Caity and Dan finally acknowledge that there is a general election looming in the UK and start to attempt some political analysis (which inevitably goes off on strange tangents).
Caity starts by explaining why she feels like a voyeur when she looks at sociopathic politicians screwing the people and each other. We bash the Green Party heavily, largely because of their crazy policies and the fact that they are a fast-growing party but no-one within the party seems to have cracked open a serious book on economics.
We also wonder why so much effort is made to demonize UKIP (who we don’t support) but not the Green Party despite their larger membership and more ‘radical’ policies. We get into Natalie Bennett’s terrible interviews, the decline of the Scottish Labour Party, how many ‘shat it’ at the Scottish independence referendum and the unpopularity of being someone with a basic understanding of economics. We also express our alarm at so many so-called ‘Scottish secessionists’ drifting towards the Greens, the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Socialist party.
Masciotra’s commentary includes two seemingly contradictory lines of argument. In the first, he dismisses anti-authoritarianism, as such, as the ethos of a spoiled toddler:
the protest of children who scream through tears, “You’re not the boss of me.” The rejection of all rules and regulations, and the belief that everyone should have the ability to do whatever they want, is not rebellion or dissent. It is infantile naïveté.
He associates this infantile rejection of all authority with selfishness and anti-sociality. In fact it “does not even rise to the most elementary level of politics,” which Aristotle defined as “the things concerning the polis,” or the community. Confucius associated politics with an ethics of “communal service with a moral system based on empathy.” This, in contrast to libertarianism, which “eliminates empathy, and denies the collective,” and opposes “any concept of the common good” or organizing communities “in the interest of solidarity.”
And of course because this is an Alternet attack on libertarianism, he can’t get through it without mentioning Ayn Rand — “the rebel queen of their icy kingdom.” Oddly enough, he didn’t manage to drag in the Koch brothers.
Just in passing, it’s a bit odd that none of Alternet‘s stable of center-left critics of libertarianism seem to have any idea that the movement might have ideological roots older than last Tuesday.
Rothbard’s classic 1965 essay, “Left and Right: Prospects for Liberty,” is a must read for anarchists, libertarians, anti-statists, and decentralists of any species. This essay as much as any other really defines the historical context and trajectory of our common fight, irrespective of our other differences.
By Murray Rothbard
[Originally appeared in Left and Right, Spring 1965, pp. 4-22.]
The Conservative has long been marked, whether he knows it or not, by long-run pessimism: by the belief that the long-run trend, and therefore Time itself, is against him, and hence the inevitable trend runs toward left-wing statism at home and Communism abroad. It is this long-run despair that accounts for the Conservative’s rather bizarre short-run optimism; for since the long run is given up as hopeless, the Conservative feels that his only hope of success rests in the current moment. In foreign affairs, this point of view leads the Conservative to call for desperate showdowns with Communism, for he feels that the longer he waits the worse things will ineluctably become; at home, it leads him to total concentration on the very next election, where he is always hoping for victory and never achieving it. The quintessence of the Practical Man, and beset by long-run despair, the Conservative refuses to think or plan beyond the election of the day.
The Soviet Union was not a perfect socialist country – for example about 3% of farm land was owned by individuals (the other 97% was socialist – either state owned or owned by “collectives” – i.e. the state by another name).
However, the idea that the Soviet Union was not really socialist or that Karl Marx was a nice man who supported human freedom is nonsense. The “Red Prussian” was not a nice man – he was a natural dictator type, and he been around he would just as bad as “Lenin”, “Stalin”, Mao, Pol Pot and all the other socialist leaders who murdered more than a 100 million people in the last century (see “The Black Book of Communism” and many other works).
Saying that “Lenin” and co misinterpreted Karl Marx and socialism would have been less evil had Karl still been about is just wrong. Compulsory collectivism is evil because it is compulsory collectivism – period. More…
Libertarian Alliance/Center for a Stateless Society
As a libertarian masochist who keeps up with the regular by-the-numbers attacks on libertarianism at Alternet and Salon, I almost dared to hope for something at least marginally better from Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect (“The Libertarian Delusion,” Winter 2015). I was disappointed.
“The stubborn appeal of the libertarian idea persists,” Kuttner writes, “despite mountains of evidence that the free market is neither efficient, nor fair, nor free from periodic catastrophe.”
