How to Convert a Big Tent Into a Small One

Keith Preston (about whose work I’ve blogged here and here) has long been controversial in left-libertarian circles; he’s attracted praise for his economic analysis (see, e.g. his excellent essay “Free Enterprise: The Antidote to Corporate Plutocracy”), but criticism for a) his big-tent strategy of making common cause with all opponents of the central state, including ethnic separatists, racists, bigots, and the like; b) his favouring of ethnic and otherwise insular enclaves as the “natural” outcome of anarchy; and c) his increasingly insulting (e.g., homophobic and transphobic) language.

Hey, it's a strategyWell, tonight I return from (perhaps appropriately) San Francisco to find that Keith’s (b) and (c) have just dynamited his (a) – confirming my thick-libertarian suspicions about how attractive and repulsive forces operate in the Space of Reasons. Keith has penned an angry, whiny, bigoted, abusive, bridge-burning screed (you’ve gotta read it to believe it) calling for anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-patriarchal, pro-immigrant, and pro-counterculture folks to be purged from the anarchist movement.

This is the kind of thing the paleolibertarians used to say (back before most of them retreated from this suicidal strategy), but at least the paleolibertarians weren’t trying to build a big-tent movement, so their position made some kind of sense. But Keith, as Kevin Carson notes, has “‘evolved,’ if you can call it that, from a willingness to share a tent with racists and homophobes for the sake of defeating Empire as the primary enemy, to promoting an active purge of anti-racists and gays from the anti-Empire movement … in order to appease the right wing of [his] coalition.”

In 1773, Benjamin Franklin penned a piece ironically titled “Rules By Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One.” Maybe Keith read it and didn’t catch the irony – because in the name of defending his big-tent strategy, he’s been taking an axe to the tentpole, prompting a flurry of hasta la vistas from the left-libertarian blogosphere (see Kevin Carson, Royce Christian, Mike Gogulski, Charles Johnson, Brad Spangler, Darian Worden, the ALL Forums, and now me with a belated ditto – go read ’em, at least they’ve all saved me the trouble of making this post much longer).

Keith’s critics have long charged that his willingness to make common cause with racists, sexists, and homophobes was a sign of his own racism, sexism, and homophobia; Keith’s defenders have insisted that it was all just part of the big-tent strategy against the Real Enemy. Well, Keith has now clearly decided that he prefers a coalition with racists, sexists, and homophobes to a coalition with anti-racists, anti-sexists, and anti-homophobes; make what you will of that. Make likewise what you will of Keith’s references to “psychologically damaged personalities … pissed-off, man-hating dykes with an excess of body hair … self-hating whites, bearded ladies, cock-ringed queers, or persons of one or another surgically altered ‘gender identity’,” which some of us politically-correct types might be hyper-sensitive enough to interpret as indicative of some sort of prejudice on Keith’s part, despite his assurances that, ooh, he’s personally known gays he didn’t hate and nonwhite women he was broad-minded enough to fuck. (It’s also strange how our lack of enthusiasm for Keith’s intolerant right-wing buddies is diagnosed by him as intolerance on our part, but their lack of enthusiasm for us cultural-lefty types is not similarly diagnosed.)

In any case, Keith’s big-tent ambitions, whatever life they ever had, are evidently dead – and at their master’s hands, to boot. Keith concludes:

I suggest that those of us who want to have a non-leftoidal anarchist movement simply go about building one, and ignore the personal attacks that will continue to be thrown our way.

Mutatis mutandis, amen. Keith is marching off in his creepy coalition and we’re dancing away in our cool one. May the best coalition win!

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98 Responses to How to Convert a Big Tent Into a Small One

  1. Charles H. May 25, 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Does this mean I can finally stop pretending to be nice to the neo-Dixiecrat Confederate apologists, anti-abortionists and young-Earth creationists over at LewRockwell.com?

    Ah, who am I kidding? I didn’t even pretend to like them in the first place.

  2. Mike May 25, 2009 at 9:41 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Yeah, apart form that one really good essay, I can’t say as I have followed Preston much.

    Now, not at all.

    Brad and Mike did a nice job so I’ll simply add my ditto as well.

  3. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Who cares about racism, sexism, or homophobia. There’s nothing about Preston’s piece that’s particularly offensive. The language he uses is far less offensive and sarcastic than what you’d hear at a Lisa Lampanelli show.
    Preston wrote about how he thinks people can associate however they want in a libertarian world, so what else matters? He’s probably right that if libertarianism had no relations with feminism, gay rights or PC anti-racism thuggery, it would be more attractive to regular anti-government statists.

  4. Gary Chartier May 25, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Can you say “Freudian slip”? What’s an “anti-government statist[]”?

    OK, probably a cheap shot: that was presumably a typo. But here’s the substantive point. What makes folks who don’t care about exclusion or subordination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation “regular”? This seems to imply that the the norm is lack of concern about these matters, and I can’t see why I should think this is the case.

    Who cares about racism, sexism, or homophobia? Well, I do: at least on my better days, I’m not an anarchist in order to express ressentiment against the state; I’m an anarchist because I don’t like oppressive hierarchies of all sorts, including ones based on gender, sexual identity and preference, and ethnicity. I have no interest in personally attacking Preston or anyone else; but I think there’s no long-term strategic advantage to be gained by building coalitions with people who seek to construct societies very, very different from the kind I’d like to inhabit. I also find the trivialization of harms resulting from subordination and exclusion pretty distasteful. Would I rather be excluded from a country club or shot? The answer’s obvious. But that hardly means the exclusion isn’t a real injury. Preston seems to suppose that anything other than being subjected to physical violence is relatively insignificant, and that some people’s taste for excluding others is no more troubling than other people’s tastes for sports teams. I don’t.

    Bottom line: I disagree that exclusion makes either strategic or moral sense. So I can’t react to Preston’s essay with “Who cares?”

  5. Sheldon Richman May 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Good post, Roderick. The presumptuousness of Preston’s “purge” language is remarkable.

    • Brandon May 25, 2009 at 11:26 am #

      Unknown Unknown

      An anti-government statist is typically a right-wing wacko like Rush Slimebaugh. A cretin that uses anti-government rhetoric but supports the state on its worst crimes, ie. slaughtering defenseless third worlders. Also lefties who don’t know anything about socialism but think they’re socialists because that’s the only way to oppose war, or lefty civil libertarians. In other words, probably most people (which I think is what KP was getting at).

      Don’t shoot the damned messenger. Of course Slimebaugh and the like are logically incoherent to say the least, but that’s the least of their crimes.

      • Aster May 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

        Unknown Unknown

        Professor-

        Thank you. Deep bow. And that makes everyone.

        P.S.

        Angelic hierarchies bite. Solidarity.

