Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's Here: Libertarian-Socialism

By Robert Wenzel

It's clear where libwaps have been heading and Will Moyer at Salon takes them there. In an essay titled, Why I left libertarianism: An ethical critique of a limited ideology, he writes:
This essay is the result of an evolution in my thinking, one which has led me farther from “right” libertarianism and strict anarcho-capitalism toward what could be described as radical, leftist anarchism, or maybe even libertarian-socialism.
What is his problem with PL? He raises many issues with PL, I want to focus on one particular concern, here and will return to other concerns he has in other posts in upcoming days. Moyer writes:
Libertarians want a world without a state. Beyond that, the philosophy says little about the shape of human culture. It should be based on property rights and non-aggression. How can we combat racism? Property rights and non-aggression. How should humans approach sexuality and gender? Property rights and non-aggression. What is the place of hierarchies in society, whether it’s families or workplaces or financial classes? Property rights and non-aggression. What role  —  if any  —  should religion and superstition play in society? Property rights and non-aggression.

I recognize that a consistently applied libertarian ethic would make the world a much better place than it currently is. And I recognize that I’m essentially criticizing libertarians for only wanting to take down the greatest threat to human flourishing on the planet. In a world full of people who defend the status quo and apologize for power, those with radical ideas deserve the least criticism.

But for libertarians who see the dismantling of the state as the ultimate goal, I have to disagree. It is not enough.

While eliminating the state is a massive multigenerational project, it is in many ways only the first step. Human flourishing is the ultimate goal. And if libertarians think they can dust off their hands and head home just because the state is in ashes, they’re wrong. The state is the most obvious and brutal source of power and hierarchy, but it’s far from the only one. The state is a giant engine for deforming human culture, and what’s left over once it’s smashed isn’t a foregone conclusion. It will be up to humans to reshape and remake culture and society in the way that suits us best. This will have to include examinations of race, class, gender, sexuality, relationships, religion, social institutions and traditions in the absence of the state apparatus. It will have to include disassembling other forms of hierarchy  —  both violent and nonviolent.
First off, it must be made clear, there is nothing in libertarian theory that calls for the prevention of one, in a libertarian society, from being an advocate of a particular stance on race, class, gender, sexuality, relationships, religion, social institutions and traditions.

That said, in my view, the current concern with these politically correct views, is much ado about very little (SEE: About My Racist Friends, My Homophobic Friends and My Own Prejudices) and in some cases, such as the feminist agenda, it is plain evil (SEE: Was Ludwig Von Mises a Feminist?)

But the real problem with Moyer's perspective is his seeming linkage of libertarianism with what are apparently, in his view, necessary appendages. But just what is wrong with allowing people to have goofy views about other races, genders and those with different sexual preferences?

I just can't get my head around the idea that if someone is not physically aggressing against me or my property that I have to be concerned about what they think. Isn't that really a form of thought intimidation?

I think Moyer misunderstands PL. It is not that PL advocates believe that simple advocacy of NAP will combat and eliminate non-politically correct stances on  race, class, gender, sexuality, relationships, religion, social institutions and traditions, but rather that PL advocates understand that limiting human beings in any way is the suffocation of human beings and that the only exception to the dangerous idea of limiting human activity of others is when that final line is crossed and the use of physical aggression against person or property is attempted or actually executed. Indeed, this exception to total freedom follows from the very idea that we shouldn't limit human activity or thought. Physical aggression against others and their property is active limitation, thus it is a contradiction to the idea of preventing limitation. There can't be any appendages to libertarianism, when one understands that individual freedom is the goal of PL and there there is only the one exception to that goal.

