I, For One, Welcome Our New Left-Libertarian Overlords

Pace Jonathan, I am emphatically for political alliances/snogfests between libertarians and lefties (though I do make some notable exceptions for rightwing snogfests involving Heritage intern coordinators who look like Daphne Blake).

But, like, when you're a Democrat and you're putting out feelers hoping to make libertarians like you or something, aren't you supposed to - I don't know - concede something? Preferably something that we didn't already know about you?

Yes, yes, you're soulmates with libertarians when it comes to privacy and the Bill of Rights and all that other boring stuff that everyone (including conservatives) already agrees with - but wait! - what's this? "A Libertarian Dem believes that people should have the freedom to make a living without being unduly exploited by employers." It's perfectly kosher for people to make a living by letting themselves be exploited by employers, but unduly exploited, that's where Libertarian Dems draw the line! And it's a good thing you didn't forget to tack on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid too. Wouldn't want to get too carried away with this whole democratic libertarian hootenanny.

As much as I liked the observation that "Our first proposed solution to a problem facing our nation shouldn't be more regulation, more government programs, more bureaucracy," and as much as I appreciated the explicit inclusion of the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights (as if that issue isn't already political suicide for Democrats to oppose), it just didn't do it for me. It's not that I don't appreciate the gesture, or that I feel any latent chumminess with Republicans, but if you're gonna try to cozy up to libertarians, at least make some sort of effort so we can note that you tried. Don't come out with both pistols blaring and then immediately tell us, as if we haven't heard this all a million times before, that Democrats are just like libertarians, except Democrats take their love of freedom one step further, making sure that government doesn't leave the power of corporations unchecked. I mean, with all this focus on markets, competition, and spontaneous order, we libertarians just plumb forgot about a problem as big as leaving corporate power unchecked. Thanks for the helpful reminder, Dems!

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When it comes to subjects

When it comes to subjects like this, I cannot help but think of the ending verse in The Who's song "We Won't Get Fooled Again" that said: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.". If the Republicans and Democratic freshmen classes of 1974 & 1994 are any example Democrats will campaign on libertarian planks to get elected, but once in power watch the Democrats dump their left-libertarianism in no time flat.
A prime example is what the Democrats are doing in terms of the gun issue. Note that how Democrats "sound" when they are trying to regain power has no relationship to what they will actually "do" when they regain it. In other words, Democrats (like Republicans) lie a lot just to get elected.

For a good example of how they've been caught doing it, read

Great now we are going to

Great now we are going to have to call ourselves Classical Libertarians.

Although they might have a point on something. Check out my other post about land enclosure and see if I don't sound like I am concerned with people being exploited. Is this a hole in Lockean theory or have I made some kind of mistake.

Would you have a problem

Would you have a problem with this revision of the statement?

"A Libertarian Dem believes that people should have the freedom to make a living without being unduly exploited by employers using powers of the state."

There *are* legitimate left-libertarian critiques of corporatism, and it's a matter of course in today's U.S. for corporations to influence government to engage in anti-competitive, anti-liberty actions. Is that OK if it's "defensive" (see Cornelius van Vorst's comment on this Catallarchy post).

Jim: Sure, but I'd bet

Sure, but I'd bet against long odds that what Kos meant was:

"A Libertarian Dem believes that people should have the freedom to make a living without being unduly exploited by employers using their superior bargaining positions, and that the powers of the state should be used to ensure this."

For all the harm done by

For all the harm done by Republicans while in office, I will not collaborate with Democrats. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. Just as Bush deceived when he ran in 2000 on a platform of self government, I know that the Democrats will as quickly abandon any allegiances they make to libertarians once in office.

In general I find myself

In general I find myself agreeing a lot more with Democrats than Republicans. The main problem with Democrats is that they're far too optimistic about the ability of the government to get anything right. In fact, I was a Democrat right up until I realized that it's not actually possible for the government to get anything right, at least anything significant. And not just this government, *any* government.

However, I won't cozy up with Democrats until they end their unholy alliance with Hollywood.

So what's the Heritage

So what's the Heritage intern, Daphne Blake thing all about? Some delicious libertarian-conservative gossip I'm missing?

