On becoming a libertarian leftist

5 October 2008 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy | 6 Comments »

It’s ridiculous to talk about what “the government” might do when facing the challenge of a big situation X like the bailout, like the wars, like anything at the grand policy level. What makes sense, rather, is to consider the question, “What opportunities and risks, what costs and benefits does situation X bring to the ruling class?” and to then follow on to examine to what purposes that ruling class might put the government.

I used to consider myself a conservative, yet still a hard-core libertarian, and there is one sense in which I still do:

…it was all too easy for the pessimistic radical Nock, even though still basically a libertarian, to accept the conservative label and even come to croak the old platitude that there is an a priori presumption against any social change.

— Rothbard, Left and Right (which I’m still reading, having been prompted to post this when I read the sentence)

Perhaps the reason for this old conservative streak in my political thinking connects to a perception that when practically any social change was proposed, discussed or implemented by government or the parasites I saw swarming about its loathsome carcass, I very often saw the nature of that change and of the likely effects to be horrible. There’s an element of philosophical conservatism which at least stands up saying, “what you are proposing is far more often bad than good, and so we oppose you in general for the sake of erring on the correct side far more often than not.” To sum it up, the essence of this theory is that the government should not be given any new powers. Essentially, that nothing in the political sphere ought to change.

The tragic — and, in hindsight, obvious — flaw in this position, and one which I have seen since turning to anarchism as opposed to libertarianism in its bulk, is that the libertarian philosophy demands essential, widespread, sweeping changes across societies and cultures if a world based on its ideals is ever going to exist. It’s not new government powers that frighten us, it’s all government powers. We cannot both resist any change and simultaneously be desirous of the most dramatic change imaginable.

Throwing away that resistance to change, we can look back and see that it served to support, anchor and buttress not only the gibbering horror that was the state, but the entire Lovecraftian dark-forces-from-beyond-the-rift-in-time nightmare ruling class which uses the state as its tool. Add in the disgusting bigotry dressed up as “cultural conservatism” and you suddenly have a realization akin to discovering that why you’re distrustful of your neighbor is because your neighbor is, in fact, a cannibalistic ghoul.

Dissolution to the state! Restitution from the ruling class!

  1. 6 Responses to “On becoming a libertarian leftist”

  2. By Kent McManigal on 5 October 2008

    My original stance was simply that I was against government. Someone I knew (who should have known better) told me that meant I was a “conservative”. I just accepted his word for it.

    It wasn’t until I kept seeing that conservatives did NOT have the same ideals that I did that I began to question that premise and look around to see what I “was”. I wasn’t too worried about my label; my opinion never wavered. Then I discovered the book “Lever Action” by L. Neil Smith and realized where I stood.

  3. By DixieFlatline on 6 October 2008

    Restitution? Oh my…

  4. By Mike Gogulski on 7 October 2008

    Restitution, destitution, whatever… we may as well demand it, even though we’ll never get it, simply because doing so serves to shift the “moderate” positions ever more toward the radical ideal.

  5. By Jimi G on 7 October 2008

    You’re a great thinker and writer Mike. Thank you.

    “Add in the disgusting bigotry dressed up as “cultural conservatism” and you suddenly have a realization akin to discovering that why you’re distrustful of your neighbor is because your neighbor is, in fact, a necrophobic ghoul.”

    Your neighbor is a necrophobic ghoul. Nothing “akin” to it. Human beings are killers.

    The essence of being human is controlling oneself and, by extension, one’s environment. Of course, the fall of man is when humans discovered that their fellow man was part of the environment to be controlled. Thus entered the State into the world.

    Since control is the goal, and killing (or the threat of it) is the ultimate form of control, by necessity humans are killers.

    This fact pervades all levels of “society.” It accounts for the “thin veneer of civilization,” which easily eroded, reveals man’s true nature.

    Anarchy is the solution to this all-pervasive violence, in that it disperses it to its minimum density, whereas Statism concentrates it into its most potent and deadly forms.

    No surprise that the ruling class that controls the machinery of State seeks to perpetuate it. The level of control over the environment that it allows is virtually absolute in human terms.

    I think that anarchism is misunderstood, in that most individuals that entertain the logical arguments in its favor leap illogically to a conclusion that somehow it will eradicate violence. Alas, humans will cease to be human if they cease to be violent.

    What anarchism achieves is the maximum dispersion of violence, thus ensuring maximum personal responsibility for one’s life.

    Just wanted to get those thoughts out. Thanks again.

  6. By Mike Gogulski on 13 October 2008

    I realize now the choice of “necrophobic” was silly and a result of confusion. I should have said “sarcophagous” or “flesh-eating” instead. Wups.

    Thanks for the kind words, Jimi G, and for bringing another perspective on some of the core ideas.

  7. By Mike Gogulski on 14 October 2008

    Okay, I went with “cannibalistic” instead. That’s what I was after.

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