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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You Don't Need a Weatherman....

Via Brad Spangler. Next Left Notes announces the revival of Students for a Democratic Society as a national organization. Apparently local chapters had already been around for a while, and only recently decided to resurrect the national structure.

If you click on the link above to their website, it has some amazing resources: an archive of historic SDS documents, as well as the back issues of Radical America and The Rag.

One of the most promising political developments in recent American history, in my opinion, was the attempt of Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess 35-odd years ago to build an Old Right-New Left coalition against the corporate state. The libertarian socialist faction of SDS and the radical libertarian caucus of the YAF, together, were a big part of that effort. From the late 60s into the early 70s, Rothbard was writing for Ramparts and Studies on the Left, and quoting New Left historiography of corporate liberalism from the likes of Gabriel Kolko and James Weinstein. His journal Left and Right was created to explore issues of concern to that left-right coalition. And the first year's worth of The Libertarian Forum was full of all sorts of heady discussion in the same vein.

In a way, the friendly relations between the Libertarian Party's Badnarik and the Green Party's Cobb in 2004 seemed like a partial revival of that old coalition; the two were backslapping each other through the whole third party debate on C-SPAN, and Badnarik earlier praised the Greens for their decentralist values and their departure from conventional state socialism.

It would be a match made in heaven, as far as I'm concerned. My own general reaction to both parties is that the Greens are right about most of the things they object to: pollution, labor exploitation, concentration of capital, and the other evils of corporate rule. But free market libertarianism has the answers to what causes those evils, and how to address them. A coalition to achieve the ends of socialism through the means of (as Benjamin Tucker put it) "consistent Manchesterism" would be ideal. See, for example, this essay by Dan Sullivan: "Greens and Libertarians: The Yin and Yang of Our Political Future." For a brief summary of the kinds of anti-corporate radicalism Rothbard and his comrades were getting up to in those early issues of Libertarian Forum, and my ideas for an agenda based on the common ground between radical free marketers and libertarian socialists, you can check out my "Libertarian Forum: A Resource for UnCapitalists?" Here's another one on a possible Libertarian-Green alliance for tax reform.

We could do a hell of a lot worse than a common agenda to (for instance) get out of Iraq, repeal USA Patriot, declare a drug war armistice, radically scale back "intellectual property" [sic], eliminate corporate welfare, and raise the personal income tax exemption to $30,000. As Tom Knapp put it a while back, dismantle big government by cutting welfare from the top down and taxes from the bottom up.

Addendum. I didn't get the original email, because yahoogroups messages aren't getting through to me for some reason (again), but Brad Spangler got the original tip from Jesse Walker's post to the LeftLibertarian email list; Jesse, in turn, got it from Bill Kauffman.
For more on Rothbard's time on the Left, see "Rothbard's Time on the Left," by John Payne.


Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 19, 2006 5:43 AM  
Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

This brings back fond memories of the late 1960s and early '70s. I was at the 1969 St. Louis YAF national convention when Karl Hess led a libertarian rally at the Gateway Arch; the "trads" (conservatives), chanting "lazy fairies," roughed up a guy who burned his draft card; and Murray Rothbard (who wasn't present) issued his ringing "Listen, YAF" lead article in The Libertarian Forum, calling for the libertarians to split. We sure were full of hope in those days. Much has happened since, but it's past time that we recaptured that radical spirit. It's more urgent than ever, I think.

January 19, 2006 5:58 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

I've been thinking about that essay on a Green / Libertarian alliance for some time now. It really does make some excellent points. Sad that the biggest obstacle to such an alliance (IMHO) is attitudes and preconceived notions and biases - both of these particular groups are prone to chips on their shoulders.

A united, anti-corporate-state third party has the opportunity to make some inroads. But long term, the real benefit of such an alliance would be what each side could learn from the other. In a political climate full of polarization it could be a real touchstone for truth. I think in their hearts many Green-types want to consolidate their passion into a consistent philosophy (libertarianism offers this). By the same token, Libertarians in their hearts want to feel that their consistent ideology has real, meaningful benefits for the world rather than just using drugs and lowering taxes.

January 19, 2006 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is Tom Knapp's exact quote? Does anyone know? I did a google search but couldn't find anything online to that effect. Thanks!

January 19, 2006 10:29 AM  
Anonymous esteban said...

Look for my thoughts here, on my other blog.

January 19, 2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

"We advocate tax cuts and ending welfare," says Thomas Knapp, 38, of St. Louis, a member of the new DFC affiliate. "But we tend to favor cutting taxes from the bottom up instead of from the top down, and to place a higher priority on ending corporate welfare than on ending the food stamp program for the working poor."
--press release for Missouri chapter of Democratic Freedom Caucus.

January 19, 2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger colorless green ideas said...

such a great idea in theory seems like a virtual impossibility in practice based on experience with local versions of either party.

the libertarians -- i would call them "propertarians", or "property dominionists" for what most of them truly care about. add in the single-issue gun nut/tax hater/pot smoking ex-repub

the greens -- someone used the term "watermelons", but i would say they are "mangos". i don't think they're quite red on the inside, more orange, they love those national programs.

it's the mostly the dissaffected reps and dems causing the problems.

January 20, 2006 2:20 AM  
Blogger Kn@ppster said...

There's more libertarian/green convergence than meets the eye, that's for sure. When my mate, Tamara Millay, ran for US Senate in Missouri in 2002, she purposely engaged the Green candidate (whom we knew) in a friendly manner.

We attended (and still attend) Green events, and one that year, if you closed your eyes, sounded like a damn LP property rights rally (the speaker was Percy Schmeisser, a farmer whom Monsanto was suing for "stealing" their genemod canola -- when in fact they had contaminated his "normal" canola with their genemod). I came out of that one with the impression, since more and more confirmed, that the difference of opinion is this: Greens don't have a lot of respect for "corporate property rights," while corporations usually have no respect for any property rights except the ones they claim to have themselves.

Anyway, the upshot of it is that when the Libertarian candidate engaged the Greens -- vocally expressing solidarity with them where the stands were similar (the war, for example) and emphasizing difference of method rather than philosophical arguments -- instead of ignoring them or hacking on them, the LP candidate, who had come in behind the Green candidate in about half of Missouri's counties in 2000, instead out-performed the Green candidate in all but three counties, and came close in two of those three.

Tom Knapp

January 21, 2006 8:24 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Monsanto's also using the Pinkertons to lean on people accused of having their own crops contaminated with (er, "stealing") Monsanto's genetic material. Wow, deja vu.

January 21, 2006 10:07 AM  
Anonymous BillG (not Gates) said...

The bridge to build the convergence between Green and Libertarian is the same convergence of:

1. mutualism
2. catholic distributism/southern agrarianism
3. geogist/geo-libertarianism
4. bio-regionalism

the key to unifyicatio is an understanding that property rights to labor being ABSOLUTE which REQUIRES that property rights to the natural and social commons MUST BE therefore CONDITIONAL...

this is being played out in Vermont as we speak!

January 21, 2006 12:10 PM  
Blogger colorless green ideas said...

hey BillG,

why don't you start a blog on the subject? you're certainly on of the finest writers in that respect.

January 21, 2006 1:56 PM  

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