Left-Wing Paleolibertarianism Reply

By Chris Shaw

While my economic views put me on the trajectory of left-libertarianism, with my belief in wider, distributed ownership and the return of mutual aid associations and voluntary, even democratic, structures, I’ve always maintained a cultural conservatism in my outlook, coming from the ideas of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. In combining the two, I come to an idea of left-wing Paleolibertarianism, rejecting the cultural libertinism of elements of the libertarian left and supporting pastoral, paternal structures which are voluntary and decentralist. I respect the multitude of different communities and respective traditions that exist, desiring their maintained existence, and have no inherent problem with hierarchy so long as mutuality is maintained.

In line with National-Anarchists, I see a world consisting of multiple tribes, which contain in-groups and out-groups and many different forms of economic and political organisation. Culture and settled relations are important, as are voluntary customs and grassroots legal institutions, such as those present in feudal England[1]. Tradition, and its preservation amongst generations, should be one of the paramount practices of individual communities and nations (not nation-states[2]). Creating little platoons of maintained culture and tradition that act as discursive spaces of resistance against the forces of empire. Further, I don’t limit such constructs to homogeneous Western communities. Homosexual communities and minorities should be able to construct their own in-groups, much like the Nation of Islam has done in Chicago and the Black Panthers did the 60s and 70s. Globalisation and modern capitalism act as the enemy of this conception, commodifying social relations and gleefully internationalising capital and wealth while crushing solidarity and labour under its boot. This is where the left and right should unite, in creating new economic alternatives that tackle the domination of capitalist discourse, as I’ve discussed before[3].

Like other Paleolibertarians, immigration is something that I would reject as creating unequal outcomes, unnecessarily damaging the working and lower middle classes and limiting their in-group culture and subsidiarity. Much of modern mass immigration is influenced by the interests of capital, destroying the communal traditions of the emigrant and the solidarity networks of settled populaces. The community capital that created institutions like mutual aid and friendly societies (which were unfortunately expropriated by the state in Britain through the Beveridge reforms) is destroyed when immigration can act as a free-rider on these institutions. The combination of social democracy (partly privatised in the 90s) and neoliberalism which pervades the modern era has led to bloated state-spending to prop up both corporate economies of scale and the welfare-warfare state. Traditional working class communities, bastions of cultural conservatism and economic solidarity, have been destroyed by this combination, which purposefully gutted traditional industries through fake privatisations and a dogmatic belief in globalisation. Any sort of control or order in these communities ended under the likes of Reagan and Thatcher, vile liberals more interested in the crafting of a centralising market society than improving on the gifts of our ancestors.

Going to the left-wing element of Paleolibertarianism, I believe crafting economic alternatives means significant economic decentralisation, creating autonomous communities where markets and other institutions are embedded in the culture rather than a society being made around the market. Many paleoconservatives believe in forms of economic nationalism, but I think that actual market logic need not rely on such protectionism. The market mechanism, when freed from the corporate-state nexus, naturally decentralises, moving down to the level of the local community for many needs, and moving away from the industrialism of mass production, instead favouring community control and the mixture of technology into more agrarian, localist lifestyles. Such systems favour Paleolibertarian culturalism. Mass immigration can only exist in the economies of scale that neoliberalism relies on to exist. Natural forms of government, such as fiefdom-size monarchy, clan and multi-family social systems, and direct democracy with decentralised decision-making (through juries and townhalls), can be developed, with social hierarchies growing with each individual communities in varied ways. Such culturalism rejects the artificiality of economic hierarchy, which separates consumption from production and ownership from control. In a genuine market economy shaped by different identitarian and cultural politics, this artificiality is easily outcompeted by distributist and decentralist alternatives, such as worker-ownership, commons-based control of land, different systems of private property, and local economies, with production for the direct economy rather than mass production for the international marketplace.

The ideas I’ve laid out are being seen in the nascent alt-right, which contains ideologies like pastoral culturalism and right-wing socialism. There is an acceptance of multiple identities which can develop their own communities and lifeworlds. Ethnocentrism and nationalism are not limited to white Westerners in the world of the alt-right. Instead, the false dogma of multiculturalism, which has led to forced exclusion and inclusion[4], need to be repealed. The clock of social democracy needs to be turned back. And in turning back, conceptualising a left-wing Paleolibertarianism means looking back to the radical traditionalism of the working and peasant classes, who in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, the worker takeover of Ghent in the 1300s[5], the rebellions and riots during the Tudorian era[6] and the development of the moral economy[7], show a desire for economic decentralisation, rejecting ‘free trade’ and taxation for arbitrary warfare, and a belief in traditional custom and common law, where social hierarchies exist but are tempered by voluntary mutuality. This radical history should continue, with left and right uniting against the globalised empire, rejecting the neoliberal status quo and crafting different alternatives for the variety of tribes and identities that exist. Smash the state, and smash social democracy with it.

[1] Wood, A. Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics in Early Modern England, 2002

[2] Rothbard, M. Nations by Consent, 1994

[3] https://thelibertarianideal.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/family-and-the-community/

[4] Hoppe, H.H. The Case for Free Trade and Restricted Immigration, 1998

[5] Federici, S. Caliban and the Witch, 2004

[6] Wood, A. Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics in Early Modern England, 2002

[7] Thompson, E.P. The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century, 1971

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