Libertarianism and Socialism

By Punkerslut

Among the Libertarian circles, Socialism and Communism are frequently regarded as the greatest evil — that is, to say, the greatest opposition to liberty, and anything to oppose freedom must considered an evil. Essentially, Libertarianism is a basis for obtaining an opinion on social issues: those things which encroach upon personal liberty are to be opposed. The Libertarian thought represents a great deal of progressive ideals, as well as conservative ideals. Simply put, Libertarianism does not place emphasis on liberal versus conservative, or new versus old. Rather, it is based on the one idea of liberty, hence the title. For gay rights, Libertarianism is supportive of it, since it promotes a person’s right to their own private activity. For Censorship, it is opposed, since demotes a person’s right to their individual liberty. In these ways, Libertarianism is similar to that of progressive ideals. As far as Free Trade and Capitalism go, Libertarianism is supportive, again, based on the fact that just as a person ought to have social and political liberty, they must also have economic liberty, and right to sell and purchase without hindrance. In this way, Libertarianism is closer to conservative rather than liberal values. However, as I stated earlier, Libertarianism is not based on promoting or demoting ideals based on whether they are new or old, liberal or conservative, radical or archaic. Libertarianism is based solely on the idea of opposing laws and regulations which interfere with personal liberty. Yet, for this statement to have any meaningful context, one must understand another question: what is personal liberty?

If I were to say that Libertarianism is based on promoting individual liberty, I would be withholding the entire story. There are certain liberties which Libertarianism specifically restrict. The so-called personal rights are promoted, where a person is not allowed to steal or to kill another. This is the great contradiction of Libertarianism: a man may do whatever he pleases, so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of another — these rights often defined in a variety of ways, but always by the Libertarian thinker himself. They great failure of these thinkers is simple: they have not been able to intrinsically denote the difference between “the right to protection from theft” and “the right to protection from economic exploitation,” or “the right to protection from being offended by another’s sexual preference.” A person may argue, for instance, that to walk nude in public will offend them, and cause them harm, just as much as someone stealing their property. Yet a Libertarian thinker would respond that the nudist has his rights while the thief does not. The problem is that there is no argument to promote one right and to debase another. It is just assumed that the “natural rights” are opposed to theft and murder. Essentially, the problem of its ideology is this: it fails to make the distinction of the right of not being offended to the right of life — that Libertarianism will promote liberty when it’s to go nude, but not when it is to steal. There may be some inane, erroneous work which attempts to justify “natural rights” of life and property, but I’ve yet to find anything substantial to defend these rights over any others.

When growing up, and developing my initial theories of justice and fairness, I could typically be classified as a Libertarian in the classical sense: I believed that a person’s individual liberty ought to be respected. At this time, I did not understand the whole nature of rights — I did not understand that while I promoted the right to nudity, I was demoting the right to theft, and that there was no intrinsic way to justify one without justifying the other. By justifying one or the other, I meant justifying them on the basis of Libertarianism, which is “to promote liberty.” I believed in the freedom of opinion, in the right of a person to do as they wished, without interference to others. The basic conception of liberty that I had was that a man can do as he wishes, as long as he does not impact on the liberty of others. Of course, this left a great deal of questions unanswered. I believed in person and individual liberty. Anything to impose upon this, whether it stemmed from religious or moral bias, ought to be disallowed. If a man wanted to dress up like a woman, wearing a dress with an image of a man burning an American flag, while walking down the street advertising free sexual acts — if a man wanted to do this, it is his right to do this, just as it is a man’s right to walk down the street, dressed normally, keeping completely quiet and to himself. But then, I began to investigate the matter of rights much more. Libertarians, like many Capitalists, believe that Animal Rights Activists are opposed to Free Enterprise, in that they want to make it illegal to purchase or kill animals. The fault with this understanding of rights is that it applies only to humans. A person would be even more Libertarian if they thought it should be made legal to kill human beings and sell their body parts as food and decoration. Those who had a Libertarian mindset in the 1800’s, they would believe that such rights are excluded to women. To promote a woman’s right to autonomy, they may argue, would be “to destroy a man’s right to property, in his partner.” In the 1700’s, those who argued for the abolition of slaves would be opposed by the Libertarians. To promote any man’s right to autonomy, they may argue, would be “to destroy the slaver’s right to slavery in his subjects.” A modern Libertarian may argue against these comparisons, “But today we recognize the rights of all men and women!” That may be so.

