Crass Libertarianism, Liberty, Ideology, Ron Paul fans
I got sick a couple of weeks ago and forgot that one of my favorite trolls is wishing me mad death and napalmings and such. So, for my new followers, I thought I’d repost some highlights of what got me in trouble with the logical positivists, the Ron Paul fans, and their hysterical apologists. (Any bisexual snark is reserved for Leon.)
I began writing about libertarianism this summer. Somewhere in my archives, you can find me struggling to discuss capitalist libertarianism, trying to come to terms with what to call it. I settled on “crass libertarianism.” About that time, I began being trolled by Ron Paul fans, logical positivists, and anarcho-capitalists. Most of them have given up reblogging my posts because I insisted that if they wanted to talk about capitalism and libertarianism, even positivism, that they’d need to begin referring to the actual theories and theorists, rather than giving me some shit paraphrased from mises.org.
For my new followers, this thinking about crass libertarianism is not all I write about. I’m into critical race theory. I write a lot about whiteness and white supremacy. Also, about pedagogy. I also post about what I’m listening to and a few other things. I love conversation, so always feel free to leave an ask…
1. US Libertarianism is in hate with itself
Libertarianism, from anarcho-capitalism to objectivism, denies social being yet depends on its formation (namely, society,) for its denial, its rhetoric, its discourse. They are the only social political movement I know of that denies itself as part of its ideological representation of reality.
I wrote this earlier on The Weight of Emptiness:
2. Ron Paul, Ideologist
If freedom is “taking your own risks,” then freedom for Paul has nothing to do with the libertarian sacred cow, Liberty. Freedom is being free from others, and nothing more. Liberty becomes a rhetorical object embodying this being with(out) others.
Not only is Ron Paul a capitalist ideologist. He’s an aristocrat with a compulsion to cultivate the traditional white power structure.
I write “ideologist” in combination with the tag “libertarianism is stupid” for many reasons, but each reason rests with(in) the most stupid thing libertarians like Ron Paul discuss: regulation. (I believe this is why he is nothing more than a common Republican.)
If what I’ve illustrated in many posts about Paul, anarcho-capitalism, and American libertarianism is true, that Liberty for libertarians is the ability to be more or less free from others, then this social and political movement, from capitalist anarchists to fascist objectivists, is about nothing less than insuring regulations only exist to compose citizens as free individuals who must be free from others. We could make this ethical and bring in “ought to be”: the libertarian ethos is focused on regulating society to compose citizens as free individuals who should be free from others. And people are more or less free from others dependent upon their status. This is a must because libertarians believe individuals should be status-seeking.
In nature, an individual is never being free-from-others. (This is being as a noun; “free from others” modifies it.) In markets, a consumer is never consuming free from others. In society, a citizen is never living free from others. This free from others is an ideological construction. In other words, it is imaginary. As such, it is a highly regulated representation of reality that relies on ancient and aristocratic notions of the city and citizens. Libertarianism is not to be confused with a new movement that is looking forward in its progressivism, say that’s represented in the current, growing Occupy Movement. It’s the old order of wealthy and privileged elites who wish to define the best we can be via a highly idealized vision of past orders.
I do believe that libertarianism is stupid. Stupid enough to not understand that the core of its own complex ideological structure calls out for a very narrow construction of what is intended to be seen as a free and public discourse community regulated to reflect an ideal version of nature, market and society that has never existed. It’s not that they believe their own representations of reality as the only reality that’s problematic. That’s just common fundamentalism we cope with in free societies and marginalize as anti-intellectual. It’s that they wish to force everyone else to live according to their rules. So much for liberty and freedom.
Anyone who denies social and shared good(s) exist separate from economic good(s), as crass libertarians do, is a very dangerous kind of fundamentalist. Libertarians are tricky because they use the anti-intellectual knee-jerk response to the words “liberty” and “freedom” to offer cover for their elitism. We live in a capitalist market economy that’s ideally free. But what free means in the capitalist free market is free to exchange goods and services. Unfortunately, we also have a money economy. As we all know, the money economy rather unjustly limits freedom in all communities within society to those individuals who have more money than others. Even Adam Smith had to handle this ethical problem of unjust social standing he referred to as unearned ambition.
Libertarians have no ability to cope with the unjust money economy. It’s why they hold equality in contempt. In addition, they conflate the money economy with nature via a constructed term Hayek called the spontaneous social order, and I often call the liberal social order. This is where aristocracy enters via another construction from Greek, the catallaxy. Supposedly, you can’t make enemies into friends without exchanging money for goods and services—in other words, without trade across borders.
A libertarian can’t talk to you about these things. Go ahead and try.
3. Why I hate Ludwig Von Mises
It’s simple. To take Mises’s work on human action seriously, I’d have to first admit that capitalism is natural and that democracy depends on its unregulated function. Second, I’d have to admit that I’m much better described as a consumer than a citizen. Mises’s theory was constructed to justify a society’s use of death and the threat of death for billions who are not US citizens. It’s theory developed to make socialism appear to lead to communism as democracy leads to capitalism. It’s opposed to the concept of a general shared good. It’s constructed to reward unearned ambition and inheritance as a natural right. In other words, it’s constructed to eradicate discussions about equality in human society. In this manner, it’s highly aristocratic.
