I have some running thoughts that I’d like to share on the nature of the left-wing. This post shan’t be well-formulated, I must warn the reader. It will not constitute good writing. It won’t even be well-argued, since my intention is not to prove that I am right, but rather merely to quickly and effortlessly convey the thoughts swimming through my head at the moment. Let us begin.
We learn from Rothbard in 1965 that libertarians and classical liberals are members of the true, radical left. Richman, in 2007, makes the point that “[o]ne could say that the Left itself had left and right wings, with the laissez-fairists on the left-left and the state socialists on the right-left.”
McElroy, in 1982, points out that libertarianism has grown thanks to the introduction of Austrian economic thought, particularly the introduction of the subjective theory of value. It’s essentially the same libertarianism that existed in the nineteenth century, and it’s just as individualistic today as it’s ever been, but it now has a better foundation in understanding the nature of value.
I often make the point, particularly when I’m speaking to conservatives, that there are two rights and two lefts, an anti-establishment right exempliﬁed by the likes of Ron Paul and a pro-establishment right exempliﬁed by the likes of G. W. Bush. On the left, I would say there is an anti-establishment left exempliﬁed by the likes of Mike Gravel and a pro-establishment left exempliﬁed by the likes of Barack Obama.
But really I’m being disingenuous. Ron Paul and Mike Gravel both occupy the same place on the spectrum: the left. Neither are on the absolute left, where I am and where Rothbard, McElroy, and Richman more or less are, but they are both certainly on the left. Likewise, both Bush and Obama occupy the same place on the spectrum: the right. Neither are as far right as Mussolini or Mao, but both are certainly on the right.
So we ﬁnd ourselves with two lefts, an anti-establishment left (the libertarians) and a pro-establishment “left” (the pseudo-“liberals”).
Enter John Markley, who recently wrote on his blog: “I expected most of the American Left to lose interest in the war issue once Obama was in ofﬁce, and especially once Obama started to escalate American military efforts in Afghanistan. Similarly, I expected them to start ﬁnding torture, attacks on civil liberties, and unrestrained executive power much less bothersome once they were wielding those weapons themselves. Perhaps above all else, I expected their whole ‘dissent is patriotic’ shtick to fade away as well. However, I really didn’t expect the change to be quite so abrupt. It’s a demonstration of an important lesson libertarians need to keep in mind—neither liberals nor conservatives are actually very good on the issues they’re supposedly on the right side of.”
Liberals, with whom do you want to associate? The establishment “left” that tells us we must “respect the ofﬁce of the presidency”? The pro-war “liberals”? The so-called “left” that want you to believe it is unpatriotic to question the government or to yell at politicians (whether at townhall meetings or elsewhere)? The so-called “liberals” who are only outraged at oppressive government when the red team is at the helm, not also when it is the blue team at the helm?
Or would you rather associate with us radicals, we who fail to see the difference between Obama’s statism and Bush’s statism, we who still believe that dissent is patriotic, we who mourn the deaths in Afghanistan, we who demand that Guantánamo be shut down this week instead of a year from now, we who refuse to support a man who voted in favour of illegal wiretapping and renewing the USA PATRIOT Act, we who believe that this administration doesn’t care about homosexuals? Sure, by siding with us, you will be siding with people who reject Obamacare, but at least we don’t reject it for the same reasons as the right. We don’t reject it out of some irrational fear of immigrants being treated as equals in our society, we oppose it because we reject the underlying tenets of imperialism and statism. We reject it because we are consistent.
Liberals, you have every reason to join us libertarians on the radical left. After all, unlike the establishment “left,” we’ll never ask you to pledge your loyalty and servitude to the president, regardless of to which party she belonged. All we ask is that you never initiate force or fraud against your fellow human, that you never hire some gang to initiate force or fraud against your fellow human, and that you never ask a government to initiate force or fraud against your fellow human.
Hopefully you will join us because—that other “left”?—they are looking more and more like the right every day.
—Alexander S. Peak