I am fascinated that this

I am fascinated that this much effort is being devoted to what Kos meant. I don't know what he meant, but here's what I suggest is the underlying motivation:

"We know that if libertarians have to be grouped with one of the two major parties (which, I herein note, are the only sets of candidates worth voting for if you care about getting things done, which tends to be a function of holding office), they're probably clumped with Republicans. Is there any way we could reframe the issue so that marginal libertarians who either (1) vote for Republicans or (2) vote for the LP occassionally vote for us? Is there some dreck that we can throw up that will sound palatable to the libertarian who doesn't spend all of her time thinking about the essence of libertarianism? I know, let's rephrase all our liberal slogans in ways that sound slightly less, um, well, liberal!"

To pretend otherwise is just plain silliness.

BTW, I'm far more interested in the scuttlebutt on the Heritage coordinator. Could we talk about that now, please?

Jim, I'm one of the people


I'm one of the people who's doled out such critiques. But I don't think that Kos has anything like the same thing in mind. Thus:

Libertarian Dems are not hostile to government like traditional libertarians. But unlike the liberal Democrats of old times (now all but extinct), the Libertarian Dem doesn't believe government is the solution for everything. But it sure as heck is effective in checking the power of corporations.

In other words, government can protect our liberties from those who would infringe upon them -- corporations and other individuals.

He then goes on to explain how the New Deal State (minus gun control, I guess) "maximizes individual freedom," as he sees it.

As I'm sure you know, anti-corporatist left-libertarians consistently stress that government power is the chief enabler and weapon of the robber barons, and they advocate the abolition of all forms of State economic intervention as the only proper response. The idea that Leviathan does or should or even could serve as a "check" on the power of Behemoth is, from this standpoint, sheer statist fantasy.

Basically, as far as I can tell, "Libertarian Dem" is Kos's new phrase for just another damn corporate liberal who likes to use Rooseveltian "Four Freedoms" talk. The contrast point is, apparently, an imaginary form of corporate liberalism which loves Big Government for its own sake and envisions no independent role for corporations or individual initiative. There is no actually existing corporate liberal who believes this (FDR, JFK, LBJ, Galbraith, Hubert Humphrey, Mario Cuomo, Ted Kennedy, and the rest of the crew certainly did not or do not; they all loved the idea of a properly "checked" or "coordinated" market), but it does make a useful rhetorical foil for passing yourself off as something new in intra-party power struggles.

The whole thing is

The whole thing is senseless. Modern leftists/Democrats have an uncompromisable belief that the government should use violence to force people to engage in involuntary transactions (e.g. to ensure that I surrender enough of my income to various redistributive programs) and use some more violence to prevent people from engaging in voluntary transactions (e.g. to ensure that I don't hire anyone for less than the minimum wage). Never in my life have I known a Democrat willing to bend the tiniest bit on this. How could such a view possibly be compatible with libertarianism?

My reference to the Daphne

My reference to the Daphne Blake lookalike Heritage intern coordinator is just as it sounds: She's a hottie, despite her choice of employment.

Micha, Do you know the


Do you know the woman? Is her choice of employment a 'dealbreaker', or is there something on the horizon?

I suspect strongly that all substantive blogs are constantly one step away from becoming the literary equivalent of daytime television. And I am sorry for contributing to the step. But inquiring minds want to know.


I mean, with all this focus

I mean, with all this focus on markets, competition, and spontaneous order, we libertarians just plumb forgot about a problem as big as leaving corporate power unchecked.

Um... To be blunt, a large majority of the libertarian identified appear to do just that. Catallarchs seem to do more reality checks in that regard than the libertarian community as a whole, particularly the subset who align themselves with the republican party.

There's a serious problem with trying to reach laissez-faire by gradualism. Some of those gradual changes, even though they may be an essential part of the ultimate goal of a grand, free catallarchian order -- in the short term greatly increase the power that the rich or well-organized (i.e. corporate interests) have over the poor or disorganized. IOW, we sometimes get increased coercion along the way.

Some interests, those most likely to align with republicans, in my estimation, really don't give a damn about coercion at all, except to the extent that wealthy people are being coerced. After all, only wealthy folks are moral. If you were doing anything worthwhile, the market would be rewarding you, etc.

Obviously this is hyperbole, but the more willing one is to align with gross-statist republicans, the more likely this characterization is accurate. It strikes me that neither major party is at all friendly to the libertarian viewpoint, except for a few not terribly influential outliers. I would have thought libertarians who bothered to support one of the majors would split pretty evenly on the question of which evil is lesser. The general lean toward republicans seems to be a hangover from seemingly hopeful promises of small government in the 80s and 90s which have proved empty despite the continuing lofty rhetoric. The only thing different about Rs is who they want to screw.