I find Moyer's use of the term "libertarian socialism" in this context fascinating because in the end that is what libwaps are about, even though it is a contradiction in terms, a contortion of the face of liberty. For liberty is about freedom and socialism is about dominance and control. The libwaps just hate that there are some who live in a manner different from their manner of living, who hold views different than their own. Since they are supposed libertarians, they find themselves in a trap, they want to force others to hold their views on sex, race etc. but they know they can't call on government to enforce this without being called out as complete frauds, but they do want their views to be dominant in non-governmental ways, and want to achieve this dominance through the advocacy of shunning, intimidation etc of those who won't fall in line with their view on how life should be lived.

Again, people should be free to advocate anything they want in a free society, but to attach so-called "necessary" appendages to NAP  is an attempt to limit free thought and views without bringing a government role into the equation. It is as counter to the idea of human liberty as, say, would be the demand that corporations on their own, without government  enforcement, institute voluntary minimum wage laws. One can't from a libertarian perspective object to advocacy for voluntary minimum wages in a free society, but one could certainly point out how the implementation of such a voluntary minimum wage is limiting opportunity for the unskilled. Such voluntary minimum wage advocacy would, indeed, be a bizarre way, via a backdoor, to introduce into a free society a concept that is generally the domain of evil government planning and coercion.

In the same way, free market thought police are doing nothing but advocating limitations on thought, a very dangerous thing. Implementation of such general thinking in a free market society would bring about in the world a suffocation of freedom not much different from what full socialism thought control would. Thus, we can see how Moyer calling what he advocates by the contorted term "libertarian socialism" actually makes sense and exposes the real dangers of such a view. It is indeed an advocacy of free market thought control, which would bring about the same mental prison that government created socialism would.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.


  1. They will never succeed in free market thought control. Rather they will dump the NAP when they find that the NAP stands in the way of their other agenda.

    I am from Australia and we have a number of libertarians of late but there is a catch - guess what it is? Yes, they are libwaps, and they reject the NAP. Their particular strain of libertarianism is one that combines a business friendly policy with a cultural marxist social agenda.

    At first I couldn't believe that they were proclaiming themselves libertarians, and eventually they explained to me that they don't follow the NAP. Perhaps it is the fact that libertarianism, and the NAP is less well established that they are will to be more forthright that the author of the article above , Will Moyer, is about ditching or not following the NAP.

    Do libwaps reject the NAP? I would say they would if they had to make a choice between their other agenda and the NAP. How do I know? I know because of the sheer amount of effort they out into attempting to attach these other agendas to libertarianism. Some have even called libertarianism itself racist or patriarchal for having too many white men involved in it (as if any person could not decide to be a libertarian - there is no bar to entry at all).

    Time to separate the two incompatible movements. Let them call themselves libero-socialists or libero-marxists or whatever, and we can call ourselves libertarians.

    1. "I am from Australia and we have a number of libertarians of late but there is a catch - guess what it is? Yes, they are libwaps, and they reject the NAP. Their particular strain of libertarianism is one that combines a business friendly policy with a cultural marxist social agenda. "

      So IOW, they're not libertarians. The Idiot shit head left tries to co-opt every damned term in the world. These useless idiots did the same thing to the word liberal a century ago.

      "Some have even called libertarianism itself racist or patriarchal for having too many white men involved in it "

      LOL Yup these are total leftist morons (that's redundant) all right.

  2. I'm sorry, but why in the world does this writer assume libertarianism to be some complete moral or ethical set of values? Thus he feels the need to add these appendages. He misunderstands libertarianism 101, and spreading this confusion only sets us all back. No wonder Salon is happy to publish it.

  3. I love these guys who are leaving libertarianism that no one ever heard of. Must have missed him the last 35 years.

    1. James, I'm a big fan, and that was a GREAT rejoinder!

  4. Great critique Mr. Wenzel. I agree with the other commenters, the writer is not a libertarian. Like many others he can't resist using force to make sure everyone is "flourishing."

    1. There's an unfortunate trend of people, whom real libertarians quickly identify as not being a libertarian by definition, that are either labeled/associated with libertarianism or claim to be libertarian which i see as giving us all a really bad rap.

