ALL At NYC Anarchist Book Fair. DarianW, DarianWorden.com (2010-04-20).
Alliance of the Libertarian Left folks from New Jersey, New York, and New Hampshire converged at the 2010 NYC Anarchist Book Fair. This is the first time ALL had a table at the event. We had a good mix of cheap and free literature: The table got more organized as...(Linked Tuesday 2010-04-27.)
*"It is the responsibility of writers to listen to gossip and. Masha, Cyganeria (2010-04-26).
"It is the responsibility of writers to listen to gossip and pass it on. It is the way all storytellers learn about life." ~Grace PaleyOne of the benefits of working a side job as a writer is the constant exposure to people and their stories. My co-workers are people I'm...(Linked Tuesday 2010-04-27.)
The Big Anarchist Survey. DarianW, DarianWorden.com (2010-04-21).
I hope lots of anarchists fill out The Big Anarchist Survey. It won’t take long, and the survey writers provided space to write in answers and comment on the survey itself.(Linked Tuesday 2010-04-27.)
A (comparatively) cheerful post, for once: Naomi Wolf and the Tea Parties. John Markley, The Superfluous Man (2010-04-21).
My feelings towards the Tea Party movement, and the public protests against the current administration's policies in general, have generally been favorable but pessimistic: It's nice to see a popular movement opposing the galloping statism of the bailouts, the stimulus, and health care "reforms," but my expectation has been that...(Linked Tuesday 2010-04-27.)
Apple IIe Twitter Terminal. Daring Fireball (2010-04-28). Awesome. (Linked Wednesday 2010-04-28.)
In which Chairman Ron does his bit to fill the coffers of the U.S. Department of the Treasury:
Like him or hate him, Dr. Ron Paul doesn’t just talk a big game about fiscal conservatism, he lives it. In 2008, his congressional office returned $58,000 to the Treasury. In 2009, his office returned $90,000. Now, according to an official press release, Dr. Ron Paul’s congressional office has just paid back $100,000.
… And that’s why I’m against
fiscal conservatism. Why the fuck would I think it’s a good thing for the U.S. government to get back $100,000 more to spend on bailing out failed bankers or on hurting and killing innocent people? What I’d like most is for that money to get back into the hands of innocent working people (whether under the cover of Congressional featherbedding, or by any other means). But failing that, we’d still all be better off if Ron Paul took the $100,000, piled it up on the National Mall, and set it all on fire, rather than giving it back to the United States Treasury.
At a time when Wall St is running wild, the national debt is $14 trillion, and the federal government is running $1.4 trillion deficits, Dr. Ron Paul’s congressional office is running a surplus and paying back the American people.
No, he isn’t.
He’s paying the American government. The American people, if that means American people like you and me and our neighbors, will get back not one cent of it. Instead, the money will go directly into the operational budget of the government that oppresses and robs us.
Of course, none of this is to say that I like big government spending. But the problem with government spending is not the fact that money goes out of the Treasury; it’s that government spending is financed by expropriation from working people (whether through direct taxation or through the effects of the financial-political complex’s coercive money monopoly). And that government spending goes to fund more expropriation and more violence — in the form of government wars, government borders, government surveillance, forced
development schemes and eminent domain seizures, police brutality, prisons, tax-men, hang-men, or the arming, training, and employment of government law-enforcers to inflict their myriad unjust laws on the rest of us without our consent. The problem, in short, is not government spending at all; it’s government violence. But just giving surplus money back to the government, without doing anything to constrain the violence that the state commits — going out of your way to help government balance its budgets and get leaner and meaner in the use of the resources that it has on hand — is as nice an example as you could want of exactly the kind of stupid conservative trap that limited-statism passes off as if it had something to do with freedom.
