Why I Became a Left-Libertarian

Essay by “Martin” at the Liberal Conspiracy.
As Libertarians across the US flock to cinemas to watch the film version of Atlas Shrugged (the film has a limited release and harsh criticism from everyone outside those who are already fully bought into Ayn Rand’s philosophy of corporate apologism and advocacy of selfishness as a way of life), the UK’s own Libertarian Party is caught in a minor controversy over its leader.

So it’s not a brilliant week to be a reader of Nozick, Rand, Friedman or Mises. But then, it’s never a good time to declare yourself associated with any philosophy that holds lassez faire capitalism to be a virtue.

But to an increasing number of self-described libertarians, myself included, the “right wing” libertarians of the LPUK/LPUS are quietly abandoning the doctrinaire “virtue of selfishness” model of freedom advocated by the Capitalist Libertarians who insist on the productive wonders of hierarchial, wealth concentrating and politically powerful private corporations.

The left-libertarian, on the other hand, prefers to recognise these economic powerhouses as what they are: the beneficiaries of near invisible State subsidies in a variety of forms.

These subsidies include
– artificial property rights,
– a regulatory system that benefits large, established players at the expense of smaller suppliers,
– subsidising of long-distance transportation at the expense of local enterprise more able to adapt supply to demand,
– and overhead capital costs made so high that most regular people are unable to ever go into business themselves.

In short, Capitalism as we know it couldn’t survive without the state; “free market” capitalism is an oxymoron. In reality, capitalism – even anarcho-capitalism – is in effect, privatised feudalism.

So why do so called Libertarians come out in full force to support an economic system that is anything but libertarian?

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1 reply »

  1. I sympathise with all of these points, but wouldn’t call myself a left-libertarian.

    Neither would I opine that the current day mess, while technically capitalism, is the only form capitalism can take. Specifically, you could be well justified in terming it Corporate-dominated Capitalism or perhaps even Corporate Mercantilism.

    Nor do I find that the eternal squabbling over Capitalism this or Socialism that is either enlightening or productive. The point isn’t the economic system in place with eternal attention to detail over ownership or equality minutiae – the point is if people are locked into it, ie. have a ability to withdraw consent from the system – or not.

    Any system where such an ability is absent, the prevailing order will turn exploitative and tyrannical, whether it is formally capitalist or socialist. (Or welfareist for that matter).

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