Saturday, June 18, 2016

Right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism

After reading another sloppy take-down of libertarianism from a progressive (which of course emphasizes the "right-wing" currents in libertarianism), I was thinking of a concise way to distinguish left-libertarianism from right-libertarianism. Here's what I came up with:
  • Right-libertarians believe that the goverment is democratic.
  • Left-libertarians believe that the government is elitist.
This phrasing makes the distinction quite stark when you think about the implications of being "anti-government", and actually implies that there is substantial conflict between the two wings of the movement. Luckily, I think mainstream libertarianism is pretty "centrist" by this standard, believing that the USA's government has both democratic/populist and elitist aspects, both of which cause problems.

While there is also a "right/left" divide among libertarian cultural issues, these don't have a substantial impact on policy preferences (except abortion), so the divide I'm focusing on above is more about theories of power relationships (e.g. economics and social status). I see Ayn Rand as the quintessential right-libertarian. My impression is that these libertarians think that a free market would largely be organized around the same principles as today's economy -- the main difference being greater productivity as populist parasites are shed. In contrast, left-libertarians typically expect a radical restructuring of the economy as the existing large-scale organizations collapse without state support and are replaced by bottom-up organizations that give workers much more influence over the economy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Anti-gun libertarianism

Following the massacare in Orlando, the mainstream responses are either anti-muslim or anti-gun. And of course, these are presented as diametric opposites -- to the mainstream politicians, supporting gun ownership implies demonizing "dangerous" minority groups, and supporting these minorities implies being opposed to free ownership of guns. I suppose everyone wants to have a simple solution to the problem of human violence.

So is there anything for libertarians to say, aside from "that's life"? Apparently the standard libertarian response is pro-gun -- that if more (LGBT) people were armed, the gunman would have been stopped sooner. In this case, it may be true that more guns would have limited the carnage, but that protection would come at the cost of more gun accidents and crimes of passion -- which really are the main causes of gun injuries.

Anyway, I'm sad that I can't find any defense of anti-gun libertarianism. By "anti-gun", I mean libertarians who oppose gun controls (of course), but see guns as a pointless danger in our society, that ideally should be less common. From where I stand, most people (and most gun owners) are unlikely to ever be in a position where having a gun will provide meaningful protection. Holding this opinion puts me at odds with the "pro-gun" crowd that sees guns as vital tools to maintain security -- both personal and communal (not to mention recreation and productive hunting). It also gives me nothing to say about the political response to massacres. Saying "this isn't the time for politics" sounds evasive. Saying "the risk of being hurt in a mass shooting is minuscule" sounds cold. So I guess there's nothing to say -- and just cede the political moment to the gun-control advocates (because I will not refrain from disputing the bigots).

Monday, June 06, 2016

what more can I do

As the Trump crisis unfolds, I've even had the thought that I should learn how to shoot... just in case. I'm nowhere near the point of buying a gun, but maybe I should get the slow part out of the way so that I know how to handle one when needed. I probably won't follow this path -- the time and expense is too great given the likelihood that I will ever need a gun. And there's the fact that picking up a gun has a tendency to make people dislike you, so that they don't listen to what you have to say and may even shoot at you! And since it's very unlikely that I will personally be put in a life-or-death situation (particularly, one that a gun can get me out of), the question is whether that is really the right way to help others who may be placed in a life-or-death situation.

On the bright side, I dug up a couple of my favorite bloggers:
bPsycho moved to wordpress, and Radly Balko moved to the WaPo!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

hello again

Well, I'm back.

As the Trump crisis unfolds, I've been drawn back to the left-libertarian blogosphere, looking for ideas for how to respond. My thoughts have been turning to direct action -- which I thought would only be an issue if Trump got elected and the mass-deportations started (or if his supporters feel emboldened to terrorize immigrants -- win or lose). However, it looks like some others have decided that direct action is needed even before he's elected.

I hope to write up some thoughts on that topic in the next week, and I hope I'll be able to get some feedback from my old crowd (whomever is still around). Unfortunately, my real-world demands haven't let up any, so I'm not sure I'll follow through.

Anyway, here's a variety of things I've had on my mind relating to the Trump crisis:
  1. Electoral. Can Johnson split the Republican vote? Is he a good advocate for liberty (from the left-libertarian perspective)?
  2. Organizing. Should I be getting more involved in local organizations so that there's a network in place in case the shit hits the fan? What types of organizations? Neighborhood? Libertarian Party? Refugee support? Local politics? What communities are most likely to feel the brunt of Trump and his fans?
  3. Resistance. At what point do we need to take direct action against injustice. What approaches will be the most effective (while also avoiding personal risk and escalation)?
  4. Free trade (this is tangential to the Trump crisis): I need a good write up of how modern trade agreements are efforts to bias the market is favor of capital. I found some stuff with RadGeek, but I don't think it went as far as it could...

Scanning the web, here's what I've found:
  • Relevant blogs that are still active: C4SS, RadGeek, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, EFF, my favorite communist.(I'm sad to see that Ruling Class has been inactive for a year -- he opened my eyes to a lot of issues). Will Reason be useful in the Trump resistance? What about The Intercept? And maybe the conservative Front Porch Republic?
  • The Dividist provided me with some good anti-Trump propaganda (and a reminder of how bad his election could be if he has  GOP Congress)
  • Evolution of digital currencies (as medium for international transactions). Bit in China. RipplePay.