But before you can evaluate what the “free market” can or cannot do, or how well it performs, you have to have a coherent idea of what the free market is. Kuttner never attempts an explicit definition; he just implicitly judges the free market by the performance of the capitalist system we actually live under. That’s an understandable approach, given that apologists for corporate capitalism universally couch their defense of the present system of power as a defense of “our free market system.” More…
Sean Gabb joins Caity and Dan for a third time for a fascinating conversation around the topic of classical liberalism.
We begin by discussing classical liberal ideas going back to ancient Greece and being hard-wired into western European thought and how this can be shown in fairy and folk tales that are quite unique to western Europe.
We chat about John Locke, the social contract and theories about how governments emerged. How the Victorian age seems like a golden age for libertarians until you look closer, the Whigs, the Liberal Party of the 19th century: how it was formed and how they may have laid the groundwork for the political system we now find ourselves in in the UK.
We also chat about the dangers of governments turning our vices into crimes, the mental deficiency act and other eugenics legislation. We get into social liberalism vs. classical liberalism, socialism in the UK, the NHS and how doctors see themselves in the UK.
We go on to discuss whether the Liberal Party of the 19th century was moved more by utilitarianism or desire for control. If the conservatives were more libertarian in the 19th century than the Liberal Party and why politicians want to control what we do.
In case anyone doesn’t know, this quote is from President Eisenhower. So was Joe McCarthy correct when he accused Ike of being a pawn in the Communist Conspiracy? What turds the Republicans have become under the combined leadership of the arch-imperialist/Israel-first neoconservatives and the militarist/corporatist “movement conservative” ideologues. And they wonder why no one wants to vote for them except for elderly rural white people who don’t know any better.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Can you believe that this Commie was actually a Republican? Incredible. We have even had Communist Republicans as president of our constitutional republic. So you can see now how deep the infiltration has gotten. Even far deep into the recesses of the Republican Party itself.
Benjamin Maggi, an Argentine, wrote the comments in italics below. I respond after the italics.
Little of what Benjamin says is true.
Chavez himself plotted a coup to overthrown the government in the late 90’s
Now that is true, but he was arrested and put in jail for that and the coup was so popular that he was soon elected afterwards.
Venezuela suffers form one of the worlds more unstable economies with inflation ramping up above 40%
The Venezuelan economy is not unstable at all, and inflation has been high in Venezuela for decades during regimes of the right, left and center.
some basic needs products like toilet paper, baby diapers and condoms are scare
Ok look, the economy is in private hands. All of these products are produced by the private sector. In economics, this is called a market failure. In capitalist economics, market failures signify a failure in the economic system. They do not have often under capitalism, because when demand dramatically exceeds supply, producers simply ramp up demand or others get into the industry to fill the demand and the demand deficit is corrected.
Since the Chavez regime does not produce one condom, roll of toilet paper of diaper, what is the reason for the shortages? The reason is that the private sector fascists, who you support, are not producing enough condoms, rolls of toilet paper and diapers to satisfy demand. Now why would anyone do that? More…
A bit “inside baseball” – but there is some practical stuff here that interests me.
No – nobody I know regards 19th century Britain or the United States as libertarian. But we do look at the facts – for example the British government (local as well as central) was well under 10% of the economy around 1870 (just about the low point).
And those people who think that economies of scale (i.e. an individual or company employing thousands of people) on “state intervention” are just wrong, flat wrong (they do not know what they are talking about).
As for the United States – slavery can not be ignored and slavery (NOT capitalism) did depend on statism.
As Salmon P. Chase was fond of pointing out – slavery is actually a series of common law offenses (false imprisonment, assault and so on) “legalised” by state statutes and corrupt court judgement.
People in “Bleeding Kansas” (where the killing between the free and slave sides started long before Lincoln was elected President of the United States) knew the two social and legal systems could not live side by side – and that both sides wanted to expand into the West.
This does not mean that Lincoln’s tactics in the Civil War were any good (the North won because it was much bigger and more powerful – not because of his supposedly great leadership) – or that his Henry Clay Whig economic ideas were any good either.
