Friday, 12 September 2014

Libertarianism, left or right?

Left wing tendency

Having a left wing tendency, I feel, in its very broadest sense describes an individual who has a general bias in favour of the welfare of the masses and against the relatively small number of people (the elite) in whom political and economic power is concentrated and against their rigid social hierarchy. People who have a left wing tendency have a lower social dominance orientation.

This is broad, I know its broad, it is intentionally very broad. In fact I’d say it includes most people and most of those who it does not currently include could change fairly easily under the right circumstances.

Left wing tendencies and right wing ideology

Right wing political ideologies can be categorised into three main types:

1.        The first is characterised by those who, despite living in an elitist society, refuse to challenge the status quo. They will often claim non bias but accidentally promote its legitimising myths and promote the interests of the elite anyway (the centre right).

2.        Those who do challenge the status quo but in an exclusive way (i.e. popular fascism/ nationalism).

3.        Those who actively promote the interests of the elite, knowingly (psychopaths)

Numerically the centre right (Group 1) are in the majority, in the UK supporters of all three major political parties fall into this group and even UKIP are probably on the far right fringe of it (ignore what they all say about themselves) as well as the stance of pretty much the whole mainstream media. But wait, this sounds contradictory, didn't I just claim that most people are on the left wing? This is not a contradiction but a paradox:

Genuinely left wing political positions are held by only a tiny minority. Most people have a left wing tendency personally but are stuck trying to express it through the prism of right wing political ideology. Genuinely left wing political positions are based on an explicitly left wing social analysis, i.e. that the elite have gained their position in society unjustly and maintain it unjustly and generally that they use their position in society to exploit, oppress and rule over everyone else. The solutions proposed by these left wing political positions are known as radical solutions, solutions which strike the root of things like poverty and injustice by removing the buttresses that prop up the social order which causes them, instead of just trying to mitigate their impact and leaving the social order mainly untouched. But as I said, most people fall into group 1 of the right wing ideologies. These are the accidental supporters of the status quo, without them the right wing would be nothing but a few fringe nutters. To identify them you can look out for the following attitudes:

·         Success in this society can be achieved simply by working hard for it.

·         Some people are naturally more capable that others, that’s why some are rich and some are poor.

·         White-heterosexual-male normative statements revealing the remnants of imperialism still present in the right wing.

·         Socialism has be proven not to work in Russia, capitalism is the only sensible option left open to us.

·         Usually all the classic bullshit about governments (apart from libertarians still stuck in group 1, more on that below).

How do group 1 (most people) get stuck in this position? Often through indoctrination (by education and the media), lack of understanding of alternative positions, cultural expectations and pressure etc. These people need to be kept sweet, remember they're not assholes at heart, so their leaders (who usually belong to group 3) talk a lot about things like freedom and equal opportunity, but it is expressed in a way that implicitly favours the elite or just repeated so frequently that people believe they have it irrespective of whether they do or not (see Americans believing that they are the freest nation on earth despite having the highest rate of incarceration on earth).

These people need to be convinced that their ideology is actually helping society or they will walk away. The elite distract them by directing attention away from themselves and point to those challenging the traditional status quo accusing them of being the real danger to society. The enemy are lazy people, jealous poor people, people who are challenging social hierarchy (which will lead to the collapse of society), childish people who want the impossible etc. Not those who rule over us and exploit us. Interestingly enough in tests they have actually been found to have a higher social dominance orientation than group 2 ( which I suggest is probably due to the quality of the myth they’re buying into and the fact that despite the utter shite they talk group 2 are actually trying to challenge the existing social order and therefore are capable of being much more critical of it at times.

It is a mistake to focus on their philosophy alone when trying awaken Group 1, in truth their actual philosophy, context-less, is a mixture of good and bad (freedom, for example, really is a good thing even if in practice it doesn’t seem to be living up to what might be expected of it). Instead primarily it is the social analysis, the versions of history they know, the understanding of their wider context that are truly terrible, it is here that even the most naturally left orientated people get trapped trying to express it through the right's lens. 

 I don’t even know what to say about Group 2 I usually think of them as 'counter elite', usually idiotic psychopaths instead of intelligent ones. Some are just desperate and insecure.

Libertarianism within the reach of the elite and libertarianism outside their reach

Libertarianism is slightly unusual. The modern libertarian movement, largely originating in the USA is still sitting there looking at the world through a classic group 1 right wing prism. On the whole it lacks a holistic and accurate social analysis but it still represents a possible threat to the elite for the strangest reason; it represents a threat because it takes their stated values too seriously (of course psychopaths don’t really have values). The things the elite talk about, that are supposed to be the basis of their legitimising myths are picked up and used as weapons against them (at least against the government) but without ever really leaving their worldview. Without proper understanding of context libertarianism looks around to see who is infringing on its freedom and can only really see direct state intervention in their lives, which the state claims it is doing on behalf of the poor, and they attack that.

Whilst libertarianism as a movement has not made the mental shift to the left and embraced leftist perspectives on a full range of issues it is, in my view, going to go that way if it is going to go anywhere. If it does not it remains within reach of sections of the elite that will want to use it for their own gain, to provide apologetics on their behalf, to form allegiances with them, to defend them against leftist attacks. If it stays there its threat is going to be completely neutralised.

Libertarian philosophy in the hands of those with a left wing tendency and armed with an explicitly left wing social analysis would be way beyond the elite’s reach. It has weapons but so far it has pointed them mainly at those who support mixed markets within a social democracy and a welfare state, just another group who have bought into the essentially right wing worldview but are trying to soften it a bit. The weapons need to be pointed at elitist capitalists, capitalism needs to be recognised for what it actually is not for what it could be in theory. A full understanding needs to be gained not just of what is wrong with the state breaking the non-aggression principle but why it does so and on whose behalf. Libertarians who still argue that the state aggresses on private property mainly in order to force them to help the poor are going to need an education or be ostracised from the movement.

Example of hitting where it hurts

I have argued and will continue to argue that the way in which primitive appropriation has taken place, particularly during the transition from feudalism to capitalism (forcible privatisation of the commons amongst many other violent acts) in the west and during colonialism globally (war, robbery etc.), and also still very much occurring today in land grabs and state intervention on behalf of capitalists, is capitalism's original sin. No amount of charity and generosity and good works can make up for it, restitution now can only come in the form of revolution and the subsequent homesteading of capitalist/state property by workers, tenants and citizens who occupy and use it and therefore have a vastly more legitimate right to it than those who have stolen it and their heirs (note, transfer of ownership of the means of production to the workers, uh oh, socialism!). Libertarians, on principle, are calling for a massive scale redistribution of property from the capitalist class to the working class, much bigger than any pretend leftist mainstream political party are calling for.

Break out of the right wing worldview if you are still in it, libertarianism, fully armed, is completely incompatible with it.