From now on I’ll really try to make these posts on the day that they happen but for whatever reason I haven’t been leaving this website open as a tab so I keep forgetting. Anyways here’s my most recent YT video:
Left Against Left: Part Tres!
As an aside, I think I’ll stop using the French numbering after this…it’s losing its novelty after three I think.
So Scott Forester (now spelled correctly, thanks Scott!) has responded to me over a week ago here and BP has yet to do a response to him. I think this is because BP actually agreed with most of it so I doubt there’s much he wants to respond to…but I’m just speculating.
In any event I aim to respond to Mr. Forester’s claims and hopefully shed some more light on why the ALL and left-libertarians in general are a legitimate faction within libertarianism and not only that but should be one of the main factions in it.
To start off with I want to say that I agree with Scott’s idea that being anti-capitalism is more than just saying “I’m not an an-cap” but then that depends on the sort of capitalism we mean and what sort of left-libertarian we’re talking about. That’s because left-libertarians as a group have a wide range of views. To having preferences of cooperative and self-managing affairs (like agorists, mutualists, etc.) do to collectives, worker owned factories, etc. that voluntary socialists do and so on. So certainly some are more completely anti-capitalist than others. Mutualists for example oppose rent, usury and much of the Austrian economics and volutnary socialists most likely do the same.
Some agorists accept a lot of the Austrian economics (though that by no means is the case for everyone) but even then try to apply it within the ideas of class struggle, an anti-capitalism within the current system and preferences of different ideas of the wage system and so on. Profit isn’t a dirty word for agorists, though some may see it as less needed than others and probably less than the an-caps do.
So to continue first off Scott writes about my mentioning agorists having a class theory:
“That may be so but it’s still pretty substantial as far as values go.Ancaps have a class theory too and a manifesto(Rothbard’s).Big whoop.”
I think Scott means here that’s it’s still pretty un-substantial as far as values go…but then he doesn’t explain why this is. Of course, I don’t think that just having a class theory and a manifesto makes you radical or leftist but how you apply it. I’ve already talked about agorist class theory more and how it is pretty radically consistent, has some agreement with Marxist thoughts and insights as well as being anti-capitalist in today’s sense of the word and perhaps in some future senses of the word. You can find all of those things here as well as some brief mentioning of why agorism is a left-libertarian ideas.
The next thing I want to address is when Scott accuses agorists of being “market fundamentalists” or something of that nature and I tried to rebuff that, he responds by saying,
“It’s held up as an absolute, as some guaranteed liberatory system when that isn’t necessarily so.”
I don’t think agorists hold the market place as an absolute nor do I think left-libertarians in general do. I think this is especially the case for the mutualists, voluntary socialists and any of the agorists I’ve seen. It’s more like they hold it as the best system for human interaction to flourish in but I don’t think that they’d hold that it should be the only system in place in a truly freed society. I’ve never seen an agorist explicitly say this at any rate.
“And the whole colour distinctions on markets harks back to Classical liberalism and Ancap talk.”
I’m unsure why you think this is. What does the black market really have to do with classical liberalism? I can’t recall classical liberals ever mentioning this, nor the minarchists who most often take after such a tradition. And sure it has more to do with anarcho-capitalism but insofar as agorists use it as the basis of a class theory and reasons to not vote and other things it’s apart from the anarcho-capitalists.
Really, again, at best you can say that agorists are just more leftward an-caps who get more things right than the “other” an-caps do. But I don’t really buy that argument either for reasons that I hope shall become more and more clear as this post continues. And after all Konkin himself said that agorism was just left-Rothbardianism taken to it’s logical conclusion and that it was more Rothbardian than Rothbard himself. And while that means that (for him) it was Rothbardian and somewhat tied to anarcho-capitalism I’ll explain later on that it’s not necessarily so in today’s world.
Next, Mr. Forester tries to clear up something with me about what he meant by “unlimited economic growth”,
“Ancaps and agorists have no issue with continuing economic growth and lack concerns with the impact this will have on social relations such as dehumanization or the environment.”
I’m unsure why economic growth necessarily means the depletion of the environment, you’re gonna have to explain this one to me man.
Next, Mr. Forester makes issue of the fact that agorists don’t make issues of bosses, landlords, etc.
“Agorists appear to have very little issue with making use of these as they exist.”
I’m unure why you say this. In the agorist class theory and the other works by Konkin, interviews with him, etc. I’ve never seen any lauding of the capitalist boss, the landlord and so on. I know a lot of agorist prefer worker cooperatives and horizontal work as opposed to top down approaches mostly on practical basis but within the current economy they also see the worker in unequal relations, aka wage slavery.
As far as rent and the other things? I’ve never seen an agorist or a paper written by one fetshize these things either. They may make no big deal about them but that’s probably because once the land monopoly and other the monopolies are gone then people who make the decisions about labor and land will more likely do it of their own accord then through the use of state-privileged landlords.
