Posts from 9 February 2008

Lazy Linking of the Libertarian Left

  • If you’ve decided that you’re not interested in helping limited-governmentalists make the trains run on time, one of the first replies you are always going to get from minarchists and minarcho-enablers is some snide remarks about how you must advocate doing nothing out of a prissy or sanctimonious concern for ideological purity. Of course, this reply is usually plain nonsense, since it depends on the completely unargued, and in fact easily refuted, principle that the only alternatives on the table are (1) partisan politicking in government elections, or else (2) doing nothing. Of course these are not the two options, and the only reasons that you would act as if they are is (a) if you are wearing the conceptual blinders of statist political analysis, or else (b) you don’t have a clear or concrete enough conception of what someone might put down for option (3). I tried to make my point clear about problem (a) in my follow-up post; but for a more straightforward approach to the problem, see also this great post tackling problem (b) from Francois Tremblay at Check Your Premises (2008-01-22): Eight ways you can personally help to smash the State: One of the problems with Anarchism is that, unlike other political ideologies which rely on the system, the courses of actions one can take are not obvious. People who are convinced by the arguments are discouraged by the notion that there’s nothing I can do, and new Anarchists, not seeing any way out, turn to political means as the only solution. … So what can we do to resist? Not as a movement, but personally? There are a number of things that a single individual can do that brings concrete, if small, change. Read the whole thing, and note especially numbers 5–8.

  • Thomas Knapp, a market anarchist and sometime Libertarian Party activist, who has used the freedom train metaphor often in the past (and who I quoted in Take the A-Train), has a lot of thoughtful remarks in reply to my criticism, in KN@PPSTER (2008-02-01): Train kept a-rollin’, part 1 of ???. There’s some good points here, both by way of objection and by way of agreement, which I should have linked some time ago, and which provide a lot of great discussion-fodder and deserve a reply when my brain is a bit less fried than it is right now. I’m not especially convinced by some of Knapp’s rejoinders — e.g. I think that the claim that it’s easier to get from Anarchotopia once the train has already pulled in at Minarchistan is refuted by, or at least faces an as-yet unanswered challenge from, precisely the points that I raised in my follow-up post. But while I unfry my brain enough to talk at more length, you should definitely read the whole thing.

  • Mutualists and counter-economists alike may find something of interest in Michel Bauwens’s mention of the unMoney Convergence - a conference on money, liberation and systems change, to be held in Seattle April 14–16. The convergence will discuss the emergence of alternatives to government money (community currencies, Internet currencies, open currencies, etc.); the development of open, peer-to-peer infrastructures for gifting, sharing, and exchange; and efforts to move to open money systems over the next ten years. (The convergence will no doubt include plenty of crankery and rubbish along with plenty of genuinely good discussion and perhaps even mildly thrilling developments. But that’s par for the course. Again, more stuff that I’d be interested to talk about and hash out — e.g. the tensions between genuine mutual money and community exchanges, and progressive Monopoly-money deliberately obstructing non-local use — once back in a post-brain-fried state.) Anyway, read the whole thing and follow the links.

  • Finally, for a change of speed, we have the latest Radical Healthcare Reform proposal from New York Times humor columnist Paul Krugman (2008-02-04): Clinton, Obama, Insurance, in which it is revealed that the most significant policy difference between Hillary Rodham Clinton’s scheme for massive government subsidies to third-party health insurance bureaucracies and Barack Obama’s scheme for massive government subsidies to third-party health insurance bureaucracies is that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plan would force everybody to buy health coverage from a big corporate insurer, whether it’s in their financial best interest or not; whereas Barack Obama’s plan, although forcing everyone to subsidize other people’s use of big corporate insurers through taxes, would at least give each individual person some choice over whether or not it’s in their own best interest to buy corporate health insurance for herself. Krugman then suggests that reveals a major defect in Obama’s plan and a major virtue of Clinton’s plan. Because, apparently, the purely statistical achievement of universal coverage is an obvious good, regardless of what that coverage amounts to or what the cost of achieving it is, whereas the notion that a bug-government-mandated captive market for big, bureaucratic insurance companies might not always be the best way for each and every one of 300,000,000 very different people with very different needs to get their healthcare costs covered, is an idea that could only be advanced by the dupes or hirelings of the same insurance firms that stand to massively profit from this subsidy program (!).

    This is, apparently, what passes for Leftist economics among the professional statist-blowhard class in America. Libertarian mutualists, i.e. the genuinely Leftist alternative to the corporate liberal managerialism and progressive statism fraudulently passed off as Leftism today, know that radical healthcare reform would mean something very different — the abolition of government obstacles in healthcare and the emergence of grassroots networks and institutions for mutual aid among the working class, not a massive effort by the policy elite to universalize and ossify the existing boss-and-bureaucrat model of third-party healthcare coverage.