To contrast capitalism and communism the way Mises and his followers do—that the latter is natural and the former is artificial—is troubling. First and most important, it’s rhetoric. It really doesn’t mean anything to those who don’t believe it. In this manner, it’s a fiction. In my opinion, it illustrates a major flaw with much of the cold war era’s theory about liberty and capitalism. It’s a critical attitude towards humanity that illustrates human being (human action) as the natural recipient of something we created, namely capitalism. Mises struggles, as do other capitalist theorists like Hayek, to find the source of capitalism in human society and as a result of nature. That’s where catallaxy and catallactic come from: the idea that the unregulated exchanging of goods and services peacefully and justly organizes society as the result of a spontaneous social order that results from the unregulated exchange. That’s a fucking fiction. It’s white fiction about the earliest days of organized human society when we are taught we became civilized. (You know, son, that business is the cornerstone of civilization. Trade. Free trade. Without it, civilization would end. Get the fuck out of here with that nonsense.)
Capitalism is a highly regulated economic system. To insist it’s part of nature (the liberal social order) is interesting, but suspect. Moreover, it explicitly demonizes a significant aspect of human being, shared good and the impulse to seek it out—in other words, the impulse to address inequality, to organize our lives, our communities, our society. It’s hard to to take seriously a moral system for economic being that constructs a complex and artificial framework for human being that insists we pretend it’s natural while at the same time denigrating the one thing it accepts we naturally seek to do.
It’s hard not to see Mises as a cold warrior. In this manner, he’s a hero to some, I suppose. But to what end? His works hold no answers for growing poverty and corruption. For him, we are all consumers of products produced by entrepreneurs who listen to our wishes. That’s really it, that’s his theory of demand. We want what we buy because what we buy is produced to satisfy what we want by really smart rich guys. That’s fucking insane stuff.
We have the ideal theorist for an idealized capitalist society fueled by white power and white fiction about the wealthy white man and his just inheritance of everything he stole.
4. Crass Libertarian-isms: Liberty
Liberty, for crass libertarians, is a rhetorical tool.
Liberty reflects what the individual observing it sees as any thing, process, and/or state of being that makes one feel free of obligation, duty and responsibility—these three often being most responsible for citizens’ anxiety and dread in public.
Liberty is a rhetorical tool designed to make one think about freedom while being educated about how to behave in a capitalist market.
Liberty looks like it has roots in a historical tradition of republicanism and democracy and sounds in tune with capitalism. They appear to go hand in hand.
Liberty is, however, a shape-shifting placeholder for one’s desire to be free from others while laboring with them. It justifies one’s own slavery while excusing others’. Liberty, therefore can be seen as a Capitalist’s ideal form of Cooperation.
Liberty reminds people of an idea they think they share. But the idea was constructed to look old, treasured, lost and recoverable. Liberty has been designed by capitalist economists and libertarian theorists to appear just out of reach. If you have not the liberty you want, it’s because you haven’t worked hard enough, or because the government is keeping you down.
Liberty is part of the white power tradition in the United States.
When listening to a political leader, public official, and/or community organizer using Liberty to organize any effort, think twice before trusting him. (Him is appropriate here. Liberty is part of white masculinity. It’s almost always heterosexist.) They’re working in a tradition of white power, imperialism and capitalist economic theory—theory that justifies unearned poverty, war and slavery of others—that justifies the unearned ambition of the wealthiest members of society. Capitalist Libertarians are always anti-socialist, anti-anarchist. They are statists.
5. On Crass Libertarianism Wealth Redistribution:
When you talk to a capitalist about taxes and government spending, inevitably the capitalist will want to begin speaking about wealth. A common conversation is that we, as in our government acting on behalf of citizens, should be promoting (spending on and investing in) wealth creation not wealth redistribution. Never mind that the claim is unreasonable. Specifically, business owners, entrepreneurs and employers in general do not create wealth. Wealth is a capitalist word that is supposed to be a synonym with value. Wealthy people do not create value. We know how value works, but wealth, you know, is the root in wealthy. So, wealth and the wealthy go together. It’s just common sense. Right? Don’t get pulled into a discussion with such shitty use of common sense and language.
When you hear wealth, you should always insist the conversation returns to labor and value. That’s the most important thing. Capitalists do not want to talk about value. Capitalists want to argue that wealthy people create demand. We know that spending creates demand, but again, capitalists will not want to talk about spending. Capitalists will not want to talk about the fact that money in the hands of the poor is much more stimulative than money in the hands of the rich. Why? Well, for example, capitalist libertarians like to believe that 1$ wealthy people spend is worth more than 1$ poor people spend. It’s that simple. It’s an absurd debate to get into. Always insist the conversation turn to labor and value. Bring the conversation from spending, debt, and wealth back to the basic relationship between the employer and employee.
You’ll discover that the capitalists aren’t capable of discussing value and labor because they typically don’t know what they’re talking about. They haven’t done their homework. They’re simply repeating propaganda.
See also my post from last week. I wrote:
5%, in the US, consume 80% of the capital gains income. That income is taxed at 50% of what it would taxed at if it were normal income. 1% control 40% of that capital gains income. In other words, most US citizens don’t have any access to the wealth their labor produces and a few take advantage of all that labor for their own benefit without having earned it.
When you hear a conservative or libertarian talk about personal responsibility, you’re listening to somebody fighting for the cause of the wealthiest and whitest citizens and against the well-being of the majority of citizens who have no access to it now, nor historically ever have. Personal responsibility really means work that others should do so I can continue to benefit from it and it only applies to privileged individuals who can afford to profit from others’ labor.
If you don’t see the class warfare against the poor, you’re an asshole and an idiot.