Socialism

Limited Government Socialism

In a recent Vox post, Will Wilkinson argues that welfare states allow economic freedom. He makes the point that Scandinavian countries and Canada had more economic freedom than United States according to several rankingsdespite having a somewhat robust welfare state. For years in American politics mainly Republicans but often some neoliberal Democrats and even the most corporatist wing of the Libertarian Party have argued for trickle down economics in which they cut social programs while cutting taxes for the rich. Since Reagan, these have been portrayed as some sort of free market solution. Since the rich already receive generous handouts in the form of corporate welfare these policies are hardly libertarian.

What Wilkinson is proposing is some sort of limited government liberalism in line of liberaltarian ideas. He argues that a state should provide a basic safety net and social services but allow a truly free market. Even some right-leaning libertarians like Ron Paul have expressed surprise about how often Republicans want to cut social programs but enlarge the military budget (Wilkinson is also a critic of militarism and said if we want cut spending it should be military spending).

Wilkinson is right, he understands that undermining social programs and the safety net allow the rise of populists like Trump, who if victorious would make the economic problems of the country bigger. But I don’t think there is constituency for what Wilkinson is arguing (at least among average liberals), most of centrists in American and global politics are neoliberals not libertarians they would like to continue with corporatism in a disguise of being in favor of the free market.

What happened in Scandinavia is curious because social democratic governments recognize the failure of central planning and allow some economic liberalization that promoted economic growth and generate a prosperous society. But they are hardly libertarians. That the Scandinavian model is successful because these countries are ethnically homogenous is a very racist argument. Yes, the Scandinavian countries have large white majority, but they had accepted large amount of humanitarian refugees from Africa and Middle East, so they are more diverse than Poland or Hungary, both countries with serious economic problems despite being more homogenous. The big reason the Scandinavian model can’t be put in place in other countries is that they are still small countries that are easier to manage. I can’t imagine a Scandinavian model working in larger states like United States, China or India.

But there is still something that could work. I’m a left-libertarian closer to anarchism that to minarchism but I would like present a minimal program who could require being involve in electoral politics. My proposal is limited government socialism. I know the term sounds funny but it was inspired when I listen Ralph Nader in an interview at the Cato Institute saying he was willing to cut 50 percent of Washington spending, you never hear that from a DLC type Democrat.

I think it shouldn’t be a surprise the American left is broader than just liberals, for example the New Left was widely decentralist and to some extend their influence continues even today. John O. Norquist, the former mayor of Milwaukee who described himself as a fiscally conservative socialist is one example. I think this model is better than the Big Government Libertarianism proposed by Wilkinson. My difference with Norquist was that his expertise was urban planning. I support something close to the Carl Oglesby style of libertarianism. Oglesby the former president of the SDS knew that among liberalism there is an imperialist strain that talks in language of the left: human rights and democracy. But he knew that good intentions could end up in mass murder. On the other hand Oglesby used to think that his particular style of populist libertarianism (not to mistake with libertarian populism) could appeal to both left and right. On the left there was a call to decentralization and on the right the concept of a truly limited government.

So in doing that, the state should be reduced to a few public services like education, healthcare, security and infrastructure while offering a Universal Basic Income. Stop privatizing things and allow a truly free market arrive. The state shouldn’t have public companies but enforce a strong property rights protection against pollution could be good for the ecology. The state shouldn’t recognize patents because they are government granted privilege and that would lower the cost of medicines and software. End the War on Drugs. Erase zoning codes. Eliminate mandatory occupational licenses. Repeal the Patriot Act. Close the military bases abroad.

Someone could ask what about the social issues. As someone could guess I and the majority of socialists are pro-choice, pro-gay rights, anti-discrimination and in favor of a more free immigration system. Though I don’t think that an adherent of limited government socialism makes you a SJW — quite the contrary, Karl Hess of all people used to argue that radical left should seek an alliance with religious conservatives because if they honest about their beliefs their main allegiance is to God not the state. Women’s rights are the reason some believe the left-right libertarian alliance of the 60s fell apart, but I think the respect of different opinions should be fundamental.  On gay rights, I think respecting religious liberty should be fundamental. If communities do not want to accept immigrants they shouldn’t be forced to do, in the case of America it should try avoid get into conflicts that generate refugees. On discrimination, I think affirmative action is a lame government response to the problems affecting minority communities, my belief is that less intrusive welfare programs could generate an economic boom in these communities and as result social transformation, then I think affirmative action would no longer be needed.

