Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Let's Talk: Left-Libertarianism

Walter Block discussed left-libertarianism at Liberty.me. Here's the video.

Relatedly, I talked about libertarian class analysis with Scott Horton: here.


Colombo said...

That was very interesting.

Great intervention from Lucy Steigerwald in 20:46.

This is a growth crisis in libertarianism. Probably good, but bumpy.

I side with Block: left and right are thick. There are not many left-libertarians or right-libertarians who are also a thin-libertarians. And there are not many who are just thick-libertarians and not either leftist or rightist. A different issue is that many who claim to be thin-libertarians are actually thick-right-libertarians. I've read some writings by Hans Hoppe and some writings by Roderick Long, and, in my opinion, both have written pretty stinky authoritarian lines. I don't discard them as libertarians, but I keep in mind that nobody is perfect. Tucker, Spooner, Molinari and Bastiat had their blunders too.

You are right in that capitalism is aesthetically a bad word, but so are feminism, leftism and colectivism in the eyes of many libertarians. In my particular case, I dislike the words "humanism" and the talltale that "the Roman Empire and the Catholic church created western civilization, which is good above all others", that many libertarians defend, especially on the right-wing camp. (They are having a bad time having a commie for Pope, so for a while I try not to rub salt in the wound of my catholic-libertarian friends.)

The BHL are not as much of a libertarian as they think, and not as much of an enemy as NAP libertarians believe.

I think you and Walter should get together some other time to talk about international politics (especilly on Israel and the U.S.) or why europeans hate liberty even more than americans (French want to ban vaccines, Danish have a ban on certain ideas that can be uttered on twitter, Spanish want to tax electronic cigarettes out of existence, and I'm sure German will manage to pass legislation to insert microchip implants for "identification" in all Europeans, and almost nobody will complain).

Another touchy subject would be GMO's. I know you are not experts, but many libertarians seem to have trouble with this. There are leftists against and for, and rightists against and for, and then there is a minority who demands total separation of Science and State, and Industry and State (if a technology does not succeed in the free market, then it is probably not good). I'm against GMO for me, but I am also against Goverment prohibition, which makes me an "enemy" of both camps with regards to this topic. Libertarians don't know how to get along.

I have noticed that most libertarians in favor of GMO food, are against supplements, homeopathy, hate Thomas Szasz to death (and seem to be willing to give him the John Wycliffe treatment) and tend to dismiss anything that is not approved by a State Funded Scientific Research.

The war on drugs have two aspects: the prohibition aspect and the pushing aspect. Libertarians seem to be well aware of the prohibition aspect, but disregard the drug pushing aspect. They seem to regard it as normal.

I think you guys who have been around for a while should talk of these topics.

Thanks for the show "Free association". I enjoy it very much.

Chuck Gullion said...

I just wonder at what point Walter Block will be satisfied that we, in fact, know what libertarianism is; so that we can get into the particulars. I don't at all agree that having those on the left and on the right discussing and debating what their particulars are, undermines it. I tend to eschew labels (left, right, thick, thin) for the very reasons that people (like Walter Block) will insist on erecting straw men to attack my label. But, Sheldon, I gladly welcome the label "Sheldon Richman libertarian" to describe myself.

Daniel said...

The problem with Block's thin libertarianism is that, once applied (or, on his terms, once all violations of the NAP are dis-applied), it's entirely unclear as to why the resulting society would be in any way preferable to the present one. The problem

One can easily imagine voluntarist organizations arising that could mimic primitive accumulation, forcing others to sell their labor on the market under "non-aggressive" duress. Block's libertarianism has nothing to say, for example, about the kinds of "restrictive covenants" that accompanied suburbanization following WWII. The problem with Block's libertarianism, then, is that it relies on a mythical construct of ahistoricity and neutrality to support its definitions, and ends up promoting libertarianism plus disempowering social structures.

Left and right thick libertarianism at least have the honesty to admit that libertarianism is not merely a neutral presentation of conditions that promote liberty in some absolute sense, but in a specific, relative sense -- they recognize that there are kinds of liberty, some models of which are preferable to others. Derrick Bell, though he was not a libertarian, pointed out that someone who supports free speech absolutely, regardless of the context, cannot be considered neutral if the result is that a member of the KKK's right to free speech holds more weight than a person of color's right to not be intimidated, threatened, etc.

In any case, thin libertarians are fundamentally dishonest if they hold that only a kind of "paper libertarianism" should be considered representative of their views.

dennis said...

A point worth making in the whole thick/thin debate is that an anarchist order which respects property wouldn't necessarily follow the NAP/O, and what would make this more likely would be the prevalence of things like racism, sexism, etc. Let's say that we have different defense agencies/co-ops/mutual aid groups, but due to prevalent racism miscegenation is one of the things for which these agencies fine or banish or imprison people. By no definition would this be libertarian. So, if we got to the thin libertarian goal of a stateless society with property, it would be important for the libertarian qua libertarian to oppose the widespread bigotry in the society because it would make it far more likely that an initially libertarian stateless order would become a non-libertarian stateless order.