Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What's libertarian about Lula?

Today's edition of Strike The Root, edited by Ali Hassan Massoud, includes a link to an essay by Alvaro Vargas Llosa released by the Independent Institute about the demise of Brazilian president Lula da Silva. While I have no qualms with the essay itself, I'm not exactly fond of the tag that Ali gave it: "Brazilian “Left-Wing Libertarian” Flames Out".

I've heard of overly PC establishment libertarians being called left-libertarians, which is an inaccurate label, and now it's being used in reference to Lula? Using the word libertarian in reference to him is sorta like using the same word in referene to Dubya. Who's next - the Clintons?

I acknowledge the fact that there must be some sort of middle ground between democratic socialists (authoritarian lefties) and anarchists. A term that I've heard used before in reference to anti-authoritarian lefties who aren't quite anarchists is social minarchist. Such people, in my mind, are often just as libertarian (although sometimes more or less so) than minarchist libertarians of the right such as Ron Paul or your typical Catoite. The problem here is that my knowledge of Lula, although admittedly limited, seems to tell me that he doesn't fall into this category.

If you want to see some real left-libertarian people and ideas, then check out the blogs that are part of the Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left.

If there is anyone reading this who knows more about Lula's agenda and the overall situation in Brazil who has some level of disagreement with me over my judgement of him, I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on the matter.

Upon reading Llosa's essay, it seems to me that those who held some degree of optimism over Lula's agenda are receiving a rude awakening. Just another corrupt statist thug, Lula apparently is. Corporate-style globalization is indeed not the answer to the perpetual poverty down there, but neither is the type of bureaucratic planning and meddling that Lula and other statist lefties want to engage in.

2 Comments:

Blogger colorless green ideas said...

i think you're making a mistake in equating democratic socialists as authoritarian lefties. what in the words "democratic" and "socialism" imply "authoritarian"?

i think the problem is more with the term "libertarian" than anything else. in an age where someone as brutally right-wing and authoritarian as Neil Boortz is considered "Libertarian", not to mention any corporatist republican who happens to be pro-choice, and the legions of "propertarian" faux-libs out there, i think this opens up a lot of wiggle room on the left for what may be dubbed libertarian.

only thing i can think of in regards to Lula is that Brazil has been somewhat resistant to intellectual protectionism, openly embracing open source, and free software, defying the pharmaceutical giants, and the Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil was a 60's radical who was arrested for anti-government activities.

i think the leftish movement against corporate globalization and war, for strong protection of civil liberties, free-culture, free information and decriminalization of victimless crimes, even with a pretty squishy economic platform, is at least as "libertarian" as what passes as such on the right.

4:39 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

I can agree with most of that.

The problem, just as you mention it, is with the term libertarian. Those right wingers you mention are, in my mind, not really libertarian at all. The radical in me has a problem with people with obvious authoritarian streaks to them being labeled libertarian. As far as I'm concerned, Boortz and company are conservatives.

The things you mention in regards to Lula all sound good, although I read somewhere that Gil's radicalism is long gone. He may not be nearly as libertarian as someone like Ron Paul, but most of those things you mention would, in my mind, make him more libertarian than anyone who has occupied the White House in decades.

And I do think that there are indeed many democratic socialists who fit the label of authoritarian, just as I consider many of those right wingers you mentioned to be authoritarian. Again, it's the radicalism in me that makes me feel that way.

The word democratic makes me suspicious since typical democratic socialists support the current system of representative democracy. That type of democracy, as opposed to forms of democracy that more radical lefties support, is tyrannical in my opinion.

The word socialist makes me suspicious since democratic socialists are statists, and I condemn state socialism. How can a libertarian support any sort of nationalized or single payer health care, or increased welfare statism in other areas?

I very much agree with your last paragraph, it's just that I'd like to think that lefties that are truly concerned with moving in a more libertarian direction would apply that more to the economic realm. More support for decentralism would, in my mind, be a good first step. However, any politician who even has a "minister of culture" is gonna automatically raise red flags in my mind.

I will say though that I'd much rather associate myself with lefties who may not be as libertarian as I'd like than their right wing equivalents.

7:02 PM  

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