Regardless, the point remains: what a Libertarian understands “the right to property” to mean is apt to change with the changing social values. Thus, we come to Socialism, or Communism, where a person’s economic rights are curtailed by legislation. I confess, it is an infringement of liberty — but of what liberty? Of the liberty to provide men with only one option: of sacrificing eight hours of their days so that they can live on the brink of poverty while their children starve on the streets as beggars. The Communist is not blind. He knows quite clearly what the Capitalist system is: exploitation by coercion. The Capitalist will argue, “But the worker has but a thousand employers he can seek out! He is free and independent!” Whatever guise or illusion you put over the same system, the odor of contradiction and misery are not snuffed out. Yes, the worker can quit his job, but he must forever be tied to a job, offering his labor power in exchange for subsistence. To say that the worker is free to quit his job is synonymous with “the worker is free to starve, if he is unhappy with the circumstances.” The freedom to starve — that is what Capitalism offers, and that is the liberty that Communism wishes to ameliorate. Instead of workers employed in creating wealth for their masters, the system of masters will be completely overthrown, and the workers will work for themselves. The wealth of their labor will go directly to themselves, and not to some idle king, whose right to property has given him a right to exploitation. I am a Communist, but I still believe in a person’s individual rights.

There was once a time when liberty involved the right to enslave another, be they man or woman. Today, liberty means the right to enslave another, namely the worker. By destroying this right, we are fulfilling justice and duty, just as the revolutionaries of centuries past, whose goal it was to see the chains taken from the slave — so that a person will be recognized for who they are, and not as property. Slavery has debased the soul by denying that an individual is incapable of passion, beyond the scope of thought and foresight. Capitalism has debased the mind and the body; it fills us with the lies that a corporate thief has the right to the wealth we create, and it steals from us those eight hours, those precious moments where we could be with a loved one, where we could be admiring the creations of artists and musicians — Capitalism puts us in those brutish conditions of work, in those ceaseless hours, making us produce their wealth. “But we should have the liberty to sell and buy as we wish! It doesn’t matter if 99% of the world is relegated to misery, poverty, and want! It is our liberty!” So the Libertarian may argue. But Libertarianism isn’t about individual thought, but individual rights, and if that means the subjection of woman to man, of african to white, or even of worker to employer, then it will confess to such monstrous cruelties… It is the job of every Humanitarian to oppose the Capitalist system.

For Life, Punkerslut

8 replies »

  1. So, in a communist society, you are free from the 8 hour slavery? You can just quit your job and still be provided for? Maybe in a perfect world, but human nature is far from perfect. What’s keeping all the people working terrible jobs from Just quitting? I mean, if I was working as a garbage Man or any disgusting, difficult job, what is my incentive to keep working there if I can just not work there anymore and still have all the comforts of home? Ever since I was young, i’ve always said that on paper communism is borderline utopian. However, i’ve seen human nature. We’re greedy and power hungry. It’s a system that does not work in real life.

  2. You can’t compare nudity and theft as equal offense. Theft is a physical loss that can only be settled by justice. Nudity as an offense is a subjective matter of no physical loss and it is based on how the individual perceives it, which law should not even recognize such a petty issue.

  3. Somewhere in this word salad there is an element of truth. Trusting government, and giving the government power, is insanity. I suspect the author knows this but is too mentally immature, or uneducated, to understand it. A few hours on will help her understand the economic side of libertarianism, and how socialism destroys society. People who believe that giving the government control of our lives must be ignorant of the history of Socialism/fascism/communism.

    • You obviously know nothing about socialism… The people do not give government power, the people are the collective power. It is the dictatorship of the proletariat. We, the workers are in control. The only purpose of socialism is to transcend government and destroy the oppressive nature of it and the class system. You say socialists destroy society but in fact, it’s the oppressive nature of capitalism that shreds society. That same capitalistic nature, is found in your libertarian ideology.

      • And you obviously don’t understand Austrian Economics or Austrian Business Cycle Theory. Or that socialism murdered 100 Million people in the 20th century.

        You are a marginal moron who doesn’t understand economics or politics or history.

    • You seriously think that libertarian socialism advocates a retention of the state? Perhaps you’re the one who needs to do some reading. A start would be Rudolf Rocker’s “Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory And Practice” and Peter Kropotkin’s “The Conquest Of Bread”. Anarchist socialism (or simply anarchism, for that matter) is by nature always opposed to the state and socialist.

      Your straw man falls flat on its face in the face of any anarchist. Try again.

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