      • Stephan Kinsella May 29, 2009 at 10:49 am #

        Unknown Unknown

        The left tent is awfully big; why must Christians be excluded? BTW I am one LewRockweller who: is secular and atheist; believes in evolution, gay marriage (with caveats), abortion rights; has zero interest in the neo-Confederate, rebel-flag-waving rah rah stuff, nor in legitimizing the criminal CSA or the criminal institution of slavery (nor in legitimizing Lincoln’s illegal and immoral war against the CSA). The smears of the LRCers is unfair and ungrounded.

  6. Bob Kaercher May 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    “I suggest that those of us who want to have a non-leftoidal anarchist movement simply go about building one…”

    Okay. Well, have fun.

    • Rad Geek May 25, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

      Unknown Unknown

      Brandon,

      Do you suppose that Keith Preston’s failure to call out the government’s violence against the free associations of peaceful immigrants, and his willingness to go further and call for dramatic expansions to the size, scope, and power of government surveillance and government force against immigrants, in a deliberate attempt to restrict free association along aritificially drawn government borders, might possibly have something to do with the kind of people — among them paleoconservatives, conservative Ron Paul voters, cultural isolationists, “race-realists,” “white nationalists,” “national anarchists,” and other supposedly populist hard-Right types; in the most recent essay there’s also what looks to me like a couple of clumsy attempts at outreach to a mythical contingent of nativist trade unionists, straight out of 1963 — the kind of people, I say, that Keith is trying to attract into his coalition?

      I mean, I notice that a bunch of these people don’t really like immigrants very much, or just don’t like Mexicans very much, and that they are happy to chuck out anti-statism, civil libertarianism, and anti-militarist positions when it comes to maintaining their illusory sense of control over “our” government-fortified borders. Maybe trying to cater to those sorts of people tends to undermine a serious commitment to free association?

      • Brainpolice May 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

        Unknown Unknown

        I disagree. Social issues do have to do with the NAP. For an obvious example, spousal abuse violates the NAP. Spousal abuse is a social issue. Furthermore, I don’t think that a sound libertarian theory is as simple as the NAP alone.

        • Roderick May 25, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

          Unknown Unknown

          Matched only by the honesty of his “pogrom” language.

        • Rad Geek May 25, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

          Unknown Unknown

          Brandon:

          [Keith Preston is] probably right that if libertarianism had no relations with feminism, gay rights or PC anti-racism thuggery, it would be more attractive to regular anti-government statists.

          Gary Chartier:

          What’s an “anti-government statist[]“?

          Brandon:

          An anti-government statist is typically a right-wing wacko like Rush Slimebaugh. A cretin that uses anti-government rhetoric but supports the state on its worst crimes, ie. slaughtering defenseless third worlders.

          Oh, well, O.K. I agree that such people are opposed to the Government, but devoted to the State, in Randolph Bourne’s sense, and for roughly the same reasons as those Bourne lays out. I’m also sure you’re right that eliminating any connection between libertarianism and traditionally Leftist projects like feminism, gay liberation, and anti-racism would probably make libertarianism more attractive to people like that.

          But, remind me again why I should want to make libertarianism look more attractive to people like that?

          I mean, I’m not entirely clear on what I’m supposed to be gaining by making it easier for me to give an elevator-pitch version of libertarianism to a bunch of salivating sado-statist warmongers….

      • Brainpolice May 25, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

        Unknown Unknown

        There is nothing about the NAP that commits me to be neutral or willfully blind to social issues. In some cases, social issues arise as a consequence of NAP violations (and vice versa). And there are times when there are independant reasons from certain social causes, and one’s libertarianism does not restrict one from integrating those social causes into a broader libertarian theory.

      • Roderick May 25, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

        Unknown Unknown

        Well, some social issues are directly entailed by the NAP, while others are connected with NAP through causal and/or conceptual thickness relations.

        In any case, you seem to be shifting between the claim that libertarians needn’t have such concerns and the claim that they shouldn’t.

    • Anon73 May 26, 2009 at 1:27 pm #

      Unknown Unknown

      Keith’s anti-immigration statement is certainly reprehensible, but I think we have to face the possibility that a lot of communities in a free society will want something like closed borders – imagine ethnic communities of Kurds or Japanese who don’t want foreigners in their village. If they just use “social sanction” and “boycott” rather than force to keep outsiders away, then I can’t see how Roderick can make a coherent objection to that, since he himself favors thick libertarianism and boycott to enforce his conception of it.

    • Roderick May 26, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

      Unknown Unknown

      If they just use “social sanction” and “boycott” rather than force to keep outsiders away, then I can’t see how Roderick can make a coherent objection to that

      If you mean I can’t justify coercively interfering with them, then sure. But why can’t I object to it? Is the idea that if I favour using a certain means to a good end, I can’t coherently object to others using similar means to a bad end? That seems unpromising.

  7. MBH May 25, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    This Keith clown appears to find the Space of Reasons to be strictly separate from the Space of Soul.

    But Roderick, my concern is that counter-economics separates the two as well–just not nauseatingly, nor in the same ballpark when it comes to degree. I guess I should note that I consider the Space of Reasons to be a mode of hermeneuticism and the Space of Soul to be a mode of empiricism. I think you might argue that we don’t need to make that distinction because the mode of rationalism dissolves the difference. And if perception from a unity of these Spaces is called ‘rationalism’ then I’m cool with rationalism as best mode of perception.

    So here’s where I think that counter-economics doesn’t measure up to a pure mode of rationalism. Our ultimate objective–as human beings in a shared universe–is to flourish collectively. Striving toward that end counts partially as thriving: since the proper means are not only ways to that end, but elements of that end. But, the means of counter-economics are not elements of that end, but only ways to that end. So counter-economics is a striving, but never a thriving.

    My sympathies are with the libertarian left. But my belief is that we have to work through, not contra, the System. And I’m making this claim, I think, through a mode of rationalism. If we look at it as Aristotle does–that the social scientist is like a medical doctor–then counter-economics is like bottling the cure without an end that opens.

    I very much look forward to feedback…

  8. Anon73 May 25, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    If the president does it, it’s not illegal.

    -Some statist crook

    • Roderick May 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

      Unknown Unknown

      Brandon’s my blog provider/administrator/rescuer, so I don’t think it can count as trolling. :-)

      • MBH May 25, 2009 at 6:16 pm #

        Unknown Unknown

        Maybe this reply was inappropriate for this particular post. I sure don’t mean to imply that Roderick’s libertarianism is anything like this Keith ass-clown. I’ve just been trying to think through my main objections to counter-economics, and I wanted to voice them asap.

        Is it a coherent objection?

        • Mike D May 25, 2009 at 5:28 pm #

          Unknown Unknown

          This is usually called trolling.