  5. Earlier today, I posted this comment in response to this article. I was really trying to be polite. However, I still do not understand what is so bad about just the NAP. You are safe and affluent, the gays and trans-sexuals are safe and affluent, so now you can go out and save the animals. Is that so wrong?

    This analysis fails to recognize three additional aspects of the non-aggression principle:

    1. Under a voluntary private property regime, most people will be subject to voluntary community bylaws which will control everyday life. I doubt that many people will live where children are allowed to be abandoned. I am not so presumptuous as to want to tell others how to live outside of the NAP. Some people are atheists and some are Calvinists. It's none of my business.

    2. If there are people with whom you are not in contractual privity acting in a non-aggressive but otherwise horrible manner, ostracize them. Don't even sell them food or water. There is an endless list of non-violent sanctions that might be applied to such people. What may one do with Chinese people who eat dogs? Try persuasion first and then ostracization.

    3. If you own property, someone else probably will own property that surrounds you. You will require an easement to leave. Easements can be a source of persuasion for those who are misbehaving short of violence.

    The fact that libertarianism says nothing about how to live your life beyond the prohibition on the initiation of force and violence is a good thing. The problems cited in this article are minuscule compared to the positive that would result from the end to violence.

    One good thing about the article was that the author addressed the endless vicious know-nothing smearing of libertarians and Austrians by the left.

    1. This goes back to RW saying a property owner could shoot a kid for stealing an apple.

      Community norms and VOLUNTARY restrictions would never allow such a system.

    2. BobR-

      The ignorant bashing of Rothbardian anarchism, based on an utter lack of knowledge let alone actual understanding, is my bane.

      I love a few very liberal sites, and love to hoist them on their petard.

      The hippie liberals are freaked because new FDA rules will destroy any cheese made on wooden boards (a tradition older than the USA) and will prohibit import of such cheeses. These commies are apoplectic.

      The IRS investigators have asked the NSA to reconstruct Lois Lerners " lost" emails, but instead of focusing on the NSA abuses they just claim it's a witch hunt.

  6. "This essay is the result of an evolution in my thinking, one which has led me farther from “right” libertarianism and strict anarcho-capitalism toward what could be described as radical, leftist anarchism, or maybe even libertarian-socialism."

    IOW, he's an idiot. Got it. Next moron please...(no shortage of idiots that's for sure)

  7. Robert, I believe you have it backwards. It's not "true libertarians only care about the NAP." It's "true libertarians must respect the NAP." What this means it that you can promote whatever the hell you want and, as long as you are not calling for government intervention, you are still a libertarian. The author of the article is not calling for any government solutions, as far as I can tell. We may both disagree with his sentiments, but you can't say he is betraying libertarian ideals until he starts calling for a government program.

    As I have said before, the NAP is immune to any appendages. If libertarianism is all about the NAP, then the only threats to libertarianism are violations of the NAP. Calling for NAP plus X is fine, because no one can be coerced into X, if the NAP is respected.

    1. They are saying that they are rejecting the NAP without actually saying it directly. Come now, surely you can read between the lines.

    2. Agree. As a gay agnostic I would be pissed if a "libertarian" community excluded me, but would accept it and move on.

      Libertarian means private property. Private ownership of body. Private rules for who and whom business is conducted.

      Race(?)--- I mean, really, does anyone care about skin color anymore--- religion, creed, sexuality- we can and WILL discriminate but I doubt many public companies will kick a Korean lesbian atheist out of their restaurant.

    3. Someone acting “racist” is not an act of violence. Therefore, violence is not a proper response. What is so hard to understand about that?

      As I stated above, the fact that someone is misbehaving in a non-violent manner does not leave “society” without non-violent but quite effective sanctions which include refusing to associate or deal. What is so hard to understand about that?

      Query: Have you guys read the comments to that piece in Are you as amazed as I am at the mindless but venomous hatred those “progressives” have for us (without a single one of them actually understanding the NAP much less even basic Austrian concepts)?

