Uncategorized

Left Libertarians: A Dispassionate Assessment

by Michael Parish

Originally published at A Beautiful Mind

Left-Libertarianism is an ideology that seeks to hybridize the economic agenda of classical liberalism with the cultural agenda of the New Left, as such constituting a conscious return to the movement as it existed in the mid to late nineteen sixties. Therefore it appears paradoxically both radical, in that desires a thorough recalibration of the status quo, and reactionary, in its quest to re-establish a vanished ideology. This apparent paradox collapses rather quickly, as a thorough examination of their philosophy extinguishes its pretenses at radicalism and renders transparent its purely reactionary nature.

Left-Libertarianism is, before it is Left, libertarian. As such, it carries it with it the historical detrius of classical liberalism, instantiated in the movement’s atomist conception of human society. In the Left-libertarian mind, the atomized individual is the basis of society, and individual agency it’s base causal (and constituting) factor; the latter is therefore a chance aggregate of individuals and their actions. From this conception the the individual assumed as their one and only theoretical reference point, and all social and political issues are evaluated with it as its their basis.

On this point, they have human development inverted; while it is certainly true that everyone is an individual, no one develops autonomously as if a vacuum. Prior to his entry into society, the identity of the individual develops through and only through his relation to others. This occurs specifically through the civil institutions whose existence predates his own, first his nuclear and then extended family, his local community, his religious or otherwise ideological institution, and so forth. It is impossible to conceive of an individual without reference to such factors. The individual, therefore, is not the beginning but the end of society, and therefore of politics.

To the extent that their recognition of this fails, to the same extent they champion the abstract concept of “individual liberty.” However, liberty (here defined in the purely negative sense) is a cause, not an effect; a means, not an end. In society, it is the latter, not the former that has empirically observable effects and is therefore of significance. Within the sphere of human interaction, it is the ends sought by individuals, not the means employed to achieve them, that are our object of concern.

In their misconstruing raw materials for finished products, the Left-Libertarians deliver a wholly unsatisfactory social theory. Prior to the “liberation” of the individual it is imperative that a functioning set of civic institutions be developed through which he learns to healthily exercise his liberation. Before he is freed from formal coercion to exercise his “liberty” he must develop in such a way as to learn to channel said liberty towards productive purposes. In summation, the aim of any politics of credibility is the cultivation of a functioning societal whole, not the satisfaction of every individual’s subjective ephemera, as the Libertarian Lefties believe.

The second critical error in the Left-Libertarian approach is their implied economic determinism, another historical carryover from their liberal heritage. The assumption here, that the economy and relations therein are the basis of human society from which all other factors are derivatives, leads to the envisioning of a society built entirely around commercial interactions. This again is an inversion, and one that leads to societal disintegration. Contrary to the reductionist myopia of the LL, homo sapien is a social animal long prior to his being an economic one. The basic interpersonal relations between friend and friend, husband and wife, and parent and child developed on their own prior to existence of economies and economic ones, the latter having historically developed only as a buttress for the facilitation of the former. To repeat an observation from the preceding paragraph, the LLers are again mistaking means for ends, resulting in an anemic social outline informed by a vulgar economism. It is imperative that civic institutions, those that exist prior to and independent of state and commercial ones, be recognized as the basis of society, and the market be relegated to its proper role as but a necessary extension of them.

The second function of the LLer’s economic reductionism is their anti-cultural bias. If the economic sphere is the foundation of society, then it naturally follows that matters of ethnicity, language, and culture are ephemeral transience, their dictation by the effects of the market not only permissible but imperative. Denouncing collective identities in the name of abstract “individualism”, they display the critical flaw of all rationalism: the inability to comprehend not only that which cannot be measured mathematically, but the values of those who adhere to them. They accordingly mistake historically evolved entities for arbitrarily defined “constructs”, which are to be destroyed for the ostensible purpose of further individual liberation; the type of individuals and societies to emerge in their wake are left undefined. This line of thought results, again, in a predictably grotesque reductionism. Given the natural tendency of the state and capitol to erode such organic identities and their respective cultures, and the consequent necessity of supporting them, this attitude is hardly of use within the context of contemporary anti-statism.

Bewildering about them is one principle inherited from the Left, in contrast to their libertarian positions, is their belief in egalitarianism. As Left-Libertarianism is essentially an economic doctrine their belief in “equality” can only be discussed in economic terms. To that end, individualism of the bourgeoisie sort they champion is wholly incompatible with economic equality. In political philosophy there are two competing conceptions of the individual. The first is the concrete individual, definitively unequal by his degree of personal merit; the second is the liberal “individual”, believed to be equal only by the mental process of abstraction which has stripped him of all defining characteristics. It is obvious which view the LLers predicate their theory on. In concrete terms, the inherently unequal distribution of merit within the population will produce a correspondingly unequal distribution of wealth. The dissolution of the corporate state, and the ensuing absence of artificial privilege, will not mathematically produce a society without elites but one without false elites.

That said, the insistent restatement of “equality” betrays a fundamental naivete on their part. Contrary to the negative connotations attributed to them by liberal philosophy, terms such as “elites” and “inequality” are not pejoratives but accurate descriptions of ontological reality. An “elite” is merely a person who excels in his given area of expertise that he is distinguished from the general population; “inequality” within the structure of institutions is therefore a natural sign of societal health so much as it reflects actual disparities between their constituent members. The pursuit of its opposite, an unattainable ideal, is the pursuit of a chimera, the realization of which is possible only artificially, requiring the introduction of massive and damaging bureaucracy.

As a byproduct of modern liberalism, particularly its rationalist component, Left-Libertarianism is unable to distinguish qualitative differences between individuals, cultures, and groupings thereof. In the place of such factors they trumpet, rather loudly, abstract universalism. This reveals another crucial ontological miscalculation: the ignorance of relevant particulars and their potentiality as determinate factors in politics, and exaggerated primacy granted to (imagined)universals. Liberalism, including the kind that informs Left-Libertarianism, is one of these particulars, instantiated only at a specific interval of space (Western Civilization, specifically its Anglo Saxon branch) and time (mid-modernity, specifically post-1700’s.) Their foundational principles, including the autonomy of the individual and rights belonging there-in, have never existed outside this spatio-temporal milieu and it is highly unlikely they ever will. It remains dubious as to whether or not all of “humanity” will agree to join hands with them as “citizens of the world”, much less abandon their historically ingrained norms in favor of Western leftism.

Most troublesome about the ideology is its woefully incomplete societal analysis. The modern state is intimately connected to the philosophical premises of modern liberalism; an effective critique of the former necessitates one of the latter. On this note, the LLers fall pitifully short. For with all the enthusiasm with which they jab the state they posit but a partially qualified variant of the same Lockean social theory that informs it. This cripples not only their analysis but their potential for future success; sharing first principles with the regime you only recently displaced facilitates its immediate reconstitution.

They attack Social Contract theory as a hollow ploy for ruling class self-legitimation, but retain the same assumptions about human nature and activity. According to the contractualists, rational individuals consciously decide to establish written guidelines for overcoming the “state of nature”; according to the Libertarian Left, these same individuals consciously decide to cooperate on a stateless market. Implicit in this view is the invisible line drawn between civil society and the state, regarding the latter as an artificial imposition upon the former. Missing here is the conception of human society as a living organism, one which developed historically, not out of rational decisions but irrational circumstances, and of which the state is unfortunately an organic component. Only when such premises are accepted will the receptivity of the population to voluntaryst forms of social organization reach critical mass.

Troubling still is the LLers over-reliance on abstract principles to justify their anti-statism. Supposed axioms, such as “taxation is theft” are incomplete propositions; they are premises without conclusions. Even with the addition of a conclusion, such as “therefore taxation is wrong” they are still useless even if  theoretically valid. For this statement to be of any importance it must be demonstrated that first that this “taxation” correlates directly to a concrete phenomena occurring in the concrete world, second that it has an actual negative effect on said world, and third that society would actually improve in its absence. Otherwise, this is merely a walled off cognitive sequence that leads to inaction and ineffectiveness, as the population will not rally behind abstract theories.

The fetishization of “natural rights” evinced by many in this milieu serves a similar non-purpose, and betrays a fundamental ignorance of the nature of politics. “Natural rights” is part and parcel of a project seeking to instill human political affairs with a moral basis. Such a feat is impossible, as politics is based not on morality but on the self-interest of its participants. “Rights” and the ethical schemata underlying them are abstract entities reflecting only the self interest of the person or group invoking them. Metaphysically, they are causally inert; your “right to life” will not save you from a gun blast, as the former exists only within your consciousness but the latter is a physical object in the concrete world of phenomena. In political affairs, the “rights” the populace enjoys derive not from metaphysical-ethical schemes but from actually existing power relations. Therefore, it is the latter, not the former, that deserves radical attention. Or, to quote Proudhon “I don’t want rules but I’ll bargain.”

Ultimately, the motives of the LLers remain nebulous at best.While claiming opposition to the state in theory, their social values nonetheless reflect the current condition the institution and its economic corollary have inflicted on Western society. The deterioration of organic and pre-rational structures, and the consequent homogenization and materialist reductionism of human values, are a conscious aspect of the state’s function in the contemporary world, as the institution’s main role in this era is to serve as the vehicle for the further implementation of late modernity. As such, it remains unclear their rationale for anti-state sentiment when their core concepts are far better suited to the administered individualism of the centre-Left.

Within a historical context, their own implicitly linear and determinist conception notwithstanding, placing them within a critical dialectic is impossible. They represent, not a rebuttal to established ideology and its derivative forms, but a restatement of same taken to an even further level. As such they can be seen as the product of two factors, the first being the  psychological alienation experienced by those who do not identify with society in its current condition but whose existence is also unthreatened by it and secondly, the impossibility for members of a society to think along lines not predetermined by the epistime of their society in that particular era. If, as Hegel remarked, “philosophy is its own time raised to thought” then Left-Libertarianism is its own time raised halfway there.

Categories: Uncategorized

67 replies »

  1. Michael has thrown out a vigorous challenge. If any left-libertarian readers care to respond, this could make for a very interesting and hopefully fruitful discussion.

  2. My favorite piece of yours that I have read. You are mistaken that a Libertarian or actually “free” market contradictions the biological imperatives of individuals. The development of a social skills and hierarchy are developed in nature for survival purposes which equates directly to resource distribution. A more complex brain will symbolize individuals, such as a wife or child, which in turn will produce resource distribution to abstract social constructs, like a “wife” or “child”. This naturally extends to a collective. So essentially a more direct or individual participant in the exchange of resources will result in a more organic, natural state.

    GaRgUyLes 4 Nite.

  3. First I want to say that I enjoyed this essay. It sums up several problems I have with many left libertarian approaches quite tidily.

    I’m not sure who your intended audience for this essay is; most likely, it’s people who already reject liberalism in general and left libertarianism in particular. However, I can imagine the typical left libertarian reading this and feeling somewhat strawmannish. References to specific people holding these positions would really help, as for example I find myself agreeing with many / most of your critiques, and yet I still identify as left libertarian. But if you could point to people integrating a particular position into their overall approach it would be much easier to disagree or concur with your argument. I can’t really think of only a few left libertarians who hold most, let alone all, of the positions you attribute to left libertarianism, so while I cheer much of what you say it leaves me somewhat at a loss to apply those ideas to the movement.

    Which leads me to the final initial observation: it feels like a hit piece designed to dredge up the worst we have to offer. I can’t begrudge you an uncharitable attitude towards left libertarians, but it seems like a dispassionate assessment would not focus solely on the negative, on the weakest parts of our positions. Again, references would help people make up their minds about your arguments, because they could compare yours to ours.

    I still think the article is good and does service to the intellectual climate we claim to champion. Earnest left libertarians would be well served to read this. Indeed, I intend a more comprehensive reply once I’ve had a chance to let these points sink in. I really don’t want to reply to the left libertarian tenets you’ve articulated here until I’m satisfied they are actual left libertarian tenets and not merely the view from outside.

