in mind, the chain of title in any real estate in the West ultimately traces back to a grant from a sovereign. Lacking a grant of defined rights from a sovereign, its hard to say anyone has "property rights" to anything that can be stolen from them by evil corporations or the government.

    Who knows, in a traditional society, what feudal or traditional or whatever "rights" there are to the land, and who would win or lose if you translated those "rights" to something that would function as a property right?

  • SM||

    And we all know SOMEONE has to own it, or how can we sell it to a corporation?

    I want to know, if i steal land from you and sell it, who does it belong to 5 generations later?

  • ||

    Say it with me now: CoRpUrAsHiNz!!!1one111

  • cynical||

    I would imagine that the people that live in that society would know, and they're the ones for whom the question is relevant.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Yes, a magazine with the word "conservative" in its name has run an article celebrating the fusion of two alternatives to conservatism.

    Considering it's pretty well understood the word "conservative" in it's name has been the only thing conservative about that rag since Taki and Buchanan left, what's the significance of this again?

  • ||

    The political spectrum isn't as linear as it sometimes seems.

    But I need holes to put my pigeons in.

  • ||

    The political spectrum isn't as linear as it sometimes seems.

    One would never know from reading a Moynihan article.

    Or how many reason writers use the terms left and right.

    The left invented the left/right spectrum....so i only call them left because they call themselves left, but i refuse to use that spectrum to identify everything else.

    The left do not get the privileged of being that which everything else is defined.

    My guess as to why Moynahan and others at reason use the spectrum is because of their education and the heavy emphasis Critical Theory has played in it.

  • REASON||

    WHY WON'T THE LEFT LOVE US

  • SM||

    I can't get two libertarians to agree on anything...but some of em are here telling the rest that "libertarianism" is the only "correct" ideology, you can't put "left" in front of it?

    Amazing.

  • Haxus||

    AGREE ON MY ANUS

  • ||

    My version of libertarianism is left wing in that it shares many of the left's goals/values....and the fact that like Marx it is deterministic.

    My libertarianism focuses more on legal and moral equality then the left which tends to focus on economic equality....though i should mention that my libertarianism predicts that as wealth increase and despite income inequality utility equality is met....ie a rich guy does not get any more benefit by owning 100 ipods then a poor guy who only can afford one.

  • LA_Liberty||

    Carson and his Marxian-Rothbardian mutualism is frustrating. He can be brilliant in one passage and completely shit the bed in the next.
    See Block: http://mises.org/journals/jls/20_1/20_1_4.pdf

  • Spazmo||

    The one thing that needs to be completely dumped is the labor theory of value. Aside from that, I enjoy reading Carson, even if he does hit a lot of the same notes in every piece.

  • Ctmummey||

    Ugg why did I read the comments? What % of people here bothered to read Sheldon's article before posting a comment? Sweatshop fans: google Kevin Carson + primitive accumulation. Wait I'll do it for you: http://mutualist.blogspot.com/.....tion.html. Sorry, the fantasyland is the world where sweatshops are the freemarket in action and where are so convinced of their position they don't need to bother familiarizing themselves with different viewpoints. That there are so many confused on this and other issues shows how much work there is to be done. Of course hit & run comment threads are not going to be the most productive place to start!

  • Ctmummey||

    Marxian-rothbardian mutualism! I need to write that one down and save it for later.

  • Spazmo||

    Hah: Rothbard would shit his pants.

  • ||

    I see myself as a left-libertarian in the tradition of Bakunin and Kropotkin. We were the original "libertarians" (anarchists) before the Ayn Randians corrupted the term in the late 1960s.

  • Scott Lahti||

    Those of you with an academic library at your doorstep might seek out the essay from April 5, 1991 by Richard Cornuelle, published in The Times Literary Supplement and entitled "New Work For Invisible Hands". It is probably the most potent prefiguring of the present discussion published in the last twenty years:

    "Libertarian thought is wonderfully sound as far as it goes, but there are two gaping holes in it that now gravely threaten its relevance. For one thing, there is no very distinct libertarian vision of community -- of social as opposed to economic process -- outside the state: The alluring libertarian contention that society would probably work better if the state could somehow be limited to keeping the peace and enforcing contracts has to be taken largely on faith. Nor have libertarians confronted the disabling hypocrisy of the capitalist rationale which insists that while the capitalists themselves must have extensive freedom of action, their employees may have much less. Their explanation of how an invisible hand arranges economic resources rationally without authoritarian direction stops short at the factory gate. Inside factories and offices, the heavy, visible hand of management continues to rule with only token opposition."

    "When freemen went to work in factories, their status was not unlike that of the iron-collared serfs who had preceded them. Their employment was a kind of voluntary indenture, tacitly renewed each day, in which the worker agreed to submit to supervision for a certain number of hours for an agreed-to amount of pay. Workers were free in one sense, but painfully unfree in another. Feudalism had only moved indoors. The movement to civilize this relationship has been more or less continuous. Workplaces have been made safer, lighter, warmer and more agreeable. Wages are higher, hours shorter, and an accumulation of law and custom has elaborated the rights of employees and put limits on the prerogatives of employers. But the system has yet to be altered elementally. Working people are far, far freer than slaves or indentured servants, but they are not as free as their bosses and not nearly as free as they might be."

    "Employed people can scarcely be expected to revere qualities they have been carefully instructed to repress. Instead, they tend to become what the way they work requires: politicized, unimaginative, unenterprising, petty, security-obsessed, and passive."

    "Now there is a movement toward more elemental reform which would de-politicize workplaces entirely, make each worker self-supervising, and base compensation on some credible estimate of the value each person adds to whatever product or service the firm produces, in effect bringing the principle of the free market into the plant. But without a legitimatizing rationale, something the libertarians are best equipped to provide, this is bound to be a confused and halting process."

    http://biglizards.net/blog/arc.....sm_ca.html

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