Sunday, July 17, 2005

Upaya on a left-libertarian synthesis

Upaya is back in the blogosphere after a long stretch of work and travel, and his new post, "Toward a New Synthesis" looks at some of the differing factions within the world of left-libertarianism and attempts to map out some common ground. If this subject interests you, I definitely recommend checking it out and leaving some feedback behind if you wish.

Here is the comment I wrote over there:
I'm with you in regards to placing anti-militarism at the forefront of a left-libertarian synthesis. To me, how one views the current militarism of the USSA government means a lot more as to whether or not I'm willing to consider that person an ally than economic issues.

Smashing the myth that all libertarians are merely mouthpieces for corporate capitalism is another high priority, if you ask me. The continuation of this myth prevents many who identify with the left from becoming more libertarian.

Even though the CD goes against my ultimate principles, I sympathize with the aims of those who wish to promote it. Personally, I'd rather promote the dismantling of the state from the top-down, which is what you seemed to describe by saying that government help for the poor should be the last to go. Corporate welfare and other forms of privledge for the wealthy need to be axed first.


While some readers here may not view the militarism issue as being as important as economic issues, it is still one that needs to be taken seriously. There is no question that war is the health of the state, and some of the most atrocious acts churned out by the federal government in recent years (like PATRIOT and Real ID) are essentially linked to US militarism in one way or another. The fact that reading the opinions of anti-war libertarians is what helped to pull me away from statist leftie thought and towards libertarianism also goes to show how important this issue is to me.

The CD that is mentioned in my comment is the idea of a citizens' dividend handed out by the government. Upaya correctly points out that "a CD can provide an income floor and partial social safety net without the need for the massive, intrusive, inefficient and paternalistic bureaucracy of the welfare state", and I do sympathize with those who wish to promote such an idea. My essentially anarchist principles are ultimately in conflict with this idea though, which is why I wrote that I'd rather support the dismantling of the state from the top-down. If there are to be incremental steps towards dismantling the state and regaining liberty, I view such support as being consistent with both my principles and my left sympathies.

With that said though, I won't criticize attempts to promote something like a CD though, especially since promotion of such an idea may help to appeal to those statists who simply won't consider taking libertarian ideas seriously due to a concern for the poor and support for the welfare state (everyone has to start somewhere). I just won't be the type of supporter of it that other left-libertarians may be. As Kirsten stated in her most recent post, it is important for those who consider themselves to be individualists to remain firm to their particular individual prinicples, even while reaching out to and working with others.

Something I forgot to do when writing my reply to Upaya's post was comment on this portion of it:
Moving on to Ithaca (my other future abode), it is, of course the home of Ithaca Hours—a long-running LETS system— as well as a cooperative health insurance group and a community land trust. Again, my left-lib heart is made brighter by seeing mutualist and geoist ideas in action. Plus the farmer’s market is great!


I have read a little bit about the Ithaca Hours system, mainly from the Ithaca Hours website. I'd be curious to read more about it, especially from those who have first-hand experience with it or at least has been there and observed it. If Ithaca is going to be one of Upaya's future abodes, I'd hope to read more about it from him in the future. This is something that anyone interested in counter economics should consider looking into.


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3 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Nice post.

On the CD thing, it's favored by some anarcho-Georgists who see the community, rather than the state, as the steward for socially-owned property.

I don't care much for the idea myself, but if you're going to socialize land rent, I'd much rather the revenue be returned to the people to spend as they wish than use it to fund public services that could better be supported with user-fees. Much less market-distorting that way.

When you see stories about Georgist initiatives to fund schools, highways, etc., with LVT, it's a pretty good guess people will be using schools and roads a lot more under such a system than they would with cost-based pricing.

If you collect 100% of rent, and use it to fund only those public services that are genuinely non-excludable "public goods," you're gonna have an awful lot left over.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Isis said...

I'm on my way over to check out your recommendation, but one thought before I go: another place where I think the left could benefit from alliance with libertarianism is in the realm of thoughtful response to propaganda. Right-wing propaganda machines are powerful, and they work because lots of people are either not interested in thinking for themselves or they believe they don't have the time. Libertarianism, when practiced well, seems to carry with it the assumption that everyone has the responsibility to think for themselves and figure out what makes sense. I know I am in la-la land here just a bit, but if that approach could be assumed more widely, we could have a world where people don't fall for the stupid crap that is fed to them nonstop.

Am I living in a dreamworld or what?

8:31 AM  
Anonymous BillG (not Gates) said...

kevin wrote:

"On the CD thing, it's favored by some anarcho-Georgists who see the community, rather than the state, as the steward for socially-owned property.

I don't care much for the idea myself, but if you're going to socialize land rent, I'd much rather the revenue be returned to the people to spend as they wish than use it to fund public services that could better be supported with user-fees. Much less market-distorting that way.

When you see stories about Georgist initiatives to fund schools, highways, etc., with LVT, it's a pretty good guess people will be using schools and roads a lot more under such a system than they would with cost-based pricing.

If you collect 100% of rent, and use it to fund only those public services that are genuinely non-excludable "public goods," you're gonna have an awful lot left over."

as you know I am a proponent of the geo-rent idea but I wanted to clarify a bit...

I don't think it is technically correct to say "socially-owned property" as it leads to some confusion.

as you know - the right to property is not just one single right but rather a bundle of rights, one of which includes "land rent" which appears once private enclosure has gone beyond Locke's proviso (enough and as good left for others).

all the other bundled rights of ownership remain as private property...

1. use
2. possession
3. transferability
4. exclusion

only the land rent remains owned in COMMON (not collectively)...

11:52 AM  

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