Even a right-wing populist libertarian like Ron Paul says the word capitalism shouldn’t be defended, that the goal libertarians should be promote free markets along the board. I agree, I’m a socialist not because I’m a fan of the Che Guevara or Fidel Castro but because I’m a fan Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas. I think early American socialists were right about what American foreign policy would do to America: make it less free. To be fair, I consider myself a libertarian in the Karl Hess way, so libertarianism, anarchism and socialism are synonyms for a decentralist kind of politics, but like Hess I admit there are conservative elements in my own politics, that’s why I admire people like Bill Kauffman.

My plan is far from perfect but I think it’s better than what social democrats and even some left-wing revolutionary parties do when they reach power. That is: to get along with the oligarchy and enact a few reforms while not promoting true social change. Just to be clear, I think limited government socialism will still be part of libertarianism because I think it is still compatible with the ideal of creating a free society. I would even add that it’s not incompatible with the non-aggression principle, even if I know that anarchists would disagree. On anarchism, despite of my personal sympathies for the Zapatistas and the Kurds, I don’t think that the majority of nation states are moving in that direction but if I’m wrong I would be happy, this model is just one model inspired by my peculiar politics that are in the middle of Ron Paul and Ralph Nader.

Advertisements

The socialist foreign policy tradition

The discussion about foreign policy of Bernie Sanders and the more broad socialist vision of international relations is the topic of my The National Interest piece today. An excerpt:

With the Democratic primaries coming to an end, the fate of Bernie Sanders is sealed. His insurgent campaign surprised everybody in advancing so far, and gave a good fight to a powerful establishment figure like Hillary Clinton. The question of whether he could have done better if he had focused on foreign policy is one that, while vital, hasn’t really been asked. The usual assumption is that Hillary is a hawk and that Bernie is to her left on foreign policy. That is a fairly honest answer, given their voting records; however, the fact that the first man to call himself a socialist in a Democratic primary has a foreign policy with not much difference from a mainstream liberal raises the question of whether there exists a socialist foreign policy in the U.S. context.

Read the whole thing here to know about the conflict between Bernie Sanders and historic socialist foreign policy tradition.

Their works will come to nothing

The anti-politics side of neoreaction is hard for people to grasp in our current context. People tend to think of good things as resulting from some kind of activist energy bringing it together. The opposite of this do-somethingism is neoreaction’s passivism, its belief in entropy:  things will inevitably flow a certain way if the foot is taken off the gas.

For example, subsidies for single mothers and no-fault divorce hold together the ~70 percent single motherhood rate in parts of Northeast DC, where I live. This is the closest thing to a smashed patriarchy we have – it’s dented at the very least.

Without such political energy, as well as the not-strictly-political but still irrational cultural trends like alternative family structures being fashionable, this all falls apart. Reality comes crashing, and people are forced to rediscover healthy family structures. The fact remains, however: social entropy can’t be beaten. A return to patriarchy only requires a relief from politics and the (probably painful) correction that follows.

White males have high-paid Silicon Valley jobs in the absence of this kind of energy. All they had to do was be smart, be productive and mind their own business. This naturally makes the blood of New York Magazine types boil, so now we have the #WomenInTech meme to try to remedy this supposedly horrible state of affairs.

“Diversity consultant” is a thing, by the way. But the tech industry was booming before we had people who supplicate the equality spirits for a living, and it will probably continue to boom when they’re gone. Rule of thumb: if your need a hashtag to continue your existence, you aren’t going to exist for long. Capitalists like bragging to their friends about their investments supporting the things we’re supposed to be down with, but even more than that they like their investments making money. The folly of this line of attack can be generalized to all activism:  it’s just an appeal to the sentiments of the powerful.

Few of them will admit it, but the social order that left-wingers prefer is held together by smashy energy that is fighting a Sisyphean uphill battle.

We can see a pretty successful attempt to smash capitalism in Venezuela – we know it’s successful because the government has smashed capitalism so thoroughly that it can’t even supply toilet paper to their citizens. They even tried extending their smashing to the subsequent breadlines by pulling people out of them based on numbers on their ID cards.