James, please explain to me

James, please explain to me any situation where someone choosing to work for less than the minimum wage would be "voluntary" in any sense other than they lack the bargaining power to secure a living wage.

The problem I have with most "left libertarians" is that while they claim to oppose corporatism, the rhetoric often seems to be completely out of touch with the experiences of the working-class people who are corporatism's most frequent victims.

Labyrus, Do you think that


Do you think that an employer automatically has the "bargaining power" with which to offer a prospective employee something above minimum wage, or "living wage"? Perhaps this employer can't compete with the superior bargaining power of an established, corporate chain.

Someone who is in a position

Someone who is in a position to offer someone else a job does, in most cases (there are certainly possible exceptions, but in real life they are not the norm), have more bargaining power than someone who is unemployed or underemployed. It's usually a lot easier for them to hold out and do without an employee for awhile than it is for someone who needs a job to hold out getting one.

What I'm getting at is that just because people will choose a below-minimum wage job over homelessness or starvation, it doesn't mean they "voluntarily" agree to work for that little. They simply have no other choice. On the other hand, most employers can afford to do with one less employee, they have plenty of other options. This is why, especially for unskilled labour, collective bargaining is the only kind that's really "voluntary" negotion on the part of workers, because in a situation with collective bargaining, the employer has as much at stake as the workers.

Labyrus, I see your point,


I see your point, but to say that it isn't voluntary is to confuse a lack of options with coercion. Certain structual problems with regard to finding employment are almost all the result of coercion in our political economy, but even in a purely free market the situation can arise in which someone faces shitty options, without coercion being involved. Thus their actions are still, strictly speaking, voluntary.

I was only speaking of a hypothetical situation that is to some degree realistic, even if most of the time you are right. Fewer employers/ more employees makes for less bargaining power on behalf of the employee. In the US, a significant amount of those that work minimum wage jobs are teenagers or twenty-somethings that live at home or recieve support from parents. And of course they make poor union peers with which to collectively bargain.

Dain, in many ways I agree

Dain, in many ways I agree with you, State power makes these situations worse, and you're right, ignoring the difference between coercion and bad options is precisely what I'm doing. That's because the difference is between the two is purely semantic.

If you limit what count as "options" to "options that fit within a property system", then yes, this hypothetical worker has shitty options. But in real life they could:
-Not get a job, squat a house, shoplift food and live a life of leisure
-Stop paying rent, take the job, and be able to live comfortably off of the earnings
-Take the job, and steal enough from the employer to supplement the low wage

These are all options, the thing that stops people from exercising them is coercive power, usually exercised by the State, but wealthy landlords can contract out thugs to evict people just as easily.

Put differently, a statist would argue that companies aren't being coerced into paying people at least minimum wage, that's just their only option, because a statist would treat laws as part of the landscape of doing business, not as coercion. Much the same way, people who are pro-property view the property system and the constraints it entails as being part of the landscape of doing business, when in real life, property is a social construct that is not immutable.

Labyrus, I won't speak to


I won't speak to your other points, which I skimmed over in a sleepy, drunken haze (so I'll concede there if need be) but "property is a social construct that is not immutable" is incorrect. Your very ability to argue is proof of property in your own body. You familiar with Argumentation Ethics?

I'm not familiar with

I'm not familiar with Argumentation Ethics, actually, although I wouldn't be surprised if I'd heard some of the arguments before. I have to get ready for work right now, but I'll make a point of looking them up, later.

I'm willing to concede that this proves ownership in some sense of my own body, but the myriad of rights associated with property, I don't have:
I can't lease or sell my body to someone else to use it the same way I do. I can't control every way in which my body is used, most of what my body does, it does unconciously, pumping blood around and all that. More importantly, I can't sustain my body alone. I need to share resources in some way or another with other people, because the resources in the world are scarce.

The only things that stop me from violating anyone else's property claims are:
1) Social Pressure, which dictates that in order to have a funtional society, I can't ignore reciprocity. This much more powerfully dictates that I shouldn't steal someone's personal belongings than it does that I shouldn't shoplift from a multinational, because I can sympathise with an individual in a way I can't with a corporation.
2) State Power, which would put me in jail if I did so. This only prevents me from doing that which I know will get me caught.

[...] our personal

[...] our personal liberties. And here is a mocking response from the prominent libertarian blog Catallarchy: I mean, with all this [liberta [...]