“As I’ve said before,Agorism is dangerous when it falls into an embrace of capitalist economics and defence of the boss.”
I don’t see any defenses of bosses, you’re gonna need to cite me some things.
“It needs to also understand the evils of wage slavery.”
As I said above, we already have done that.
“Then there’s the issue of the entrepreneur being put at the forefront as some kind of social saviour which is laughable.”
…Because? Why is creating services for people when they need them not a positive thing? How is creating work for your fellow anarchists and alternative organizations for those who want to help others not useful?
I’ve heard before that left-libertarians are the entrepreneurs of the left and I still believe that this is the case and would like to hear why you think otherwise. I’m unsure why entrepreneurs are such bad people exactly unless you’re just doing what Marxist class theory does and conflating them with state-privileged capitalist bosses as opposed to those who actually try improve the power of society as opposed to the state.
In response to me admitting that a lot of agorism is based on Austrian economics (though as I’ve pointed out earlier it may not be the case that you need to have it necessarily) Mr. Forester remarks,
“That’s another problem.Austrian economics fulfills a capitalist psychology.”
Again, I’ve hardly ever seen agorism either used by Konkin himself or by others who like agorism to fufill the “capitalist psychology” (whatever that is). Especially considering agorism within the context of its class theory and its opposition to the current capitalist class and perhaps even some sort of model that could arise from markets I don’t think this is true.
“A reactionary clinging to the out dated ideas of classical liberalist assumptions about human nature,sociology and history.There’s a whole range of reasons why classical liberalism failed.Mainly it’s because it’s values failed to adapt when shown false.”
Once again, you’re just making vague statements, I can’t do a lot with this.
“Classical liberalism as an ideology treated society as if exploitation could not occur this was proven false with the likes of miners.”
Well seeing how people like Auguste Comte, Charles Dunoyer and others had a classical liberal class theory that dependended on exploitation I’d say at worst this is flat out wrong or at best an over generalization.
“Libertarianism as in ancap still clings to this assumption.Those I take issue with are the likes of C4SS who want to put the blame of exploitation on statism when while this is half of the truth,the truth is that with capitalist property arrangements and absentee ownership,I believe it would still occur anyway.”
Hmm, well I know for one thing people Kevin Carson aren’t fans of absentee ownership and I’m unsure of Brad’s opinion on other or the other people who write there. In any case their opinions are mixed, not uniform.
“and so my opposition to Ancap is that if it is anywhere successful it will be a tyranny that is scarcely imaginable.”
“Ok.But I don’t see agorists talking about worker self management or workplace democracy or Anarcho-Syndicalism.”
Well likewise, just as I may not see some of the stuff you’re talking about you may not see some of the stuff you talk about as well. For example many agorists I know favor self-management and worker cooperatives over traditional hierarchy.
As far as anarcho-syndicalism I’ve seen some comparisons here and there as agorism is the tactic for the right and syndicalism is for the left or something but I’m unsure how true that is. I’d think that agorism and syndicalism in different ways are for the left of varying degrees.
Mr. Forester then, in a response to me saying agorism is as left as is it needs to be and doesn’t need to oppose rent, etc. says,
“That’s the problem with left libertarianism as Capitalism-lite.”
I don’t think this is the case since aorists recognize the four monopolies that Tucker laid out and want to see them abolished. When they are they believe people will tend towards self-management and cooperative affairs instead of top-down hierarchies as I’ve pointed out. And if the four monopolies are abolished, capitalist as it exists is abolished and the wage system has most of its vulgarities organically abolished I don’t see agorists as being “light” on capitalism.
“As BrainPolice has said in his reply to you, this reference is selective in quoting in accord with capitalist leaning preferences and selecting in which figures as chosen.I’ve never seen an Agorist or C4SS member quote the frankfurt school or consider Guy Debord.”
Perhaps in some cases but I think by and large when people like Wedny McElroy make articles like this it doesn’t seem to be that selective to me and neither does the larger left-libertarian alliance or movement for the most part. I can certainly see your point to an extent and I don’t deny that it happens but to the extent you and BP say it happens is something I continue to contest.
“There is different senses,true enough.Yet most of society has used ‘Capitalism’ in a certain way for most of human history.”
That doesn’t make it right or wrong, it just makes it popular and what is popular may not be necessarily right.
“And it’s that usage that Anarchists object too. It’s more than the status quo is supported by statism.It’s that the status quo is absentee property,rent,interest,profit , some kind of lockeanism and a vast absolutist market psychology which is opposed in various ways by the whole left and that it’s in bed with the state.Anarchism is much deeper than left libertarianism tends to be.”
