Thursday, December 22, 2005

knee-jerk anti-leftism

I know that Brad Spangler has already linked to the following blog post, but I wanted to do so as well while also throwing in my two cents on the topic.

The blog post of interest is one recently written by Roderick Long about the phenomenon he dubs "knee-jerk anti-leftism". As he puts it:
One might call the problem knee-jerk anti-leftism, or in other words, automatically responding negatively to certain issues (at least when those issues aren’t obvious applications of libertarian principle, like drug legalisation) merely because those issues have typically been the concern of the left.

Aside from the examples that Long provides, there are others that come to my mind. I have addressed this issue in two separate posts about WalMart (here and here). Then there are various causes promoted by people of a green persuasion that are ridiculed by conservatives and some libertarians even if statist actions aren't being promoted or even mentioned. Not everyone who is concerned about the use of certain chemicals or is interested in alternative energy wants the State to do something about it. Caring about the Earth isn't gonna turn you into a Stalinist.

Food is another issue that I'm concerned with that falls into this category. Many libertarians see nothing wrong with mocking the consumption of organic foods while defending genetically modified foods. It seems as if much of this is a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that most critics of GMOs are leftists who want the State to take the initiative. I'm not holding my breath to see any criticism of GMOs on major libertarian sites anytime soon, even from a strictly anti-corporatist perspective (the aggressive enforcement of patents and much of the R&D funding that make GMOs attractive and profitable for agribusiness are statist, along with other regulatory measures that serve the interests of agribusiness). The only libertarian writing I can recall seeing that refers to organic food in a positive manner is this LRC column written by Cathy Cuthbert back in 2004.

If libertarians are interested in making their beliefs more appealing to outsiders, they should really consider keeping some of their culutral biases to themselves. Mocking minority studies and granola eaters while praising WalMart and Monsanto isn't gonna win over any potential converts from the left. And as Long pointed out in his post, attempts to reconcile libertarianism with it's historical roots involves looking leftward since it's historical roots were not at all conservative.

People of all persuasions need to be careful not to let overly generalized or otherwise inaccurate stereotypes get the best of them. Not all Christians are blood thirsty neo-cons, and not all organic consumers are market demonizing state socialists. Such knee-jerk judgements wind up painting inaccurate pictures of certain people and values.


Blogger Red, White, and Poly-A said...

We define ourselves based on our knee-jerk reactions.

(NB: A disagrees; she is also a fool.)

8:56 PM  
Blogger jomama said...

Left, right wing.

Wings are for birds.

Why not just try a rational discussion, leaving the wings out of it...even the Libertoonians?

1:04 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Great post, Freeman.

Of course, I can envision voluntary defense associations banning certain chemicals as a matter of self-defense, without a state coming into the picture. E.g., a local majority might see pseudo-estrogens and dioxin in their ground water as a clear and present danger. And I'm not too keen on my corn being cross-pollinated by some genetically engineered shit from Monsanto.

11:19 PM  

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