By Bryce Jackson
We often forget here in this “city upon a hill” aka The United States of America (God bless her) that political terms often have very different meanings when compared to the same term in another country or the world at large .
The very term “libertarian” is often viewed (outside North America) in Noam Chomsky’s “libertarian socialist” form rather then the freedom based “live and let live” mentality of most American’s who identify as libertarians in this day and age .
It is no wonder then why some have begun to confuse “left-libertarianism” with the simple fact that we (libertarians) often do have overlap with members of the left on our end goals (though usually the path to that goal is VASTLY different ) . So let me break it down for you ( I will do my best to explain it in as simple a form of English as possible , but no promises ) .
Simply acknowledging that we have some of the same goals as those on the left ( drug legalization/ending the War on Drugs , marriage equality , ending crony capitalism, demilitarizing our police and putting an end to nation building ) is a good thing . It builds bridges and in the case of moderate/conservative leaning liberals it can be a path of conversion towards classical liberalism/libertarianism (as it was for myself).
Left-libertarianism is NONE of those things . Left libertarianism (at least it it’s classical definition ) supports the idea that all people own their bodies and may do as they wish with them . HOWEVER (and it’s a big “however” , hence the capitalization ), it denies not only private property rights … but the very concept of private-property ownership .
The theme that is central to the left-libertarian is that “ the Earth belongs to us all “ and therefor cannot be sectioned off into parcels for private ownership . This is often “ justified “ by the argument that there is no guarantee against pollution . To that extent they are correct , there is no guarantee …
Apparently their parents forgot to tell them there is no “guarantee” against much of anything in this life (other then you will die someday ) .
It is here that the left-libertarian turns either socialist or anarchist and at that point , it doesn’t really matter which way they turn . They have decided that either the government is to control all aspects of land development and ownership or none at all (including disputes that most libertarians agree are to be sorted out in a court of law ) . It’s the difference between standing in line for 1/10th of an acre of land that the government could yank out from underneath you at any given moment and tribal warfare …constantly fighting one and other in a gang-land turf war over who gets access to that maple tree across the river .
I’m assuming you see how this breaks down civil society pretty quickly .
What is most ridiculous about the left-libertarian is that there is already standard parts of basic libertarian ideology that cover most of their worries with none or minimal government involvement (especially if we lived in a libertarian society or as I call it , “ heaven on earth” ) .
If my neighbor pollutes his land , and it effects my land, I can take him to court to seek damages . If he can not pay those damages then my lawyer can seek to have his wages garnished (including covering my lawyers fees for having to seek such reimbursement ) .
If there is a land development that you are against then you may protest . You can do this with an actual peaceful protest demonstration to get your message out (the bigger the better for your cause if your opinion is shared by many in your community ) or by boycotting the company that is developing the land (using the free market and the mighty dollar to influence a business) . This requires work and organization but it negates need for government intervention .
So if things like being able to buy marijuana legally or having your gay brother get the same marriage benefits we all get (benefits that shouldn’t exist since the government shouldn’t be involved … but that is for another article ) are important to you , SPEAK OUT ! Use that powerful tool known as the First Amendment to get your message out there . Any libertarian worth his salt will defend your right to do so and the right of people to do the very things I just mentioned at the top of this paragraph ….
… but please do not refer to yourself as a “ left” libertarian . You’re better then that .
Bryce Jackson is a guest contributor to The Libertarian Vindicator