  9. Robert Paul May 25, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I think both Keith and Roderick are wrong on this. The only potentially offensive thing I saw in Keith’s post was the use of certain rude labels. Other than that, a lot of it can probably be explained by Keith having had enough of the statist “progressive” part of the Left. This isn’t an excuse, sure, but I’m a leftist, and progressives annoy the hell out of me, so it’s not surprising. (I just saw Kevin Carson’s explanation that this stems from a personal issue – also very plausible.)

    On cultural issues, I’m somewhere in-between the left- and right-libertarians, so this is like watching my siblings have a fight and seeing where both of them are coming from.

    On the subject of alliances, both the leftists and the right-wingers here are advocating risky strategies. It’s more obvious that allying with neo-Nazis could be problematic, and perhaps riskier. However, there is also a risk in allying with leftists who’ve bought into flawed Marxist theories. Nobody here has to be told what can happen when your intellectual foundation is hopelessly flawed.

    Yes, I know that’s probably not a good comparison, but again, my point is that any alliance with non-Austro-libertarians is risky. Many left-libertarians would have us ally with other left-wing anarchists, and many paleolibertarians were quite pleased with the paleoconservatives who were among those the Ron Paul movement attracted. Some, like Keith, seem to be willing to ally with anyone who opposes today’s State.

    I am extremely skeptical about every single one of these alliances. The neo-Nazis, of course. The paleocons, who I’ve spent a lot of time talking to, tend to get stuck in constitutional fetishism and America worship. The other left-wing anarchists, many of whom are still Marxists, are always in danger of heading down the wrong path.

    So when libertarians fight about who they should form alliances with, I tend to agree with almost all of them. I think a more prudent strategy is to focus on what nearly all libertarians are already doing: convert without forming alliances. Use common causes, sure, but relentlessly attack the flawed beliefs of others while you’re at it. These other nonsensical beliefs do not deserve equal footing with libertarianism.

    Austro-libertarianism is now spreading at an incredible rate, thanks in no small part to the internet. I’m not sure we need any of these alliances anymore, especially since there’s a strong case to be made that every alliance libertarians have ever entered into has led to disaster.

    To return to what’s happened here: Keith Preston has allowed some non-libertarian leftist positions to piss him off enough to ally with some non-libertarian right-wingers. Left-libertarians are, rightly or wrongly, taking Keith’s rejection of certain people very seriously, and this is understandable given Keith’s choice of words.

    I maintain, however, that 1) this isn’t really worth getting upset about and 2) alliances with any non-Austro-libertarians are potentially dangerous.

    This went on for a bit. Sorry about that.

  10. Rad Geek May 25, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Brandon:

    I wonder what you think about the several paragraphs Keith spends, in an essay which, according to you, is mainly defending freedom of association and dissociation, attacking what he characterizes as “the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism,” by which he apparently means the plumb-line libertarian position against government border checkpoints, papers-please police state monitoring, and government prohibitions on hiring immigrant workers.

    When Keith claims that the anarchistic position is in fact to enlist the United States government to enforce border checkpoints and police-state monitoring of national citizenship papers, to demand the use of government immigration enforcement to exile from the country those that the American government declares

  11. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    The language he uses is far less offensive and sarcastic than what you’d hear at a Lisa Lampanelli show.

    So are you suggesting that I should re-categorise Preston’s piece under “annoying comedy routine” rather than “serious political advocacy”? I doubt he’d thank you for that.

    Preston wrote about how he thinks people can associate however they want in a libertarian world, so what else matters?

    Well, a) the folks Keith wants to ally with are people whose commitment to freedom of association is suspect; and even leaving that aside, b) the combination of bigotry and freedom of association is both causally and conceptually unstable, for the usual thick-libertarian reasons; and even leaving that aside as well, c) if you really believed, as I doubt you do, that freedom of association is the only good thing worth defending, then why would you object to our criticising Keith — given that we think people can associate however they want in a libertarian world, so “what else matters?”

    He’s probably right that if libertarianism had no relations with feminism, gay rights or PC anti-racism thuggery, it would be more attractive to regular anti-government statists.

    It may be true that average people are turned off by feminism, gay rights, and whatever “PC anti-racism thuggery” is; but average people are clearly also turned off by libertarianism as such, whether left, right, or middle. No doubt libertarians might win more converts if we gave up being libertarians; hell, that seems to be the Libertarian Party’s grand strategy these days. Are we concerned with what will sell or what is true?

  12. Brainpolice May 25, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Why does libertarianism necessarily commit one to be completely neutral to “social issues”? Why are “social issues” irrelevant? That seems to be the underlying assumption you need to substantiate. This underpins a significant aspect of what distinguishes thick left-libertarians from those who take a more “thin” approach.

  13. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Because social issues have nothing to do with the NAP. And if that’s the case, it may have merit on its own, but it has nothing to do with libertarianism.

  14. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I forgot to write that I was against what KP wrote about the immigrunts. I’m for completely free migration including getting everyone on Hellfare, since it would undoubtedly destroy the entire system very quickly. From what I gather, Lew is also for free migration, so not all evil right-wing libertarians are for Ron Paul/HHH/Raimondo-type immigration controls. And KP did spend a whole section of that piece kicking dirt in HHH’s face.

  15. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Because there are millions of such salivating dogs, are there not?
    What is agog with your site? It’s probably the slowest Turdpress site that I’ve seen. I didn’t think Turdpress could move that slowly. Either you’ve got a bad host, or you might be asking for too much information on the homepage. The site is slower than a [insert Dan Rather-ism here].

  16. Sergio M May 25, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Brandon:

    Why will we want to have “millions of salivating PRO STATIST” in a movement that is essentialy anti statist? Just cause they think they are anti statists?

  17. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I hope libertarianism is more than just essentially anti-statist. We’re not going to get them to listen to our views by offending or alienating them at the outset. We’ll just confirm their worst suspicions about us. This was Kenny O’Donnell’s objections with the 1950’s Dems. They kept losing on principle. Losing. And the 2004 Kerry campaign, which (intentionally?) smothered the anti-Shrub sentiment by talking about gay marriage — an issue which most Americans either don’t care about or consider offensive. And at least from my perspective as a pure libertarian, are irrelevant because they aren’t covered by the NAP.

  18. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Most left-libertarians aren’t primarily interested in political campaigns (nor is Keith, for that matter).

    You keep saying nothing is relevant to libertarianism unless it directly follows from NAP. So what is your response to the thickness arguments? Do you deny that the thickness relations exist? Or grant it, but deny the conclusion for some other reason?

  19. Sergio M May 25, 2009 at 8:32 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Brandon:

    1) Libertarianism is not only anti statist, we agree there (and yet, that is another reason to be against the idea of an alliance with racists, bigots, homophobes, patriarchial assholes, from the thick libertarian grounds). Yet even if libertarianism is not only anti statist, it still remains ESSENTIALY anti statist. So the whole idea of an alliance with nut jobs who are interested in advancing the most dangerous side of the state (its armed branch) to be used against the more weak or defensless people (like inmigrants) is utter nonsense and its incoherent.