Lew Rockwell’s recent
interviewof Naomi Wolf for his podcast — the scare quotes are there because it quickly turns into a very two-sided conversation, and works very differently from a conventional interview — is really remarkable, and a paradigm for the kind of engagement that could build a vibrant libertarian Left. Naomi Wolf is not my favorite feminist, and Lew Rockwell is certainly not my favorite libertarian, but this is great stuff. Naomi Wolf now says she thinks she’s
been a secret libertarian for many years in many, many waysand mentions that she’s feeling increasingly sympathetic toward radical libertarianism; she insists on the importance of challenging both Democratic- and Republican-sponsored power grabs, and expresses sympathy for the libertarian case for abolishing federal control over schooling. Rockwell does a tolerable job of explaining the libertarian case against the Fed as a instrument of class warfare, does a good job of cautioning against premature jumps into statist political action, and comes out that the conservative movement has been an
engine of fascismfor the past 50 years. Also, Wolf has some great material at about 23:45 in the interview about the way in which media producers deliberately encourage false-alternative shouting matches and instruct their guests that serious deliberation is not
Socialist Alexander Cockburn writes a libertarian article for the Buchananite newsjournal The American Conservative, discussing the ongoing bipartisan assault on civil liberties, in which he points out the continuity between Clinton’s and Bush’s anti-terrorism and drug war rackets, decrying Social Security Numbers and the Kelo decision, while praising the defense of the individualist reading of the Second Amendment in Heller.
There’s been a lot more discussion of Roderick’s Corporations Versus the Market piece on Cato Unbound. Roderick’s Keeping Libertarian, Keeping Left replies to the initial responses from the Danny Bonaduce of the Blogosphere, Steven Horwitz, and Dean Baker. Roderick’s Owning Ideas Means Owning People makes the case for libertarian radicalism against Intellectual Protectionism (indeed, for a position even more radical than those advocated by Cato minimal-statist Tim Lee and by anti-IP, but pro-governmental Leftist Dean Baker).
Yglesias, in reply to Roderick and Steven Horwitz, says he is a bit puzzled by pragmatic arguments for left-libertarianism, based on the claim that markets do more for human flourishing than government programs, writing:
If this means that the absence of governance à la Joseph Stalin is a more important determinant of our well-being than is, say, the existence of unemployment insurance then, yes, of course this is true. But the question facing government programs is not whether they are more or less beneficial than the existence of a market economy, the question is whether the programs are more beneficial than would be the absence of programs.Roderick does a great job of responding to Yglesias (as well as to some another reply by Dean Baker) here. Let me just add a bit more about the fundamental problem with Yglesias’s proposed methods for assessing whether or not a given government program is warranted.
The problem here is that Yglesias seems to be treating this as a ceteris paribus comparison: as if the right question to ask is whether people would be better off with the government program in place or in a situation which is exactly identical, but without the government program.
There are two problems with this. First, unless there is some strong reason to believe that ceteris will stay paribus in the absence of a government program, the real alternative is between a government program and market alternatives to that program. So, for example, Yglesias mentions ex ante environmental regulations. But he rigs the match by apparently comparing outcomes with ex ante environmental regulations to outcomes from a market situation which is basically the same as the present, but in which corporate polluters are free to go on polluting with impunity. An un-rigged comparison would be one between ex ante environmental regulations and free market means of addressing pollution that the ex ante regulations have either directly suppressed or crowded out — like the use of pollution nuisance suits or a more robust use of free market grassroots activism, through boycotts,
sustainabilitycertification, social investing, and so on. Maybe these kind of tactics would not be as effective as ex ante regulation, or maybe they would be more effective; but in either case, this is the comparison that actually needs to be made, and as far as I can tell Yglesias hasn’t given any argument to support a claim that market methods would do worse. Indeed, there’s some good reasons to think that they might do better. Since freed-market methods are by their nature decentralized, and not dependent on political lobbying or electioneering, they are also not subject to the same problems of regulatory capture by those who can put
a lot of money and political influence behindtheir interests.
