Oh Wait, There's a "Libertarian Democrat" Hope After All!

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According to Daniel Koffler, it's Barack Obama.

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  1. It’s at least as plausible as was LD 1.0.

  2. It’s actually pretty persuasive, in a ‘it’s the best we can hope for given the realities of our current “two” party system’ kind of way (that’s my gloss, not the tone of the linked piece).

    Heck, if it wasn’t for Obama’s support of empire-as-usual, I might even be persuaded to suppport him. Though even there, I sometimes get a sense that he might be the best of a very poor set of options.

  3. Also, quite apart from the specific policies discussed, it’s pretty clear that the somewhat surprising support (or, at least, muted opposition) that Obama gets from some libertarians & economists is caused in large measure by the fact that he is being advised by Goolsbee.

  4. The reason I mute my opposition to him (as oppoesed to full-throated dislike of Clinton and John the Unicorn Bringer) is that he has a record of authoring good-governance and transparent-governance bills in the state assembly and the Senate. That’s a hell of a lot better starting point than the other 2 blue options.

  5. I’m not one of those let-the-perfect-be-the-enemy-of-the-good types, but this is so weak. If Obama’s economic (and related) policies are the best we can get this election cycle (which, they just may be), then I think we’re in more trouble as a country than I previously thought.

  6. If anyone wants to interpret the ‘vaguery’ and ‘platitudiness’ coming from Obama as libertarian, I suppose that’s their prerogative. I however find it much more accurate to continue reading tea leaves and sheep’s entrails.

    I cannot equate a Tammany Hall, hothouse Chicago liberal with a libertarian no matter who he lists as an advisor. Your mileage may vary.

  7. “I’m not one of those let-the-perfect-be-the-enemy-of-the-good types, but this is so weak. If Obama’s economic (and related) policies are the best we can get this election cycle (which, they just may be), then I think we’re in more trouble as a country than I previously thought.”

    Yes, but I don’t think that changes the facts on the ground. A health program committed to preserving markets in innovation and delivery is a big deal. Of all the evils of Team Donkey, their technocratic impulses are the worst. At least this is something different.

  8. LD —

    Me too, and it actually pushes me over into lukewarm support. Actual government transparency and public accountability is as important for real practical freedom as free markets; strangely enough, only the second gets much play around here.

  9. JasonL –
    I didn’t say whether or not I was going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
    If Obama is the nominee, he’ll carry my state. My consience can be completely clear by not voting for him yet being confident that my state won’t elect the Republican (who, at this point, looks like he’s going to be some sort of war-mongering “truth”-saying wingbat).

    I can have no part in this and take an outsider’s view of what it means about the mentality of the country without having to worry about what my stake in the matter is. Unless of course I move to a swing-state before November.

  10. Daniel’s got the Snow thing goin’ on (hier).

    between calling the anti federalist, creationist RP a “libertarian” and this, hell, the happy middle is Ghouliani, and we can’t have that, cuz DUNDEROOOO would be (mistakenly) correct.

    *head explodes*

  11. Koffler wrote: Perhaps it goes without saying that Obama’s belief in freedom in labour markets and freedom in capital markets, sets him apart from the Republican field as well as the Democrats.

    I want to believe, but how does this square with Obama’s support for fair wages (the government requiring companies to justify salaries and setting them if it deems them unfair).

  12. Im not sure how much of this is just Obama’s gift for allowing people to see what they want to see in him, but this is certainly a compelling argument that Obama’s the best of the democratic lot when it comes to economics.

    Obama with a republican congress seems to be the best we can hope for realistically.

  13. Its amazing that even you wingnuts are trying to hitch your extremist, disaster capitalist rhetoric to the Democratic Party.

    It shows that the Democrats have a real chance, even out there in wingnuttia.

  14. I posted this in the other Obama thread, but it seems to fit here too:

    Since I’m on the fence as to whether or not Ron Paul can recover from this smear campaign, I think our last hope in preserving liberty lies in Obama defeating Hillary. I know, I know, some of you are chuckling at the suggestion that Obama is more libertarian than Clinton, but look closely at all of her policies and who’s funding them. Clinton receives the MOST amount of money from military contractors–don’t look to her to scale down the MIC. She also gets the biggest money from HMO’s–her “universal” health care plan is likely going to be corporate welfarism. If a huge government is going to mug me and redistribute wealth at my expense, I’d rather it not go into the pockets a health care system that already tries to rip me off, mkaythx. Honestly, I think an Obama presidency would *reduce* the scope of government and corporatism, simply because he takes far less money from lobbyists and would scale back the War On Terror. Not to mention he would restore many Civil Liberties.

  15. billhilly,

    Don’t you ever sully Chicago’s good name by associating us with that NYC rat’s nest of corruption, Tammany Hall.