      “Progressives”: America’s largest hate group.

    4. I agree Moyer doesn't explicitly call for government intervention or the use of force in implementing his "Human flourishing.." And he is unclear about what he means by other "brutal sources of power and hierarchy" But his proposal of "disassembling other forms of hierarchy"  does not sound voluntary and in reality it could not be.

    5. I guess you could look at it this way. In a libertarian society, like minded people could get together and abandon all hierarchy and if this is the superior formation of culture or society, then it will flourish and others will emulate. If it's batshit crazy and and falls apart, it'll go away as others will learn from that mistake. Not sure how he could disassemble voluntary forms of hierarchy without violating the non-agression principle though.

    6. Ryan-

      Hierarchy will exist, but being SUBJECT to that hierarchy will be voluntary.

    7. Looks like there's some misconceptions here, I apologize if I wasn't as clear as I could've been.

      I am definitely not advocating the use of force on those who are not initiating aggression. Nor do I think libertarianism's core, the NAP, should be overridden or diluted.

      I am attempting in that essay to make two key points:

      1. Libertarianism (well, right libertarianism based on a specific conception of property rights) is a philosophy concerned with a very narrow set of conditions (e.g. when should force be acceptable in society). That in and of itself is not a problem, but I don't experience libertarians as treating it like it is narrow. Many -- maybe most -- treat it as if it's the final word on how society should be organized. Or, secondarily, they treat everything sound the NAP as aesthetic issues of mere personal preference. My contention is that there are *many* things outside the NAP -- that is, situations that don't involve outright force -- which are not a matter of personal preference. I would like to see libertarians fighting those battles too.

      2. Even if you accept the limitations of the NAP -- and see them as a good thing -- there are still problems within it. The biggest, in my opinion, is the somewhat arbitrary line drawn between what is coercive and not coercive. Choice is treated like a binary thing: "You either chose this or you were forced, and that's that." And in practice, that's just not how the world is. Some people are making choices within a set of really tight constraints, and if you're concerned about liberty and freedom and humanity thriving you should be concerned with eliminating or mitigating those constraints.

      I wrote a follow up FAQ post on my personal site which addresses some of these points and more. You can read it here:

  8. The fact that one is opposed to collective government does not mean that one is opposed to government. I believe that self-government is essential for the survival of any free-market based culture. If a man cannot govern himself, and most of the political class cannot, how can a man be qualified to govern others.

    Travis Cork, Conway, SC

    1. I think your oppositions to the idea of opposing "collective" government and differentiating it from self-government comes from a difference in definition of government used by you and most libertarians. It sounds to me like you're using government as a synonym for responsibility whereas i think most libertarians would use it to mean an institution with the legal ability to initiate violence. I would agree with you if government means responsibility, but certainly not if it's the institutional initiation of force.

  9. Will Moyer wants a "libertarian" world where everyone has the freedom to do things the way Will Moyer wants them done.

    1. I agree. But is he actually calling for the initiation of violence to inflict his worldview? Has he even thought this through? As I tell the clueless MMTers, if under AnCap 65% of the populace wanted a voluntary funny money MMT system, there's nothing other than the nature of reality to stop them. There's nothing to stop atheist socialist non-white lesbians from buying a large tract of land and sharing everything including a single bank account.

      Our opponents are shockingly stupid without the ability to think at all and who hate our guts. Just cuz. It is disheartening.

    2. "Our opponents are shockingly stupid without the ability to think at all and who hate our guts. Just cuz. It is disheartening."

      Stupid is as stupid does Bob. not only that but some of them just can't STAND not having power over someone else. They're sociopathic sickos. Just look at the weak minded power obsessed maggots in The Imperial City. That is their model.

  10. Does Salon just recycle the same crap over and over again?

    1. Salon recycles more than Seattle hippies.