(more…)

Time of coalitions

berniesandersfans

These are strange times in American politics with outsiders like Trump and Sanders gaining momentum. Jeb Bush is out and Super Tuesday could complicate Hillary Clinton. How does it happen? Lefties try to blame everything on neoliberalism but the editorial of The American Conservative says that these ideology is dying. Sanders is un-reconstructed New Deal liberal who calls himself a socialist while Trump is more heterodox probably could be defined as an anti-immigrant moderate. Despite ideology, coalitions would be build thinking in November. Let’s have fun and try to guess.

The Trump Coalition. Last week big news was the endorsement of moderate governor like Chris Christie, but more recently his refusal to disavow white nationalist David Duke has been making reactions both on liberals and conservatives that think is naïve to believe that Trump doesn’t know who is David Duke and what is the Ku Klux Klan. Trump has an appeal on the former supporters of Pat Buchanan, white working class rural Americans but also on certain moderates attracted to a “Dealmaker”, he is even doing well by some polls among Hispanic Republicans. The endorsement of Jane Brewer is very significant, she was a hardliner on immigration and a supporter of Obamacare. In the general election some predict he could gain some independents and if Hillary wins maybe even some Bernie supporters. But if Sanders wins, The Donald would had a hard time, is difficult to be more anti-establishment than an old Jewish socialist.

The racist supporters of Trump coalition add to the rhetoric of its leader could alienate minority voters. The big government plans could scare libertarians. His distrust in foreign interventionism is making neocons panicking. Certainly a candidate with loyal followers and hateful enemies.

The Clinton Coalition. The victory in South Carolina shows that Hillary is strong among African-American community, but Latinos are divided and white progressives are feeling the Bern. Ideologically she is pushing her feminism in search woman voters but may not work after Steinem embracement. She was trying to focus in domestic issues rather than in foreign policy where her hawkishness is out of touch with the mostly dovish Democratic base but Bernie made some punches with her on the matter of having a War Criminal like Henry Kissinger as adviser. Neocons like her and in the case of a Trump victory in the Republican primaries they would support her.

A lot of progressives see her ties to Wall Street as distrustful. A Jewish progressive feminist like Jill Stein running as Green Party candidate could made the things difficult for Hillary and some Sanders supporters had even pledge to not support Hillary in November.

The Anti-Trump Coalition. Donors and party insiders would like us to believe that these is really strong coalition, capable of defeat the populist Trump. But I think that is too late for that, Trump is going to be the nominee. Some are trying to go third party, more explicitly a neocon third party. I wonder how much support it could get. The neocon candidate of the primary was Lindsay Graham who’s polling was an embarrassment, it’s true that candidates like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio were also neocons but their appeal was not necessarily their foreign policy. The position of Trump about Israel is quite interesting, he says he would be neutral on Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Probably some might try to portray him as an anti-Semite but that due to his close ties with Israel that would be hard. The question of a VP could be crucial if neocons are able put one of their own in that position, however Trump has shown he is independent minded and don’t want to be push by anyone.

Some Republican congressman and maybe even some former Presidential candidates could refuse to endorse Trump. Probably even the Bush family would reject The Donald. There had been talks about the future of George P. Bush who currently holds office in Texas but if he decides to endorse Trump, he might have problems in a future, living in a state were Latinos are becoming the majority. Texas is a state where the GOP had been able to gain an important share of the Latino vote but some may find Trump too divisive to support him and emigrate to the Democratic Party. Is very difficult that George W. Bush difficult would support Trump after he accuse him of being responsible of 9/11. That a former GOP president would refuse to endorse a nominee of his own party could be signal of the end of an era.

The Sanders Coalition. While initially he was accused of attracting only male white progressives. He now is leading with young woman and making waves among the Latino community. The endorsements of current congressman are quite diverse ethnically and religiously with Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva, Tulsi Gabbard and Peter Welch. The endorsement of Gabbard is particularly interesting because she is of Samoan descent and of Hindu faith. She is not a progressive even by the heterodox American standards having express doubts of the Iran deal and being in the past praised by neocons, however she is the face of shifting demographic.

Some say a Sanders versus Trump race would be socialism versus fascism. America probably will choose socialism, a fascist like FDR had already been elected and even praised by Bernie. If the neocons fail go get a third party a choice between Sanders and The Donald would be tough. On the one hand, Bernie had embrace Military-Industrial Complex, especially wasteful F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin which are assembled in Vermont and Trump is unpredictable, could the neocons join hands with their comrades of the Fourth International, that would been fun to watch. The same reason that maybe even some neocons feel the Bern is the one who scare progressives, Bernie says he is socialist but on foreign policy he has embraced military Keynesianism, that’s why some progressives still if he is Democratic nominee would back Jill Stein in November.