No, I don’t believe this is the case. I think the individualist anarchists went far enough too and they opposed usury on all levels but yet if “fools” wanted to get involved in such arrangements they would allow them to. That to me is the perfect level of disapproval and tolerance. They’d work to out-compete those “silly games”, educate people away from them and blacklist people who used it, etc. until it stopped inasmuch as it didn’t cause much of an effect anymore.
Now I don’t necessarily support the position mind you but I support their tactics. And if these things really are not worth having then I doubt they shall exist in an anarchist society to begin with because it will be found out sooner than later I bet that these things are not useful social constructs for a better living.
“To pick up on BP’s point, This is exemplified in a tendency of left libertarians to ignore the whole concept of positive liberty.Just holding the idea of negative liberty is an atomistic view to have.It’s all about seperation and thinking of others as limits to your expansive self.It has a stirnerite feel to it.”
Well to your credit here I haven’t heard much about positive liberty from left-libertarians, though I haven’t heard much from them on negative ones either, so I think the whole subject needs to be brought up more in general. Then and only then will I make my judgement.
“It’s this treating of property as an absolute above all other principles and using it for ‘self ownership’ and taking freedom as being reducible to ownership.Modern society in general suffers from this problem as expressed in different ways.”
I don’t see a lot of left-libertarians valuing things like self-ownership. Autonomy to me seems to be a more poplar concept. Nor do I think left-libertarians value property over all, especially not muutalists, geoists, voluntary socialists, etc. But in general we all seem to favor many different things. Private property may be more important to others than some people but that doesn’t mean they favor it above all. There seems to be a general “softness” when it comes to property stances in the ALL.
On my questioning of traditions Scott says,
“As BP says ,it’s because they have substantial reasons to think this view and to have a nuanced and careful view on these things and to reject what they say,I think you really need to engage with their ideas in a fair and openminded way.Anarchism is largely a reaction to classical liberal norms which ended up not as radical as claimed.”
An aside: I don’t think it’s conducive to just keep responding to me and saying, “Yeah like BP says!” it’s kind of like an annoying parrot or something. If you don’t have much to add to what he’s said then don’t say anything. I’ve already responded to BP (twice) and I don’t feel like I need to do so again.
And on top of that in my opinion there’s not much to say about this really besides that.
“I’m not sure you can be so lackadaisical on such an important issue to anarchism.Again it seems to me that failure to look into the traditional objections has left you conflicted.”
I certainly wouldn’t call the work that left-libertarians have done on hierarchy lackadaisical, it’s just not good enough for you really.
After all of this Mr. Forester sums up his beliefs, I’ll only address this however as I feel I’ve covered ground in the other places/talked about it with BP already and so it’d be repetitive to do so again,
“Part of why left libertarianism is not substantial enough,I think then is because it does not go far enough in it’s critique of Ancap,classical liberalism,Austrian Economics and broader US libertarianism.”
Well I don’t think this is the case. For it’s critique of it’s lack of thickness, hardness in property rights, fetish of the markets, top-down hierarchies, existing businesses and capitalism, lack of concern for the environment and egalitarianism as well as the idea of solidarity and more.
One last note here:
I remember Mr. Forester alleging that agorists don’t really care about the environment or tend not to and that’s something that’s especially been peeving (annoying) me for a bit so here’s my response to that:
1. First off there’s an entire site by agorist who cares about the environment.
2. And just in case you think that’s an anomaly when that site was first put up I saw Brad Spangler and quite a few other notable agorists put it up and tote as something either interesting or cool as did I and others.
3. One of my agorist friends on FB just made his profile picture a gold and blue flag with a bear on it which represents anarchism and environmental concerns.
4. Lastly even Walter Block of all people has talked about how a free market can help the environment and so have many others apparently. So if even an-caps like Block can do it and agorists are just more radical, consistent and strict in their application of ideas then the an-caps are I think you’re really wrong here about that.
5. The cooperative movement that agorists seem to largely support can and does help the enviornment. So at worst even if the agorist doesn’t care about the environment it will be improved by the byproduct of their actions either way.
Well, that’s it for my response to Mr. Forester. My conclusion? A lot of question begging from Mr. Forester. I understand that it’s only a blog post and that there’s only so much time he had…but if that’s the case why didn’t he just take his time and write more? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the response him and BP have given me so far and I don’t think a lot of their thoughts are too off the mark really but that, to the extent they make them, they try to make them too much.
And lastly, I feel a lot of the opinions on agorism Mr. Forster makes are uninformed, especially when you actually read the major texts of agorism (all of which can be found on agorism.info) and go to the FAQ that is there as well. Brad (who runs the website) certainly doesn’t speak for all agorists but his opinions to me either way seem to fit in with Konkin himself and a lot of the present day agorists.
I hope Mr. Forester can give me a more thought out and drawn out response next time around and we can continue this conversation. I am definitely enjoying it.