  16. Hey, Jackie Harvey, care to explain your position? Backing Obama due to his support for somewhat free markets qualifies as extremist? What do you mean by “disaster capitalism”?

    I would love to hear the reasons why an unnamed but uncorrupted-by-capitalism Team Blue member should make my decisions for me.

  17. “Hey, Jackie Harvey, care to explain your position? Backing Obama due to his support for somewhat free markets qualifies as extremist? What do you mean by “disaster capitalism”?”

    Theres nothing “free” about an unrestrained market owned by a few large multinational Corporations.

    This you tube video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=kieyjfZDUIc) is a good introduction to what disaster capitalism is.

    A real Democrat like John Edwards would end the reign of free market extremists and stand up for the working man.

  18. Show me a “left-libertarian” who claims not to define the “libertarian” part as “only that which doesn’t interest me as a leftist” and I’ll show you a liar (and, of course, a leftist).

  19. If only LD stood for Larry David!!!

    But then, I suppose there’s no need to exhort anyone around here to curb your enthusiasm for the likeliest winners of this nomination process!!

  20. I love it when socialist twits like MCW try to tell us what “free” means.

    Kind of like listeneing to a Jesse Jackson lecture on marital fidelity.

    LOL

  21. Obama talks too much about fighting the evil, greedy corporations for my taste. He’s not as bad as Edwards, of course, but still wrong-headed.

  22. There goes Kip, calling me a liar.

    That’s not very nice, Kip.

  23. I’m not one of those let-the-perfect-be-the-enemy-of-the-good types, but this is so weak. If Obama’s economic (and related) policies are the best we can get this election cycle (which, they just may be), then I think we’re in more trouble as a country than I previously thought.

    Well hell, what were you thinking?? 🙂

  24. Somehow suddenly going from supporting Nazi-connected, racist-newsletter-publishing Ron Paul to backing Obama seems a little suspect. Maybe libertarians need a political timeout.

  25. Kip, Kip, Kip,

    There is a long and distonguished line of left-libertarian thought (well, lines plural; it’s not as if genuine left libertarians are in anything like agreement as to what the term means). Agree with it or not, it doesn’t fit at all with your characterization.

    Which isn’t to deny that many people who call themselves left libertarians are unfamiliar with this line of thought (those lines of thought, more accurately), and/or don’t support it. And certainly Obama is worlds removed from true left libertarian thought. Though even there your cartoon description is a bit unfair; there are many people on the left who, quite properly, want to work with, rather than against, the market when possible in order to achieve their goals. Though calling that impulse “left libertarian” is a bit of a stretch; Obama has little if anything in common with, say, Roderick T. Long. Perhaps someone should come up with a better name for the type of policy preferences that Koffler describes. Market progressives, perhaps?

  26. If Obama is a libertarian, so is Giuliani. Are you saying the D O N D E R O has been right all along?

  27. Goolsbee promotes programmes to essentially democratise the market, protecting and where possible expanding freedom of choice, while simultaneously creating rational, self-interested incentives for individuals to participate in solving collective problems.

    I guess this is good, but I’m not sure if I understand. How does the market get “democratised” and are “rational, self-interested incentives” created other than to pull the government out and allow the market to operate unhindered? Yet if that’s what was being proposed, you’d think it would be a helluva lot simpler to just say that, and that’s not what’s being said. I suppose if this is government control that’s more predicated on humans being rational and (semi-) autonomous beings possessed of free will and personal interests as opposed to being pawns in their game who either do what their told or are getting in the way of the Grand Scheme that’s in all our interest whether we know it or not, then I guess that’s something. Thank gawd for small favors!!!

  28. crimethink,

    I would think the point of the linked article is that Obama advocates programs that are closer to or more ameniable to libertarianism, not that he is a libertarian. Personally I take the blog headline to be tongue-in-cheek. Even Paul isn’t an across-the-board libertarian (as has been noted many times before on this site, thank you very much, Edward).

  29. Goolsbee promotes programmes to essentially democratise the market, protecting and where possible expanding freedom of choice, while simultaneously creating rational, self-interested incentives for individuals to participate in solving collective problems.

    I think this translates into lots and lots of government social engineering and micro-management. Think Internal Revenue Code, only on steroids.

  30. “Theres nothing “free” about an unrestrained market owned by a few large multinational Corporations.”

    Ah, so you free the markets through restraint. The answer was right there all along!

  31. “Ah, so you free the markets through restraint. The answer was right there all along!”

    Free people, not free markets.

  32. Oh Jeez

    The Middle Class Worker is back. Bold tags for Everyone!

  33. “Free people, not free markets.”

    That distinction is oxymoronic.

