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08/23/2005 Archived Entry: "The Libertarian Left"

Blog_LibertarianLeft (3k image) THE BLOGOSPHERE OF THE LIBERTARIAN LEFT is a new webring started by Thomas Knapp.

Wally Conger has been writing about reclaiming the political left for some time. And he, in turn is carrying a torch lighted by the late Samuel Edward Konkin III. Or perhaps you could say the torch had been handed to SEK III by the late great Karl Hess.

I hadn't paid a lot of attention. Left, right: who cares? I admire all of the above guys, and Hess is in my pantheon of personal heroes. But I couldn't really see how they (or I) were "leftists." A link from Wally's blog led me to James Leroy Wilson who defined libertarian left in terms I could understand. He labels himself as left because he is:

1. Anti-war/anti-interventionism;
2. Radically decentralized to non-existent political institutions;
3. Anti-monopoly;
4. Individual autonomy.

Yeah, I could go along with that. But then, except for point three (which can be interpreted in many different ways), don't all libertarians go along with that? Wilson explains, persuasively, that left-libertarians need to distinguish themselves from all those soi disant libertarians who have recently been beating the neocon drums for war, advocating various taxes, backpedaling or taking wussy stances on drug decriminalization, etc.

The debate and the movement are interesting. But from where I sit it looks as if those other "libertarians" -- the war-loving, tax-loving, let's-not-upset-the-status-quo ones -- are the ones who've drifted and who ought to find a new label to distinguish themselves.

I do totally sympathize with the libertarian left's viewpoint that we need to make strategic alliances with that other "left" -- the anti-war, anti-mega-corp traditional left -- to better have an effect in the world. Aaron Zelman and I have been promoting something similar, focusing on uniting around the Bill of Rights. And personally, I'm on the side of anybody who believes in living honorably in personal autonomy and respecting the rights of others to do the same.

In the meantime, I've added James Leroy Wilson's Independent Country to the blogroll. And I'll watch the discussion with interest, wish my fellow "leftists" well, but not worry too much about labels. I have to laugh at the extreme flexibility of political terminology. Because not only does being a "classical liberal" make one a "paleo conservative." It now seems that being a "right-wing anarchist" makes me pretty much automatically a "left libertarian."

Posted by Claire @ 06:53 AM CST

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