    2) You actually think the chances of success of libertarianism depend on electoral politics? It seems to me as a counter productive tactic. The day libertarians win an election based on the vote of neo nazis and racists, it will not a victory but a self defeat.

  20. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    It also seems odd to say both a) that libertarianism is narrowly about NAP, and yet b) that libertarianism isn’t essentially antistatist.

  21. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Sergio, I never said I wanted to advance libertarianism through electoral politics. I used statist examples. Losing on principle is still losing. Winning for us would be converting enough people that the state withers away into nothingness.

    Roderick, I don’t know what “the thickness arguments” refers to. If, as I suspect, it involves diluting the potency of the NAP, then I’m opposed to it. Racism, sexism, homophobia are all anti-social, but they shouldn’t be outlawed. Libertarianism is about rights and laws.

  22. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Sergio, I did not say “Libertarianism is not only anti statist”. I said “libertarianism is more than just essentially anti-statist”. Essentially anti-statist implies that perhaps only the core of the philosophy is anti-statist, and that there’s another aspect that perhaps isn’t concerned with opposing the state. Well, not to me. That’s what I meant by “more than just essentially”.

  23. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Brandon –

    Roderick, I don’t know what “the thickness arguments” refers to.

    Well, for example, there’s this piece I keep linking to every time we have this debate.

    If, as I suspect, it involves diluting the potency of the NAP

    No, it doesn’t.

    Racism, sexism, homophobia are all anti-social, but they shouldn’t be outlawed.

    What libertarian ever said they should?

    Essentially anti-statist implies that perhaps only the core of the philosophy is anti-statist, and that there’s another aspect that perhaps isn’t concerned with opposing the state.

    So what happened to your focus on NAP? Aren’t libertarians opposed to all aggression (theft, murder, assault, etc.), not just aggression by the state?

  24. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Of course, but that’s superfluous. Everyone already thinks those things are illegal.
    They don’t realize the state commits those crimes every moment of every day while cheered on by the laity.

  25. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Well, there are forms of private, non-state violence that also receive a fair degree of acceptance through cultural norms.

    But I’m more interested to learn what you think of the thickness arguments.

  26. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Hahahaa. I love jousting with you in here. It distracts me from a day of frustrating, impossible work (as Tommy Lee Jones says in Under Siege “finding last-minute desperate solutions to impossible problems created by other effing people”).

  27. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Plus, chicks dig me (well, not really).

  28. Black Bloke May 25, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I’ll count it for you.

  29. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    a) Why aren’t the means of counter-economics at least to some extent elements of the end? [This was part of Charles’ point about marginal gains in the video, and also in his two A-Train posts (here and here.]

    And even assuming they aren’t:

    b) Why isn’t some reliance on means that aren’t part of the end inevitable, given our situation? If you’re stuck at the bottom of a well, the fact that climbing a ladder isn’t part of being outside the well already would be an odd objection to a ladder.

    and

    c) Why don’t the means of working-within-the-bloodyhanded-system count even less as elements of the end than the means of counter-economics do?

  30. Black Bloke May 25, 2009 at 7:12 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I’m not sure if it’s coherent or not, but I just don’t think it’s applicable to actual counter-economists.

    Some means are instrumental, some means are constitutive, I don’t think that one is “better” than the other, I think they just are.

    If my goal is to live the freest possible life that I can, and that’s one that necessitates the absence of state intervention among other aggressive and/or demeaning interventions, then I use counter-economics as an instrument to bring that end about on the whole. But in getting toward the goal I use counter-economics as it constitutes what it means for me to be free.

    The lives of most counter-economists aren’t binary, black-white, totally counter-economic or totally statist, they are lives of degrees.

    I hope that at least helps you to think about what I’m thinking about.

  31. MBH May 28, 2009 at 3:31 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    That’s not right either. The proposition ‘Altruistic action–logically–ought to be considered a fundamental mode of action because of instances of helping-unconscious-persons’ is not synthetic a priori. It’s analytic a posteriori. Unless Quine is right that analytic and synthetic propositions aren’t really distinct.

  32. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    counter-economics is like bottling the cure without an end that opens

    Here’s how I see the situation:

    Suppose Dr. Evil has unleashed a deadly plague upon the world.

    Working within the system is like our petitioning Dr. Evil to release an antidote.

    Counter-economics is like our trying to develop and disseminate the antidote ourselves.

  33. MBH May 25, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    a) Why aren’t the means of counter-economics at least to some extent elements of the end?

    I know I wouldn’t be able to claim that there is absolutely no sense in which those means are elements of the end. So, instead I’ll just say that my focus is strict when it comes to the objective (movement as a whole) element of human flourishing.

    b) Why isn’t some reliance on means that aren’t part of the end inevitable, given our situation?

    That’s fair. But doesn’t that mean we’re into a mode of pragmatism rather than rationalism?

    c) Why don’t the means of working-within-the-bloodyhanded-system count even less as elements of the end than the means of counter-economics do?

    Again, I’ll have to point to my strict focus on the objective framing of human flourishing: we’re all part of the system–one way or another.

    Counter-economics is like our trying to develop and disseminate the antidote ourselves.

    I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel the pull of this argument. But again, it’s the sense of collective responsibility that’s my hang-up. I want the certainty that ladder-use will be encouraged–until the last person is out of the well–and done so for the sake of eudaimonia and no ulterior motives.

  34. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 8:05 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I’ll just say that my focus is strict when it comes to the objective (movement as a whole) element of human flourishing.

    Okay, but how does that favour working-within-the-system over counter-economics?

    doesn’t that mean we’re into a mode of pragmatism rather than rationalism?

    I’m not sure what weight you’re giving to those terms here.

    we’re all part of the system–one way or another.

    Okay, but we’re also all part of the market one way or the other too. So that by itself doesn’t decide between the (political) system and the market.

    I want the certainty that ladder-use will be encouraged–until the last person is out of the well–and done so for the sake of eudaimonia and no ulterior motives.

    And why do you think the coercive realm of state politics is more likely to express that ideal that than the voluntary realm of the market?

    does counter-economics assume all action to take place within a form of marketplace? That is, does it leave room for the circulation of gifts and generosity–not as a means of give and take, but pure giving?

    Most agorists use the terms “marketplace” and “counter-economics” to cover the entire realm of voluntary exchange, not just buying and selling.

  35. MBH May 25, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Okay, but how does that favour working-within-the-system over counter-economics?

    I see movement as a whole = unified movement in one direction. Counter-economics = an undercurrent, and at times an undertow.

    I’m not sure what weight you’re giving to [pragmatism and rationalism] here.

    Not much. I guess I just never thought of you as a pragmatist. Then again, pragmatism does not preclude rationalism–just pure idealism.

