It's Here: Libertarian-Socialism

Email Print

It’s clear where libwaps have been heading and Will Moyer at Salon takes them there. In an essay titled, Why I left libertarianism: An ethical critique of a limited ideology, he writes:

This essay is the result of an evolution in my thinking, one which has led me farther from “right” libertarianism and strict anarcho-capitalism toward what could be described as radical, leftist anarchism, or maybe even libertarian-socialism.

What is his problem with PL? He raises many issues with PL, I want to focus on one particular concern, here and will return to other concerns he has in other posts in upcoming days. Moyer writes:

Libertarians want a world without a state. Beyond that, the philosophy says little about the shape of human culture. It should be based on property rights and non-aggression. How can we combat racism? Property rights and non-aggression. How should humans approach sexuality and gender? Property rights and non-aggression. What is the place of hierarchies in society, whether it’s families or workplaces or financial classes? Property rights and non-aggression. What role  —  if any  —  should religion and superstition play in society? Property rights and non-aggression.

I recognize that a consistently applied libertarian ethic would make the world a much better place than it currently is. And I recognize that I’m essentially criticizing libertarians for only wanting to take down the greatest threat to human flourishing on the planet. In a world full of people who defend the status quo and apologize for power, those with radical ideas deserve the least criticism.

But for libertarians who see the dismantling of the state as the ultimate goal, I have to disagree. It is not enough.

While eliminating the state is a massive multigenerational project, it is in many ways only the first step. Human flourishing is the ultimate goal. And if libertarians think they can dust off their hands and head home just because the state is in ashes, they’re wrong. The state is the most obvious and brutal source of power and hierarchy, but it’s far from the only one. The state is a giant engine for deforming human culture, and what’s left over once it’s smashed isn’t a foregone conclusion. It will be up to humans to reshape and remake culture and society in the way that suits us best. This will have to include examinations of race, class, gender, sexuality, relationships, religion, social institutions and traditions in the absence of the state apparatus. It will have to include disassembling other forms of hierarchy  —  both violent and nonviolent.

First off, it must be made clear, there is nothing in libertarian theory that calls for the prevention of one, in a libertarian society, from being an advocate of a particular stance on race, class, gender, sexuality, relationships, religion, social institutions and traditions.

That said, in my view, the current concern with these politically correct views, is much ado about very little (SEE: About My Racist Friends, My Homophobic Friends and My Own Prejudices) and in some cases, such as the feminist agenda, it is plain evil (SEE: Was Ludwig Von Mises a Feminist?)

But the real problem with Moyer’s perspective is his seeming linkage of libertarianism with what are apparently, in his view, necessary appendages. But just what is wrong with allowing people to have goofy views about other races, genders and those with different sexual preferences?

I just can’t get my head around the idea that if someone is not physically aggressing against me or my property that I have to be concerned about what they think. Isn’t that really a form of thought intimidation?

I think Moyer misunderstands PL. It is not that PL advocates believe that simple advocacy of NAP will combat and eliminate non-politically correct stances on  race, class, gender, sexuality, relationships, religion, social institutions and traditions, but rather that PL advocates understand that limiting human beings in any way is the suffocation of human beings and that the only exception to the dangerous idea of limiting human activity of others is when that final line is crossed and the use of physical aggression against person or property is attempted or actually executed. Indeed, this exception to total freedom follows from the very idea that we shouldn’t limit human activity or thought. Physical aggression against others and their property is active limitation, thus it is a contradiction to the idea of preventing limitation. There can’t be any appendages to libertarianism, when one understands that individual freedom is the goal of PL and there there is only the one exception to that goal.

I find Moyer’s use of the term “libertarian socialism” in this context fascinating because in the end that is what libwaps are about, even though it is a contradiction in terms, a contortion of the face of liberty. For liberty is about freedom and socialism is about dominance and control. The libwaps just hate that there are some who live in a manner different from their manner of living, who hold views different than their own. Since they are supposed libertarians, they find themselves in a trap, they want to force others to hold their views on sex, race etc. but they know they can’t call on government to enforce this without being called out as complete frauds, but they do want their views to be dominant in non-governmental ways, and want to achieve this dominance through the advocacy of shunning, intimidation etc of those who won’t fall in line with their view on how life should be lived.

Again, people should be free to advocate anything they want in a free society, but to attach so-called “necessary” appendages to NAP  is an attempt to limit free thought and views without bringing a government role into the equation. It is as counter to the idea of human liberty as, say, would be the demand that corporations on their own, without government  enforcement, institute voluntary minimum wage laws. One can’t from a libertarian perspective object to advocacy for voluntary minimum wages in a free society, but one could certainly point out how the implementation of such a voluntary minimum wage is limiting opportunity for the unskilled. Such voluntary minimum wage advocacy would, indeed, be a bizarre way, via a backdoor, to introduce into a free society a concept that is generally the domain of evil government planning and coercion.

In the same way, free market thought police are doing nothing but advocating limitations on thought, a very dangerous thing. Implementation of such general thinking in a free market society would bring about in the world a suffocation of freedom not much different from what full socialism thought control would. Thus, we can see how Moyer calling what he advocates by the contorted term “libertarian socialism” actually makes sense and exposes the real dangers of such a view. It is indeed an advocacy of free market thought control, which would bring about the same mental prison that government created socialism would.

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.

Email Print
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts