The unfortunately defunct The Art of the Possible blog was, circa 2008, the home to a fruitful discussion between Leftist and Libertarians. This discussion helped to puzzle out and articulate that bundle of interrelated positions, policies and approaches now generally known as left libertarianism.
It’s posts are now relegated to “reader” archives and select collections scattered around the internet. C4SS regards these posts as not only important in and of themselves, but important to clarifying what exactly a left/libertarian project looks and feels like. For the foreseeable future, C4SS will be re-publishing these posts here every Friday, until the collection is, to the best of our ability, complete.
If “politics is the art of the possible,” as Otto von Bismark would have us believe, then it is our hope that by bringing together the combined and uncompromised critiques of both the Left and the Libertarian Bismark’s other political warning will become more than just a possibility:
“Crowned heads, wealth and privilege may well tremble should ever again the black and red unite.”
The original “About” for The Art of the Possible:
Liberals and libertarians on common ground… and otherwise
Reasonable people can have intellectually honest disagreements regarding some issues; for example, to what extent and when should the government regulate the economy? There are other issues, however, where all reasonable people stand on one side; for instance, should the government torture people?
The Bush administration has been extreme enough in its authoritarianism, flagrant law breaking, and flouting of basic human rights norms to cause fractures in the old GOP coalition. There is now the possibility of new political alliances forming. Speaking broadly, it may be that many of the factions in the Democratic Party, and some of the factions that call themselves “libertarian,” collectively represent a kind of loose anti-authoritarian coalition, or rather, the possibility of one. This site aims to facilitate conversation among those factions.
We bring together liberal and libertarian writers who agree on certain politically and morally enlightened essentials. Their discussions here serve to delineate the reasons why basic human rights must always be defended. Their disagreements, by contrast, will illustrate why forming new alliances is hard, and perhaps serve as a reminder as to why new alliances are so rare.
If, during the Cold War-era, libertarians could abide, in sometimes severe tension, with the conservatives in the same Republican Party, at least some libertarians now seem to be moving in the direction of the practical alternative, namely, liberals and the Democratic Party. This site will be a crucible in which that phenomenon is played out.