    Okay, but we’re also all part of the market one way or the other too. So that by itself doesn’t decide between the (political) system and the market.

    Agreed. But I’m not convinced that such a “choice” exists. I see that as uprooting man from nature. The market is a system too–maybe a much more natural system than the political system. But why is the political system necessarily not an extension of the market system–even if it’s just in a primitive (and fucked-up) form?

    And why do you think the coercive realm of state politics is more likely to express that ideal that than the voluntary realm of the market?

    A voluntary realm would be more likely to express that. But markets aren’t necessarily without coercion. I understand you don’t think it likely without the monopoly state, but there’s usually a market for coercing people.

    Most agorists use the terms “marketplace” and “counter-economics” to cover the entire realm of voluntary exchange, not just buying and selling.

    I’m not sure about this, but I think that gift theorists would take issue with gift giving as exchange. I know that Lewis Hyde considers gift giving as strictly demarcated from any market activity. So, for instance, pulling someone up by a rope from the bottom of a well, is not necessarily an exchange. It could be lassoed around them while they’re unconscious. We’d be hard-pressed to call that an exchange.

  36. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 10:08 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I see movement as a whole = unified movement in one direction. Counter-economics = an undercurrent, and at times an undertow.

    Okay, but what I’m trying to understand is why you see it that way.

    I guess I just never thought of you as a pragmatist. Then again, pragmatism does not preclude rationalism

    But my question is: what do you mean, in this context, by those many-meaninged terms “pragmatism” and “rationalism”?

    But I’m not convinced that such a “choice” exists.

    But in favouring political over counter-economic means, how are you not making such a choice?

    But markets aren’t necessarily without coercion. I understand you don’t think it likely without the monopoly state, but there’s usually a market for coercing people.

    Sure — that’s what agorists call “red market.” But that’s not what counter-economics is about.

    I’m not sure about this, but I think that gift theorists would take issue with gift giving as exchange.

    Well, most gift-giving — most particularly including the kind gift theorists tend to focus on — takes place in a context of expected reciprocity, even if it’s not direct or immediate. Still, I think this is a primarily terminological issue.

    It could be lassoed around them while they’re unconscious. We’d be hard-pressed to call that an exchange.

    Well, it would still count as exchange in Rothbard’s sense. But admittedly, agorists’ use of the term “market,” even though it’s intended to cover the entire realm of voluntary interaction, probably does represent a focus on exchange in a narrower sense as the paradigm case, and that arguably represents a blind spot (one that I think the current generation of agorists is less susceptible to than the last, however; e.g., today’s agorists talk more about gift economies, nonmonetary exchange, and so on than Konkin did — a product in part of salutary cross-fertilisation with other flavours of left-libertarians). Still, terminology aside, the main issue is whether strategies for political change should focus primarily on a) trying to reform coercive institutions from within, or b) trying to bypass coercive institutions via cooperation to build alternative, voluntary institutions (whether we call this latter approach “counter-economics” or not).

  37. MBH May 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Okay, but what I’m trying to understand is why you see it that way.

    If we don’t accept a distinction between the political system and the market system, then acting within a purely market system creates a form of psychological fragmentation from those acting within both.

    But my question is: what do you mean, in this context, by those many-meaninged terms “pragmatism” and “rationalism”?

    Rationalism: a mode of perception which transcends the distinction between subject and object/man and nature.
    Pragmatism: a strategy for action which takes into account imperfect routes with the possibility of steps running counter to the end.

    But in favouring political over counter-economic means, how are you not making such a choice?

    That’s fair. I would say that, when I perceive politics as necessary, then I am making such a choice. If I perceive politics as contingent on the absence of strong red markets, then I’m in a more coherent position. So, you’ve definitely moved me towards the latter. But as of now, I do think strong red markets would exist without the state.

    Well, most gift-giving — most particularly including the kind gift theorists tend to focus on — takes place in a context of expected reciprocity, even if it’s not direct or immediate. Still, I think this is a primarily terminological issue.

    I could agree with that to a certain extent.

    …the main issue is whether strategies for political change should focus primarily on a) trying to reform coercive institutions from within, or b) trying to bypass coercive institutions via cooperation to build alternative, voluntary institutions (whether we call this latter approach “counter-economics” or not).

    OK, primarily: I agree on (b), but only to the extent that it does not subtract from (a).

  38. MBH May 25, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I should re-read my posts before I post them. Now, I’m clarifying what I just wrote:

    My first answer is moot because of my last answer.

    My third answer should read: If I perceive politics as contingent on the absence or presenceof strong red markets, then then I’m in a more coherent position.

  39. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 12:30 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    I could say I have no problem with (a) so long as it doesn’t interfere with (b). So you’re prioritising (a) over (b) while I’m prioritising (b) over (a). I’ve pointed to some of my reasons for prioritising (b) over (a), but it’s still not clear to me what your reasons are for prioritising (a) over (b).

  40. MBH May 26, 2009 at 2:38 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Well, I’m kind-of trying to dodge the question (so it’s muddled above). I really don’t want to say that I would prioritize (a) over (b). That would be kind-of like prioritizing a structure over the people within it. That’s odd–at best–or a moral failing–at worst.

    So, I’m wrestling between (i) (b) over (a) vs. (ii) finding a way to dissolve the question.

    (i) In addition to your arguments, I’m compelled by Sonia Johnson’s argument regarding the Women’s Movement–that (a) can take all the momentum out of (b). In business language: equity built up over time can instantly turn into a liability with the shift from (b) to (a). That’s very sensible to me.

    vs.

    (ii) (a) and (b) are not qualitative differences, but differences of degree. (a) is a symbolic expression of (b). When the Civil Rights Movement resulted in the illegality of segregation, that boosted the movement’s momentum. So while (b) is where the rubber meets the road, (a) can serve as traffic signs. We need both: even if (a) more often than not points in the wrong direction.

  41. MBH May 26, 2009 at 6:16 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Well, it would still count as exchange in Rothbard’s sense.

    Cool. That’s exactly how I’m imagining pure gift giving–autistic exchange. The self of the autistic exchange is… well… not distinct from anyone/anything–exactly why it’s considered a spiritual experience (or an alienating one, I guess, depending on the context).

    I also appreciate how he characterizes the gap between autistic exchange and interactive exchange.

    A few questions this immediately gives rise to for me: if society is the field of interactive exchange, and agorism is activity outside of that field, is agorism (a) activity which shows Rothbard was incoherent, (b) necessarily autistic exchange, (c) the formation of another society?

    Also, since these modes of exchange are so qualitatively different–because interactive exchange did not evolve from autistic exchange–what happens in the leap from autism to interaction? Is the autistic mode given up? Does it linger? Does it stand side by side the interactive mode?

  42. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    if society is the field of interactive exchange, and agorism is activity outside of that field

    But nobody ever said that agorism is activity outside of the field of interactive exchange.