  34. Having an argument with a liberal ideologue about the meaning of freedom is useless.

    There are meaningful discussions to be had about the friction between natural rights and modern economies, but you won’t have any of them with Middle Class Wanker.

  35. LarryM —

    I’m glad you brought it up. Left-lib thought is certainly not something that gets much love from these parts, and if possible is even further marginalized and outcast than right-libertarianism.

    Left-lib strands like Distributism (“The only problem with Capitalism is that there aren’t enough capitalists” -G.K.C.) have a great deal more in common with traditional right-lib thought than it does with either traditional progressivism or populism.

    It’s interesting that both movements have, at various points, been poisoned by similar problems. Chesterton and Belloc were (unfairly or not) caught up in being associated with Anti-Semitism and racism in a similar way that right-libs these days are…but in America the left-libs got a further push into the closet by the 1960’s counterculture and its aftermath. Left-lib also has a similar problem to right-lib in that people confuse themselves by misapplying the terms to people (like what’s-his-name from Daily Kos) or diluting them by associating the flavor with more traditional pols (like Obama).

    Left-libs do concentrate on the non-Market stuff that gets ignored, by and large, (except for the police state stuff) around here, and I think a really healthy Libertarianism would do well to take as seriously some diverse strands of lib thought.

  36. hale:

    Agreed, but who can pass up the chance to have a real life cyber-encounter with a columnist from the Onion?

  37. @ Edward:
    Somehow suddenly going from supporting Nazi-connected, racist-newsletter-publishing Ron Paul to backing Obama seems a little suspect. Maybe libertarians need a political timeout.

    Thank you for assuming that all libertarians suddenly switched to supporting Obama, due to navel-gazing paranoia, bravo! The truth is, many small-l libertarians have seen Obama as a backup plan for some time now, since Kucinich, Gravel, and Bill Richardson have flamed out, and in most likelihood a Democrat will be in the White House. Google the “money shot blog” for an idea of this opinion (I will not post the link because it’s not safe for work).

  38. It’s true! It’s true! Obama is a tolerant cosmopolitan, so he has to be a libertarian!

  39. It’s true! It’s true! Obama is a tolerant cosmopolitan, so he has to be a libertarian!

    Why can’t the cosmos and Montana Freemen just join hands and sing Kumbaya?

  40. I suppose I’m a left libertarian since I almost always support Democrats over Republicans. But that’s because the Democrats’ impingement of my (and others’) personal freedom is less offensive than the Republicans’, overall. Billions of dollars in handouts to corporations from the right is worse than millions of dollars in social programs from the left. The right wants to enforce religious beliefs with government mandates. The right is usually more pro-censorship and authoritarian. Yes, I disagree with the left on many economic issues. But an insufficiently free market tends to be self correcting (Soviet Union, China, France), while the impact of forcing certain worldviews and morals on the population can last for generations. Witness how many of our laws are based on the beliefs of the Puritans who first colonized this landmass 400+ years ago. So I’ll take Obama over Big Brother Giuliani or any of the religious right candidates. (And don’t mention Paul – anyone who thinks abortion should be illegal is trying to force their religion on me.)

  41. Why can’t the cosmos and Montana Freemen just join hands and sing Kumbaya?

    Spoken like a true cosmo, you cosmo-unnist.

  42. I would say that if you want to look at a person who defines himself as a Left-Libertarian you would have to look at someone like Noam Chomsky.

    I think Left-Libertarianism differs from so called ‘American Liberalism’ (hate the way liberal is used in the America) by its disagreement with American foriegn policy and its agreement with people like Ron Paul about a much scaled back military footprint in the world. It is strongly civil libertarian on issues like the silly drug war, freedom of speech, etc but differs from straight Libertarianism on economic issues and is believes in a stronger amount of democratic involvement in economics than afforded by the free-market corporatism.

  43. Obama is so libertarian that you cannot get on his website without providing an email address and a zip code.

  44. But an insufficiently free market tends to be self correcting (Soviet Union, China, France), while the impact of forcing certain worldviews and morals on the population can last for generations.

    Okay, let me begin by saying that in all fairness, I probably fall on the leftward end of the spectrum myself.

    That said, the right doesn’t have a monopoly on forcing certain worldviews and morals on the population. The left engages in this sort of thing under various guises all the time (mandatory quotas, kiddie censorship, regulatory enthusiasms and mental health crusades), often to the extent that one could not be blamed for characterizing certain aspects of it as secular puritanism.

  45. Obama is so libertarian that you cannot get on his website without providing an email address and a zip code.

    I was laughing and thought it was a joke until I went to his actual website.
    http://www.barackobama.com/

    In all fairness there’s a link to continue without entering any personal information, and it’s simply to get signed up to his newsletter.