The historical legacy of American Socialism

The recent book The Socialist Party of America: A Complete History by Jack Ross, a contributor to this blog, is a must-read for anyone interested in the meaning of American socialism. The books starts in the nineteen century with the early socialists of America, some more close to Marx and others more similar to Bakunin. What seems to be the center of the book is American social democracy, but when Ross speaks about social democracy, he doesn’t refer to the Keynesianism of liberals like Paul Krugman, but the populist Jeffersonian decentralism of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas.

Both Debs and Thomas are central to history of American socialism. The book refers to Debs as biggest champion in American history of the cause of free speech. Being imprisoned for a political speech in the context of World War I, there are few politicians that could match his anti-imperialism and conviction, and Ross mentions a possible kindred spirit in the present, the conservative libertarian Ron Paul.

Debs was a five time presidential candidate, a man who came from a prosperous immigrant family from Terre Haute, Indiana but who gave his life to the cause of workers and peace. Ross mentions that if Debs had been the presidential candidate of the Populist Party, history could have been very different; if the socialists would have gotten the endorsement from the unions, they might have been able to become an organization similar to social democratic parties in Europe. Ross makes clear his admiration for Norman Thomas, a Presbyterian minister opposed to both the New Deal and World War II, who ran six times for president as a candidate of the Socialist Party of America. Like Debs, Thomas was an anti-imperialist whose commitment to peace made him an ally of the Old Right.

Both Debs and Thomas were patriots in the most profound sense of the word; like the early socialists, their cause was a new American revolution against the oppression of capitalism, but their desired model was very different from Marxian European Socialism.

Why socialism failed to take root in the United States is question that gnaws at the edges of the book. While there is not one answer, Jack Ross thinks that the early days of the Socialist Party were crucial to their tragic future, because despite the fact that Eugene Debs was a true hero for the working class, the Socialist Party could never build a strong alliance with national labor organizations. I think there is some truth to that but the question of race is very important; the ties of socialists with racists and even with the Ku Klux Klan in some regions generate a strong problem with minorities in the days of Debs despite that he and an important part of the leadership of the Socialist Party were anti-racist. Also the question of Zionism made some Jewish socialists change their anti-interventionist position.

The text attempts to refute the Popular Front narrative that has been common in the history of the American Left — the role of communism and especially the Communist Party USA were overstated in the historiography of the Cold War. Though the Popular Front realignment was due largely to communists, it is very hard to think that this explains why some radicals support the Democratic Party today. Socialism was misunderstood in the context of Cold War as a synonym for communism, despite that in the American tradition they were particularly opposed to one another.

The attempt to defend the historic American social democracy is complex, because today social democracy is synonym of left-liberalism and identity politics. Maybe Milwaukee could be an interesting example for the history of American socialism, a city with a history of mayors from the Socialist Party which were efficient and transparent in the way to govern — the last one was Frank Zeidler, elected in 1948. John Norquist who called himself a fiscally conservative socialist was elected in 1998 as a member of the Democratic Party. I think that while Norquist never hold the fame of Bernie Sanders, he would probably had been closer to a more populist vein of the socialism that the Socialist Party used to represent.

On the legacy of American socialism, Ross points three groups that emerge from the break-up of the Socialist Party of America: the Schatmanites of SDUSA, the reformers of DSOC and the radicals of SPUSA. While Schatmanites were fundamental to the development of neoconservativism and very hard to identify as socialists, you can hear prominent neocons like David Frum supporting universal health care and a hike of the minimum wage. However, if non-interventionism is what used to be the principal characteristic of the American socialism, that makes them, definitively, something else.

DSOC, now DSA, is very small and despite having prominent members like Cornel West it is still part of left-wing of the Democrat Party, and it’s not event as prominent as some other progressive groups. The SPUSA still participates in some elections, but shows weaker and weaker results; their last elected member Karen Kubby was a councilwoman from Iowa City, who switched parties to the Greens, a relatively a quite common choice for members of the SPUSA.