  4. This is probably a very damning, if “dispassionate,” assessment of somebody — but who? If it is true that “Left-Libertarianism is an ideology,” then the “left-libertarianism” in question must be something different than the left-libertarian alliance I was previously associated with. Far from being “an ideology,” that left-libertarianism was a good argument that never quite happened. There’s not a single specific, concrete criticism here, not a single name named. Obviously, your own theoretical agenda differs from most of the positions that have identified as “left libertarian,” but I can’t tell from the “assessment” which of those positions you intend to critique.

  5. This is bizzare. Not even old-school Goldman/Bakunin ansoc NECESSITATES such a social/cultural worldview, it’s just the academic Marxist influence. Like the other guy, I just can’t see a single thing to pin down as a critique on here, but…erm..we’re not liberal democrats, if that’s what this guy was thinking. We don’t want a state either.

    “For this statement to be of any importance it must be demonstrated that first that this “taxation” correlates directly to a concrete phenomena…that it has an actual negative effect on said world, and that society would actually improve in its absence. Otherwise, this is merely a walled off cognitive sequence that leads to inaction and ineffectiveness, as the population will not rally behind abstract theories.”

    Is this guy a statist?

    “with all the enthusiasm with which they jab the state they posit but a partially qualified variant of the same Lockean social theory that informs it….
    The fetishization of “natural rights” evinced by many in this milieu serves a similar non-purpose, and betrays a fundamental ignorance of the nature of politics.”

    Most of us aren’t Rothbardians or even capitalists, hence “left” XD

    “In summation, the aim of any politics of credibility is the cultivation of a functioning societal whole, not the satisfaction of every individual’s subjective ephemera, as the Libertarian Lefties believe.”

    This individual action and fulfillment is the volunarist creed is it not?

    I thought this was going to be critiqing mutualist/ansoc economics or something. But I don’t agree with the conception of liberalism as ll-ers do, in a liberal-democrat or Marxist way. To me, all it is is individual freedom. So the most authentically liberal revolution would be like a spontaneous slave uprising in Babylon, not like anything we consider liberal today. There were still genuine pangs of liberalism in 1789, 1776, and 1917 I believe, they were just hijacked.

  6. I support the conservative revolutionaries like Evola because I’m a voluntarist, and I do think they have a point, we really do need some reaction towards an earlier, traditional form of life in some places, against what liberalism and modernity is now.

    But I mean think of it. If you know anything about mysticism you would know that the mystic stuff Evola talks about was always liberal, he was the only person to ever hijack it and make it conservative. I mean he takes Buddhism, the most liberal religion in the world, and throws fascist rhetoric on it. We New Agers call what he wants the “solar” tradition, and so does he. He’s the only intellectually honest conservative for making that kind of 10,000 year old stuff the real conservativism, so the real liberalism is the “lunar” tradition. The sexually free utopia that supposedly existed before the “solar” Illuminati guys came down and enslaved us all. Hell I think I mentioned something about this in the article you posted about me. Though mind you have to believe in all the woo-woo stuff to get behind any of it lol.

  7. What Shawn said.

    Jeremy seems, IMO, way too polite with his “somewhat strawmannish” comment. This hit piece seems more like a collection of strawpeople on parade than anything else. I actually agree with many of the criticisms made in this piece, yet can’t take it seriously as the author shows a profound lack of understanding of whom he claims to criticize.

    Seriously, there is no such thing as a “left-libertarian” ideology. If I ever come across such an ideology along the side of the road, I’ll promptly kill it. This tendency should be viewed, IMO, as the slow emergence of correctional tendencies within libertarianism/anarchism, seeking to acknowledge and address many of the deficiencies within such circles. Many of the supposed “LL” positions mentioned here (atomistic individualism, economic reductionism) seem to be common mainstream libertarian views, the types that many “LLs” seek to question and/or abandon.

    In the future, I’d suggest focusing on specific individuals, rather than lumping all sorts of diverse people with diverse views together, then shitting on them all.

  8. Noonan: I want to know more about what you’re talking about in your second comment. Can you point me to any books or articles online I can read about this? I’m deeply interested in the meeting place between psychology, mysticism/spirituality, and politics. Thanks.

  9. Jeremy:

    Hell I wouldn’t know…Ken Wilber does some interesting stuff (probably the closest to me actually), although he’s deep into philsophical things mostly, Hegel maybe a little in some places, although I hear he some sort of massive statist, Carl Jung definitely and especially Wilhelm Reich, sexual freedom stuff and all that. Really my own thing tho, and I sure as hell haven’t written much down… The East doesn’t normally give this stuff much thought, but modern New Age things occasionally give it their own twist with their myth and modern spiritual ideas and stuff, but they still don’t delve heavily into politics.

  10. ?y problem, is that while I consider myself “left-libertarian” I do not agree with the positions that Michael Parish attacks. I am sorry but I find this VERY strawmanish. Left-Libertarianism is, at least for me, nothing else or nothing more, than an libertarian critique of some aspects of libertarianism (defense of capitalist mode of production for example). I think that you, Keith and Michael, are putting too much effort to attack an enemy that does not exist. While I understand that the troubles that Aster caused you have made take a harsh stance on left-libertarians, but this text seems more like a cheap rationalization of this stance, by attributing positions on LLers, that seem to be more flaws of the whole libertarian movement (homo economicus).

    I really fail to understand the obsession that you seem to have with left-libertarianism, besides the personal grudge that you have with SOME left-libertarians (Aster, Brainpolice). I have been reading the blog for quite a while, and I see that left-libs are accused as feminazis, “Maoists who infiltrated individualist anarchism” on the same grounds with left-anarchists. First of all, I think that while left-libs are indeed culturally liberal, they are nowhere as “liberal-nazis” as TRUE leftoid-anarchists. Second, you can’t accuse left-libs of promoting Cultural Leftism without the State, while Alternative Rightists seem to do exactly the same (Cultural Rightism without the State). The problem is not which is the right “culture of liberty”. The problem is that both sides (Rightists and Leftists) think that their culture is the real culture of liberty, and they are ready to force their beliefs to dissenters. With the centralized state gone, everybody will have the liberty to be either a fundamentalist christian or a post-gendered feminist.

    Some left-libertarians (like me) think that “Attack the System” has a lot to offer to libertarianism/anarchism. It’s my belief that putting way too much effort in bashing left-libertarians, is spoiling the work this blog tries to accomplish.

  11. The problem, is that while I consider myself “left-libertarian” I do not agree with the positions that Michael Parish attacks. I am sorry but I find this VERY strawmanish. Left-Libertarianism is, at least for me, nothing else or nothing more, than an libertarian critique of some aspects of libertarianism (defense of capitalist mode of production for example). I think that you, Keith and Michael, are putting too much effort to attack an enemy that does not exist. While I understand that the troubles that Aster caused you have made take a harsh stance on left-libertarians, but this text seems more like a cheap rationalization of this stance, by attributing positions on LLers, that seem to be more flaws of the whole libertarian movement (homo economicus).

    I really fail to understand the obsession that you seem to have with left-libertarianism, besides the personal grudge that you have with SOME left-libertarians (Aster, Brainpolice). I have been reading the blog for quite a while, and I see that left-libs are accused as feminazis, “Maoists who infiltrated individualist anarchism” on the same grounds with left-anarchists. First of all, I think that while left-libs are indeed culturally liberal, they are nowhere as “liberal-nazis” as TRUE leftoid-anarchists. Second, you can’t accuse left-libs of promoting Cultural Leftism without the State, while Alternative Rightists seem to do exactly the same (Cultural Rightism without the State). The problem is not which is the right “culture of liberty”. The problem is that both sides (Rightists and Leftists) think that their culture is the real culture of liberty, and they are ready to force their beliefs to dissenters. With the centralized state gone, everybody will have the liberty to be either a fundamentalist christian or a post-gendered feminist.

    Some left-libertarians (like me) think that “Attack the System” has a lot to offer to libertarianism/anarchism. It’s my belief that putting way too much effort in bashing left-libertarians, is spoiling the work this blog tries to accomplish.

  12. “It’s my belief that putting way too much effort in bashing left-libertarians, is spoiling the work this blog tries to accomplish.”

    I didn’t commission Michael to write the essay. It’s his own work reflecting his own thoughts. I think Michael’s critique is valuable to what we do here for a number of reasons. First, it’s true that some in the left-libertarian camp have been among our most vocal critics. So it’s natural that some of us would respond by challenging the foundations of those criticisms which is what Michael was trying to do in his essay. Second, I actually think there’s much of value in the left-libertarian camp. I agree with LLs on quite a few things: their solid antiwar, anti-police state, and anti-corporate positions, among other things. I even agree with them on many social issues as well. If indeed some of the criticisms Michael raises are “strawmen,” then I’m more than happy for readers who identify on some level with left-libertarianism to come forward and challenge such criticisms. In fact, that’s what seems to be happening.

    I think the depiction of left-libertarianism that Michael offers does indeed fairly represent the views of some in the LL camp (such as the individuals you referred to, and some others). But I do think there is some need to clarify what LL actually is. You have described LL as “nothing else or nothing more, than an libertarian critique of some aspects of libertarianism (defense of capitalist mode of production for example).” Well, that’s an aspect of LL I actually like and think is of tremendous value and importance. Also, there are a lot of things that are labeled “left-libertarianism.” The paleolibs have labeled the CATO and Reason crowds as “left-libertarians” at times. The term is also used to define some libertarians socialists who do not entirely reject the state, as well as some of the more “conventional” forms of leftist-anarchism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-libertarianism

    “Second, you can’t accuse left-libs of promoting Cultural Leftism without the State, while Alternative Rightists seem to do exactly the same (Cultural Rightism without the State).”

    Well, the focus of Alternative Right is not anti-statism per se, but the development of an intellectual Right that is independent of the so-called “conservative movement” and its institutions. Those in the AltRight camp have widely varying views concerning the state.

    “With the centralized state gone, everybody will have the liberty to be either a fundamentalist christian or a post-gendered feminist.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but do not the proponents of “thick libertarianism” of the variety championed by many LLs (Long, Johnson, Worden, Carson to some degree, and some lessers) specifically oppose this kind of plumbline libertarianism or pluralist approach in favor of a direct and specific synthesis of libertarianism and the cultural far Left? An example would be Johson’s call for a “two front war” against statism and patriarchy. Perhaps many, even most, LLs do not share such views. But in my experience, at least, such thinking seems to be rather common among LLs, and often militantly so. In fact, that seems to be the primary criticism of ARV/ATS that comes from the LL milieu, i.e. the pluralist, populist, and accommodationist point of view promoted here is specifically rejected on “thick left-libertarian” grounds.

  13. The main problem that I identify here, is that the ideological variety within LL makes Michael’s criticisms valid and invalid, depending on the person we are refering to. That’s why so many LLs seem not to understand even the point of the critique. There is not such a thing as left-libertarianism if we talk strictly on ideological grounds. It is more of a tendency to move libertarianism leftwards as etymology of the word suggests. Which way leftwards it should go (focus on cultural leftism, or go anti-corporate or even the shady liberaltarian direction) is another matter.

    I think that the only intellectually honest solution, is to say, that an unconditional turn leftwards is not a good thing. To say that LL is just an interlibertarian critique of things that I don’t like in the libertarian movement and to ignore “thick libertarianism” as “irrelevant”, is like a Stalinist who thinks that only Marxism-Leninism is real Marxism, and ignores the Frankfurt School as “revisionist”. I understand this point…

    …but it doesn’t change the fact that the critique that I have read does not seem neither dispassionate neither against actual LL positions. Paul Gottfried might have written the same text attacking “casual libertarianism”. I might be wrong, but as a sympathiser of the LL tendency, I did not learn something from this critique, in order to correct my position.

  14. To those who replied,

    Yes, my theoretical agenda differs vastly from that of Left-Libertarianism. I tend to be communitarian rather than individualist, complimentarian rather than egalitarian, particularist rather than universalist, and favor cultural over economic determinism. In ethics, I am an advocate of distributive, rather than egalitarian or utilitarian, justice. My conception of “the good” is a civic society capable of need satisfaction and conflict resolution in the absence of formal state apparatus. My opposition to the state is dervied empirically from the observation to its systematic erosion of such societies. So yes, my anti-statism derives from non-liberal premises.

