I recently finished reading the second edition of Chris Matthew Sciabarra’s, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. It was a fantastic read and is highly recommended. There is a comprehensive review in the works, but I want to use this blog post to touch on a particular quotation from We the Living. Kira is quoted thus:
I don’t want to fight for the people, I don’t want to fight against the people, I don’t want to hear of the people. I want to be left alone — to live!
This quotation captures a dialectical transcendence of the false dualism between submerging your individuality in an organicist collectivist conception of the people and sacrificing the mass of people. Kira simply wants to be left alone to live in freedom rather than having to choose between fighting for an elite against the people or on behalf of a mass that demands the sacrifice of her individuality.
The question left unanswered is how a left-libertarian should approach this quotation, because we left-libertarians do strive to improve the living standards of the vast majority of people. A left-libertarian could approach it by embracing the message of individual freedom contained therein while still engaging in militant action against elite power structures. The goal is to transcend the collectivism of both elitism and majoritarian estatism.
The above is best accomplished by making sure that revolutionary organization is structured in a way that discourages intrusions upon individual freedom. Left-libertarians are uniquely placed to fight a revolution without sacrificing individual rights in the process. The Marxist states of the 20th century showed what happens when you abandon respect for the individual. Left-libertarians seek to become the left and avoid the mistakes of the past. They can learn from the failed Marxist experience.
Does this mean abandoning all collective action? Not at all. Collective action carried out by autonomous individuals coming together with a shared purpose is eminently libertarian. Collective action is not the same thing as collectivism. The latter is an organcist doctrine that holds that the individual is a mere cell of a social super organism that is an entity unto itself. This is obvious mysticism and not supported by the evidence of the senses. This doesn’t mean that society doesn’t exist. It exists through the individuals that compose it. Kira’s statement is a cry for privacy and individuality within a social context. Let us help to realize her dream and push towards more freedom.