  43. MBH May 26, 2009 at 6:16 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    But nobody ever said that agorism is activity outside of the field of interactive exchange.

    Damn my dyslexic logic!

    Should read: if interactive exchange only takes on the field of society…

  44. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    I’m not sure where to insert the revised line.

  45. MBH May 26, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    If interactive exchange only takes place on the field of society (as Rothbard suggests), then isn’t agorism an attempt to form a new society?

    And, what do we say about the Space of autistic exchange? I mean, if interactive exchange did not evolve from autistic exchange, then autistic exchange is still present somewhere. Are we supposed to pass over this in silence?

  46. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    If interactive exchange only takes place on the field of society (as Rothbard suggests), then isn

  47. MBH May 26, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    [Autistic exchange] happens every day, no? I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.

    Yeah. But can’t we distinguish between different kinds of autistic exchange?

    (a) I put on my shoes. (That’s an autistic exchange unless we say that shoes imply organized factory production and non-compulsory sales, hence mutuality, hence quasi interactive exchange.)

    (b) I move. (But even if no one is cooperating at that moment in time, I can still reference cooperation with other individuals: because the doctor healed my legs or as such and such taught me to, hence mutuality, hence quasi interactive exchange.)

    Rothbard says, “If the action is performed by an individual without any reference to cooperation with other individuals, we may call it autistic exchange.” But, I can always reference cooperation (as long as references aren’t temporally bound). I mean, even (c)I think implies mutuality so long as thought is intertwined within a culture, a culture’s symbols, a language, etc.

    So, what I’m getting at is the seemingly elusive reference of 100% autistic exchange (in the way that Rothbard wants to say it’s totally distinct from interactive exchange). The weird thing is that the only strategy I can use to make such a reference is to remove my own consciousness, but then I sure as hell can’t say anything. I could reference an awareness or an existence or a somethingness, but not much else. I certainly can’t reference individuals in cooperation with other individuals, and so it qualifies as 100% autistic exchange. But it doesn’t really qualify as human exchange.

  48. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Rothbard says, “If the action is performed by an individual without any reference to cooperation with other individuals, we may call it autistic exchange.” But, I can always reference cooperation (as long as references aren’t temporally bound).

    I think you’re interpreting “reference” a lot more broadly than Rothbard meant it.

  49. MBH May 26, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Oops. :)

  50. MBH May 27, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Would you agree that autistic exchange could be distinguished into gift exchange (hoping for nothing in return) and impersonal autistic exchange?

  51. Araglin May 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    MBH,

    ‘Gifting’ does not constitute an instance of autistic exchange (regardless of any expectation of a return, or lack thereof) by virtue of the fact that the recipient has to accept the gift in order for the transfer to be effectuated.

    For more on the relation of gift economies to the market economy, see this comment I left at Brad Spangler’s blog (as well as the entire thread of which it is a part — including Brad’s and Jeremy’s illuminating comments):

    http://bradspangler.com/blog/archives/1036/comment-page-1#comment-27395

    More generally, have you read Mauss’s book on the gift? It’s earthshatteringly important.

    Cheers,
    Araglin

  52. Roderick May 27, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Araglin —

    Well, MBH earlier gave the example of benefiting someone (e.g. rescuing them from drowning) while they’re unconscious. Under what category would that fall?

  53. MBH May 27, 2009 at 10:40 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Araglin, thank you! I’m half way through Lewis Hyde’s book right now. The Gift is the name you couldn’t remember. I have not read Mauss’ book. But after reading you, I will read it and I very much look forward to it.

    But I do still see–what Roderick agreed could arguably be considered–a “blind-spot.”

    You say: Also, as purely voluntary, the recipient is always free to refuse to accept the gift, thus keeping this “educative, or self-canceling hierarchy” well within the bounds of the voluntary order.

    and Brad, in defense of praxeology, says: When gift-giving occurs on a wholly voluntary basis, the giver is giving the gift in order to increase their own subjectively perceived satisfaction and the receiver is accepting the gift in order to increase their own subjectively perceived satisfaction.

    I agree with both of you that gift giving is (a) voluntary and done (b) in order to increase one’s own subjectively perceived satisfaction. But, I don’t think that the recipient has to (c) accept the gift in order for the transfer to be effectuated, or (d) to be motivated to increase their own subjectively perceived satisfaction.

    Consider this: An unconscious person is at the bottom of a well. You lasso that person with your handy rope and pull them to safety.

    This scenario meets (a) and (b), but falls short of (c) and (d). The unconscious person could not possibly accept anything, let alone perceive satisfaction.

    For exactly these reasons, gift exchange can constitute autistic exchange. Only one person is exchanging a state of affairs for another. The unconscious person isn’t exchanging anything. It’s not an interactive exchange (unless you ask to be rewarded for saving the person’s life–which you wouldn’t).

    I really appreciate the comment, and I look forward to further interaction.

  54. Araglin May 27, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Hey Roderick,

    Good question! In that case, I think one could say that the rescue was an instance of autistic exchange — because, as unconscious, the ‘donee’ was a pure patient of the donor’s action*.

    If pressed, however, I would say that the rescue service would only count as a ‘gift’ insofar as the relevant circumstances warranted a presumption that the recipient would-have-manifested–acceptance had she been in a position to do so.

    What do you think?

    * Incidentally, it may be that any tortious act would also constitute an austistic exchange on the part of the tortfeasor…

  55. MBH May 27, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    It looks like autistic exchange can be broken into (a) gift exchange, (b) tortious exchange, and (c) impersonal exchange.

  56. Araglin May 28, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Hey MBH,

    Thanks for your gracious reply — which, I only saw after responding to Roderick’s previous comment. I think that my response to Roderick’s comment may adequately address the issue of ‘acceptance’ in the unconscious rescue case.

    I fear don’t think your point about “increasing subjective utility,” I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this justice that this area of gift-economics deserves a lot more attention than it has hitherto received, but I would venture a yes-and-no:

    By accepting a gift, the recipient demonstrates that he prefers ‘accepting’ over ‘refusing’ (thus bringing the exchange within the realm of praxeology or catallactics, as Brad rightly indicated), *BUT* at least two dangers lurk here that I think may partially explain your hesitations over Brad’s formulation:

    First, one mustn’t read this preference-for-acceptance too narrowly — as a preferring of having-the-gifted-object over not having it. Instead, it may be that one prefers having-accepted-the-gift and the relation-with-the-giver that this now-consummated-gift may operate to establish, re-inforce, or strengthen, over refusing-the-gift — because of what all this may entail over and above the idea of not thereafter owning the gifted-object.