The possibilities of development of socialism in America despite the odds were very exciting. The book relates that in the beginnings of the last century there was even a proposal of members of the Socialist Party to form an independent socialist republic in Texas. But the most clear possibility for the development of American Socialism was if Martin Luther King would have survived and run as a third party candidate in 1968.

King’s politics were close to Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, but obviously being a prominent Afro-American leader he could rally the support of minorities. Without King the third party effort of the People’s Party failed. In the 80s the Citizens Party was born out of the Barry Commoner presidential campaign but its form of liberal reformism never became powerful. In 1984 the Green Party was born. The Green Party, despite being identified with the Keynesianism of Ralph Nader, was born in the legacy of the New Left. In the 80s socialists and anarchists founded the Left Green Network, whose purpose was to drive the party to the left, among them was the social theorist and eco-anarchist Murray Bookchin. Under his influence the Left Green Network developed a decentralist platform fighting for change at the local level, but with time the Left Green Network’s priorities fell off in favor of the more liberal wing of the party that was more focused on the national level.

I think Ross’s book fails to mention the importance of one of the Green Party founders to the history of socialism in America, Howie Hawkins was a member of SPUSA that became an ally of Murray Bookchin, but also was key into drafting Ralph Nader as the Green Party candidate. While the 2000 Nader campaign caused a backlash against the Green Party for allegedly being a spoiler, party insiders had said that the organization wasn’t as strong as in the early days of the party. The Green Party failed to become a biggest threat to Democratic Party in the next election, the liberal wing decided to choose as presidential candidate an unknown lawyer David Cobb in 2004, against Nader who was supported by socialists and anarchists and even some libertarians and paleoconservatives.

Nader running as an independent didn’t help in the party building, but neither did running a weak candidate like Cobb. In 2008 Nader built a relatively similar alliance running as an independent, while greens choose Cynthia McKinney a popular black congresswoman, but with Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee both Nader and McKinney showed poor numbers. In 2012 they ran Jill Stein, a physician, and got numbers far from the ones of Nader in 2000. Stein, unlike Nader, never showed interest in making inroads with the paleoconservative or libertarian vote and was in search of progressive supporters. The Green Party has evolved from libertarian municipalism of the 80s to the liberal reformism of the 90s to eco-socialism today. Though eco-socialism is a term connected to Murray Bookchin, I think today eco-socialism has in more in common with state interventionism in the name of ecology. The Green Party has embraced identity politics, which could be a problem if as in the past there is need of the votes from what used to be the Old Right. Though decentralism is still on their platform, they focus a lot more on the presidential campaign.

Ross mentions that the Old Right and socialist left had a lot in common, and I agree. Their foreign policy was the biggest common cause, Bill Kauffman goes as far as to suggest Pat Buchanan is the second coming of Eugene Debs. The text fails to mention that Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess was also a former member of the Socialist Party, but unlike the neocons he went leftward in the context of the Vietnam War. But the text mentions something often forgotten, the fact that after his presidential campaigns Norman Thomas started to sound closer to Peter Kropotkin, denouncing state bureaucracy and calling for the development of mutual aid. In those days he sounded closer to eco-anarchists like Murray Bookchin or Christian anarchists like Dorothy Day. But even with libertarians there is still some room for an alliance, in the 2014 election Howie Hawkins the eco-socialist candidate of the Green Party for Governor of New York opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline on the grounds that it violated property rights.

A curious fact is that Jack Ross was a writer of The American Conservative, and I think he could be defined as a heterodox left-conservative, but his book could make the radical left think again in their own tradition. Today the possibility of America having a president who calls himself a socialist is real. Few journalists predicted Sanders’ success, the liberal left is tired of the corporatism of the Clintons, and Sanders’ message is resonating with a public tired of the merger of Wall Street and Washington. But neither Debs nor Thomas would had been proud of Sanders, who is not only much more bureaucratic than them, he is also a supporter of the American Empire.

Ross points that socialists are like prophets, and he is right. The historic antiwar activist David McReynolds said on the 100 year anniversary of the Socialist Party that the victory of socialism in America was not going to be when someone who was part of the socialist left is in a place of power — a sly reference to the neocons. Likewise, a victory for Bernie Sanders could easily be less the vindication of American Socialism than its defeat.

