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Debates Forum

  1. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    30 Oct '14 20:29
    Interesting take on left-libertarianism. This part is an illuminating history lesson:

    Classical liberalism and the classical socialist movement of the early 19th century had very close common roots in the Enlightenment. The liberalism of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and the other classical political economists was very much a left-wing assault on the entrenched economic privilege of the great Whig landed oligarchy and the mercantilism of the moneyed classes.

    As the rising industrialists defeated the Whig landlords and mercantilists in the 19th century and gained a predominant position in the state, classical liberalism gradually took on the character of an apologetic doctrine in defense of the entrenched interests of industrial capital.
    Even so, the left-wing — even socialistic — strands of free market thought continued to survive on the margins of establishment liberalism.

    Thomas Hodgskin, a classical liberal who wrote in the 1820s through 1860s, was also a socialist who saw rent, profit and interest as monopoly returns on artificial property rights and privilege. Josiah Warren, Benjamin Tucker and the other American individualists also favored a free market form of socialism in which unfettered competition would destroy rent, profit and interest and guarantee that “the natural wage of labor in a free market is its product.” Many individualist anarchists associated with Tucker’s Liberty group had close ties to radical labor and socialist groups like the Knights of Labor, the International Workingmen’s Association and the Western Federation of Miners.

    This strand of libertarianism was also on the cultural Left, closely associated with movements for the abolition of slavery, and for racial equality, feminism and sexual freedom.

    As the class wars of the late 19th century raged on, “free market” and “free enterprise” rhetoric in mainstream American politics came to be associated more and more with the militant defense of corporate capital against radical challenges from the labor and farm populist movement. At the same time the internal split within the anarchist movement between communists and individualists left the latter isolated and vulnerable to colonization by the Right. In the early 20th century, “free market libertarianism” came to be closely associated with right-wing defenses of capitalism by Mises and Rand. The surviving individualist tradition was stripped of its older left-wing, pro-labor and socialistic cultural traditions, and took on an increasingly right-wing apologetic character.

    Nevertheless, even then some remnant of the older left-wing tradition survived in American libertarianism. In particular Georgists and quasi-Georgists like Bolton Hall, Albert Nock and Ralph Borsodi straggled along through the mid-20th century.

    We on the Libertarian Left consider it utterly perverse that free market libertarianism, a doctrine which had its origins as an attack on the economic privilege of landlords and merchants, should ever have been coopted in defense of the entrenched power of the plutocracy and big business. The use of the “free market” as a legitimizing ideology for triumphant corporate capitalism, and the growth of a community of “libertarian” propagandists, is as much a perversion of free market principles as Stalinist regimes’ cooptation of rhetoric and symbols from the historic socialist movement was a perversion of the working class movement.

    The industrial capitalist system that the libertarian mainstream has been defending since the mid-19th century has never even remotely approximated a free market. Capitalism, as the historic system that emerged in early modern times, is in many ways a direct outgrowth of the bastard feudalism of the late Middle Ages. It was founded on the dissolution of the open fields, enclosure of the commons and other massive expropriations of the peasantry. In Britain not only was the rural population transformed into a propertyless proletariat and driven into wage labor, but its freedom of association and movement were criminalized by a draconian police state for the first two decades of the 19th century.

    On a global level, capitalism expanded into a world system through the colonial occupation, expropriation and enslavement of much of the global South. Tens and hundreds of millions of peasants were dispossessed from their land by the colonial powers and driven into the wage labor market, and their former holdings consolidated for cash crop agriculture, in a global reenactment of the Enclosures of Great Britain. In not only colonial but post-colonial times, the land and natural resources of the Third World have been enclosed, stolen and plundered by Western business interests. The current concentration of Third World land in the hands of landed elites producing in collusion with Western agribusiness interests, and of oil and mineral resources in the hands of Western corporations, is a direct legacy of four hundred years of colonial and neo-colonial robbery.


    We of the Libertarian Left, as we understand it at C4SS, want to take back free market principles from the hirelings of big business and the plutocracy, and put them back to their original use: an all-out assault on the entrenched economic interests and privileged classes of our day. If the classical liberalism of Smith and Ricardo was an attack on the power of the Whig landed oligarchs and the moneyed interests, our left-libertarianism is an attack on the closest thing in our own time: global finance capital and the transnational corporations. We repudiate mainstream libertarianism’s role in defense of corporate capitalism in the 20th century, and its alliance with conservatism.

    http://c4ss.org/content/28216

    There are some really radical proposals later in the article like the abolition of trademarks and patents or opposition to laws forbidding discrimination by private businesses. But I'm most interested in their historical analysis of how libertarian "free market" principles were hijacked.

    Discussion is welcome.
  2. 31 Oct '14 13:48 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Interesting take on left-libertarianism. This part is an illuminating history lesson:

    Classical liberalism and the classical socialist movement of the early 19th century had very close common roots in the Enlightenment. [b]The liberalism of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and the other classical political economists was very much a left-wing assault on the ...[text shortened]... al analysis of how libertarian "free market" principles were hijacked.