  15. Hahaha, cheers, y’all may want to point me to an article or two supporting radical traditionalist localism as opposed to a more universalist approach to getting your type of society built.

    Evola and the others were raging statists though. I don’t see how one can maintain an authoritarian, radical traditionalist structure without a fascist/monarchical type state. Even other radical traditionalists nowadays seem to have a fetish for state power in the same way liberals do. They want it to be managers in their own creepy Marxist way, creeping into every nook and cranny of society with their narrow-minded expounding of Marxist views on injustice and oppression, and fascists and traditionalists (cept for maybe Kirk and other localists) glorify it unquestioningly, heroically and poetically glorifying it and empowering it to be the central focus of traditional, heroic, imperial fascist values and “getting things done”.

    Do you want to return to the days of Ancient Greece, Rome before the empire, ancient Ireland, Gaul or Germania with their particularist and decentralized, yet inegalitarian and traditional ways of living? Because myself as a liberal, I support and admire and wish to emulate those institutions because they actually were extremely liberal for the day, being isolated and tribal and out of the way of the corrupting influence of Sumer and Macedon, etc., they could emulate what we today would percieve as free, democratic institutions (see the Celts relatively fair-minded, if not explicitly liberal views on women and homosexuality, as per the lack of the influence of any unifying, propagandistic state machine to blast rhetoric at them). In short, with the exeption of any Evolians or Burkeans who may be localists, I think the more local and anarchist some place is, the more liberalism it is guaranteed to move towards. So the synthesis of anarchism and traditionalism confuses me. And obviously, I define liberal as solely (and very vaguely) individual freedom, political egalitarianism and social equality and fraternity from the bottom-up, with some economic egalitarianism, not Frankfurt School stuff or American Dem. Party stuff, so I prescribe nothing particular to “liberalism” except people revolting against oppressors, as something that will remain as a guiding force and empowering principle even after the social constructionist theories that most people level against conservatives are debunked, although I have my own economic and political preferences obviously.

  16. I tried writing a blog post in response and lost it due to a crash. The attempt was instructive though: I had a very difficult time representing a left libertarian response for the reason Jake mentioned: left libertarianism is not really an ideology at all. In fact, if we are to take these critiques of left libertarianism as critiques that apply to the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, it really undermines Parish’s whole point because our alliance is focused on the values we hold in common, and not really any particular means to get there. Ideologies prescribe means, and there are many ideologies within the left libertarian milieu.

    I also should reiterate that so many of the positions attributed to left libertarians are held by some but not all. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that I largely agree with many of Parish’s criticisms of alleged left libertarian positions, but I consider myself within that movement. It’s all very confusing and difficult to respond to for the same reason it was difficult to drum me out of the Alliance: there is no coherent ideology to pin down as left libertarian. I suppose Parish is the first to attempt to construct one, but others have had their say as well.

    One thing where I think he and I disagree is on the matter of egalitarianism, but my counterargument to Parish is that it’s a pre-rational construct that doesn’t require proof or hand waving. It simply makes sense to a lot of people, and that’s why it has so much purchase in the ideological marketplace (heh). Egalitarianism is a guiding principle of a civilization built on any standard of fairness because it prescribes limits to arbitrary distribution. Surely nobody would claim that a political economy cannot be critiqued on the basis of the final distribution of wealth it effects; to paraphrase Robert Anton Wilson, the highly unequal distribution of wealth is one clue that the market is rigged, since in a genuinely free market steady accumulation by one party over centuries would be mathematically impossible.

    This brings me to a larger point: Parish (and sometimes Preston) seems to believe that just because we advocate for certain universals like natural rights, egalitarianism, progressive social values, etc. we (A) are apt to become totalitarian, and (B) are disinclined to genuinely oppose with any fervor the status quo since the state does so much to advance this agenda. (B) is laughable, since anybody who genuinely cares about these values knows that the state is at least as effective in undermining them as advancing them – often doing both at the same time. Selling out to identity politics is a critique of one’s anarchism, not a critique of the values that they seek to advance through the state. With respect to (A) I’d simply say that if we are to advance an appreciation for the pre-rational – which I’m 100% on board with – we must understand that universalization of one’s accepted philosophy is a danger all ideologies face.

    Ultimately, the essay comes off as more of a dismissal than an assessment. Which is fine; I still don’t get why left libertarianism matters to people here. But as somebody who has been trying to introduce many of the points Parish makes in this essay to my fellow left libertarians, it is a bit frustrating to see the whole movement torn down as monochromatic and rigid.

  17. “It’s all very confusing and difficult to respond to for the same reason it was difficult to drum me out of the Alliance: there is no coherent ideology to pin down as left libertarian. I suppose Parish is the first to attempt to construct one, but others have had their say as well.”

    Thanks for the link. Those are some interesting comments, and I actually agree with many of the ideas expressed in those efforts to define left-libertarianism. Not to try to speak for Michael, but I think what he criticizing are those within left-libertarianism whose outlook does seem to fit the picture of LL he constructs. I’m not going to name any names because we’ve all been through this for the upteenth time now, but it’s a very fair point that those individuals do not represent LL as a whole.

    “One thing where I think he and I disagree is on the matter of egalitarianism, but my counterargument to Parish is that it’s a pre-rational construct that doesn’t require proof or hand waving. It simply makes sense to a lot of people, and that’s why it has so much purchase in the ideological marketplace (heh). Egalitarianism is a guiding principle of a civilization built on any standard of fairness because it prescribes limits to arbitrary distribution. ”

    It’s a complicated question. I’m for a certain amount of egalitarianism. I’m opposed to slavery. I wouldn’t want to have a situation like it was in the Ottoman empire where a sultan could order anyone executed for any reason he wanted. Regarding distribution of wealth, of course we don’t want the kinds of wealth distribution found, for instance, in Latin American societies of the mid to late 20th century. I think the real debate nowadays concerning egalitarianism has to do with the question of the “sameness” of both individuals and groups. For instance, is it intrinsically “wrong” that leaders in society tend to be male rather than female even if there are not formal institutional mechanisms for keeping women down? In the absence of favoritism for ethnic, cultural, or racial groups, would all groups be the same in terms of economic, cultural, educational, etc. achievement? It is “wrong” to differentiate socially between homosexuality and heterosexuality, given the reproductive function of the latter? Are human cultures merely interchangeable commodities with one being just as good as another, meaning that the replacement of the traditional populations of Europe with Arab immigrants and their progeny would be of no consequence of any importance? Many if not most contemporary egalitarians would answer “Yes!” to each of the aforementioned questions. Most of my colleagues at AltRight would answer “No!”. My own views are somewhat more qualified and nuanced.

    “(B) is laughable, since anybody who genuinely cares about these values knows that the state is at least as effective in undermining them as advancing them – often doing both at the same time. Selling out to identity politics is a critique of one’s anarchism, not a critique of the values that they seek to advance through the state.”

    That’s a question I’d really like to explore further. In what ways and to what degree does the state actually undermine or even directly attack the values supposedly associated with its own totalitarian humanist legitimating ideology? I could think of a good number of ways. What would be some of your examples?

    “I still don’t get why left libertarianism matters to people here. But as somebody who has been trying to introduce many of the points Parish makes in this essay to my fellow left libertarians, it is a bit frustrating to see the whole movement torn down as monochromatic and rigid.”

    I’d actually like to see the good name of LL rehabilitated here, given that I agree with LLs most of the time and think many of their writers have much of value to offer.

  18. Jeremy,

    I declined from naming specific names in this article because my issue with left-libertarianism is not personal but purely theoretical and I didn’t want it coming off as an attack piece. Wilbur posits an irreconcilable difference in goals between myself and the LL camp but on that note I have to disagree. Our immediate priorities are nominally the same, that being the dissolution of the American government and with it its attendant state capitalist economy, and the implementation of strategic barriers to the institution’s reconstitution. Where we differ is in our conceptions of the form the post-state social order will assume.

    A number of LL thinkers (who shall remain nameless) insist on a society of atom-like individuals held together solely by commercial exchange. This stands out to me as particularly unsustainable; that it would produce the sort of paper thin social relations incapable of handling qualitative issues (poverty, for instance), and, in turn, the ensuing decay would facilitate the rebirth of the state. The state legitamizes its existence in part by providing neccessities on which the population relies; therefore, our first priority should not be the “individual liberation” but community organizing i.e. cultivating from the bottom up a network of grassroots structures able to fulfill the duties traditionally carried out by the state. This is an absolute must, as before the state can be abolished the general populace must be weaned from dependance on it.

    This is the second issue I raise-the LL apparently conflates the concrete condition of stateless with the abstract principle of individualism. They contrast this binary-like with collectivism and statism. However, politics cannot be reduced to such simplistic polarities. Paradoxically, rootless individualism facilitates statism by necessiating the expansion of the institution to solve problems previously cared for by civic institutions eroded by atomization. Conversely, societies with intact and functioning families, communities, and other civic organisms are capable of handling their affairs with considerably smaller states. I understand this argument runs to stock conservatism, but, when thinking concretely about society post-state, it carries much validity.

    The view has been presented in Left-Libertarian circles that the individual’s involvement in such institutions limits his individuality and constrains his desire. This mistakes preference satisfaction for social justice, and carries with it a by de facto positive rights doctrine according to which the individual is entitled to freedom from all social barriers to the satisfaction of his subjective desires. I find this to be a petulant view consistent more with managerial liberalism than with any kind of anti-statism.

    My point here, and in the article, is that many, far too many, LLers are focused more on abstract utopian visions than they are on the concrete matter of developing a functioning stateless society. For the record, I did not intend this piece as a takedown of Left-Libertarianism in theory but of the unrealistic and inconclusive direction to which it has been perversely attached. I honestly wish Left-Libertarianism could be harnessed to a realist political outline of the sort developed by Keith, as I feel that would be a winning recipe for success.

  19. Michael

    “A number of LL thinkers (who shall remain nameless) insist on a society of atom-like individuals held together solely by commercial exchange. This stands out to me as particularly unsustainable; that it would produce the sort of paper thin social relations incapable of handling qualitative issues (poverty, for instance), and, in turn, the ensuing decay would facilitate the rebirth of the state.”

    My problem with this critique is, that while left-libertarians correctly defend the market as an institution, there is also support for non-market alternative institutions as long as they are voluntary. I have not seen in LLs the kind of Block-ian “Market Fundamentalism”. The real problem is that libertarians define all kind of voluntary human actions as part of the free market. However it a little confusing to label voluntary charity as a market action, since there is no material exchange, even if the state does not intervene. I do think that the equation market equals stateless, is a libertarian fallacy (but certainly not just a left-libertarian one).

    I propose this text (which was written in Italian, translated via babelfish)

    http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_url?doit=done&tt=url&intl=1&fr=bf-home&trurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.polyarchy.org%2Fbasta%2Fsussurri%2Fliberoscambio.html&lp=it_en&btnTrUrl=Translate

    “This is the second issue I raise-the LL apparently conflates the concrete condition of stateless with the abstract principle of individualism. They contrast this binary-like with collectivism and statism.”

    Well individualism is a term which has many different meanings. It can include the atomization that you condemn, but it is not simply that. As I am against “atomization” I am against the concepts of “roots”/”identity”. I have nothing against cultural traditions, but these concepts look really fishy to me. Statists of all stripes allways try to pidgeonhole people into categories that make no sense except in the political arena. You condemn libertarians as believers in an universal humanity, but nationalists seem to do the same thing to smaller subdivisions of humanity. They don’t believe in a human identity, but in a german idenity, an american identity, a greek identity, and the “right” of a ethno-cultural group in their own government . It’s ridiculous to believe in a one-size-fits-all government for all Greeks, just because they have the same language, culture and heritage. There are great differences between Muslim Greeks in Thrace and Orthodoc Christian Greeks, left-wing Greeks and right-wing Greeks, culturally liberal Greeks and culturally conservative Greeks. The only difference between ” universalist humanism” (or “humanist nationalism”) and “nationalism”, is that totalitarian humanism is ridiculous in a much larger scale, rather than a local one, and the cracks are way more visible and dangerous due to the huge cultural differences. Also like egalitiarianism, identity means sameness. It is impossible to be against egalitarianism and for identity, for they are PRACTICALLY the same concept. The main problem for an anti-state radical is not to defend the concept of identity, but to defend the right for everyone to CHOOSE his own culture. This is going to be the real end of the cultural wars, and will bring the results close to what you, radical traditionalists want to see…

  20. “Many if not most contemporary egalitarians would answer “Yes!” to each of the aforementioned questions. Most of my colleagues at AltRight would answer “No!”. My own views are somewhat more qualified and nuanced.”

