STIGMERGY: The C4SS Blog
Radical Leftism, Radicalism, Hierarchy, Capitalism, and Government

Leftist academic, Corey Robin, recently commented on what he sees as the radicalism of the young CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations). He quotes David Montgomery to the effect that at its annual convention: the CIO called for:

continuation of government controls over prices and the allocation of production materials, “development of atomic energy for civilian purposes under United Nations auspices,” government sponsorship of housing to offset the failures of the market to provide for workers’ urgent needs, and expansion of social security to encompass all agricultural, domestic, and maritime workers and to include health protection.

There is nothing particularly radical about the above. Government is a very old institution and so is the hierarchy that is inherent to it. Its use of aggressive force, violence, coercion, and compulsion to gets its way is nothing new in human history either. The non-anarchist or non-libertarian left often seems to want to replace corporate capitalist hierarchy with government hierarchy. That is the meaning of central planning of prices and allocation of productive resources. A monopolistic government controlling the allocation of production or prices would certainly qualify as a violent hierarchical central planner.

In contrast, left-libertarian market anarchism seeks a world of horizontalism where hierarchies have been maximally flattened – if they exist at all. The kind of things mentioned above would require a high degree of hierarchy to effectuate through government. That ancient institution enmeshed in power and violence. One can only struggle to identify at least the radicalism of means in certain parts of the above and in toto on others.

Radical leftism is preferably about rejecting hierarchical aggressively coercive power structures wherever they are found. Not in merely lessening the aggressively coercive character of said institutions. Many non-anarchist or non-libertarian leftists have admirably contributed to restraining the aggressive power of government, but the radical solution is to abolish it. Its use of any and all aggressive coercion is one the major root problems with it.

It’s not surprising that another hierarchical aggressively coercive structure of power like capitalism is so tied up with government. The history of extensive corporate welfare is indicative of this, but the main point to be made here is that seeking the abolition of government doesn’t have to mean giving a free pass to capitalism. It can in fact be an integral part of doing away with both aggressively coercive oppressive structures of power. Let’s get started on it!

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