A group called the “Alliance of The Libertarian Right” has made its ugly appearance on Facebook, preaching for private property and for the demonization of left-libertarianism.
I have no interest in debating these lunatics: in fact, it seems the group was stillborn, and there has been no discussion on it whatsoever, which is as it should be. There is nothing new to discuss about the so-called “Libertarian Right” that is not already being discussed under the labels of capitalism or imperialism. What I do find interesting is the information on this group, which displays the ignorance of capitalists trying to sound smart when they talk about Anarchists, and failing.
First, let me get the L-word out of the way. In the American sense of “libertarian,” the group title is a tautology: American Libertarianism is, by definition, right-wing, since it is predicated on the nonsense of private property and the hatred of egalitarianism. In the general sense of “libertarian,” also used by Anarchists, the group title is a contradiction: no libertarian can be right-wing by definition. Either way, the title is nonsense.
The first sentence is a doozy:
“The infantile ethos of the Left – with its demands for involuntary positive obligations, radical equality, and dismantlement of tradition – is the enemy of all that libertarianism means, and would render the concept of liberty meaningless.”
This is a very interesting sentence both for what it says and what remains unsaid. Let’s start with “involuntary positive obligations.” Now this is interesting because it basically pushes voluntaryism as a standard, which as I have already explained is subjectivism writ large, but then a belief in liberty is professed. Other principles are also professed in this little document. such as the belief in private property and the rejection of democracy. But how can any such principle be professed if ethics is subjective? So by pushing the “involuntary=bad” association, the document is implicitly contradicting itself. To posit any principle as valid, we must first affirm that there can be such a thing as a principle, which means rejecting subjectivism.
More to the logic side, it is said that positive obligations render liberty meaningless. This is in fact the diametrical opposite of the truth. We may all acknowledge, say, the right to life, but without the capacity to receive medical care when needed, or the capacity to be secure from aggression, this right is in effect meaningless. It will do no good to tell a woman dying of a gunshot wound or dying of an untreated cancer that she should be happy that she has the right to live. It is completely irrelevant to reality. Without the access to the resources she needs to actually stay alive, this alleged “right to life” is purely semantics.
The refusal to acknowledge any positive obligations makes liberty meaningless, not the opposite. So the idea that positive obligations render life meaningless is a complete projection. And this is how we know that we are dealing with fanatics; it is fanatics, by and large, who use projection to fend off imagined or real enemies.
The belief that “radical equality” makes liberty meaningless is another gross projection. In fact, as I’ve explained before, liberty and equality are actually the exact same concept, seen from different perspectives. Where equality is lacking, liberty will also be lacking. Where liberty is lacking, there will also be inequality. This law could be engraved in stone without too much fear of it ever being contradicted.
Finally, the “dismantlement of tradition” also makes liberty meaningless. Really? First of all, what society in the Western world currently maintains traditions of liberty? America, with its traditional propensity for genocide and exploitation? Where are these grand traditions of liberty that we want to dismantle? If they do exist, then we want to dismantle no such traditions. And indeed, when these traditions exist in non-Western societies (such as the Zapatista and other Mayan societies rebelling against capital-democratic governments), we have no qualms in supporting them, even though they may not be perfect.
And we top the whole thing by calling all of this “infantile.” I didn’t know children were deeply concerned with eradicating traditions, radical equality, or establishing involuntary positive obligations. Colour me surprised.
The next bold claim from this “libertarian right” group:
“… civilization and society are the result of private property…”
All right, you heard that. There was no society before private property. None whatsoever. So forget about all those hunter-gatherer societies which shared everything in common. They did not actually exist. We made them all up. Just read the sentence again and again until it makes sense.
“… the democratization of property is properly known as communism, a self-destructive doctrine that ensures the enslavement of the individual to the vulgar herd.”
It’s like Ayn Rand dug herself out of her grave long enough to write the manifesto of a new group on Facebook. Communism is not defined as “the democratization of property,” and the goal of communism is not “the enslavement of the individual to the vulgar herd.” Although that is one way in which a communist society can be implemented, it is obviously not the only one.
“… left-libertarianism is most properly defined as that breed of statelessness that involves the collective ownership of property, such as anarcho-communism…”
There are plenty of left-libertarians who do not believe in “collective ownership of property,” and few anarcho-communists would describe themselves as “left-libertarians.” So this is just, well, nonsense. Left-libertarianism is sometimes defined as a category of libertarian socialism, or as a specific approach on the subject of property rights. The Alliance of the Libertarian Left generally defines left-libertarianism as “free-market anti-capitalism.” Nothing in this implies the collective ownership of property.
And they end with a wonderful quote from our favourite homophobic bigot:
“Egalitarianism, in every form and shape, is incompatible with the idea of private property. Private property implies exclusivity, inequality, and difference.
~ Hans-Hermann Hoppe”
Yes, the same Hoppe who said Wiccans, communists, drug-users and homosexuals must be kicked out of society, the same Hoppe that Stephen Kinsella lied to defend. Oh brother. And they still quote this guy?
But that aside, the quote is entirely correct. It is correct that egalitarianism is incompatible with private property. It is correct that private property implies exclusivity, inequality and difference (difference of what?). The trouble is that the people who inserted the quote seem to have fallen under what I call the fallacy of “misplaced conclusion,” where we are presented with a “if X then Y” statement where Y is some supposedly dire consequence, with the explicit or implicit conclusion that we should reject X.
Example: “Egalitarianism is incompatible with the idea of private property.” We must therefore assume that we should be against egalitarianism. But this is fallacious: we could equally assume that we should be against private property instead. The quote in itself provides no reason to choose one over the other. And reasoning tells us that private property, which is a conceptual contradiction and leads to exploitation, must be rejected over egalitarianism.
Same for “private property implies exclusivity, inequality, and difference.” These are not very good values! Why should we choose exclusivity, inequality and difference? Given such a choice, we should reasonably be against private property instead.
The “Alliance of The Libertarian Right” is the sad product of minds who do not understand the first thing about ethics, rights, history, or logic. Like “anarcho-capitalism” and other Hip New Capitalists, it is a deluded attempt to make neo-liberal capitalist exploitation “cool” and explain away poverty and exploitation. An ugly ideology for ugly minds.