Second, Yglesias also more or less explicitly suggests that, when you’re deliberating over whether to favor government programs or freed-market alternatives, any given government program ought to be assessed in isolation from all the others (on a
case-by-casebasis). But of course libertarian Leftists have repeatedly stressed the importance of seeing particular social or political processes in the context of how many different processes interlock and interact with each other. So, for example, as Roderick has repeatedly stressed, if you want to know about whether to prefer unfettered free markets or regulatory command-and-control in financial markets, it doesn’t make sense to compare a rigged market where finance capital is tightly regulated and can reasonably expect government bail-outs in case of failure to a rigged market where finance capital is loosely regulated but can still reasonably expect government bail-outs in case of failure. Whether the latter or the former turns out to have better results is a question we could debate, but the important point, from a left-libertarian point of view, is that it would be more interesting and fruitful to compare the rigged markets to a free market with neither ex ante regulation nor bail-outs. Similarly, if we are looking at environmental regulations then we have to consider not only market alternatives to ex ante environmental regulation; we also have to consider other government programs which may indirectly contribute to environmentally destructive practices — like subsidizing corporate centralization and capital-intensive production; or stealing land from homeowners and small businesses for large, polluting manufacturing plants, garbage incinerators, and other forced-modernization boondoggles; or subsidizing fossil fuel dependence; or highway-driven suburban sprawl — and whether the absence of those other programs, taken together with the absence of ex ante environmental regulation, would make freed-market alternatives to ex ante environmental regulation even more palatable than they would be when considered in isolation. (For some similar points in the context of health care, see GT 2007-10-25: Radical healthcare reform.)
Meanwhile, Roderick’s article has also prompted a lot of discussion outside of Cato Unbound, most notably interesting but misguided replies from Peter Klein, Will Wilkinson, and an extremely ill-conceived response by Walter Block and J.H. Huebert. I’ve already discussed Block’s and Huebert’s comments, with a focus on their distortion of my own expressed views (cited favorably by Roderick) on radical labor unionism.. There’s a lot of fascinating exchange among Klein, some other right-libertarians and agnostic-libertarians, and a number of libertarian Leftists in the comments thread on Klein’s article; note especially the exchange among Araglin, Klein, P.M. Lawrence and others over the legitimacy and viability of the corporate form, limited liability, etc., under freed markets, and this short comment by Jesse Walker:
It seems clear to me that, at the very least, the “more local and more numerous” claim is correct, if not in every sector than certainly in the economy as a whole. Removing occupational licensing laws alone would unleash such a flood of tiny enterprises — many of them one-man or one-woman shows, sometimes run part-time — that I doubt the elimination of antitrust law and small-business setasides would offset it. Especially when large businesses have proven so adept at using antitrust and setasides for their own purposes. .(Jesse promises a more detailed follow-up at Hit and Run; I look forward to it.)
Meanwhile, as promsied, Roderick has added his own (detailed, excellent) reply on most of the points raised by Klein, Wilkinson, Huebert, and Block back over at Cato Unbound, entitled Free Market Firms: Smaller, Flatter, and More Crowded.
Read the whole damn thread. It’s great.
On the activist front, this past Monday, New Jersey ALLy Darian Worden announced a new series of Alliance of the Libertarian Left outreach flyers and
subversion squaresavailable from the NJ ALL website. Enjoy! (I also think there will be some interesting news in the near future about ALL in Southern California, England, Denver, and some new activities for ALL in Las Vegas. But I’m not going to tip my hand more than that in public, just yet. If you’re curious — and especially if you are in one or more of those geographical areas — drop me a line in private.
According to a theory popular among certain kinds of anti-voting anarchists, anarchists shouldn’t vote, and should encourage other people not to vote, because general participation in voting creates the perception that the elected government is legitimate, whereas if only a tiny handful of people voted, or nobody voted, it would expose
democratic government as illegitimate, and spur people to resist them or simply shrug them off.
If that’s true, then we ought to expect anarchy to be breaking out any… day… now… in Pillsbury, North Dakota.
Somehow, though, I expect that what we’re much more likely to see is that the lack of a clear
No will just be taken as good enough for a
Yes, and the same old assholes will go on doing the same old thing and collecting the same old taxes anyway.
Please note, by the way, that this post is not intended as a brief in favor of voting. If everyone in town had showed up and voted against every candidate on the ticket, that would still be interpreted as legitimation for the State. There is literally nothing you could do with respect to a government election, whether voting for, or voting against, or abstaining from voting entirely, that statists will not interpret as legitimating the State. Statists will interpret any damn thing you could possibly do as legitimating the State; that’s just what statists do.