    Second, one mustn’t read this preference-for-acceptance as presupposing an egoist motivational psychology. Rather, one’s preference-for-acceptance could just as easily be grounded in a genuine concern for the good of the other (not wanting her to be offended or saddened by a refusal) or for the good of the relation-with-the-giver (i.e., it’s part of what being a nephew means to pretend to like the socks that one’s aunt has knitted for one’s birthday…). In such cases, the acceptance might not be attended by any feeling of pleasure at all; or, it could be that any pleasure derived from the acceptance was not the impetus for accepting but the mere byproduct of having done well by another or one’s relation with that other.

    How do you like the Hyde book? If I remember correctly, it contained some really fascinating material on the question of ‘muses’ and creative inspiration in relation to the Gift.

    Peace,
    Araglin

  57. Roderick May 28, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    First, one mustn’t read this preference-for-acceptance too narrowly — as a preferring of having-the-gifted-object over not having it.

    That’s likewise going to be true of regular market exchange; people often buy X for reasons other than just wanting to have X.

  58. Araglin May 28, 2009 at 12:27 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    I just realize I made a real mess of my second paragraph.

    Instead of saying this:
    “I fear don’t think your point about “increasing subjective utility,” I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this justice that this area of gift-economics deserves a lot more attention than it has hitherto received, but I would venture a yes-and-no:”

    It should say this:
    “Your question about whether a donee’s acceptance of a gift can be explained by an imperative to be about the business of “increasing subjective utility,” is an important one — to which I probably won’t do justice–, but I’ll venture a yes-and-no:”

  59. MBH May 28, 2009 at 2:00 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Hey Araglin, it’s my pleasure.

    I see your response as a defense of praxeology–that it’s not based on egoist motivational psychology, and that even the case of helping an unconscious person can be explained in praxeological language.

    And yeah, I understand that it’s not a form of egoism. Praxeology tries to steer clear of motivation–to focus instead on action itself.

    But, it still looks like something is missing. Rothbard thought that praxeology could be categorized in these modes of action:

    (A) Autistic (or, “of the Isolated Individual”)
    (B) Interpersonal
    (C) War
    (D) Games
    (E) Unknown

    After researching a bit further into how Rothbard envisions it, (A) can’t hold the instance of helping-the-unconscious. We’re talking about two people, not one person on an island.

    We might want to put helping-the-unconscious into (E). But, well, don’t we know about that mode of action? I mean, we’re talking about it. And obviously it happens.

    Maybe the outline of human action needs to include (F) Altruism. Rothbard says that (A) and (B) simply are Economics. (C), (D), and (E) he calls “largely unexplored areas.” What’s wrong with adding (F) Altruism? Is not the instances of helping-the-unconscious enough to show that (F) is a synthetic a priori truth?

  60. MBH May 28, 2009 at 2:05 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    ARE not the instances of helping-the-unconscious enough to show that (F) is a synthetic a priori truth?

    I think I just channeled gwbush. I mean, “is our children learning?” It’s a fair question.

  61. MBH May 28, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Araglin, sorry I didn’t respond to your questions about The Gift earlier. I’ve been immersed in Hasnas.

    I haven’t gotten to anything about muses yet. But I love what I’ve read so far. Hyde gives a really compelling story about the history of interest/usury. And everything about the movement of the gift is so awesome. I mean, he demonstrates how, only through its circulation does the gift grow in value. Whereas our zero-sum world assumes that there’s only so much to go around. It’s fascinating.

  62. MBH May 31, 2009 at 5:13 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    One other strategy for dealing–through praxeology–with instances of helping-unconscious-persons:

    Rothbard says, “Air, then, though indispensable, is not a means, but a general condition of human action and human welfare.” We could say the same thing of helping-unconscious-persons: preserving/bettering the process of life is a general condition of human action and human welfare. That way, we avoid adding a new category, and we say something substantial and new about the framework through which we can conceptualize human action.

    The only problem is what to say about the mode of hostile action (war). If preserving/bettering the process of human life is a general condition of human action, then hostile action does not count as human. Well, actually, I’m cool with classifying war that way–non-human. Kind-of makes sense.

  63. MBH May 25, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Yeah, thank you. And that was an objection that I did not explicitly raise: does counter-economics assume all action to take place within a form of marketplace? That is, does it leave room for the circulation of gifts and generosity–not as a means of give and take, but pure giving?

  64. Black Bloke May 26, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    You’re welcome :-)

    I think that when Konkin wrote his foundational work on Agorism and counter-economics he was still very much influenced by Rand and Objectivist teaching. I can see, looking at things through that sort of lens, a way in which all human action could be characterized marketplace transactions.

    Though some (like Tom Palmer for instance) would say that this cheapens and dehumanizes human relationships, I’m quite sure that Rand and those who respected her thought thought about it in the opposite way, that is of elevating the status of all transactions and making something taken for granted, sacred. Even the altruist is selfish, in that they are personally rewarded by the good feeling of doing what they see as good acts. In this way, even gifts (“pure giving”) are exchanges.

    Konkin specifically defined counter-economics as, “The Counter-Economy is the sum of all non-aggressive Human Action which is forbidden by the State. Counter-economics is the study of the Counter-Economy and its practices. The Counter-Economy includes the free market, the Black Market, the

  65. MBH May 26, 2009 at 3:49 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    I’m quite sure that Rand and those who respected her thought about it in the opposite way…

    There are some profound things she has to say on this topic. Altruism = selfishness without a self. While I wouldn’t agree with her on that strictly, that does apply in a lot of instances.

    But, I do think that describing all human action in terms of economics can be dehumanizing. I mean, carried to the extreme, you have a car company calculating the cost/benefit analysis of thousands of human lives vs. moving the gas tank so that cars won’t blow up. To me, that’s repulsive.

    While I know that’s not the intent of the market lens, it sure doesn’t discourage that sort of behavior.

    I’m interested in counter-economics, but nothing influenced by Objectivism. Roderick’s book Aristotle vs. Rand puts her epistemology to shame. But I do like that definition (especially the cross-religion part–I’ve never seen that word before).

    I’ve always considered the gift economy as a given in terms of things that Agorists would be involved in…

    I understand how you mean that: file sharing, for instance, is like a gift economy. So maybe, as Roderick is suggesting, it’s just a terminological distinction. But for me, gift giving should still, at least, be demarcated by a dotted line from market interaction. I’m more comfortable–and I think it’s more meaningful–to totally separate the two. But that doesn’t mean that agorism can’t be redefined (maybe more effectively) as counter-economics plus gift circulation.

  66. Robert Paul May 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Why do the comments show up out of order, even at the top level?

  67. Roderick May 25, 2009 at 8:15 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Many left-libertarians would have us ally with other left-wing anarchists

    Sure, but we’re also trying to convince them of the virtues of markets. I don’t get the impression that Keith has been trying to convince white separatists of the virtues of antiracism.

