Left and Right

What happened to “The Left?”

By Peter R. Quinones

I have a few confidantes who contact me for private discussion or send me articles, etc. I was sent an excerpt from a Washington Examiner piece titled, “Archaeology of Freedom,” by Geoff Shullenberger, which looks into the question many have asked: what happened to “The Left?” My friend sent me this section, the last three paragraphs of the article:

Graeber and Wengrow’s argument hinges on the idea that there are “three primordial freedoms” that “for most of human history were simply assumed,” which we have now lost: “the freedom to move, the freedom to disobey, and the freedom to create or transform social relationships.” Ten years ago, the propositions of Graeber’s Debt found a practical counterpart in the Occupy movement. Today, there is no influential movement on the Left that is seeking the recovery of these freedoms. Indeed, much of the Western Left has embraced a regime of expanding public health restrictions over the past two years, overtly advocating the state’s right to constrain movement, punish disobedience of decrees and mandates, and limit human interaction.

With the Occupy movement 10 years in the past and the murderous farce that was the 2020 Capitol Hill Occupied Protest in Seattle disavowed and forgotten, the types of Left-anarchist movements favored by Graeber are largely nonexistent today. Surprisingly or not, those seeking to reassert his “primordial freedoms” are now found on the weird fringes of the Right. “The freedom to move” closely resembles the notion of “exit,” derived from the political scientist Albert O. Hirschman and prized by neo-reactionaries under the influence of the blogger Curtis Yarvin. The demand for “the freedom to disobey” is most obviously present today among those rejecting COVID mandates, who are generally viewed askance in Graeber’s academic milieu.

Moreover, the clearest examples of those currently pursuing “the freedom to create or transform social relationships” are found among crypto-anarchists, bitcoin enthusiasts, and libertarian proponents of charter cities and seasteading. There are good reasons to be skeptical of all these enterprises. However, if we accept Graeber and Wengrow’s argument that the capacity to imagine radically different social orders is necessary for the recovery of freedom, the mere fact that they are being proposed suggests we may be becoming ever so slightly less “stuck.”

Reading something that points to what many refer to as the “Dissident Right,” and crypto-anarchists, as who may be the ones to watch/follow going forward astonishes me. Especially from the Washington Examiner.

My response to these passages is below and, of course, addresses the theory behind some ideas first.

1. “The Freedom to Move”

Another concept made cloudy by the State. Without a clear concept of the ownership of property by an individual or group, confusion sets in. Who owns the property one wishes to move across? Who owns “public property?” One day, after people grow weary of the State, will it be homesteaded or go to the one who maintained it or can prove paid the most for it? Will it be owned collectively? Until then, should it be preserved as pristine as possible? Does the “freedom to move” now – which is again a murky subject considering – potentially harm said property. I am not one who believes that in a private property society owners of land (especially thoroughfares) would restrict movement through it. The question is, what does that look like now, especially since so many who are “moving” are in danger”?

But, it doesn’t escape me that all it took was fear of a virus and people not fighting back for so much movement to be restricted. Again, the State, but again, the people aren’t acting.

Feel free to push back, my thoughts on this are ever evolving.


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