The Jacobin recently published a good piece by Peter Frase titled “The Left and the State.” In it he discusses a recent attack on Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange. This attack was published in the well known liberal magazine, The New Republic. He makes use of another good piece by libertarian, Will Wilkinson. Both he and Wilkinson deserve further consideration.
Peter Frase writes:
Wilkinson notes that theoretically, libertarianism is “an argument against the possibility of legitimate government.” This makes it clearly incompatible with most socialist or social democratic attempts to democratize the market or expropriate the means of production. Yet nevertheless, “it’s crazily illogical to reason that the actually existing state is justified on liberal terms just because the libertarian critique of the state is false, and a legitimate liberal state is possible.”
The key word here is “most”. A left-libertarian market anarchist transformation would involve a free market anti-capitalist or laissez faire socialist democratization of the market through freed market means. This could conceivably involve expropriation of state corporatist or state capitalist property. It’s thus clearly possible to accept the libertarian critique of the state as valid and still advocate revolutionary economic transformation. Our ideal is freed markets and not the existing “marketplace”.
Will Wilkinson writes:
Liberals and socialists often accuse libertarians, not without justice, of acting as unwitting apologists for plutocracy. Many free-marketeers do have a bad habit of confusing our unjustifiably rigged political economy with a very different laissez faire ideal, and their defenses of the actually-existing “free enterprise system” really do redound to the benefit of those the system is rigged to enrich. Likewise, liberals do have a bad habit of confusing actual, nominally liberal states with a very different liberal ideal, and their defenses of the actual “liberal state” do tend to redound to the benefit of the insidiously illiberal segments of the state that cannot be justified or accounted for on almost any standard liberal theory of legitimacy. The point being that too many “liberals” are really conservative apologists for the status quo political order, just as too many “libertarians” are really conservative apologists for the status quo economic order.
An excellent unwittingly left-libertarian sentiment. We libertarians will have an easier time making common cause with the left when we choose to acknowledge these truths. The Jacobin article above is a promising step in that direction. Let’s continue to make left-wing market anarchism visible, so we can see even more like it. I look forward to it.