  46. I would say that in some ways Left-Libertarian thought as I am familiar with it tends to attack what it considers ‘free market in theory’ and ‘free market in practice’. That is to say Left-Libertarians point out that a form of free-market fundamentalism is peddled to the poor and middle class, but when those in power go bankrupt or hit rough times there is always a gov’t there to bail them out…They “socialize risk and privative profit”, which is one of the main Left Libertarian critiques of corporatism.

  47. Demosthenes —

    Agree for the most part, though re: Markets while they tend to self-correct towards free-market models (because they are simply more efficient than any command model), there is ample evidence from those same places that market liberalization need not have *any* correlation with increasing political freedom. China is the best example of a country that essentially embraced market reforms and still oppresses its people with the same effectiveness as ever.

    re: Abortion, I have met a few Atheist pro-Lifers (I’m not one; I found the nth iteration of the Violinist argument to be decisive enough); they tend to be hardline right-libs who a.) believe the non-aggression principle is gospel and b.) believe that a fetus at some pre-birth state of development is a human in the ‘human rights’ sense of the word. I agree though that *most* pro-Lifers are tainted by a (very bizarre and historically murky) religious approach.

    James —

    Chomsky is an odd bird, more of an Anarcho-syndicalist than anything else. I’d call it left-lib extremism. I agree with him though that the key to political thought is that all authority, regardless of its form, must advance a positive argument for its legitimacy before it can be regarded as such; there can be no a priori assumption of legitimacy attached to any restriction on the freedom of people to act.

  48. I just looked at the entire Issues area of Obama’s website and frankly, it doesn’t look anything like libertarian to me.

    From Universal Pre-school (which Reason’s Education Director spent six months working to defeat in California back in 2006) to universal retirement plans, to cheaper prescriptions for old people, to more medicare spending, to welfare for ex-cons, there isn’t much to be excited about.

    If I’m screwed anyway I’m going with an actual libertarian who’ll get a few hundred thousand votes.

  49. In all fairness there’s a link to continue without entering any personal information, and it’s simply to get signed up to his newsletter.

    I see that now, but it is pretty well disguised, and for good reason.

  50. They “socialize risk and privatize profit”, which is one of the main Left Libertarian critiques of corporatism.

    That’s a damn good way to put it. Moral hazard is a real serious problem in modern markets, esp. re: currency exchange and arbitrage. Return on an investment is supposed to reflect the risk of making the investment in the first place; without the risk, capitalism rots from the inside.

  51. I thought Chomsky was a bit odd at first, but I think that was due to the normal nationalistic indoctrination that most people receive in America. Now, whenever I read or watch him, I am almost embarrased that I did not look at things in that way in the first place, however, it does require shedding the rather profound American sin of national vanity.

  52. Obama’s preference for reducing healthcare costs while preserving the freedom to choose whether or not to participate in the healthcare system…

    I wonder if Koffler actually has read Obama’s Issues page.

  53. Furthermore Left-Libertarians care (as most on the Left do) about some form of equality whereas Libertarians will often simply say ‘life is unfair, deal with it'(a truism), but certainly there are more and less fair ways of life. “Freedom without opportunity is the devil’s gift”.

  54. That’s a damn good way to put it. Moral hazard is a real serious problem in modern markets, esp. re: currency exchange and arbitrage. Return on an investment is supposed to reflect the risk of making the investment in the first place; without the risk, capitalism rots from the inside.

    I don’t remember where I read this, but I read somewhere that the SEC requires nearly two million dollars in forms before you can issue a stock, which forces new businesses to go through banks for finance, and at a huge mobility disadvantage to larger businesses. The commenter I read believed that this was partly to blame for the general sense that Americans are less economically mobile today than they used to be.

  55. I would further say that one of the biggest drawbacks of corporatism is that Capital can move much faster now than people can, this is seen through ‘currency attacks’ as well as the moving of jobs to developing countries, there is nothing free about mobility of people which give Capital a means to throttle labor.

  56. Libertarians will often simply say ‘life is unfair, deal with it

    The recognition of a fundamental truth in no way diminishes compassion or empathy.

  57. TWC —

    The recognition of a fundamental truth in no way diminishes compassion or empathy.

    Except when it does.

    Sometimes, recognition of the truth can be purely descriptive. All too often, however, it is usually a mask behind which malignant instincts towards Schadenfreude and entitlement hide. For every person who sees the truth of life not being fair and therefor is moved to help those less fortunate, there are a dozen who see the same truth as their ticket out of their guilt for not helping when they could by blaming the misfortune of others either on they themselves, or on the capriciousness of a cruel world.

  58. “The recognition of a fundamental truth in no way diminishes compassion or empathy.”

