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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

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Quotations from Chairman Sam

In another contribution to Thomas Knapp's seminar on the Wally Conger quotes a statement by Sam Konkin (SEK3) and himself on the Movement of the Libertarian Left. It's worth reading in full, but these two paragraphs stand out for me:

In the medium-range, we should build a New Libertarian Alliance (Revolutionary Agorist Cadre) of defenders of the Counter-Economy (the underground free market, aka “grey” and “black” market). The State “withers away” as each individual secedes from the statist society and goes counter-economic.

In the long-range, the Counter-Economy will overwhelm State Capitalism and State Socialism to produce a society based on voluntary interaction with a minimal amount of self-defense needed, which can be handled by ordinary market facilities. This society of free trade in goods and values is the agora.

Here's another gem I culled from the archives of the LeftLibertarian yahoogroup. It's SEK3's brief account of the rise of the MLL:

...we take our name from the synthesis of two sources. Murray Rothbard defined himself as the "sane, sober, anarchist center" during the rise of the Libertarian Movement (1968-1973, well before the LP), and those who opposed his "plumb line" did so from the Right (conservative, minarchist, less anti-statist, less historical-revisionist, etc.) or the Left (radical, anarchist, more anti-statist, more anti-power- elite, etc.).

It's certainly true that the Libertarian Left tended to (and still does) prefer Rothbard's alliances with SDS (1965-69) than, say, the paleoconservatives (1989-95), but in both cases, we prefer Left AND Right against the totally-statist, utterly unredeemable, political (archist) Center.

And we're all free-market here. Agorists believe only the Counter-Economy has a chance of approaching a pure free market, from the "underground" or beyond the frontier. I debated this with Murray Rothbard after the publication of New Libertarian Manifesto and his criticism (and my defence) of it in the 1980s. A few copies are still available.

During the formation of the LP in 1972-74, we were involved in re-organizing the Student Libertarian Action Movement (SLAM), mainly in New York and Arizona.But we decided to confront the Free Libertarian Party (in New York, they couldn't just call it the "Libertarian" Party because the courts ruled the mindless rednecks of New York City would confuse it with the "Liberal" Party --- two oxymorons right there) and see if we could abort it from within.

The original Radical Caucus, for which I take responsibility, began when the outgoing Chair (Ed Clark) and incoming Chair (Jerry Klasman) invited me to join, not only the FLP, but the Executive Council. I told them I would work to destroy the Party, they accepted on those terms, and I did.

At its peak, the FLPrc claimed about a quarter of the membership, and through alliances with Reform minarchists from upstate, had a majority by the time of the 1974 convention. I then walked out to prevent that happening, and the Convention went into chaos, with different sides winning different offices and points. Murray Rothbard, in exasperation, pointed to me sitting outside the meeting hall at my New Libertarian magazine table, and called out, "Is he the only one who understands what is going on?"

Our RC members had already gained delegate status for the national convention in Dallas (we had first appeared in Cleveland the previous year and started national recruiting). Again, we allied with Reform minarchists (like E. Scott Royce, who writes an excellent political column for NL to this day) and claimed about a third of the vote. Then we walked out for good, forming the New Libertarian Alliance (NLA).

There's a lot more, including the purging of eight state newsletter editors by the LP's own Stalin, Ed Crane, for so much as mentioning our existence, but I"ll skip ahead. In 1978, it looked like the U.S. was going to start another "Viet Nam" in El Salvador and the NLA divided over whether to participate in above-ground coalitions to stop the war. Most went underground; I started The Agorist Institute to defend counter- economists (we actually got IRS recognition in 1986) and, for anti-imperialist coalitions, the Movement of the Libertarian Left.

The second source (remember, I mentioned two sources a few paragraphs back) was due to my observations of the Euro political scene. Communism was swinging right and forming parliamentary coalitions. In France, a Union of the Left (Union de Gauche) formed to challenge the Gaullists and Independent Republicans. It consisted of the Communists, Socialists, and the Mouvement des Radicaux de Gauche (MRG) or "movement of left radicals", which had split from the Radical Party that allied itself with the Gaullists and Centrists. Although the MRG were parliamentary, and the RC (SLAM-NLA) are anti-parliamentary, the "Movement" name sounded perfect to distinguish us from the "libertarian" Party.

So we became the Mouvement des Libertariens de Gauche/Movement of the Libertarian Left (MLL)....

We promptly joined both the anti-nuclear coalition and the CISPES-led U.S. Out of El Salvador groups.

We refused to support either the Sandinistas or the Contras in Nicaragua, but did come out for the Terceristas and its Commander Zero, Eden Pastora. He returned the favour in 1994 by speaking to the Karl Hess Club, an MLL front if anyone still was wondering, and announcing his candidacy for president of Nicaragua, running against both sides, with a ringing endorsement of . . . Thomas Jefferson.

So I guess you can say... that two Left Libertarians are Eden Pastora and Thomas Jefferson. Actually, they sort of define our "far right wing" in that they still muck about with voting and elections. On our other side, I would include anagoric (non-market) anarchists who willingly work with us, such as Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn (who I take some credit for recruiting), Ursula K. LeGuin and Michael Moorcock (at least while he was still an anarchist.)

We received a strongly positive portrayal in old SDSer James Weinstein's "In These Times" around 1988, in the same article that trashed the LP. Yeah!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ursula Leguin is an anarchist!?

June 24, 2005 6:21 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I believe she was at the time she wrote The Dispossessed, anyway, or at least sympathetic toward anarchists.

June 24, 2005 7:03 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

P.S. There's a statement by Sam, somewhere in the LeftLibertarian archives, on a conversation he had with Leguin about that novel. He reminded her that private access to a printing press and radio was what enabled the "Syndicate of Initiative" to combat the syndicalist economy's ossification into a bureaucratic state planning system.

June 24, 2005 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In classical times the Persians had a greater sense of personal honour and integrity than the Greeks. They said of the Greeks that they maintained public places (agora) in their cities where they went to cheat each other. Clearly the Persians did not distinguish between the economic and political uses of these public spaces, thinking that the loyalty to individual, family and city-state worked to undercut any sense of personal honourt and obligation in both kinds of dealing. It's the same way that state-dependence now can lead to the idea that personal responsibility in the seized areas is the government's job. That makes a risk area, that mutualism doesn't lead to similar moral tunnel vision.

June 24, 2005 11:27 PM  

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