    I’m not sure we need any of these alliances anymore

    That makes it sound as though the point of the left-libertarian alliance is purely strategic — get the lefties to help us achieve our libertarian goals. But it’s not, at least for most of us in that project. As we see it, just as libertarians are right about things most leftists have missed, leftists are right about things most libertarians have missed, so we need a movement that incorporates the best of both. The two obvious venues to recruit from for such a movement are existing libertarians and existing leftists.

  68. Brandon May 25, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    Unknown Unknown

    Which comments are out of order?
    The threading only goes 4 layers deep. After that, hit the last reply link to keep commenting in that thread. If I allowed more than 4 layers, the comments would get so thin they might eventually be one-word-per-line.

  69. Robert Paul May 26, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    What I mean is, when I posted my comment at the top level, it showed up as the sixth-to-last comment even though it was the latest one.

  70. Robert Paul May 26, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Sure, but we’re also trying to convince them of the virtues of markets. I don’t get the impression that Keith has been trying to convince white separatists of the virtues of antiracism.

    Yeah, but – and I hate to sound “thin” here – markets are required for libertarianism. Antiracism is not. And just as markets can take care of IP, they can take care of racism as well. (I’m including all voluntary activity.)

    That makes it sound as though the point of the left-libertarian alliance is purely strategic — get the lefties to help us achieve our libertarian goals. But it’s not, at least for most of us in that project. As we see it, just as libertarians are right about things most leftists have missed, leftists are right about things most libertarians have missed, so we need a movement that incorporates the best of both. The two obvious venues to recruit from for such a movement are existing libertarians and existing leftists.

    I’m a little confused by this. The way I see it, Austro-libertarianism has significant leftist implications, and many libertarians (actually, many people) don’t pay much attention to them. Is there something other leftists are right about that we’re actually wrong about? Otherwise, why can’t leftism be incorporated into Austro-libertarianism, and leftists recruited into this movement? Why a separate movement? Is it just for specific cultural issues?

  71. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 12:26 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Is there something other leftists are right about that we’re actually wrong about?

    Well, yes — those are the issues we left-libertarians keep talking about over and over.

  72. Robert Paul May 26, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    By “we” I meant Austrian left-libertarians. What are we wrong about?

  73. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Oh, I don’t think Austrian left-libertarians are wrong about much. But most Austro-libertarians aren’t left-libertarians.

    I don’t much care what we call the intersection between Austro-libertarianism and the left, and I don’t know whether it’s a “separate movement” or not — it depends what the criteria of individuation are for movements. My point is that libertarians who aren’t left and lefties who aren’t libertarians should both be moved into that intersection.

  74. Robert Paul May 26, 2009 at 1:46 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    If I understood you correctly, we’re advocating essentially the same thing — for leftism to be incorporated into Austro-libertarianism, and for leftists to be recruited into this movement. Is this what you mean by alliance? I took alliance to mean working for some goal without any “conversion” taking place.

  75. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 2:06 am #

    Unknown Unknown

    Well, “left-libertarian alliance” is ambiguous between an alliance of left-libertarians (which is what ALL is — an Alliance of the Libertarian Left, a bit broader than just the intersection between Austrianism and leftism, but basically composed of people who already value both radically freed markets and some set of lefty values) and an alliance between lefties and libertarians — though the two projects can be complementary.

    And part of the goal of an alliance of left-libertarians is obviously going to be to recruit more left-libertarians (since there ain’t enough of us to conquer the world just yet). And although there’s nothing wrong with recruiting from people who are as yet neither left nor libertarian, those who are left-but-not-yet-libertarian and those who are libertarian-but-not-yet-left seem like the two most natural recruiting grounds (since each one is already halfway there).

    But I don’t see why the conversion project should be described as converting lefties to Austrianism and/or libertarianism any more than it should be described as converting Austrians and/or libertarians into lefties. We’ve got the X group and the Y group, which intersect, and we’re promoting the intersection of X and Y, recruiting from both the not-yet-X portion of Y and the not-yet-Y portion of X. You could describe this as converting Xs to Ys, but equally well as converting Ys to Xs. The point is to convince both sides of the thickness-relations between X and Y.

  76. Robert Paul May 26, 2009 at 3:59 am #

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    I see what you’re saying. I am, of course, in favor of converting Xs to Ys, and converting Ys to Xs, as you put it. One reason I phrased it this way — “for leftism to be incorporated into Austro-libertarianism, and for leftists to be recruited into this movement” — is that I don’t think your intellectual foundation has to change to become a leftist if you’re already an Austrian. If you’re a Marxist or a Keynesian, you’re probably a leftist, but your starting point is at odds with reality. Whereas if you’re a right-wing Austrian your foundation is solid; it’s just that your conclusions are probably skewed or your analysis is mistaken.

    I admit that there are at least two issues with this. One is that I’m focusing solely on economics. The second is that in the real world, it can be harder sometimes to adjust your analysis than it is to replace your intellectual foundation completely. People sometimes work backwards — for example, someone can quickly sense that the poor are being exploited, become a Marxist, and later easily accept Austrianism instead as a way to explain the exploitation of the poor. Or a right-winger can perceive only the rich getting “soaked”, arrive at Austrianism separately, and later find it very difficult to accept its leftist implications.

    Another reason is that I think being a libertarian is more important than being a leftist. This is kind of similar to the first reason — if I’m right that Austro-libertarianism leads to leftist results, it doesn’t matter as much (though it still matters) if a lot of libertarians don’t identify themselves as leftists (and there’s natural rights, of course). But again, this focuses on economics and also ignores outreach.

  77. Sergio M May 26, 2009 at 9:11 am #

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    “Yeah, but – and I hate to sound “thin” here – markets are required for libertarianism. Antiracism is not. And just as markets can take care of IP, they can take care of racism as well. (I’m including all voluntary activity.)”

    Technically yes. But Preston is not simply asking a big tent to allow racists. He is asking a big tent for asking racists and anti imigration crowd decided to use the power of the state to forcefully separating other races or forcefully stoping inmigrants. And that, even in the thin sense, is incompatible with libertarianism.

  78. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

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    Yet another bridge that Keith has burned.

  79. Roderick May 29, 2009 at 11:50 am #

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    The left tent is awfully big; why must Christians be excluded?

    Who’s excluding Christians?

  80. Brandon May 29, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

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    What about kooky Christian Reconstructionists who advocate stoning misbehaving children and adults who sin. Should they be excluded?

  81. Roderick May 29, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

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    Are they trying to get into the left-libertarian tent? I doubt it; but if they start, I certainly favour excluding them.

  82. Stephan Kinsella May 30, 2009 at 11:40 pm #

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    Roderick, the nym “Charles H” seems to be.

  83. Roderick May 31, 2009 at 2:10 am #

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    What has Charles H said that implies he wants to exclude Christians? The only reference he made to religion above is “young-Earth creationists” (who are a minority within Christianity).

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