    Possibly you are right, though empathy is not action, it feels a bit like saying that you are going to pray for those suffering from starvation, doen’t do a lot of good. However, helping the starving by giving them food is in some way distorting the market. The question is more fundamentally, (in some cases I would say yes) while markets are often efficient and successful, is that the same as saying that they are good? And do we care about what type of values they promote in a society?

  59. I would further say that one of the biggest drawbacks of corporatism is that Capital can move much faster now than people can, this is seen through ‘currency attacks’ as well as the moving of jobs to developing countries, there is nothing free about mobility of people which give Capital a means to throttle labor.

    A point I often feel obliged to make concerns the way that both pro- and anti-globalists ignore labor as the form of capital that most people possess. “Movement of capital” policies that ignore human capital can’t help but put the economic rights of entities ahead of those of individuals. How to address that situation is one of those potential left-lib issues that, as far as I can tell, is up for grabs.

  60. The weakness of capitalism and corporatism seems to be with their refusal to acknowledege society or humanity…or rather play upon the basest impulses and at the same time claim that they are simply economic systems and not social systems. This kind of globalism can only be successful if it adequately compensates the losers in this scheme.

  61. The most important freedom is the right to vote.Other freedoms are less important because they are subject to abridgment if the majority thinks it necessary for the greater good.

  62. I thought Chomsky was a bit odd at first, but I think that was due to the normal nationalistic indoctrination that most people receive in America. Now, whenever I read or watch him, I am almost embarrased that I did not look at things in that way in the first place, however, it does require shedding the rather profound American sin of national vanity.

  63. James, so you are an American Exceptionalism denier?

  64. I strongly question whether freedoms can actually exist in any meaninful way outside a society…it seems that natural law is simply the law of the jungle. I think freedom to meaningfully participate socially in a way that minimizes coercion and maximizes potential is the closer to the fundamental goal of society for Left-Libertarians.

  65. “James, so you are an American Exceptionalism denier?”

    Certainly I believe American Exeptionalism exists, but I deny its validity.

  66. I can’t type…

    “closest” to the fundamental goal of Left-Libertarians

  67. Progressive Liberal —

    Congrats, you’re a populist. We’re pretty much opposites.

  68. fundamental goal of society for Left-Libertarians.

    There is no such thing as a “Left-Libertarian”.

  69. @hale – The Left absolutely tries to impose its own worldview and morals, but OTOH the definition of liberal (in the word’s non-political sense) is basically someone who is open to new ideas (a neophile) while conservative is the opposite (a neophobe). So I think a liberal viewpoint is more likely to allow experimentation with different ideas, overall. That said, liberals who act like their stance is a moral certitude are as obnoxious as their counterparts on the right.

    @Elemenope – Agree re: China (and my other examples: Russia and France are no paragons of free speech). My point was merely that it is, IMHO, easier to change economics than to change perceptions of good and evil. And re: Atheist pro-Lifers, I’d argue that if they believe that non-agression is “gospel”, then it’s still a religious belief (i.e., based on ideals or faith instead of rational thought) regardless of whether they believe in one or more deities. The belief that life starts at conception is at least scientifically reasonable; but it being a gray area you ultimately have to make a moral (religious) judgment.

  70. However, helping the starving by giving them food is in some way distorting the market.

    If that were true, any action or non-action would in some way distort the market. You giving a grand to Reason does not distort the market. The government taxing you and then giving a grand to Planned Parenthood distorts the market by removing both your cash and your choice.

  71. The most important freedom is the right to vote.

    No, the most important freedom is freedom.
    It doesn’t matter shit if you can walk into a booth and pull a lever if your choice is between slavery and servitude.

  72. There is no such thing as a “Left-Libertarian”.

    SIV, you’d better tell that to Chomsky. He’s held that title ever since he started telling the world that socialism is freedom.

  73. “There is no such thing as a “Left-Libertarian”.”

    Exactly.

    All the talk about using market mechanisims to achieve “social justice”, etc. being “left-libertarian” is nonsense.

    There is no such thing as “social justice” in the first place – it is merely another euphamism for socialism.

    The bottom line is they believe in government engineered redistribution and interference in free markets.

    There’s nothing libertarian about any of it.

  74. Let’s exercise our greatest freedom.

    I vote that the greater good is served when progressive liberal’s TV is moved into my basement. I’m interested in the greater good, so I will support further reallocation as my Fellow Majority sees fit.

    All in favor?