Leaving slavery aside – could America have been a freer society in the 19th century? Of course it could – anything can be improved. More…
We chat about the propaganda ‘docudrama’ UKIP – The First 100 Days and what an absurd vision it promotes. We talk about UKIP generally and their policies and why we’re not UKIP supporters, the EU, the Scottish independence referendum and how the UK mainstream media try to shut down any form of radicalism with unfounded fear-mongering.
We go on to talk about secession as a left-wing phenomenon in Scotland, how the media like to throw left and right terms about, the errors of conflating UKIP with the EDL or the BNP, how the mainstream media loves to shut down debate about immigration and how movement of people would be different in a stateless world.
We also chat about how propaganda pieces like this one can give the general public the wrong impression of what libertarianism is, how a lot of the dystopian elements in the show are actually happening now, monarchy worship, the surreal news and how the free market gives people more choice.
We then move on to talking about the 2012 documentary “Please Subscribe” about people who make their money from YouTube, drunken cookery shows (and why Caity doesn’t want Dan to start one), the culture of instant gratification, the great Massive Attack song/video “Live With Me”, the coming One Direction breakup, who really owns Channel 4 and why they may be hostile to UKIP, Chris Atkins, why mainstream TV stations sometimes surprise us, what the Labour party are actually for anymore (nobody knows).
We end by talking about how the mainstream media will crush any form of radicalism, how conservatism is very different in the UK compared with the US and how when things are getting on top of you you should “have a wee word with yerself”
Some thoughts I originally posted in an online discussion concerning the various libertarian by-ways”
There’s a big rivalry right now between the paleolibertarians, left-libertarians and “mainstream” LP/Cato/Reason type libertarians.
The paleos and the leftists view the latter tendencies as establishment brown-nosers, and the mainstreamers view the radicals as utopians, sectarians, or tin foil hatters. The mainstreamers and the paleos views the leftists as communists, and mainstreamers and the leftists view the paleos as fascists.
The way the dynamics of opposition movements always play out is that they tend to split off into reformist and revolutionary camps, and socially conservative and libertine/bohemian/countercultural camps. The historic socialist movement was the same way.More…
The big question that divides socialists and free marketers concerns the nature of markets themselves. Are markets merely a means to peaceful cooperation and exchange between human beings? Or do markets merely involve predatory competition between self-interested individuals seeking to maximize profitability at all costs? My answer: Obviously both, depending on the circumstances and the people involved.
Left-libertarianism detours only slightly from the traditional understanding of what it means to be a libertarian, but with some very important nuances. It is necessary to stress some basic moral principles that libertarians share to begin with:
1. No one should be allowed to aggress against peaceful people.
2. Producers should own the immediate fruits of their labor unless other agreements are made.
What substantially differentiates left-libertarianism from what we’re all used to are two major emphases:
Caity and Dan have a very interesting conversation with Keir Martland. Keir is Director of Youth Affairs for the Libertarian Alliance is an A-level student in the north west of England studying History, Philosophy, Economics, and Maths, who has been a member of the Committee since August 2014.
He has been writing for various libertarian blogs since 2012 and his writings appear on sites including The Libertarian Enterprise, Mises Hispano, and Attack the System. Keir is a former Conservative Future Secretary and for much of 2013, he was an Editor of the webzine The Libertarian. He is a keen public speaker and debater and in 2014 he addressed the annual conference of the Traditional Britain Group. Keir is also the driving force behind the fortnightly Libertarian Question Time and other YouTube activities. He is to be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. .
We chat about the current state of libertarianism in the UK, if individualism is making a comeback with younger people, the illusion of living under capitalism, the differences between libertarianism in the UK and the US, Milton Friedman, the misconceptions of the state, libertarian infighting and if it is organic or otherwise, establishment libertarianism vs. radical libertarianism, cultural marxism, the notion of left-wing bias in the media and how the mainstream media lives on fear.
Join Caity and Dan as we start by complaining about their internet going down for a few days in the Greening Out household then get on to how bad customer service can be very frustrating and can lead to some people thinking that certain industries would work better if they were nationalised.
We talk about why nationalisation doesn’t work, how the government has no incentive to give any kind of customer service, people talking romantically about the 1970’s in the UK, some modern examples of political parties who are pushing for certain industries to be nationalised, government taking ‘payment holidays’ from pension funds and why government departments and industries don’t care how much you complain.
