Sunday, August 10, 2014

Libertarians, Anarchists and Libertarian Socialism

Right off the bat, I'm a libertarian socialist. Unlike self-described, plain, old "libertarians," I believe there's a call for "collectivism." United action organized by the state, which is the institution that carries out the democratically agreed upon wishes of the citizenry. (This does not mean that the Canadian state is, at present, the tool of the democratic majority in Canada. Canada is not a libertarian socialist country.) "Anarchists" share my left-wing values, but share the anti-state proclivities of the libertarians. How one arrives at social justice without a state is something they don't tend to discuss with any degree of consistency or coherency. I've read a few books and articles over the years and have found nothing serious in their proposals.(There might be some writers that I've missed, but since they're an inconsequential political movement, it doesn't seem worth it to attempt to read their entire canon in order to understand them.)

So, the libertarians make more sense than the anarchists when they deny the need for a state, because they don't believe in collective action towards social justice. Like me, the libertarian socialist, they believe in individual liberty. They believe in individual rights. They also believe in individual equality. Unlike me and the anarchists, they deny the reality of discrimination. Most of them are white males, and as white males, they have been more likely to enjoy relative privilege and therefore, lacking empathy (or any sense of historical reality), deny the need for affirmative action or other such programs. They celebrate individual inequality as a spur to initiative and they fantasize about "level playing fields" and "survival of the fittest"

The reason why I started thinking about this subject for today is because I was reading about the Mount Polley mining disaster in British Columbia, after having written about the general childishness of the libertarian analysis of both Elizabeth Warren and left-wing protests and the G20. (Basically, some libertarian dunce pooh-poohed Warren's attempts to regulate Wall Street in the wake of its civilization-threatening criminality and implosion, while another one berated leftists for complaining about police violence at the Toronto G20 conference because leftists were only enjoying the fruits of their call for "big government.")

The Mount Polley mining disaster leaves the childish theories of libertarians with nothing left to say. Now, there hasn't been that much Canadian reporting on the Mount Polley disaster. [sarcasm]Even the Maoist CBC hasn't seen fit to gloat at the environmental catastrophe brought about by insane capitalist greed.[/sarcasm] The Canadian corporate media tends to line-up beside our human rights violating mining industry because it's one of our biggest industries. I haven't been paying much attention because there's nothing that I can do and I've spent years (with countless other leftists) exposing the crimes and idiocy of capitalism, to little effect. But i thought it be a good cudgel to beat libertarians with so I decided to look it up.

Turns out it was a copper and gold mine. Well, there are industrial uses for gold, but much more for copper I think. And the point is, we need to mine these resources. (No, the world doesn't need the excess of useless junk that we Westerners wallow in, but we do require resources.) And who mines these resources? Large industrial firms. Now, who should be in charge of these firms? At present, they're run by executives chosen by corporate boards of directors (who may be puppets of the executive or not). Libertarians would have them run by individual capitalist owners. Anarchists and people like me would have them run by the workers. I differ from the anarchists in having them run by the workers but with government regulatory oversight.

But, the mainstream corporate capitalists and the libertarians together, reject "intrusive" government "meddling" into their affairs. They prefer self-regulation. Well, we see the effects of this self-regulation. A massive environmental catastrophe that is going to cost an absolute minimum of $600 million to clean up. (More like $1.5 billion if we're going to dispense with corporate-friendly minimum forecasts. Toxic sludge is going to otherwise poison fish and water and all the resources and lives that rely on it for decades to come. Perhaps forever.) What is the libertarian answer to this failure of self-regulation? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The inarguable need for regulation on massive industrial projects such as mines is, to them, a harbinger of THE GULAG! It is an intrusion into the workings of the free market that would supposedly do more harm (by mandating spending a few million in safety precautions maximum to prevent a billion dollars in disaster clean up later) than good.

You know, the tendency of states to try to increase their power over us is a serious topic. The origins of states as tools of domination is likewise a serious topic. But the reality that states have dual origins and dual purposes, is a serious thing too. Human beings have always imposed collectivism upon themselves to achieve agreed upon goals and values. To do things together that would be impossible if done individually. It is simply childish to dogmatically insist that democratic societies cannot and must not impose sensible regulations on things like giant mines, or traffic speed, or food production or new medicines. To pretend that it is impossible to impose these regulations without, in the end, sacrificing all of our human rights, is extremist nonsense that doesn't deserve a respectful hearing.


Anonymous said...

It's time to sharpen up the guillotines.

thwap said...

I'm opposed to the death penalty!

Anonymous said...

Too bad, Thwap. It served the French pretty well for a long time!

Father John of Our Lady of Unnatural Acts

thwap said...

Nah. Too much state power for me You forget, i'm a libertarian!

"Our Lady of Unnatural Acts"

I pray to her every night!