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Showing posts from December, 2008

A Simple Account of Rights

Here's what I'll call the Simple Account of a right: A moral subject, S , has a right against a moral agent, A , that A not engage in a specified course of conduct, C , provided that ( i ) it is wrong, all things considered, for A to engage in C and ( ii ) C constitutes ( a ) an all-things-considered harm to S , or ( b ) a failure to fulfill a duty owed by A to S . What makes the Simple Account simple is that it defines rights in terms of moral duties. Wherever there's a (perfect, in the Kantian sense) duty , there's a right that the duty be fulfilled. I offer the Simple Account as a deliberate alternative to accounts of rights in accordance with which a right is a moral claim that can be backed up by means of force (however defined). Tendentiously, I'll refer to these as Narrow Accounts. I think the distinction between the rights-violations that can and the rights-violations that cannot be remedied using force is important, and I do not mean to trivial

Update! Carson on Anarchism and Organizations

Kevin Carson ’s first-rate Organizational Theory is now listed at Amazon. Carson offers a powerful set of arguments designed to show that centralized, hierarchical business organizations exist—primarily—because of past and ongoing acts of dispossession and because of subsidies and monopoly privileges granted by the state. He points toward an alternate model grounded in the rights of workers, freed markets, and environmental sustainability. If you’re not acquainted with Carson’s work, read him. Now. An articulate proponent of “free market anti-capitalism,” he’s developed a fascinating synthesis of Proudhonian, Austrian, and Marxist perspectives on economic issues. Check out his stuff here and here . Look for a full review of Kevin’s new book in the next few weeks.

Bailouts and More

On December 19, I enjoyed the chance to participate in a discussion on Liberty Cap Talk Live with hosts Todd Andrew Barnett and James Landrith, Jr., and fellow guest Bill Westmiller. Check it out.

A Political Fable from Stephen R. L. Clark

“There was once a band of brigands, living as predators rather than producers. The brigands formed some friendships with each other, but their relationships were mostly those of dominance and submission. One winter it occurred to them that instead of taking food away from the productive villagers down in the valley they could simply set up residence there. This they did, killing such of the villagers as openly opposed them and telling the rest that they were now their protectors against any (other) robber bands. The villagers, who had hitherto organized their affairs by the laws of free will, were slowly forced into a sly submission. The robbers took the village women, reared children and grew old. Their descendants might have been peacefully absorbed, but it occurrred to that same brigand genius to enlist youngsters in his military elite. At first only their own descendants became nobles, but likely looking villagers were also taken up. After a few hundred years the common people were

“Socialism” for Left Liberty

I know I'm coming a bit late to the game, but I wanted to offer some brief responses to Shawn Wilbur's request (in anticipation of the first issue of Left Liberty) for analyses of "socialism," "solidarity," and "individualism." I'll start with "socialism.” The socialist definitional free-for-all that has captured the ongoing attention of a number of people on the libertarian left (and others) has put back on the agenda the question whether there is a way of understanding socialism that renders it compatible with a genuinely market-oriented anarchism. If socialism must mean either conventional state-socialism or state socialism with ownership of the means of production vested in local micro-states or some vaguely defined model of collective ownership rooted in a gift economy, then it has to be clear that socialism and market anarchism aren't compatible. But it ought to be troubling, then, that one of the founding spirits of marke

The “Left” in Left Libertarian

My previous post regarding the nature of left libertarianism was fairly general and vague about what I mean by “left.” If the notion of left libertarianism is going to make sense, we need to be clear on what is and isn’t left . I don’t think there's anything wrong-headed about other recent characterizations of the central concern of the left as anti-authoritarianism, openness to the future, or opposition to privilege. I want, though, to offer a different proposal regarding what I take to be the central elements of a leftist agenda and to suggest what may be a thread capable unifying these elements. An authentically leftist position, I suggest, is marked by opposition to subordination , exclusion , and deprivation . Subordination One person, A, is subordinate to another, B, when B has significant, persistent power over A. The power involved may be physical, but it may also be economic, psychic, social, or cultural. The important thing is that B determines, to some meaningful de

Framing Left Libertarianism: A First Pass

Left libertarianism (hereinafter LL) can be seen as an exercise in packaging and propaganda. Or it can be seen as a powerful expression of concerns that ought to be at the heart of movements for freedom. Cynical libertarians and leftists alike might see talking about LL as an exercise in spin. Perhaps it's an attempt to sell unsuspecting leftists on libertarian ideals that are fundamentally at odds with the left's agenda. Or perhaps it's an effort to graft an alien life-form onto the body of the libertarian movement, saddling it with concerns that have no place on a genuinely libertarian agenda. Neither account of LL is remotely persuasive or appealing. LL is authentically libertarian both because it is anti-statist (the LLs who come readily to mind are all anarchists; I take it as a given here that the LL is an anarchist or something close enough for the difference to be irrelevant) and because it affirms the value of markets and property rights . At the same time,