    Well, the real problem with the Left vs. Right division, that Cultural Marxists and the AltRight folks adhere to is not so much the concept of egalitarianism, but the ridiculous cultural crusades. Most of us are neither homosexuals nor homophobes, neither racists or xenophiles and so on. So it’s natural that we DON’T CARE that much about these issues. Both Cultural Marxists and AltRightists seem pretty convinced that they own the absolute truth on these matters and that anyone who disagrees, is a brainwashed leftist or rightist. I am culturally liberal, but don’t have ill will against conservatives. But because I don’t like “politically corect speech codes”, affirmative action, and feminoid laws, that does not mean that I have to accept racial segragation, crude anti-semitism, and so forth. That’s my main gripe with the alternative rightists. They cannot seem to conceive that there is a “neither hot neither cold” stance in these issues. Everybody who disagrees with them is a brainwashed PC robot. I might be wrong, but that’s the impression that I have after reading many texts in their site.

  21. Michael, when you say things like this…

    “our first priority should not be the “individual liberation” but community organizing”

    …and dismiss individual preferences as “petulant”, are you really that surprised when the LL types cock an eyebrow of suspicion at what they perceive as “village fascism”?

    What is it with the paleocon/RadTrad/social conservative tendency to conflate individualism with atomism and solipsism? The latter concepts seem to better befit a two year old or crackpot authoritarian dictator than any liberty-loving individualist (even the “deracine” and hermit types), yet you (and Yeoman) seem to take great relish in chokeslamming *all* these concepts as if they were one and the same.

    “Community organizing” could mean alternative institutions that fulfill the ostensible goals of current state programs; it could also mean rooting out and running roughshod over “undesirables” and their “petulant” preferences (as opposed to, say violent criminals). I’m not saying that the latter is necessarily what you’re aiming for, but such prioritizing *could* lead to (conservo-)managerialism-writ-small, rather than anything resembling spontaneous order.

    I think emphasis on voluntarism, as Dennis V has pointed out, works as the great reconciler between individual and civil interests; after all, as is often pointed out here, very few folk could be described as “hermits” or “rootless”, even amongst the left-libs in your crosshairs.

  22. “That’s my main gripe with the alternative rightists. They cannot seem to conceive that there is a “neither hot neither cold” stance in these issues. Everybody who disagrees with them is a brainwashed PC robot. I might be wrong, but that’s the impression that I have after reading many texts in their site.”

    You ain’t the only one who picks up on this. Here’s what I wrote in my overview of the whole Machete moral panic:

    “For all their professed respect for other “tribes”, I can’t help wondering if the BANA crew think that Mexican-American moviegoers are automatically gonna become fully-fledged members of La Raza upon exiting the cinemas. They sure as fuck don’t value the cognitive capacities of many of their own tribesmen, tending to see non-racialist whitefolk as self-hating, unreflective receptacles of Cultural Marxist dogma; very much the ol’ “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists” line of thinking: a definer of many an ideological crusade.”

    With their racial essentialism and other such overreaching concepts, they strike me as no less “spooked” than the Lefty who sees white heteronormative bigotry at every turn; in fact, their phantoms mutually reinforce each other.

  23. The whole hoopla about Machete is why I broke alliance with Yeoman and BANA. He thinks I give an f about what the other thinks? Over another rather mediocre action film at that, in spite of the button-pushing the filmmakers haphazardly attempted. I resent being called a ‘coward’ for not being part of such reactionary BS…

  24. Pretty embarassing stuff. While I agree that White Nationalism (or better White Nationalist Nationalism) and racialism are doomed as concepts, and as a radical who lives in Balkans I am very suspicious of even “plain” nationalism, I cannot stand the odor of Calvinism that reeks from the writings of “The-One-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named”. I disagree with Keith that NA is the “highest form of contemporary anarchism”, but he is 1000% spot-on that PC is a religion of lunatics.

  25. Meh, it’s a pretty mild swipe from Aster – who, remember, is not a LL.

    And she’s right: I do think her personal issues are insufficient to base an entire political system around (although I sometimes wonder whether or not all advocates of radical politics are not in some sense working through personal issues or one sort or another). I don’t think she’s damaged goods necessarily, but she certainly justifies her politics by her personal, painful experiences that, in the end, just aren’t good political arguments. It’s an example of how statism relies on stunted, beaten down, incomplete individuals who come to think their only avenue for self-realization is behind the aegis of the state, even whilst acknowledging its horrors.

    The problem is that, in the same way Aster feels sold out by me because I don’t acknowledge her personal experiences as sufficient justification for accepting the state, I feel sold out by Aster because she doesn’t acknowledge the suffering the state causes. I can accept her deal with the devil as a personal sanity move; just not as a sound political argument.

    The whole thread at FLL retreads well worn ground. Yes, there is danger of local authoritarianism in a post-state world. And I think it’s a valid argument that even small fascist communities have an expansionist tendency. The question is not whether these are real problems, but whether they are sufficient to justify letting the state continue. The social and cultural elements of these matters are those that left libertarians should be addressing – state or no state -, instead of what they seem to be arguing: that we cannot abolish the politically correct state until liberal societies are set up in every corner of the world.

    I actually think brainpolice main point here is quite sound:

    I’m not interested in giving every concievable ideology its own (territorial) space in which opposition to its authority is branded authoritarian. I’m not interested in raising the goal of removing currently existing states to the level of a vague, context-lacking zeal for the destruction of something without any consideration for consequences or a coherant account of what one is for. Such one-eyed myopia for the state is one of my biggest problems with the libertarian movement in general, so drunk on the goal of the destruction of the state that it loses any positive value or any meaningful goal that could improve anyone’s lives.

    To the extent that alternatives to the current state of affairs amount to asking people to sacrifice their well-being or their very lives for an abstract goal or to maintain a passive attitude towards possibilities that go against their interests, it is entirely understandable why one may at least contextually prefer to live in the “status quo” to some future dystopia along the lines of what is depicted in “Snow Crash”. Too many libertarians are either naive about the consequences of what they’re espousing or are so zealous about their sacred cows that they would knowingly sacrifice all of existence in the pursuit of their goals (which is a form of nihilist rebellion).

    It’s a bit breathless, but it’s refreshing to see an emphasis on a realist approach from a left libertarian – even if it construes the pan-secessionist argument in ridiculous ways, e.g. nobody is talking about dividing up the surface area of the planet into neat and tidy reservations for every conceivable ideology. He’s right to be cautious and concerned. He and I simply strike a different balance between concern for a stateless dystopia and the current imperial dystopia.

  26. Also, kudos to Dennis, who brought up a point I addressed in the post my computer ate: if libertarians generally conceive of atomistic, transactional individuals, then the left libertarians are the least offensive practitioners in this area. Whether it’s communal property rights, mutualist property constructions, cooperativism, anti-corporatism, etc. no libertarian movement is more inclined towards a “no man is an island” approach to individualism than the libertarian left.

  27. Machete didn’t move me. I’m not into silly action movies anyways. Black Swan could only blow such a film away by it’s jaundiced look at ballet and any professional art in general. Anyways this isn’t a forum about the movies…

  28. Michael:

    The view has been presented in Left-Libertarian circles that the individual’s involvement in such institutions limits his individuality and constrains his desire. This mistakes preference satisfaction for social justice, and carries with it a by de facto positive rights doctrine according to which the individual is entitled to freedom from all social barriers to the satisfaction of his subjective desires. I find this to be a petulant view consistent more with managerial liberalism than with any kind of anti-statism.

    I don’t think that’s an accurate portrayal, honestly. The concern is that these institutions (such as patriarchal families) are authoritarian, not that they are illegitimate. I think your argument that a certain kind of individualism requires the liberal state is not only valid, it’s transformational. It certainly gave me a lot to think about. Such an approach would require libertarians to be not just blind extremists for individual liberty but rather to also think dialectically about the kind of balance between individual and society, and the kinds of institutions likely to maintain an appropriate balance. Funnily enough, it’s a place where brainpolice lands in his above quoted passage, too.

    The main issue is that many left libertarians are totally unwilling to parlay with anybody who smells fascist or socially illiberal. They believe that, even if such accommodation is not itself dangerous, authoritarian cultures inevitably become expansionist – either militarily or memetically. The problem I have with this attitude is that they identify a problem and, yet, their solution of absolute, worldwide liberalization prior to statelessness is ludicrous and reflects a lack of serious thinking akin to what BP calls out.

    This isn’t just a matter of having one’s head in the sand about an alternative to statism; a lot of evidence points to the numbered days of the liberal states we’re used to. Thinking about viable alternatives to the Westphalian system is not just pointless, abstract daydreaming – it is crucial to being able to start building institutions now that can help minimize confusion, violence, and authoritarianism in the coming post-state world. What kills me about left libertarianism is that it has great political, economic, social, and cultural views – and yet practitioners tend to place all their eggs in political theory rather than social activism to peacefully change minds about matters like heteropatriarchy, corporate capitalism, ecological justice, etc. These issues will be struggles, in my opinion, regardless of the political context, and we do more to combat them by activism than by finding the one ideological ring to rule them all.

  29. I think the real debate nowadays concerning egalitarianism has to do with the question of the “sameness” of both individuals and groups.

    Well, one can have opinions on that matter and still not advocate for state intervention to enforce those opinions, no? It just means that the left libertarian agenda is not purely political.

    For instance, is it intrinsically “wrong” that leaders in society tend to be male rather than female even if there are not formal institutional mechanisms for keeping women down? In the absence of favoritism for ethnic, cultural, or racial groups, would all groups be the same in terms of economic, cultural, educational, etc. achievement? It is “wrong” to differentiate socially between homosexuality and heterosexuality, given the reproductive function of the latter? Are human cultures merely interchangeable commodities with one being just as good as another, meaning that the replacement of the traditional populations of Europe with Arab immigrants and their progeny would be of no consequence of any importance?

    Depends on what you mean by “wrong”. People can dispute the legitimacy of such conditions, and frankly as long as the state exists, they should. The issue for me is not that those conditions are necessarily “wrong” so much as them not being necessarily “right” – that there be a curiosity about these conditions, and that we seek not merely to explain them but to understand and question them.

    It also seems like the egalitarian social positions you bring up are only constructed in terms of identity politics and mass populations. Of course, if I’m looked at as a man, or as a white person, or as an American, or whatever, I fit into certain stereotypes. The issue is not the correctness of the stereotypes so much as their utility in assigning essential qualities to groups that then become excuses for the legitimization of authoritarian relations. The dark side of egalitarianism – totalitarian humanism – is not the whole story.

    In what ways and to what degree does the state actually undermine or even directly attack the values supposedly associated with its own totalitarian humanist legitimating ideology?

    Oh, the easiest one is race – how the institutions of education, law enforcement, etc. seek to popularize anti-racist sentiments and provide for token anti-discrimination policies while, at the same time, enforcing policies that tend to marginalize racial minorities and exalt racial majorities. As far as anti-egalitarian class policies, that should be obvious. In most cases the trick works by advancing the minority – sexual, gender, class, race, whatever – only as a political identity, an interest group, while leaving individual members exposed to the whims of whatever low-level institutional functionary.

    As a left libertarian, I do not believe totalitarian humanism will be successful in liberalizing the world. Instead, it will employ humanism as a legitimating ideology, like Christianity in the middle ages or nationalism in recent times, to justify a totalitarian realpolitik. The problem with left libertarians is not the cultural positions, but the kind of fundamentalist attitude that leads them all too often to fight a rear guard battle against perceived enemies who are entirely marginal. The only way they can justify this is if they believe the state’s rhetoric: that things really are better than they used to be for minorities _because of the state_, and not because of general mind changing among the population achieved through peaceful persuasion and engagement.

