On Socialists Reclaiming Libertarianism From the Right
The original purpose of libertarian thought (not the American variety) was to advocate for the rights of people within a monarchical system that didn’t value them. Basic attempts to establish rights through treaties such as Magna Carta were focused on establishing voting and property rights against the monopolistic powers of monarchy. Even though I think private property is a very contentious idea, it’s better than what was done in abusive monarchies.
The idea I’m getting at is that Ayn Rand and her ilk stole a left wing idea that was meant to literally bring people out of bondage, corrupted and destroyed it. This leaves many in today’s modern left largely critical of basic libertarian values. Libertarianism isn’t about “how dare you tell me not to sell my baby into sexual slavery for heroin”. This is a bastardization, American libertarianism is nothing more than selfish, childish greed.
But bringing people out of slavery, out of subjugation, this is classical libertarianism or left libertarianism, and Marx would approve. Just like he approved of the American Civil War, for liberating African slaves of the Americas. Universal liberation was a concept practiced by American abolitionists of the 1800s, and after the emancipation proclamation, they would have worked for voting rights, not just for former slaves, but women as well. Internal strife and splintering killed American abolitionism. The rise of the national organization for women was a splinter faction of abolitionists; the first wave of feminism was tied up with white supremacy. They didn’t want equal rights for non-whites, they wanted their rights and only theirs.
That’s the kind of rot I’m talking about, and it’s evidenced by history, and the way that a great orator and statesman, Frederick Douglass, was treated by NOW. They wanted to silence him for calling himself a feminist, and get white men to advocate for suffrage, not black men. Apparently a popular and famous statesman, a self-freed slave, wasn’t good publicity for getting the vote. This is the key difference between classic libertarianism, or left libertarianism, and modern American right wing libertarianism, in other words, anti-intellectual shit coming from Ayn Rand’s childish insanity.
I gotta show love to my libertarian socialist comrades. Let’s not forget that libertarianism has a place in socialism too. Coincidentally, what if instead of democratic centralism where a vanguard party voted to make decisions on behalf of the people, we had a direct democratic system, where the people directly communicate with government to make decisions? Direct democracy in my opinion would be better than a system where one party decides everything upon their own authority (sorry tankies). A vanguard party would be better suited to be reformed into a standing army post-revolution, not into a government. We need a vanguard to protect us, not rule us.
Even if you disagree with the idea I’m bouncing around now, I hope we all can agree that left libertarianism is better than Ayn Rand bullshit. Where ours is universal, theirs is selective. Where we care about everyone, they care about themselves. Still, remembering the individual isn’t a bad thing. It means we must work hard to maintain elements of democracy in our socialism. It means we must work hard to make the right decisions, not by ideology and belief in some “truth”, but by empathy, humanity, compassion, and open, reasoned dialogue and debate.
Their libertarianism is a joke, with only racists and idiots to guide them. Not only do we have socialist philosophers, but all of the non-socialists who were advocating for left libertarianism by developing democratic thought through history; American, British, French, and Greek philosophers. Many who have advocated for the liberation of people from bondage would be comrades today. They may not be “ideologically pure”, but people thought a lot of stupid things centuries ago. It’s not about ideology for me, it’s about empathy and philosophy.
I think what frustrates me the most about libertarians is that they’re so obsessed with economics without really understanding it. They’re completely obsessed with the exaltation of the individual, and they’ll admit to it. But what they don’t admit to is the fact that they exalt certain individuals over others. They exalt the business CEO, the lobbyist, the vulture capitalist.
That’s the problem with this Ayn Rand bullshit they spew. This insane, self-centered egotism. It isn’t really about the individual, it’s about “me.” That’s the key to Ayn Rand. She railed against a Soviet system she probably don’t understand (I know that I don’t understand it), to exalt herself and her own gain. Her ego. See, I can agree, and I think that we all might agree, that giving what you can to those in need is good. Helping people who can’t hack it in capitalism is not only good, it’s necessary. But Ayn Rand never believed that. Helping people doesn’t exist to Ayn Rand.
The reason that libertarians exalt the vultures is because of the idea that these vultures have “succeeded” in capitalism. They’ve done it, they “win”. Even though in capitalism, there is no winning. There is no financial security. The American housing bubble crash of 2008 proved this beyond any doubt. A few rake in billions, at the cost of millions losing everything they have, and thousands dying from poverty as a result. The libertarian response? Fuck them, they lost. Ayn Rand, were she still alive, would have cum in her pants with glee to see such a thing. It’s a commoditization of selfishness, and ultimately cruelty.
Social virtue and Rawlsian ethics have no meaning in libertarianism. Justice, empathy, kindness; these words have no meaning to a libertarian. Money is virtue, power over others is justice, which is why it’s so perplexing why they are against police violence. Is this not the individual succeeding where all others fail? I find it interesting that American christians will accuse atheists of Darwinian “survival of the fittest”, when libertarianism is so inexorably linked to christians through the “sovereign citizen” movement. It started as a tax haven and a market for fake christian universities to peddle useless degrees to believers. Survival of the fittest indeed.
Funnily enough, libertarianism was rejected by Ayn Rand personally. When she was told that a political movement was formed around her “philosophy”, exalting her as the mother of libertarianism, she thought they misinterpreted her. Maybe she didn’t even understand her own ideology. Rather than understanding us, the phrase, “isn’t a man entitled to the sweat of his brow” could be seen as an argument for the workers of the world to be liberated. But instead, the libertarian exploits them, using their labor to grow his own capital. Libertarians glorify being nothing more than ticks. At least a tick will explode if it gets too big.