  75. Of Course Left-Libertarianism exists, it just does’t agree with pure Libertarians on some points, nor does it agree with Marxists on some points, it is an imperfect fusion of differing ideologies. These ‘free markets’ only exists because of governments

  76. There is no such thing as a “Left-Libertarian”.

    Sure there are. Yes, there are certain non-negotiable conflicts between libertarian fundamentals and the traditional left, but there’s also a lot of gray area (in both camps) with regard to emphasis, priority and rhetorical style. Personally, I believe that libertarian policies have a lot to offer the poor and working class – even in the short run. The fact that I consider that a fundamental policy goal places me closer to the left in sympathies than it does to certain elements of the right.

    There’s the cultural angle, too. I spent a long time as a liberal, so naturally I find the libertarians’ lassiez-faire social attitudes viscerally appealing where it seems many paleocons accept them only grudgingly as the least of available evils.

    Not that I agree with harder leftists easily. Among my mostly liberal friends, I’m the one most likely to be taking up positions against New Left-style identity politics, regulation, welfare and so forth, and being treated as (at best) a quaint oddity for regularly promoting free-market answers to policy questions.

    Even provided we all agree on libertarian fundamentals, there’s still a lot of room for aesthetic disagreement. And thank god for that, or we’d run out of things to have huge snarky arguments about here.

  77. James,

    I’m far from an expert myself in the nuances of left libertarian thought, as I’m still working through this stuff myself, but I think you are missing the boat a bit with your 2:07 post – at least if I understand you correctly. True left libertarians often favor even less government than most conventional or right libertarians (i.e., they often favor some form of anarchism).

    An unrelated point is that many of the “progressive” criticisms of corporatism are fully consistant with even “right” libertarianism. The libertarian simply argues that many (most? all?) of the worst corporate abuses are enabled by the state. That argument really isn’t particularly a “left” libertarian argument.

    Heck, at the most basic level, limited liability corporations are entirely a creature of the state. Though here we ARE getting into an area where left libertarians might favor a different approach than right libertarians. I think that right libertarians would be much more likely than would left libertarians to include laws allowing limited liability corporations as one of the legitimate roles of the state. Well, to the extent that a left libertarian is, say, doesn’t see a need for the state at all, the very concept of a limited liability corporation would be meaningless, for reasons which should be obvious.

  78. These ‘free markets’ only exists because of governments

    Wrong. Free markets and free association exist prior to the formation of any government.

  79. These ‘free markets’ only exists because of governments

    Oxymoronic Statement of the Year So Far!
    Congratulations, James, you will be in the year-end drawing for a set of steak knives and fabulous cash prizes!

  80. For every person who sees the truth of life not being fair and therefor is moved to help those less fortunate, there are a dozen who see the same truth as their ticket out of their guilt….

    Ele, my comment was directed at James’ implication of libertarians as folks who shrug their shoulders and tell the poor to go inherit their own money, a misrepresentation at best.

    I’m not claiming everybody is compassionate, I’m stating that the recognition of a basic truth of life does not preclude acting compassionately.

    It is also a basic truth that some people will not act compassionately. That doesn’t concern me either, except in the abstract.

    Then there’s appearances, like the guy I know who I used to think was a cheapskate because he wouldn’t give to charity. Truth was, he was supporting his indigent mother. Something that wasn’t apparent to the outside observer.

  81. I think one of the most important differences that Left Libertarians over Democrats and traditional American liberals is a distrust of the American Imperialism that has been the foriegn policy of both major political parties in the United States.

  82. There’s nothing libertarian about any of it.

    Do we get to drink?

  83. The most important freedom is the freedom to vote

    “If voting could change the system, it would be illegal.” More seriously, though, I am not at all sure that democracy is the best form of government that we could come up with. Look at all the studies that show that most voters do not even know where their candidate stands on any given issue – and probably have only a vague grasp of the issue anyway.

  84. To those who say that there is no such thing as left libertarianism, I guggest (1) 5 minutes of googgling, (2) 25 minutes of becoming familiar with the basics, (2) two hours of following up on some of the major thinkers/strains.

    That won’t be enough to make you experts (I’ve read a LOT more than that, and I’m not one), nor will it likely convert you, but it will at least prevent you from embarrassing yourselves in public.

    Hint #1: Chompsky isn’t one.

    Hint #2: the emphasis (for most of them) is on the libertarianism, not on the left.

    Hint #3: they tend to be even more hostile to the state than do conventional libertarians.

  85. I’m not claiming everybody is compassionate, I’m stating that the recognition of a basic truth of life does not preclude acting compassionately.

    Well put, TWC. I’ve always felt something of a moral obligation to do what I can to help those less fortunate than myself, but I also recognize that it is inherently immoral for me to force someone else to do the same.

  86. Voting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As Godfrey said, taxation WITH representation ain’t all that great neither (or was that Will Rogers?).

    The problem with voting is that there are way too many things that people get to vote on.