  30. “As a left libertarian, I do not believe totalitarian humanism will be successful in liberalizing the world. Instead, it will employ humanism as a legitimating ideology, like Christianity in the middle ages or nationalism in recent times, to justify a totalitarian realpolitik. The problem with left libertarians is not the cultural positions, but the kind of fundamentalist attitude that leads them all too often to fight a rear guard battle against perceived enemies who are entirely marginal. The only way they can justify this is if they believe the state’s rhetoric: that things really are better than they used to be for minorities _because of the state_, and not because of general mind changing among the population achieved through peaceful persuasion and engagement.”

    ? couldn’t have expressed it better.

  31. “It’s ridiculous to believe in a one-size-fits-all government for all Greeks, just because they have the same language, culture and heritage.”

    This is where a sophisticated and nuanced take on national-anarchism is really strong; as an overarching political structure, it has transcended the monolithic forms of nationalism that it partially evolved from to take into consideration the mutability and multiplicity of identity. This approach is evident in varying degrees in even the more WN-influenced NA groups, as a voluntary approach to how much ethno-cultural separation should exist in a given territory would inevitably allow a patchwork of different identities to co-exist.

  32. Dennis,

    “Well, the real problem with the Left vs. Right division, that Cultural Marxists and the AltRight folks adhere to is not so much the concept of egalitarianism, but the ridiculous cultural crusades. Most of us are neither homosexuals nor homophobes, neither racists or xenophiles and so on. So it’s natural that we DON’T CARE that much about these issues. Both Cultural Marxists and AltRightists seem pretty convinced that they own the absolute truth on these matters and that anyone who disagrees, is a brainwashed leftist or rightist.”

    You’re referring of course to a problem that I’ve noticed for years, and that’s the fact that most political radicals for understandable reasons tend to originate from the cultural fringes. That’s as true of anarchists and libertarians as it is of Marxists and the far Right. So political radicals end up giving their radicalism some kind of subcultural gloss, whether it’s hippie-green-feminism or homophobic-Christian-racialism or whatever. I never fit in with any of that, probably because I personally identify with the cultural far Left on some things, the cultural far Right on other things, and the cultural Center on still other things. Beyond that, I’m much more of an anti-institutional rather cultural radical. I’m against the state, the corporate ruling class, the credit mafia, the police, the military industrial complex, the managerial bureaucracy, etc. You can be virtually anything culturally and be against these things. Beyond that, it seems to me to be part of the whole point of anarchism that we don’t impose our own values on others.

    “I am culturally liberal, but don’t have ill will against conservatives. But because I don’t like “politically corect speech codes”, affirmative action, and feminoid laws, that does not mean that I have to accept racial segragation, crude anti-semitism, and so forth. That’s my main gripe with the alternative rightists. They cannot seem to conceive that there is a “neither hot neither cold” stance in these issues. Everybody who disagrees with them is a brainwashed PC robot. I might be wrong, but that’s the impression that I have after reading many texts in their site.”

    Well, if the anti-state movement was dominated by paleoconservatives, N-As, AltRightists, Hoppeans, WNs, or religious traditionalists I would no doubt be arguing for greater liberalization in the anti-state milieu or I might have written an essay called “Is Extremism in the Defense of Homophobia No Vice?”. But that’s not where we are at present. A conservative political correctness would be no improvement over the contemporary leftist kind.

    “While I agree that White Nationalism (or better White Nationalist Nationalism) and racialism are doomed as concepts, and as a radical who lives in Balkans I am very suspicious of even “plain” nationalism, I cannot stand the odor of Calvinism that reeks from the writings of “The-One-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named”. I disagree with Keith that NA is the “highest form of contemporary anarchism”, but he is 1000% spot-on that PC is a religion of lunatics.”

    White nationalism is much like conservative Christianity in that it reflects the efforts of an outlook that was once dominant but is steadily losing to go down with a fight, even if it is ultimately doomed. Meanwhile, I do think whites, religious traditionalists, ethno-preservationists, etc. are legitimate in organizing or speaking up in favor of their genuine rights and interests. For instance, while religion can be a force for oppression, so can anti-religion (see Communism). Many WNs fear that in a “majority minority” future America or Europe whites will be oppressed in the name of avenging historical injustices. That’s a possibility that can’t be ruled out. There’s certainly plenty of historical precedent for former outgroups becoming just as tyrannical as the previously dominant groups once they become powerful. That’s a key insight of the conflict theory realm of sociology.

    It’s ironic you compare the “Nameless One” to Calvinism. I belonged to a radical Calvinist fundamentalist sect during the 1970s. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Reconstructionism and here: http://reason.com/archives/1998/11/01/invitation-to-a-stoning When I started to really encounter leftist political correctness up close, I noticed that it was almost the mirror image, a kind of perfect inversion, of what I came from originally.

  33. MRDA,

    ““Community organizing” could mean alternative institutions that fulfill the ostensible goals of current state programs; it could also mean rooting out and running roughshod over “undesirables” and their “petulant” preferences (as opposed to, say violent criminals). I’m not saying that the latter is necessarily what you’re aiming for, but such prioritizing *could* lead to (conservo-)managerialism-writ-small, rather than anything resembling spontaneous order.”

    That’s one of the many reasons why I’m so big on cross-cultural and cross-ideological organizing as part of the pan-secessionist project. We’ve seen from experience what can happen when gargantuan multicultural statist regimes or economically and militarily failed liberal democracies collapse. When the US starts to rumble, the last thing we would want would be ethnic, cultural, and religious warfare between a hundred different factions. That would lead to either a Balkans or Rwandan like situation, or a situation where a messianic state comes to power promising restoration of some kind. A much preferable alternative is previously arranged alliances and negotiated settlements between contending factions with a well organized alternative infrastructure, to be followed by joint pan-secessionist action against the existing state.

    “I think emphasis on voluntarism, as Dennis V has pointed out, works as the great reconciler between individual and civil interests; after all, as is often pointed out here, very few folk could be described as “hermits” or “rootless”, even amongst the left-libs in your crosshairs.”

    Agreed. That’s the position I’ve tried to take in the past. Our principle focus should be to emphasize the anarchist principles or voluntarism, free association, mutualism, decentralism, and federalism, while taking an ecumenical approach to economic and cultural matters.

    “With their racial essentialism and other such overreaching concepts, they strike me as no less “spooked” than the Lefty who sees white heteronormative bigotry at every turn; in fact, their phantoms mutually reinforce each other.”

    No doubt about it. That’s why we need an entirely new alternatives to the conventional racist/anti-racist paradigm, e.g. separation of race and state, neotribalism, meritocratic individualism, citizenism, voluntary free associationism, ethnopluralism, pan-autonomism, etc. Racial determinism is no improvement over the economic determinism of the Marxists or the vulgar libertarians. Actually, there’s not nearly as much to be differentiated between Marxists and Nazis as many people think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdAfuryty4k

  34. Jeremy,

    “Also, kudos to Dennis, who brought up a point I addressed in the post my computer ate: if libertarians generally conceive of atomistic, transactional individuals, then the left libertarians are the least offensive practitioners in this area. Whether it’s communal property rights, mutualist property constructions, cooperativism, anti-corporatism, etc. no libertarian movement is more inclined towards a “no man is an island” approach to individualism than the libertarian left.”

    I’ve mentioned before that I see national-anarchism as the most advanced form of anti-state radicalism at present (see Dennis’ comment above). I say that primarily because of its anti-universalism and recognition of the inevitability of otherness and the wider metapolitical foundations of which it is a derivative. But I would add that of any form of anti-state radicalism currently in existence, I actually think the LLs are the most advanced in terms of both their commitment to economic ecumenicalism as well as the actual content of their economic thought. It’s unfortunate that they veer off in the polar opposite direction when it comes to social and cultural matters, and do so in the most ridiculous ways.

    “It’s a bit breathless, but it’s refreshing to see an emphasis on a realist approach from a left libertarian – even if it construes the pan-secessionist argument in ridiculous ways, e.g. nobody is talking about dividing up the surface area of the planet into neat and tidy reservations for every conceivable ideology. He’s right to be cautious and concerned. He and I simply strike a different balance between concern for a stateless dystopia and the current imperial dystopia.”

    Their perception of what pan-secessionism is supposed to be is something of a caricature, almost a parody. For that matter, so is their perception of national-anarchism.

    “The main issue is that many left libertarians are totally unwilling to parlay with anybody who smells fascist or socially illiberal. They believe that, even if such accommodation is not itself dangerous, authoritarian cultures inevitably become expansionist – either militarily or memetically. The problem I have with this attitude is that they identify a problem and, yet, their solution of absolute, worldwide liberalization prior to statelessness is ludicrous and reflects a lack of serious thinking akin to what BP calls out.”

    They seem to believe that the struggle against the state should be postponed until every Indonesian or Pakistani village adopts the gender norms of Scandinavia or the sexual mores of San Francisco. Like that’s going to happen. One of the main problems with their thinking is that they wildly exaggerate the dangers of right-wing authoritarianism in contemporary Western societies while downplaying or being completely oblivious to the more immediate problem of liberal or left-wing authoritarianism. The primary authoritarian dangers of a conventionally “rightist” nature at present are political repression carried out in the name of the terror war, national security, etc. Much of that is starting to take on the aura of the national security states of Latin America in the 20th century (e.g. Pinochet), but such tactics can be used by liberal as well as overtly rightist regimes. The very worst repression in US history was carried out by the regimes of Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt, all of whom were liberals by the standards of their time and all of whom had ideas that fit squarely within the Jacobin tradition. As Naomi Wolf recently pointed out, what we are seeing is a re-emergence of the progressive authoritarianism of the Wilson era.

    I read the various LL blogs and forums regularly and I see very little discussion of any of these problems or the need to oppose them (with the honorable exception of Kevin Carson at C4SS). Instead, what I mostly see is stuff like “National-Anarchists want to discriminate against homosexuals and take American race relations back to the 1950s” which is grossly ignorant caricature of NA. Also, like their left-anarchist counterparts, they seem to have an odd fixation on groups like the neo-Nazis, the Fred Phelps’ cult, etc. that seems grossly disproportionate to the level of influence such groups actually exercise over the mainstream culture much less the state itself. It would be interesting to try to uncover the roots of that. My guess is that it’s the result of the influence of the public educational system, mass media, university curriculums, etc. In other words, they actually believe American society is what the propaganda arms of the state say it is.

    Another thing that’s interesting about them is they completely ignore what Alan Ditmore has called the “good riddance” argument. If cultural and social conservatives are as awful as they say, then why wouldn’t it be better for them to be politically and institutionally separate? The argument they raise about “expansionism” is valid, though extraordinarily one-sided. They could certainly practice an “expansionism” of their own if they wished, and I’ve never argued that the particular sets of cultural values of particular communities and institutions should be locked in for all eternity. If indeed cultural leftism is historically predetermined towards victory, then why would not culturally conservative communities evolve in a more liberal direction over time?

    I think root of their problems are summarized well by the one statement that appeared on one of their blogs some time ago where one of them was saying something like “I am not free as long as one queer teenager has to sit through a Mormon church service” or something like that. Ideas like that go way beyond what could even reasonably be considered to be a political issue. In other words, it’s not that they’re concerned about any real or even imaginary threats of fascism, racism, neo-Nazism, theocracy, etc. as much as they conceive of “libertarianism” as an all-purposes attack on anything they don’t like or don’t agree with. Imagine the crazy directions such sentiments could be taken in: “I am not free as long as one cow is slaughtered for McDonald’s hamburger meat”; “I am not free as long as one gun-toting teenager has to sit through a Unitarian sermon endorsing gun control or a Quaker sermon extolling the virtues of pacifism”; “I am not free as long as one meat-eating teenager has to sit through a Seventh Day Adventist service calling on him to adopt vegetarianism.”