    Discussion is welcome.
    May we presume that emphasis was added? Classical liberalism and modern libertarianism is as simple as Wajoma and I keep insisting. It is neither left nor right, but is individualistic. It asks that government authority leave as many decisions as is possible to the individuals, and that government not favor any particular group.

    Free markets are a wonderful tool to accomplish this goal, if they were allowed to operate by the political left and right. The hijacking of libertarian principles is largely fiscal libertarianism hijacked by conservatives, and social libertarianism hijacked by the left. Each side of the political spectrum likes a degree of liberty in certain areas, but decline to follow it in all areas. Even many professed libertarians fail to apply the principles of liberty in all areas.

    It is interesting that the founders were mostly classical liberals, but also that some of the anti federalists were even more libertarian than the federalists. The blending of liberty with proper government has never been a simple thing.
  3. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    31 Oct '14 14:33
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Interesting take on left-libertarianism. This part is an illuminating history lesson:

    Classical liberalism and the classical socialist movement of the early 19th century had very close common roots in the Enlightenment. [b]The liberalism of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and the other classical political economists was very much a left-wing assault on the ...[text shortened]... al analysis of how libertarian "free market" principles were hijacked.

    Discussion is welcome.
    How do you protect and encourage the incentive to innovate, invent and grow businesses at personal financial risk without protecting intellectual property and the ability to run a business and make large profits?
  4. 31 Oct '14 14:46
    Originally posted by sh76
    How do you protect and encourage the incentive to innovate, invent and grow businesses at personal financial risk without protecting intellectual property and the ability to run a business and make large profits?
    There is quite a range of libertarian thought on how much government ought to protect business and intellectual properties, without squelching or infringing on other freedoms.

    Much progress happens with the modification and application of previous ideas, thus the limits on copyright and patent protections.
  5. 31 Oct '14 14:48
    Originally posted by normbenign
    May we presume that emphasis was added? Classical liberalism and modern libertarianism is as simple as Wajoma and I keep insisting. It is neither left nor right, but is individualistic. It asks that government authority leave as many decisions as is possible to the individuals, and that government not favor any particular group.

    Free markets are a w ...[text shortened]... the federalists. The blending of liberty with proper government has never been a simple thing.
    [Classical liberalism and libertarianism ask] that government authority leave as many decisions as is possible to the individuals [...]

    No they don't. I think you are confusing it with anarchism.
  6. 31 Oct '14 14:55
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    [b][Classical liberalism and libertarianism ask] that government authority leave as many decisions as is possible to the individuals [...]

    No they don't. I think you are confusing it with anarchism.[/b]
    Sorry, but anarchism is intentionally confused with libertarianism by those advocating more control (control freaks per Wajoma).

    Classical liberalism and libertarianism don't advocate anarchism, only leaving most deciisions to individuals, except where the decision may interfere with the rights or liberty of others. The classical definition is the absence of force or fraud. That is not anarchy.
  7. 31 Oct '14 15:16
    Originally posted by normbenign
    Sorry, but anarchism is intentionally confused with libertarianism by those advocating more control (control freaks per Wajoma).

    Classical liberalism and libertarianism don't advocate anarchism, only leaving most deciisions to individuals, except where the decision may interfere with the rights or liberty of others. The classical definition is the absence of force or fraud. That is not anarchy.
    First you said all decisions, now you say most decisions.

    As it happens, every political philosophy that I know of advocates leaving "most" decisions up to the individual.
  8. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    31 Oct '14 17:43
    Originally posted by normbenign
    There is quite a range of libertarian thought on how much government ought to protect business and intellectual properties, without squelching or infringing on other freedoms.

    Much progress happens with the modification and application of previous ideas, thus the limits on copyright and patent protections.
    Of course there are limits and nuances with everything, but I don't see much chance of successful forward thinking technological industries without intellectual property protection mechanisms.
  9. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    31 Oct '14 17:47
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Interesting take on left-libertarianism. This part is an illuminating history lesson:

    Classical liberalism and the classical socialist movement of the early 19th century had very close common roots in the Enlightenment. [b]The liberalism of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and the other classical political economists was very much a left-wing assault on the ...[text shortened]... al analysis of how libertarian "free market" principles were hijacked.

    Discussion is welcome.
    My earlier post got a little sidetracked on the more radical elements of the proposal. But as for the basic issue, I'm not sure it matters much whether and how ideas developed and got hijacked. Each idea has to be evaluated independently and factor in technological and sociological circumstances or the place and era.

    I do agree that "free market" has become a jingoistic substitute for thinking about what limitations ought to be placed on the free market. But co-opting terms that have popular appeal to sell your own political philosophy is as old as politics itself.
  10. 31 Oct '14 17:51
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    First you said all decisions, now you say most decisions.