  87. I’ve always felt something of a moral obligation to do what I can to help those less fortunate than myself, but I also recognize that it is inherently immoral for me to force someone else to do the same.

    That’s the heart of it. I don’t measure another person’s “compassion” on how much he or she advocates for the welfare state. In fact, quite the opposite.

  88. “I am not at all sure that democracy is the best form of government that we could come up with.”

    Neither am I…(not that we actually have one in the United States)but I have a difficult time believing that any other gov’t but a democratic one could have any form of legitimate authority.

  89. http://praxeology.net/blog/

    http://praxeology.net/anarcres.htm

    http://radgeek.com/

    http://c4ss.org/

    Just a few starting points. Agree or disagree with these people; they sure as hell qualify as libertarians.

  90. No, the most important freedom is freedom.
    It doesn’t matter shit if you can walk into a booth and pull a lever if your choice is between slavery and servitude.

    Jamie Kelly just nailed that one, damn.

  91. “No, the most important freedom is freedom.”

    I wish it was that simple, If I am certain of one thing, I am certain that people are very capable of being enslaved while they think they are free.

  92. Thanks, Pottsy.

    I am suspect of libertarian bona fides whenever state power is suggested as good thing.

    For example, there was a court case in Ca a couple of years ago where the court ordered the Catholic Archdiocese to provide employees with contraception coverage as a part of it’s health package.

    That move was applauded by some libertarians.

  93. I am certain that people are very capable of being enslaved while they think they are free.

    That sentiment doesn’t wash with me. Aside from uncivilized societies, where the ideas of economic and political freedom don’t mean much, any thinking person will recognize when he or she is enslaved.

  94. GM – “Social justice” may be the most common reason stated for trying to force taxpayers to “help the less fortunate” (welfare) but it’s not the only one. I could, for example, argue that the greatest imposition on my freedom is being murdered, and that my chances of being murdered go down if the average income of my fellow citizens increases. Thus, helping others out of poverty actually helps me increase my freedom. This is sort of a silly example, but we do have to share the world with other people, so it’s wise to consider the impact of any particular policy on all of them. My personal belief is that the best way to help the poor is to embrace free market principles to a great extent, but that doesn’t mean I don’t consider the impoverished, just that I think I know what’s best for them. 🙂

    P.S. This is my first time posting to the reason message boards and I have greatly enjoyed the intelligent conversation here today, regardless of whether I always agree.

  95. Given the current state of the world, the right to vote is, indeed, a pretty important right, for the simple reason that, sans the right to vote, and given the existance of entities with a monopoly upon the right to exercise coercive violence in a given geographic area (aka, nations)(and, in the absence of other geographic areas to which one might relocate without such entities), the right to vote is the only (albeit imperfect, to say the least) way to have a voice in preserving/extending those more fundemental rights that libertarians hold dear.

  96. I can’t exactly label myself well, I tend to agree with Libertarians on social issues, I would like a scaled back military and no intervention or military bases outside our borders…yet I tend to agree democratic socialists on economic issues. I differ mostly with Libertarians on economic issues because I am afraid that we may be just exchanging one form of coersion (the gov’t) with another form(big business)…and I have difficulty in legitimizing any kind of control over people that has not been democratically endorsed.

  97. Pottsy | January 10, 2008, 2:30pm | #

    These ‘free markets’ only exists because of governments

    Wrong. Free markets and free association exist prior to the formation of any government.

    Is that an historical or an ontological statement? As an historical statement, I think that it is open to dispute, certainly with regard to free markets.

    But that’s a quibble. The real argument – and I’m not necessarily endorsing it – is that free markets don’t stay free absent a state to provide a framework to allow markets to function. This framework includes, inter alia, the protection and enforcement of property rights.

    Now, most libertarians would even agree with this, and would therefore favor a minimal state which limited functions would include the protection and enforcement of property rights, and enforcement of contracts.

    Other libertarians would go further, and would argue that private/voluntary institutions could serve that function.

    But this is contested terrain even in libertarian circles.

  98. @LarryM 2:34

    I’ve been at it for 25 years, not 25 minutes.

    I repeat: There is no such thing as left-libertarianism. You can only contort such a nomenclature by misdefining “left” or by misdefining “libertarian” … or by lying about it altogether.

  99. any thinking person will recognize when he or she is enslaved.

    By “thinking person”, are you referring to those who wave a flag on Fourth of July and believe they are free when their combined tax load is over 50% of their income, they’re subject to virtual conscription to serve on juries, they can be thrown in prison for ingesting certain chemicals, they are told they can’t buy certain light bulbs or drive certain cars or eat certain kinds of fat, etc. ad nauseam — these are the thinking, free people in question?