    “This isn’t just a matter of having one’s head in the sand about an alternative to statism; a lot of evidence points to the numbered days of the liberal states we’re used to. Thinking about viable alternatives to the Westphalian system is not just pointless, abstract daydreaming – it is crucial to being able to start building institutions now that can help minimize confusion, violence, and authoritarianism in the coming post-state world. What kills me about left libertarianism is that it has great political, economic, social, and cultural views – and yet practitioners tend to place all their eggs in political theory rather than social activism to peacefully change minds about matters like heteropatriarchy, corporate capitalism, ecological justice, etc. These issues will be struggles, in my opinion, regardless of the political context, and we do more to combat them by activism than by finding the one ideological ring to rule them all.”

    Yes! Amen, brother, say it again!!!

  35. Their perception of what pan-secessionism is supposed to be is something of a caricature, almost a parody. For that matter, so is their perception of national-anarchism.

    Yeah, but I don’t really know what is to be done about it. It almost seems like being left libertarian is about being against national anarchism and Keith Preston. But then again, sometimes it seems like being interested in ATS means being against left libertarians. It’s all a little ridiculous.

    For me it’s never been about defending ATS or NA or any of that; it’s been about standing up for a leftism that is not dogmatic and cowardly as well as a libertarianism that has an imagination equal to the challenges of the statist establishment of the 21st century.

    Reviewing some of the old threads at FLL, I really think the critique of excessive rationalism is one of the most important observations of modern left libertarianism. Brainpolice, Soviet Onion, and other continually come back to critiquing national anarchist premises as “irrational”. What really loosened me up about all this is realizing the arbitrary basis of both ideologies I consider “bad” and those I consider “good”. Egalitarianism, social justice, environmentalism – all of this is impossible to compel another to accept, just as racism and patriarchy and heteronormative society is. If you consider the weaknesses and flaws of your own ideology, it’s a lot harder to expect competing ideologies to meet such an impeccable standard that most of these doctrinaire left libertarians do.

    But this is ultimately not a left libertarian problem; it is a problem with dogmatism and ideological exuberance of all kinds.

    If cultural and social conservatives are as awful as they say, then why wouldn’t it be better for them to be politically and institutionally separate?

    It’s sort of a therapeutism mixed with kumbayahism if you ask me. They think about the women and children oppressed by patriarchal reactionary societies. It bugs me, too, because I don’t want to enable that. But I also try to remember that politics is about what is possible, not achieving utopia. It is my task to do what I can and think critically about it.

    Libertarianism at large – not just this leftist variety – has become associated with rigid, rule-based moral systems that encourage formulaic analysis rather than critical thinking. Our task is not to meet left libertarians tit for tat, I feel, but rather to advocate for a more thoughtful, creative, and responsible approach to individual liberty and anti-statism.

  36. “Yeah, but I don’t really know what is to be done about it. It almost seems like being left libertarian is about being against national anarchism and Keith Preston. But then again, sometimes it seems like being interested in ATS means being against left libertarians. It’s all a little ridiculous.”

    LOL, I agree, except that some of these kinds of conflicts can also be a starting point for a discussion of more substantive matters.

    “It’s sort of a therapeutism mixed with kumbayahism if you ask me.”

    Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

    “They think about the women and children oppressed by patriarchal reactionary societies.”

    Well, if we’re talking about pre-Enlightenment societies like the kind we find in parts of the world, I might agree with them, though there’s nothing that can be done about that. But almost all of us who participate in these forums are Europeans, Americans, and Australians where that kind of thing is rather marginalized to say the least. One of the things that motivated me to become a skeptic of open borders was recognition that unlimited immigration by people from cultures with pre-Enlightenment values might not be in the best long-term interests of the anarchist movement or of post-Enlightenment civilization. In other words, I think their criticisms of my accommodationist stance towards cultural conservatism is rooted in wild exaggerations and an ignorant and narrow-minded perception of people outside their own narrow cultural and ideological milieus, and is in fact a contradiction of their universalism and other adamantly held beliefs.

  37. The FLL’ers are actually trying to put up a disclaimer on their site “banning” NA’s, racialists, or their various sympathisers, or “racists”, “sexists”, and “homophobes” probably because of me lol, just because of this one woman. Unthinkable, from my view. There’s been worse than me LOL. This crazed-witch hunt led by this Aster woman is ridiculous. She’s written prolly a page worth of victimizing and agonising over her identity that it seems like she’s almost unsure of her identity.

    If indeed cultural leftism is historically predetermined towards victory, then why would not culturally conservative communities evolve in a more liberal direction over time?

    Yes! Pretty much totally agreed (wish I had the patience to post that earlier lol), although I think reactionary forces will never completely dissapear, but they may as well not be given a chance to totally exercise all they power they wish, and therefore emphasise the positive virtues of their movement over the reactionary and close-minded (localism and reliance on tradition and all that), to help themsleves or even gain “converts” in an anarchic society. Whose to say, with even one completely gay or even gay-friendly area, reactionary forces in society, so long as they are propped up by power structures and an attraction to power, wouldnt slowly begin to fade away as the generations passed.

    I’ve talked about my new exposition of the social values with Reich and the New Agers on the left and Evola, some other conservatives, and ancient hierarchical European and Asian societies on the right (classical liberals and the powerlusting “NWO” types being opposed to eachother on a totally different, but scale and totalitarian leftists being a totally different animal), and I think in an anarchic society we could discover a sort of “natural” order while building a society of freedom in liberal values, like the tribe being a part of the individual and the individual being a part of the tribe, obviously going towards some sort of a gradual perfect synthesis sort of thing, this all I think is the future for us if we can try and pull something like it off, but obviously its not like a deeply-thought out system right now.

  38. “The FLL’ers are actually trying to put up a disclaimer on their site “banning” NA’s, racialists, or their various sympathisers, or “racists”, “sexists”, and “homophobes” probably because of me lol, just because of this one woman. Unthinkable, from my view. There’s been worse than me LOL. This crazed-witch hunt led by this Aster woman is ridiculous. She’s written prolly a page worth of victimizing and agonising over her identity that it seems like she’s almost unsure of her identity.”

    Yes, Aster is a profoundly neurotic individual, the type that often gets drawn to radical politics. His/her sense of self is entirely bound up with this masochistic victim-mindset, a genuinely sorry state to be in. Essentially, a manifestation of Nietzsche’s ‘Last Man’.

  39. Jeremy,

    “In what ways and to what degree does the state actually undermine or even directly attack the values supposedly associated with its own totalitarian humanist legitimating ideology?

    Oh, the easiest one is race – how the institutions of education, law enforcement, etc. seek to popularize anti-racist sentiments and provide for token anti-discrimination policies while, at the same time, enforcing policies that tend to marginalize racial minorities and exalt racial majorities. As far as anti-egalitarian class policies, that should be obvious. In most cases the trick works by advancing the minority – sexual, gender, class, race, whatever – only as a political identity, an interest group, while leaving individual members exposed to the whims of whatever low-level institutional functionary.”

    Well, given that these are the primary issues people tend to argue about nowadays, it’s certainly important to have a thorough and accurate understanding of how the system actually works regarding these issues. I’ve looked at these kinds of questions quite a bit over the years, and tried to get an understanding of how all different sides actually see things and it seems to me that the system tries to work both ends against the middle on these questions. As you mention, race is probably the best example. The Left claims that anti-racist policies are just token gestures designed to hide the evil white supremacist nature of American society, while WNs and some other rightists claim that minorities are pampered and given special privileges by the system. I think both of these perspectives are half-truths.

    I can’t accept that anti-racist polices are merely an insincere ruse, given that state intervention for the purpose of achieving desired levels of integration and so forth has often been rather far-reaching and heavy-handed, particularly if you look at the history of federal court decisions concerning race, or if you review the extent to which compensatory preferences in institutional settings have become prevalent, or if you look at the way that those who dissent from the dominant liberal-integrationist paradigm are attacked and silenced. There are plenty of other illustrations as well.

    On the other hand, there are quite a few examples of policies being implemented that do tremendous harm to racial minorities. The war on drugs is by far the worst, though I disagree with those who attribute the drug war to racism alone. The examples you give are also relevant, and we could come up with a long list of economic policies that are harmful to blacks and other minorities. We also have to consider genuine disadvantages that blacks, for instance, may have that are indeed due to historical legacies. One of these that some left-wing researchers have documented is the lack of accumulated wealth in black communities relative to the population as a whole. As this blogger http://asilee.com/2009/03/24/10-problems-facing-african-americans/ points out, seventy-five percent of US blacks are middle class and by world standards there’s still a fair amount of wealth in the African-American population, but the proportion of US wealth held by blacks is still quite small even when the population size differentials are corrected for. Possible historical reasons for this obviously can’t be discounted or ignored.

    I also think WN claims that minorities are simply pampered special interest groups are ridiculous given the conditions found among some subsets of racial minorities. American Indians, for instance, are hardly the recipients of state favoritism. With African-Americans, it does indeed seem like the kinds of state interventions and compensatory preferences the right-wing complains about are indeed the basis of a system of privilege, but only in a rather selective and limited sense. My theory has long been that such things are intended to buy the loyalty of the black elites, and black middle to upper classes, thereby helping to preserve the system overall. In fact, I think that’s the real reason that the system has made Martin Luther King into something of a cult-like saintly figure (as Paul Gottfried is always complaining about, lol). Nothing against MLK, but his liberal-integrationist ideas were far less threatening to the system than those of genuine radicals, separatists, or nationalists like Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, the Black Panthers. I’m sure US elites and policy-makers during the civil rights era regarded the liberal-integrationist paradigm symbolized by King as a means of incorporating the civil rights movement into the system, scoring a propaganda victory in the Cold War, reconciling the contradiction between American racial history and America’s liberal ideology, recruiting blacks as new constituents for various component parts of the state, using black communities as new markets to be colonized by capitalism, and marginalizing those movements among blacks that were genuine threats to the system. I mean, for god’s sake, the Black Panthers were a relatively small movement numerically but the system went out of its way to annihilate them. So their ideas had to be viewed as a genuine threat. Even today, Malcolm X is widely dismissed as a violent extremist, and someone like Louis Farrakhan is considered a disreputable fanatic, even as the King-cult has become deeply entrenched.

    I also think there were several factors that converged in the late 1960s/early 1970s that have become the basis of what the status of African-Americans is today. During that time, the systems of racial preference/compulsory integration that the Right attacks so vehemently were put into place, along with the dramatic expansion of the welfare state, and the beginning of the modern version of the war on drugs.The combined effect of these things has been to dramatically undermine efforts at self-sufficiency and self-determination by African-American communities. A lot of black conservatives and black libertarians have written extensively about this, like Thomas Sowell or Elizabeth Wright (http://www.alternativeright.com/main/the-magazine/the-myth-of-civil-rights/) The effect these things seems to have been the destruction of organic community, cultural, and economic life among urban African-American populations. There are a lot of other economic polices from that time and since then that play a major role in these problems, e.g. so-called “urban renewal,” gentrification, deindustrialization, etc.

    We could probably apply a similar analysis to other parallel or comparable issues. Just as certain sectors of the black population have advanced economically and risen in institutional settings while the condition of other sectors has deteriorated dramatically, you see similar dichotomies among other traditional outgroups, and often with similar extremes of polarization. For instance, women have certainly advanced in terms of legal rights, job and educational opportunities and so forth, to the point that feminazis have taken over certain sectors of society like family courts, while women are also the fastest growing demographic among the prison population, mostly due to the drug war and the wider process of hyper-criminalization of American society. I’ve discussed before the myriad of ways that the system fosters and encourages immigration, even illegal immigration, but there are still sectors of the state that are component parts of the wider police state that have an interest in immigration enforcement, and illegal immigrant detention centers overlap with the wider prison-industrial complex. The welfare state has expanded, even as the economy has deteriorated and class divisions have widened. Gays have certainly gained plenty of rights in recent decades, but the state allied with Big Pharma probably killed a lot of gays prematurely with junk science regarding HIV/AIDS, and the organized gay lobby was heavily complicit in that.

    These dichotomies are easy to find throughout all different areas of social analysis, and different political factions bring relevant insights with them that are relative to their own vantage points.