In what many outside of the territory are referring to as the Rojava Revolution, a major shift in political philosophy and political programmatics has taken place in Kurdistan. Yet, this shift is not limited to the region of Rojava, or what many call Syrian or Western Kurdistan – a region where the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has taken an active part in this change. In “Turkish,” or rather Northern Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been the foremost leader. In Eastern Kurdistan (lying within Iranian borders) the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) has taken to the change in ideological orientation as well. It is an expanding movement towards what is internally being described as a “democratic, ecological, gender-liberated society” – a collection of ideas, institutions, and practices that compose the political, economic and social outlook of Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism.
As stated in Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan – a book written by a group from TATORT Kurdistan (a human rights advocacy organization based in Germany; “TATORT” translates to “crime scene”) who ventured from Germany into Kurdistan for their research – the paradigmatic shift to Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism has meant renouncing the establishment of “a socialist nation-state and instead” seeking the creation of “a society where people can live together without instrumentalism, patriarchy, or racism – an ‘ethical and political society’ with a base-democratic, self-managing institutional structure” (TATORT Kurdistan, Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan, Porsgrunn, New Compass Press, 2013, 20). In short, “democracy without a state”.
As America moves more deeply into its growing systemic crisis, it is becoming increasingly important for activists and theorists to distinguish clearly between important projects and “institutional elements,” on the one hand, and systemic change and systemic design, on the other. The recent economic failure of one of the most important units of the Mondragón cooperatives offers an opportunity to clarify the issue and begin to think more clearly about our own strategy in the United States.
Mondragón Corporation is an extraordinary 80,000-person grouping of worker-owned cooperatives based in Spain’s Basque region that is teaching the world how to move the ideas of worker-ownership and cooperation into high gear and large scale. The first Mondragón cooperatives date from the mid-1950s, and the overall effort has evolved over the years into a federation of 110 cooperatives, 147 subsidiary companies, eight foundations and a benefit society with total assets of 35.8 billion euros and total revenues of 14 billion euros.
“Farming women,” reads a page from a 1977 issue of Country Women Magazine. “Who are we? Young and old? What are the realities of our lives, our history, our farms?”
The same questions could as easily be asked today, when more U.S. women are entering farming than ever before. Since the 1970s, NPR reports, the number of female-led farms has tripled, and women now constitute farming’s largest minority.
But this isn’t the first time the nation has seen a boom in women-led farms. In the 1970s, radical feminism collided with the nascent organic movement and the idea of “womyn’s land” was born. As urban feminist factions splintered into increasingly radicalized subsets, disenchanted members started communes with names like Arkansas’ “Yellowhammer” and Oregon’s “WomanShare.” Independent magazines and newsletters such as Country Women, written by a collective located on California’s Mendocino coast, promised to teach their readers “how to negotiate a land purchase, dig a well, grow vegetables organically, build a fence and shed, deliver a goat, skin a lamb, spin yarn, and raise a flock of good eggs.” Sustainable separatism was the name of the game: when in 2009, Michael Pollan lambasted Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique as “the book that taught millions of American women to regard housework, cooking included, as drudgery, indeed as a form of oppression,” he overlooked an entire generation’s attempts to re-contextualize domestic work as a feminist undertaking.
It was the emphasis on gender politics that differentiates yesterday’s separatist communes and collectives from today’s female farmers.
Perhaps one of the most problematic issues I have encountered when attempting to communicate the ATS message is the fact that I frequently comment on a variety of topics that are only casually related or even unrelated to the essential features of the ATS message.
For example, I have tried to expose anarchists, libertarians, and related others to thinkers such as Nietzsche, Stirner, Ernst Junger, and others whose ideas I believe strengthen the anarchist paradigm in many ways. However, it is certainly not necessary to subscribe to the ideas of any particular set of thinkers of these kinds in order to embrace the core values of ATS. An adherent of the ATS approach to political philosophy and strategy could just as easily be an admirer of John Locke or Emmanuel Kant or Karl Marx or Michele Foucault or Edmund Burke or C.S. Lewis or Franz Fanon..
I have criticized the tendency of many anarchists and libertarians to embrace the “open borders” position on immigration without fully considering the consequential issues associated with this, but one can certainly hold to an “open borders” viewpoint and be an adherent of the ATS outlook. More…