Left libertarianism

I’ve been thinking a bit about left-libertarianism lately.

As I understand it, like libertarians, left-libertarianism don’t like government. However, they also don’t like other powerful non-governmental groups. The only ones they can generally think of are corporations and since lefties don’t like corporations, you get the “left” part of the left-libertarian. Also like leftists, and as a consequence of not liking power, they tend to wield the poor as a weapon with which to club their intellectual opponents.

I don’t consider myself a libertarian anymore. However, if people were like I wanted them to be instead of how they actually are, then I would agree that libertarianism would be the best form of government.

My problem with left-libertarianism is that my conception of what a libertarian world would look like is not leftist. If people were really free, there would be large companies. Certain people are really good at things, think Steve Jobs or John D. Rockefeller. In free competition with other people, they would win. They would therefore concentrate power. These concentrations of power might not last long, but I think it would take a lot of force (i.e. a lot of unlibertarianism) to prevent this from happening. Similarly, in a more libertarian world, I would seek to live near people more like me and to keep other people. All experience indicates that this is how people act. So, a more libertarian world would be a more discriminatory world. This doesn’t fit with left-libertarianism, so again, force would be necessary to ensure equality – or whatever word they prefer to use that means basically the same thing.

To put it as simply as possible: I don’t see a way of making the world more leftist, without using a lot of force.

Perhaps the problem here is that – as I said – libertarianism is not a realistic way to govern humans as they are but only if humans were as we would like them to be. Perhaps in imagining the type of beings that could live under a libertarian system of government, I’m simply not going far enough to imagine the type of person that could live under a left-libertarian government.

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9 Responses to Left libertarianism

  1. Tschafer says:

    As Jerry Pournelle says, libertarianism is a vector, not a destination. Right now, an emphasis on individual freedom and individual enterprise is appropriate, because we like in an era of huge collectivities and massive governments. Pure libertarianism is most certainly not a desirable end state, because libertarian concepts are almost as unworkable when applied to actual people as is Communism. Si I support libertarianism as a vector, but not as an end state.

  2. Spandrell says:

    Good point on why leftist governments are always tyrannical, even ridiculously so.
    Libertarianism is an adolescent/nerd disease. It comes from not knowing history and the realities of power.
    I say that as a former teen libertarian. Outgrew it by age 20

  3. Handle says:

    Left-Libertarianism is a rare Utopian-Utopian combination. Fantasy squared. I think it’s mostly about certain elite intellectual Libertarians (Will Wilkinson, I’m looking at you) trying to “fit in” with their mostly Progressive social scene to avoid the default guilt-by-association identification as being on “the right”.

    Or, at the very least, it is to advertise themselves at not belonging to the enemy camp and getting to join in the condescending fun of disdaining those redneck hick ignorant bigots on the right, the groups of which no hip person would even associate.

    As for voluntary segregation, you should check out Bill Bishop’s, The Big Sort

  4. […] “What Have Dumb People Done to Me?“, “More on Stupid People“, “Left Libertarianism“, “What Have Stupid People Done […]

  5. Blank Slate says:

    I like this perspective. In a left-libertarian world, the forces of nature would instate de facto segregation, generally speaking.

    We all know how clannish people really are, so they probably wouldn’t like an open-borders situation where people come and go as the please. Drifters are less likely to invest in a close-knit society, so they’d be looked upon very cynically by members of an established community.

  6. Keith says:

    With all due respect, it doesn’t sound like you’ve “been thinking a bit about” left libertarianism at all actually. It seems more like any thought you put into left-libertarianism consisted of trying to figure out how to dismiss it out of hand. Libertarianism is not by definition some cartoon utopian ideology. It does not necessarily wish to magically eliminate all hierarchies of power nor does it think it is necessarily feasible to do so. I would define my (left-wing) Libertarianism as simply maintaining a skeptical, considered view towards persons/organizations who hold power while striving for a more egalitarian world as is feasibly possible. I don’t think this is particularly utopian and it certainly doesn’t resemble the retarded straw-man of Left-wing Libertarian though you’ve tried to set-up here.

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