  40. Keith,

    Your comments are thoughtful indeed. I have to clarify that I don’t want or care if WN to turn into “good, decent liberals”. It’s not my business what others believe or not, and as long as someone is against the system I consider him my ally. What makes me sceptical of WN is the same think that makes me sceptical of radical feminists and the whole “PC freak circus”… I’m not claiming that it’s impossible to recruit members of this movement in a wider revolution panarchist/pan-secessionist movement… But from what I’ ve read, they are also way too invested in their sectarian positions. WNs need to understand that if they are going to be part of a POPULIST movement, bashing non-racialist whites for “not being racist enough” is a wrong strategic option. I mean, I understand that they are under assault by the managerial state, but as a Machiavellian you understand, that turning paranoid is not going to solve your problems… And that’s not different from what I would say to a feminist, or an militant anti-racist…

    If the FLL decides to act on this policy of “No non-PC invididuals permitted”, I will have to quit participating in these forums. I hate all manifestations of RevLeftoid attitudes. If Aster and others do not understand that the forums are not a kind of mental hospital for Aster, where she can freely unleash her neuroses to others (noonan). It seems like a “Shutter Island”-like psychiatric experiment, where everyone is pretending that everything is OK with her, while it’s obviously not true…

    Luke

    “Yes, Aster is a profoundly neurotic individual, the type that often gets drawn to radical politics. His/her sense of self is entirely bound up with this masochistic victim-mindset, a genuinely sorry state to be in. Essentially, a manifestation of Nietzsche’s ‘Last Man’.”

  41. Luke

    “Yes, Aster is a profoundly neurotic individual, the type that often gets drawn to radical politics. His/her sense of self is entirely bound up with this masochistic victim-mindset, a genuinely sorry state to be in. Essentially, a manifestation of Nietzsche’s ‘Last Man’.”

    Agreed…

  42. Keith,

    The politically correct policies do not have to be insincere in fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. As long as the proposed solutions to these issues end up providing more power, funding, and prerogative to the institutions it’s quite helpful for the underlying motivations to be sincere and altruistic. It’s all about what can be integrated into the establishment institutional complex and what can’t, because these progressive ideologies think of progress AS strengthening the centralized institutional density of society. So of course they see fighting racism and promoting a drug war as going hand in hand. because their vision of what the final, glorious outcome looks like is a big, well-oiled machine.

    What left libertarians and others should be able to see is that human dignity and survival come before putting the world in a particular order.

  43. “Yes, Aster is a profoundly neurotic individual, the type that often gets drawn to radical politics. His/her sense of self is entirely bound up with this masochistic victim-mindset, a genuinely sorry state to be in. Essentially, a manifestation of Nietzsche’s ‘Last Man’.”

    I think that’s a bit harsh, Luke. Sure, she ain’t doing anyone any favours with the cloistering behaviour, and I can’t agree with her endorsement of statism, but she seems more of a disillusioned Promethean than a life-weary Nietzschean antithesis.

  44. That said, this is histrionically stupid:

    “Royce, Brainpolice, Neverfox- or Charles Johnson, who has experience writing this sort of thing- would you consider drawing something like this up? Something which would keep the Prestons, Etheleonas, Thor Mitersaws, Mus, etc., from feeling entitled to preach bigoted unreason here.”

    You’d think Tom Metzger, Pastor Manning, Jack Chick and Nick Strakon had been trolling their board, with the tone she takes!

  45. My exposition of a balanced, fair and nuanced way of looking at gender differences that can actually be understood by people on the ground in relationships with other, empathic people, and even my defense of homosexuality against the conservatives claim of being unnatural and irresponsible, and my harsh treatment of patriarchal families and such, this is all “hilarious and nauseating” to her for some reason.

  46. Here’s their latest go round:

    http://libertarianleft.freeforums.org/i-m-renegotiating-the-terms-t831.html

    MRDA,

    “You’d think Tom Metzger, Pastor Manning, Jack Chick and Nick Strakon had been trolling their board, with the tone she takes!”

    I don’t think she and some of the others as well see any real difference. They have the same kind of psychology as the anti-commie loons of the 1950s and 1960s who thought Eisenhower and William F. Buckley were in on the Communist Conspiracy (seriously, ideas like that were well-worn in U.S. right-wing circles in the Cold War).

    Noonan,

    “My exposition of a balanced, fair and nuanced way of looking at gender differences that can actually be understood by people on the ground in relationships with other, empathic people, and even my defense of homosexuality against the conservatives claim of being unnatural and irresponsible, and my harsh treatment of patriarchal families and such, this is all “hilarious and nauseating” to her for some reason.”

    They have no interest in being fair, balanced, or nuanced. They’re religious fanatics, not serious thinkers. LOL, they’re just like all the Bible-banging Jesus freaks I used to know back in the 70s and early 80s. Different opinions are not simply wrong, but a conspiracy against THE TRUTH.

    Dennis,

    “If Aster and others do not understand that the forums are not a kind of mental hospital for Aster, where she can freely unleash her neuroses to others (noonan). It seems like a “Shutter Island”-like psychiatric experiment, where everyone is pretending that everything is OK with her, while it’s obviously not true…”

    That’s one of the points I was trying to make in The Infamous Essay. Equally appalling with Aster’s Calvinistic/Inquisitor’s crusade against heretics is the way she uses her “officially oppressed” status as a kind of “get out of jail free” card. In fact, I think that’s the real reason why so many in their milieu take an indulgent attitude towards her, including people who ought to know better. She can deflect any criticism of her attitude and behavior by flashing her “I’m officially oppressed” credentials and they’re so cowed by PC they simply roll over. Maybe I’m overstating things a bit, but that’s how it seems to me at least.

  47. I’m seriously wondering why I continue to associate myself with such people. They have neither courage nor curiosity nor self-consciousness. I’m still a left libertarian, but I can’t be allies with those people.

  48. From what I’ve experienced reading those forums, I think alot of those people are crazy.

    Then of course there’s David Houser, but then I don’t think he’s even a Left Libertarian. He’s a bandwagon jumper who only did so because he lost all his friends being a sneering neocon. But he still has to be judgmental concerning Preston and just about anyone not quite ‘anti-fascist’ enough…

  49. Jeremy,

    “I’m still a left libertarian, but I can’t be allies with those people.”

    Well, what I try to do is take the actual IDEAS (as opposed to the individual players) within left-libertarianism that are valid and helpful, and there many such ideas, and incorporate them into the wider alternative-anarchist/anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist paradigm. That doesn’t mean we have to reject all individual left-libertarians, either.Those who wish to participate in our milieu can and those who don’t want to don’t have to. Even those who strongly dislike what we do here often produce material well worth reading or re-publishing (e.g. Long, Johnson, Wilbur, Worden, etc.)

    Besides, I actually think many of these arguments with the LLs are worthwhile because the attacks they engage in are quite similar to the attacks the System would actually levy against us if we ever became large enough to become a credible threat. Look at the attacks that the SPLC and others have inflicted on the Second Vermont Republic over their relationship with the League of the South. Look at how the mainstream media has attacked the Ron Paulians and the Tea Parties. We’re far more radical than either of those, so the attacks on us would be similar but even more intense. So what we’re doing by engaging them is undergoing a kind of “boot camp of rhetoric and debate” with the forces of the PC inquisitors. This helps us to familiarize ourselves more fully with their psychology and tactics and gets us in shape to face more formidable attackers. It’s an interesting intellectual exercise.

  50. That bloke sounds like a fucking Born-Again! I can understand a renewed lust for life after coming back from the brink, but that’s something else!

  51. Who are the people this essay is talking about? The political ideology you described doesn’t even sound like a strawman of left-libertarianism, it sounds like an entirely different ideology.

  52. Interesting essay and comments, I think that the discussion in the comments shows the weaknesses of ideological labelling in that if you call yourself a left-libertarian, anarchist, or conservative inevitably you associate yourself with a whole laundry list of positions in the minds of most people. In this specific instance, there are probably some self described left-libertarians who fit Michael’s description but, the majority probably do not. I myself have given up trying to put any ideological label on my beliefs; other people can do so if they wish.

    As for Michael’s essay, I agree with his points regarding economic determinism and the importance of cultural factors. Turning the economy into an idol is an error that I think both left and right leaning libertarians are susceptible to. The importance of culture is also one area where I would agree with Michael though the conclusions that I come to are radically different than his.

    Now onto my areas of disagreement with the article. The first thing that caught my attention was his bringing up of the individualism vs. collectivism thing. He accuses left-libertarians of holding to a theory of atomistic abstract individualism in contrast to his communitarian ideal. The first thing that I want to point out in the whole debate over individualism and collectivism is the assumption that there is an inherent conflict at all times between the individual and society. I am not convinced that such a conflict must necessarily exist. One thing I want to point out about this criticism of individualism is that it is often made by people who hold to an abstract notion of collectivism. What I mean by that is that collective notions like society, race, nation, are given an existence of their own independent of people who make up these collectives. This is in contrast to the idea that our actions can affect others and so social rules should take that fact of existence into account, which is something that I agree with. The thing with abstract collectivism is that the institutions are the things that are important and people have a duty to serve them rather than the institutions serving the individuals. The abstract individualism that Michael imputes to left libertarians is probably only held by a psychopath, it may be the case that sometimes libertarians in general underestimate the degree to which an individual’s actions affect other people, but I think the consequences of that error pale in comparison to what abstract collectivism has wrought. I think that concrete “real” individualism which recognizes actual people as being preeminent over institutions is not only compatible with social harmony, but is in fact necessary for an advanced society that values progress.

    In contrast to this, collectivism in my view has been responsible for the retardation of human civilization. At bottom, the collectivism promoted by authoritarians including these paleocons and others is at bottom an authoritarian, fear-driven, and anti-liberty mentality. This is the mentality that is behind the fear-driven rhetoric of the so-called war on terror and the calls coming from that camp for people to sacrifice their liberties in the service of a greater good. You also see this mentality in cults that control their members as well as in primitive societies where ignorance and fear prevail and where such things prevail, collectivism finds fertile soil. In contrast to this, the more enlightened and secure people are, the less collectivistic doctrines have any appeal. Those rare individuals who have advanced civilization and brought us beyond our animal origins were those who had the courage to go against both the sheep and their wolf masters. Collectivism in my mind is responsible for the way in which people discriminate against people because of race, sexual orientation, and other characteristics because they don’t see that person as an individual, but just as part of a group that a person has attached certain traits to in his/her mind. Also, the sort of inter-group violence is a product of a collectivist mentality in my mind. Left-libertarians by their universalism (which the author is against) at least would apply a minimum standard of treatment to everyone on the planet in contrast to the tribal nature of the sort of politics that Michael endorses. In other words, you don’t see these atomised individualistic libertarians going out and hacking people to death with machetes because they are part of an outside group. It’s the tribal mentality that generates that sort of behaviour.

  53. On the issue of culture, I agree that liberal ideas have only existed so far for the most part among northern European populated nations from the 17th century onward and areas where these groups are most prevalent are where these values are the most ingrained. Whether that will always be the case is something that I don’t think can be answered one way or the other yet. That is one of the reasons that I am a little concerned about mass immigration from other cultures with different values into these nations although I don’t take the hysterical anti-immigration stance of some. The irony is that those who hold to the sort of politics of collectivism ought to have a favourable attitude towards these people with non-liberal values coming in.

    As for left-libertarians sharing the same presuppositions as the modern state, well so what? Even the most rabid neocon believes in basic human rights, free speech, is opposed to genocide etc. I am thankful for anyone that shares the basic ideas of the enlightenment, which in my opinion was the best thing to happen to humanity other than civilization itself. The sad thing is that National Anarchists, New Rightist’s, paleocons, and other assorted types do not seem to share these basic values. This leads me to a conclusion that I am very unhappy about coming to. That is if it comes to choosing between the societies that the afore mentioned groups would inflict upon humanity and the current system that exists, I will choose the latter. I am as much an opponent of the present system as can be. I am against the state, the injustice system, corporatism, the war machine, probably more laws than most libertarians are against, and so on. When I read stories in the news about people being busted for victimless crimes, it probably raises my blood pressure so high that I’m surprised I haven’t had a stroke by now. The thing is that I am against the system because of its illiberal nature and not because of the liberalism that it has. I am opposed to totalitarian humanism and managerial liberalism because I believe that they are fundamentally opposed to true liberal ideals by their authoritarian natures. I believe that concern over totalitarian humanism by the groups that I have mentioned is a smokescreen to mask their opposition to the most basic liberal ideals.