I don’t know if America will see a character like Debs or Thomas again. Ralph Nader was closer to the Old Left in speaking about a broad left/right alliance against the corporate state and the importance of the concept of community activism. But Ron Paul was even closer because in making foreign policy his priority he was able unify libertarians, conservatives, progressives and socialists against the American Empire, and like Debs and Thomas he want a Republic. I think that the book shows that not only the New Left had a lot in common with the Old Right but actually the Old Left had also a lot in common with the Old Right, a call for a Jeffersonian decentralist Republic, and whether one calls that libertarian, conservative or socialist doesn’t make much difference. The socialist left in America had strong democratic convictions and was opposed to all totalitarian forms of socialism. Though today there is still a caricature of socialism as a synonym of Soviet communism, but the youth is not interested in buying it.

There is a long noble history of American socialism, men and woman who choose to believe that they can build a new country, based on the ideals on which the old one was founded. We may need to rediscover it, as the socialism we’re most familiar with is much more pernicious. America has in the last century started to live under a kind of socialism, the state socialism of Bismarck, proper to a military empire like the ones between World Wars. Later, in the context of Vietnam War, Murray Rothbard described a “nixonian socialism,” and since Reagan, neoconservativism can be understood as right-wing social democracy. If conservatives have been vital for the triumph of some forms of socialism, maybe they could be a factor in bringing about a future for the more positive kind. Maybe the descendents of the prairie socialists are supporting Donald Trump but I think they could be waiting for a new Eugene Debs.

(Image source)

What’s the matter with left-libertarianism?

carloglesby

Left-libertarianism is a peculiar variant of libertarianism. It has some elements in common with the left, but it also supports positions that are at odds with the left in a general sense. I had previously written about its history, and while doing that I found that left-libertarianism is far from a united theory, but a relatively broad realm of ideas about about free markets and achieving and social justice. Karl Hess, Robert Anton Wilson and Samuel Edward Konkin III are big names in libertarianism on their own and also left-libertarians. Today the Center for a Stateless Society and the Alliance of the Libertarian Left are the new faces of left-libertarianism, most of its writers and members are young activists who despite claiming to be following the paths of the left-libertarians of the past, also raise their own issues.

Left-libertarianism is still unknown to the public. The mainstream media has portrayed libertarianism as something of the right, with an spokesperson like Ron Paul who is pro-life and against open borders, or figures like the Koch Brothers, which are donors to Republican campaigns and the bête noire of a lot of liberals, so isn’t very easy to associate libertarianism with the left. Yet a lot of Ron Paul supporters and those who identify themselves as libertarians are pro-choice, and skeptical of Republican Party. J. Arthur Bloom some time ago argued reflecting on a poll that suggests that young Americans prefer socialism over capitalism but at the same time support a free market system over a government managed economy, my initial reaction was that young Americans could find left-libertarianism interesting, but I wasn’t sure at that moment of the limits of my reflection.

The libertarian movement had been in large part financed by the Koch brothers though institutions like the Cato Institute, Reason, FreedomWorks and Students for Liberty to only mention a few. With the Ron Paul campaign the age-old paleo-cosmopolitan intra-libertarian dispute was reborn. The Ron Paul campaign was closer to the Rothbardians than the Friedmanites and it generated radicals rather than reformers. Despite that some cosmopolitans express his doubts about Ron Paul and the Koch brothers didn’t support or endorse him, I think the Koch brothers were intelligent enough to know that Ron Paul was bringing a lot of young people to libertarianism, something that could be useful to them. That’s why despite the disagreements, Ron Paul has been a main speaker at events organized by Koch-affiliated organizations, they know he energizes the base. Ron Paul and the Koch brothers are capitalist and for different reasons they had a long relation with the GOP. On the left-libertarian side there isn’t much famous politicians or bigger donors. Left-libertarians rely mostly on making new converts at libertarian events, but most libertarians consider themselves capitalists and I don’t think that will change any time soon. There is a solid left-libertarian tradition that young people could find interesting, however, especially in their critic of the corporate capitalism.

I think that it’s better to present my own philosophy before continuing exploring the limits of left-libertarianism. I’m a socialist, not a social democrat whose model is Scandinavia but rather a libertarian socialist whose model are Zapatistas in Mexico or the Kurds in the Middle East. Elections are not the only thing that matters, but I think electoral politics could radicalize the public and also move the left in a more libertarian direction. As far as I know, most left-libertarians come from the libertarian right and the anarchist left, so it’s easy to suppose that few of them ever would be sympathetic to electoral left-wing politics, but history tells us radical libertarians like Karl Hess and Murray Bookchin were involved in third party politics. So to be involved in electoral politics seems more an opportunity than a problem.