  100. James,

    The libertarian response to that – and I’m most of the way there myself, so I guess I should say my response – is is follows:

    (1) Why is democratically endorsed coercion inherently any more legitimate than other types of coercion? Now, I’m aware that there is a significant body of thought on this issue; my point isn’t that there are no counterarguments, but that, perhaps, this is an assumption that deserves to be questioned, at least.

    (2) To the extent that big business can be said to excercise coercion (and it can), much of the problem is a function of a government which, far from restraining big business, priveledges it in many ways.

    (3) Empirically, the government (by definition, an entity enjoying a monopoly upon the right to exercise coercive violence in a given geographical area) is a far greater threat to liberty (however defined) than big business is.

    I’m less sanguine than many libertarians about what the libertarian utopia will mean for many of the weaker members of our society. But for many, I expect that a more libertarian society (a truely libertarian society, which would mean, among other things, a rollback of corporate welfare and of the many laws priveleging big business) would be a bteer place for many of the more unfortunate members of our society.

  101. “To those who say that there is no such thing as left libertarianism, I guggest (1) 5 minutes of googgling, (2) 25 minutes of becoming familiar with the basics, (2) two hours of following up on some of the major thinkers/strains.

    That won’t be enough to make you experts (I’ve read a LOT more than that, and I’m not one), nor will it likely convert you, but it will at least prevent you from embarrassing yourselves in public.”

    There’s no embarrasment involved, since no amount of jabbering can prove than anything collectivist is compatiable with individualist.

  102. Kip,

    Well that response leaves four possibilities:

    (1) Despite 25 years of being “at it”, which I’ll charitibly assume means 25 years of studying libertarian thought, you have studiously avoided a whole swath of libertarian thinkers.

    (2) You don’t think that people like Thomas Paine, Herbert Spencer, Henry George, Samuel Edward Konkin III, Michael Otsuka, Roderick T. Long and Charles Johnson (not the LGF dude)(just to name a few) are really libertarians, which would require (in most cases) a … rather odd … definition of libertarianism.

    (3) You don’t think that those people are really “left”; which would require an almost as unusal definition of left.

    (4) You are simply full of shit, and haven’t really studied made any kind of systematic study of libertarian thought.

    But all snark aside, which is is? I assume you aren’t going to cop to #1 or #4, so is it #2 or #3? And what is your reasoning for such conclusion?

  103. Gil,

    And there it is, more embarassment. Your error is in conflating “collectivist” with “left.” Now, given contemporary realities, one can CERTAINLY understand how such conflation could occur, and there is also certainly a large intersection between those categories, but looking at the “left” as both an historical (and even contemporary) phenomenon, there have been (and are) many people who define themselves as “left” without being collectivists.

    hint: none of the guys that I named in my post above is a collectivist.

    You know, libertarians complain, with justice, that many “progressives” have a distorted, cartoon view of libertarianism. But given that many libertarians seem to have the same cartoon view, is it any wonder?

  104. these are the thinking, free people in question?

    No, you can be blinded by intellectual laziness, jingoism and hyper-nationalism.

  105. “And there it is, more embarassment”

    Not on your say so – or anyone else’s.

    And that’s the only response necessary about that.

  106. Ohhh. Really got me good on that one.

    But seriously, it WOULD be nice if somebody would give me a, you know, substantive response.

    I mean, I THINK I know what it would be. Nobody seriously is going to argue that (most of the people) calling themselves, oe who have been called, left libertarians, aren’t REALLY libertarians, especially since in many cases their anti-statist impulses are more pronounced than the average libertarian.

    More likely people like Kip or Gil, if they expose themselves to those thinkers at all (though Gil, at least, clearly has no interest in doing so) would come away saying that they aren’t “really” left. And, yes, while they in many (most?) cases call themselves left libertarians they certainly don’t conform to the left … as defined by Kip and Gil. QED.

    Now, if this is just a silly dispute about semantics, it’s not worth wasting TOO much time over, I suppose. But I suspect that it’s more than that, a narrrowminded refusal to explore viewpoints even marginally divergent from one’s own. Which is fine, too, I suppose, but I find such lack of intellectual curiosity a bit … sad.

  107. And really, what is kind of funny about this dispute is that some of the left libertarians are the real hard core libertarians, as opposed to he more typical minarchists that you find around here.

    Along those lines, here is an interesting interview of Samuel Edward Konkin III:

    http://www.spaz.org/~dan/individualist-anarchist/software/konkin-interview.html

    A real collectivist, to be sure.

  108. “These ‘free markets’ only exists because of governments”

    LOL!!!

    They do not exist because of governments is more like it. I thought James was quoting Chomsky until I read that line….

  109. He MCW, vi estas la reala frenezulo, kaj anka? via faco.

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