    Also, having read the discussion on the Forums of the libertarian left, I must say that I think Aster is right and I agreed with pretty much everything she wrote. In the past I dismissed her writings as blindly pro-state, but I realize now that she understands, because of her experiences in life, the barbarity and cruelty of statism on a far more personal level than I do. The reason that she takes the positions that she does is because she realizes that in life, sometimes the best choices are bad choices, really bad choices for that matter (her words were “statist hell”). As much as I personally am opposed to the state and its claims of legitimacy, I am also opposed to the religion of anti-statism and will not support any movement if it is against my own interests. As a practical example, I don’t think anyone hear wants to live in a world where every two bit thug and warlord has free reign to terrorize the population. These racialist political sects appeal to the most primitive unthinking instincts in man and are hardly a way of ensuring peaceful relations between various tribes. The idea that each tribe (based on characteristics that I don’t give a damn about) will have its own little enclave and everything will be peaches and cream is a ludicrous idea because tribes fight and in an atmosphere of collectivism, such conflicts will probably become even worse. I also find odd (and this is true for paleocons as well) that ideologies that are elitist appeal to sentiments characteristic of the lowest segment of humanity.

    I have my own criticisms of the left-libertarian movement that have appeared on this site, but these pale in comparison to the authoritarian politics of tribalism and collectivism.

  54. @Keith

    Well I admit I had problems when I initially got on internet forums years ago, mostly due to some kind of depressive disorder I had on top of being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I’ve been taking an anti-depressant for the past couple of years so I don’t fly off the handle like I used to (for the most part…) Years ago I would’ve been much more unpleasant to deal with, but now that I’ve calmed down I’m much more objective in my thinking.

  55. Jared,

    “I agree that liberal ideas have only existed so far for the most part among northern European populated nations from the 17th century onward and areas where these groups are most prevalent are where these values are the most ingrained. Whether that will always be the case is something that I don’t think can be answered one way or the other yet. That is one of the reasons that I am a little concerned about mass immigration from other cultures with different values into these nations although I don’t take the hysterical anti-immigration stance of some. The irony is that those who hold to the sort of politics of collectivism ought to have a favourable attitude towards these people with non-liberal values coming in.”

    That’s more or less my perspective as well. Western civilization in its modern form is largely the progeny of the classical pagan intellectual culture of antiquity. That culture was overthrown and nearly destroyed by the rise of Christianity, and it took 1500 hundred years to get it back. Post-Christian civilization in the West is now only about two hundred years old, and even now we’re still dealing with the residual influences of Christianity (including their secular manifestations like Marxism). The uncontrolled importation of people from parts of the world untouched by the Enlightenment (particularly Muslims, but Third World Christians as well, many of whom take their Christianity far more seriously than their Western counterparts) has the potential to undermine Enlightenment civilization in the same way that Christianity destroyed classical civilization. This, in my opinion, is the most compelling argument against open borders fundamentalism.

    “Even the most rabid neocon believes in basic human rights, free speech, is opposed to genocide etc.”

    They do? Secret trials, torture, military commissions, these things are a bit hard to reconcile with any kind of human rights paradigm. See this: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/14/manning They’re not so big on freedom of speech for Julian Assange. Killing over a million people in Iraq comes pretty close to genocide.

    “The sad thing is that National Anarchists, New Rightist’s, paleocons, and other assorted types do not seem to share these basic values.”

    That’s a bit of an exaggeration. More than a bit, really. Certainly, no one I know from those milieus favors things like genocide, secret trials, or torture. For instance, the late Sam Francis was a arguably the leading paleocon intellectual. See what he had to say about the neocons’ terror war: http://www.vdare.com/francis/dark_age.htm

    I think you’re strongly underestimating the malevolence of the neocons while strongly overestimating the malevolence of the NAs, New Right, or paleoconservatives.

    “As a practical example, I don’t think anyone hear wants to live in a world where every two bit thug and warlord has free reign to terrorize the population. These racialist political sects appeal to the most primitive unthinking instincts in man and are hardly a way of ensuring peaceful relations between various tribes. The idea that each tribe (based on characteristics that I don’t give a damn about) will have its own little enclave and everything will be peaches and cream is a ludicrous idea because tribes fight and in an atmosphere of collectivism, such conflicts will probably become even worse. I also find odd (and this is true for paleocons as well) that ideologies that are elitist appeal to sentiments characteristic of the lowest segment of humanity.”

    While what you’re saying here would apply to crude racist groups of the kind we’re all familiar with, I once again think this is something of a misrepresentation of ideas like national-anarchism, paleoconservatism, or the ENR. Saying that these tendencies are simply about replacing liberal civilization with an Afghan-like warlord system or a Rwandan-like tribal/racial/ethnic civil war is hardly an accurate or substantive critique of their outlook. For instance, Jared Taylor gives an overview of his own policy preferences here: http://takimag.com/article/noble_lies_are_for_children_a_qa_with_jared_taylor Agree with Taylor or not (and I have substantial differences with him on certain questions, particularly his inclination towards racial determinism), he hardly fits the model of what you’re describing.

    To find out more about the ENR, I’d suggest going right to the source. Listen to these interviews with its founding father, Alain De Benoist:

    http://reasonradionetwork.com/20100119/the-sunic-journal-interview-with-alain-de-benoist-part-1-of-2
    http://reasonradionetwork.com/20100126/the-sunic-journal-interview-with-alain-de-benoist-part-2-of-2
    Note that in these interviews De Benoist specifically attributes racial intolerance to the influence of monotheistic Abrahamic religions.
    Also, listen to Tom Sunic’s overview of the ideas of the ENR: http://reasonradionetwork.com/20100713/the-sunic-journal-altright-radiothe-european-new-right

  56. Dennis,

    “It’s not my business what others believe or not, and as long as someone is against the system I consider him my ally. What makes me sceptical of WN is the same think that makes me sceptical of radical feminists and the whole “PC freak circus”… I’m not claiming that it’s impossible to recruit members of this movement in a wider revolution panarchist/pan-secessionist movement… But from what I’ ve read, they are also way too invested in their sectarian positions. WNs need to understand that if they are going to be part of a POPULIST movement, bashing non-racialist whites for “not being racist enough” is a wrong strategic option. I mean, I understand that they are under assault by the managerial state, but as a Machiavellian you understand, that turning paranoid is not going to solve your problems… And that’s not different from what I would say to a feminist, or an militant anti-racist…”

    Well, I don’t have any interest in people that are just about picking fights with those of another race or color. The crude racist types don’t generally have any interest in me or my ideas, anyway. They view me in the same way Aster does, only from the opposite end, as an anarchist entryist into the “white nationalist” milieu. For instance, check out some of the more negative comments regarding my interview with Tom: http://reasonradionetwork.com/20100608/the-sunic-journal-interview-with-keith-preston Replacing totalitarian humanism with some kind of obscurantist racial supremacism or an intercommunal civil war would be a regression (to say the least). That’s not what I’m about at all.

  57. <particularly Muslims, but Third World Christians as well, many of whom take their Christianity far more seriously than their Western counterparts

    That opens another can of worms, though. Third World Christians aren't the same as Muslims, of course. That brand of Christianity is just as paganized as the Roman Catholic Church was — particualrily in South America and in other parts where Santeria and Voodoo as well as other forms are mixed with aspects of Christianity itself. I'm not saying such beliefs are liberal — in some ways not as bad as Islam certainly — although then again looking at Africa and seeing alot of extreme anti-gay legislation there and people being burned alive for being 'witches', then I see what you mean…

  58. Jared,

    “I am as much an opponent of the present system as can be. I am against the state, the injustice system, corporatism, the war machine, probably more laws than most libertarians are against, and so on. When I read stories in the news about people being busted for victimless crimes, it probably raises my blood pressure so high that I’m surprised I haven’t had a stroke by now. The thing is that I am against the system because of its illiberal nature and not because of the liberalism that it has. I am opposed to totalitarian humanism and managerial liberalism because I believe that they are fundamentally opposed to true liberal ideals by their authoritarian natures. I believe that concern over totalitarian humanism by the groups that I have mentioned is a smokescreen to mask their opposition to the most basic liberal ideals.”

    For the most part, I agree with this. About 100% of what I do politically is about the following objectives: 1) overthrowing totalitarian humanism; 2) containing the reactionary right-wing by incorporating its more legitimate ideas and reasonable elements into a wider libertarian-populist paradigm while marginalizing its more extreme or dangerous elements; 3) advancing the anarchist struggle by rooting it in those demographic and socio-economic sectors like the lumpenproletariat and the urban underclass that are neither conservative nor incorporated under the umbrella of totalitarian humanism; 4) extending said struggle out into the mainstream society by championing the economic interests of the radical center and the bottom layers across the cultural spectrum, and incorporating the agendas of as many anti-state political interest groups into our wider paradigm as possible; and 5) developing strategies for achieving all of the above.

    I can’t see how any of this is objectionable within the context of an Enlightenment/classical liberal intellectual paradigm. Race issues seem to be among the biggest parts of the controversies surrounding myself, but I’ve said repeatedly that my solution to those issues would be separation of race and state on the church/state separation model, which is a definitive part of the Enlightenment’s achievements. Different racial and ethnic groups would be no different than particular church denominations. Some individuals, groups, institutions, and organizations within all ethno-cultural denominations would be “liberal,” while others would be “conservative,” “moderate,” “fundamentalist,” or whatever in their structure of values (I’m speaking in terms of analogy here). The big fear seems to be that some people will use their freedom of association to associate in un-liberal or at least un-PC ways, but this is awfully similar to the view of the old guard clerics who insisted that church/state separation would sink into an anarchy of sin and heresy. Since church and state have been separated, secularism and religious toleration have only advanced. It would be my hope that with race/state separation, racial toleration would continue to increase and inter-tribal hostility would diminish. I’d say the same thing about other sources of conflict (e.g. sexual minorities vs sexual conservatives, etc.)

    I suppose an important qualification would be that I don’t consider totalitarian humanists to be “liberals” on these kinds of questions at all in the sense of any kind of historical meaning of liberalism. Many feminazis, for instance, will specifically deny that they are liberals. I’ve had some of them tell me personally they specifically oppose the classical liberal paradigm of equal legal rights. Instead, they favor superior rights for themselves in the name of correcting for this or that historical injustice or perceived disadvantage. Leftist identity politics in their present form ARE the contemporary version of reactionary, collectivist obscurantism. PC is the new theocracy, the new Inquisition. The failure of so many contemporary anarchists to recognize this problem doesn’t make it go away. It just prevents us from having a more progressive, sophisticated, and effective movement.

  59. “I suppose an important qualification would be that I don’t consider totalitarian humanists to be “liberals” on these kinds of questions at all in the sense of any kind of historical meaning of liberalism. Many feminazis, for instance, will specifically deny that they are liberals. I’ve had some of them tell me personally they specifically oppose the classical liberal paradigm of equal legal rights. Instead, they favor superior rights for themselves in the name of correcting for this or that historical injustice or perceived disadvantage. Leftist identity politics in their present form ARE the contemporary version of reactionary, collectivist obscurantism. PC is the new theocracy, the new Inquisition. The failure of so many contemporary anarchists to recognize this problem doesn’t make it go away. It just prevents us from having a more progressive, sophisticated, and effective movement.”

    Yeah no kidding, I have no respect for contemporary liberals today who, I would agree have more in common by way of their paternalism and collectivism with throne and altar conservativism than with classical liberalism. This is probably not the right place to put this, but I just couldn’t resist. I suppose it’s a balance to some of my criticisms in my previous comments and reminds me that yes, the mainstream managerial left is horrible! Here is the ridiculous hybrid of law n order rhetoric and pc totalitarianism courtesy of one of America’s most prominent self-loathing white, Mr. Tim Wise. http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/hey-dude-wheres-my-privilege-race-and-lawbreaking-black-and-white

Leave a Reply to DennisV Cancel reply