The Ron Paul campaign was a better tool for promoting libertarianism than the millions of dollars spent by the Kochs in think-tanks. Sometimes when left-libertarians said: “the dominant left-libertarian aim is to fuse Murray Rothbard with David Graeber,” I think a more interesting goal would be to fuse Ron Paul with Karl Hess. There are limits to the electoral politics, for example most leftists support the minimum wage (there are some left-libertarians that agree but most disagree). Other long time objectives of the left are universal health care (this policy was supported by Libertarian Party presidential candidate Mike Gravel but not for most left-libertarians). But compromise in the search of peace, liberty and justice seems to me a mature political move, along the lines of the one Murray Rothbard hoped for, broad on the left and right.

Here at The Mitrailleuse, there has been some polemic about left-libertarianism. James E. Miller argue that left-libertarianism is closer to left-liberalism than libertarianism, I disagree with that, I think that the fact that some left-libertarians had un-libertarian positions don’t mean left-libertarianism as a whole is doomed. For other part I recognize that the argument that sometimes C4SS sounds like Salon is true, far from joking some time ago I consider seriously writing a response Kevin D. Williamson argument that the Baltimore riots should be blame on the Democratic Party which historically has governed Baltimore, my response was going to be that the riots should be blame on the Republican Party crackdown on the Black Panthers because since then the Afro-American communities lacked radical organizing. When I was thinking where to publish the article, I thought C4SS and Salon. J. Arthur Bloom makes the case that it’s difficult for left-libertarians to gain support in the broad left, I agree a lot anarchists are closer to the Democratic Party.

There is something that should be said — Karl Hess, probably the most radical left-libertarian, was still a man of the Old Right, even when he joined Students for a Democratic Society and Industrial Workers of the World. He was deeply patriotic and inspired from the American history, he was not a cosmopolitan libertarian but a rather a man of a community. The Neighborhood Power of which the New Left speaks was an idea that had on board both the Black Panthers and radical Christians; a self-governing community was a real policy for left-libertarians. Since the New Left era, the idea of liberal identity politics was present and affected the movement. The black power, feminist and LGBT struggles were co-opted by the Democratic Party which, though movements that at some point were anti-statist, become functionally supportive of growing state power.

I don’t think that left-libertarians are going to win that argument by sounding like left-liberals, but by actually accepting that a free society would not be constructed if some day everybody started to think the same, but when one can reach broad agreement about letting communities be free. For example when it comes to immigration, most left-libertarians tend to support Open Borders, and I also do, but I understand that probably cosmopolitan communities like Williamsburg or Echo Park are more willing to receive immigrants than communities in rural Alabama, and a real immigration policy should respect that the communities could have different positions on whether or not receive immigrants. When Karl Hess spoke about education he also had the same argument, he said that there isn’t a problem if a black community decided to teach Swahili to their kids, I think that the same arguments should go for a religious community teaching their kids their values. Radical decentralization really means that abolishing the state or not, the communities at least would be freer to choose their own policies based on their everyday life rather than waiting for a bureaucrat in Washington.

Left-libertarians had an interesting history, in the present they are growing and their future is still unknown. Trying to recruit new members at libertarian events had it limits. With the exception of agorists, most left-libertarians weren’t organized in the past in any specific group but they were in a lot of ways closer to more average New Left radical, not only because of the left was more decentralist back then, but also they more willing to engage in a debate with the radical left. Most left-libertarians are great fans of the Marxist historian Gabriel Kolko, but I listen to very few about the reflections of other socialists. For example, Carl Oglesby the former leader of SDS is considered by the people of C4SS and ALL as a left-libertarian, though he wasn’t an anarchist and supported the minimum wage. Left-libertarians tend to criticize liberalterians saying that they are not radicals because they aren’t anarchist and also supported some state policies, so why do left-libertarians claim Carl Oglesby as one their own, when he probably should be called a proto-liberalterian? I think that a really thoughtful reflection of that would tell us a lot of left-libertarians claim to be radicals, yet still prefer the comfort zone of libertarian conferences rather than, say, going to the Left Forum to speak about free markets and property rights. If they want a revolution they should reject the liberal identity politics of us versus them, the real struggle is between the political elite and the grassroots rebellion.