    As it happens, every political philosophy that I know of advocates leaving "most" decisions up to the individual.
    Wrong again. Even in the US, nearly every human action is coersed by some government regulation.
  11. 31 Oct '14 17:52
    Originally posted by sh76
    Of course there are limits and nuances with everything, but I don't see much chance of successful forward thinking technological industries without intellectual property protection mechanisms.
    I don't disagree, but some libertarian purists would.
  12. 31 Oct '14 18:02
    Originally posted by sh76
    My earlier post got a little sidetracked on the more radical elements of the proposal. But as for the basic issue, I'm not sure it matters much whether and how ideas developed and got hijacked. Each idea has to be evaluated independently and factor in technological and sociological circumstances or the place and era.

    I do agree that "free market" has become ...[text shortened]... rms that have popular appeal to sell your own political philosophy is as old as politics itself.
    The problem is that free markets are blamed for what very controlled markets have actually caused. Sometimes more control has been the actual cause of making things worse than the amount of control considered too little.

    For example the quick fix for the Great Depression was allowing the price of labor to reset. The cause of the 2008 housing bubble was demonstrably the neverending government interference in market forces over several decades, not just the repeal of Glass Stegal which was itself an effort of government regulators to paper over the real problems, the lack of free markets and market solutions.

    I agree that who hijacked what idea is the wrong way to proceed. What is important now is what ideas are viable and true, whether they are thought to be left or right,
  13. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    31 Oct '14 19:14 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    My earlier post got a little sidetracked on the more radical elements of the proposal. But as for the basic issue, I'm not sure it matters much whether and how ideas developed and got hijacked. Each idea has to be evaluated independently and factor in technological and sociological circumstances or the place and era.

    I do agree that "free market" has become ...[text shortened]... rms that have popular appeal to sell your own political philosophy is as old as politics itself.
    Of course it matters. The right wing "libertarians" on this site continue to misrepresent the basic issue. It is not "liberty" v. "government" but whether a tiny minority will have the power in society or the majority. Right wing ideology has always favored a few dominating society . As Karl Hess wrote:

    The overall characteristic of a right-wing regime, no matter the details of difference between this one and that one, is that it reflects the concentration of power in the fewest practical hands.

    “Power, concentrated in few hands, is the dominant historic characteristic of what most people, in most times, have considered the political and economic right wing.

    “The far left, as far as you can get away from the right, would logically represent the opposite tendency and, in fact, has done just that throughout history. The left has been the side of politics and economics that opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands.

    “Just as the scale along this line would show gradations of the right, so would it show gradations of the left.

    “Before getting to a far-right monarchy or dictatorship, there are many intermediate right-wing positions. Some are called conservative.

    “Somewhere along the line, for instance, a certain concentration of power, particularly economic power, would be acceptable in the name of tradition. The children of the rich, characteristically, are accorded very special places in the regimes of the right, or of conservatives. Also, there is a great deference to stability and a preference for it rather than change — all other things being equal. Caution might be the watchword toward the center of this right-wing scale, simply a go-slow attitude. That is, admittedly, a long way from the far right and dictatorship, but it is a way that can and should be measured on a straight line. The natural preference for law and order that seems such a worthwhile and innocent conservative preference is from a political tradition that came to us from kings and emperors, not from ancient democracy.

    “This hardly means that every conservative, if pressed, will go farther and farther right until embracing absolute dictatorship or monarchy. Far from it. It does mean to suggest only that the ghosts of royal power whisper in the conservative tradition.

    http://wconger.blogspot.com/2005/08/karl-hess-left-right-spectrum.html

    That is what the Wajomas and norms effectively advocate; they want government to be limited not to protect Natural Rights but to protect the ability of the few to dominate the rest economically and politically.

    EDIT: The division of what is the "Right" and what is the "Left" derives from the seating arrangements of the French National Assembly in 1789. On the right side of the chamber sat the supporters of traditional power and privilege; monarchists, aristocrats, clerics, etc. etc. That is what being "right wing" is all about and it is hardly consistent with libertarian ideals.
  14. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    31 Oct '14 19:17 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by normbenign
    Wrong again. Even in the US, nearly every human action is coersed by some government regulation.
    That is utter nonsense unless you want to claim that I am "coerced" into obeying such things as red lights and then the point is trivial.
  15. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    31 Oct '14 19:20
    Originally posted by normbenign
    Sorry, but anarchism is intentionally confused with libertarianism by those advocating more control (control freaks per Wajoma).

    Classical liberalism and libertarianism don't advocate anarchism, only leaving most deciisions to individuals, except where the decision may interfere with the rights or liberty of others. The classical definition is the absence of force or fraud. That is not anarchy.
    Anarchy is unacceptable to right wing "libertarians" because it would give little opportunity for a small elite to grow powerful and dominate the rest (and no chance for a capitalist system based on property ownership). Anarchism has always been a left-wing ideology.