2 thoughts on “Libertarianism and Anarchism Revisited: So far at the extremes that they are essentially the same??

  1. Nick Cooper

    and here’s where the conversation ended up
    Mike’s comments are quoted with “>”
    mine are not
    Nick Cooper

    > I don’t think you’re being entirely fair. I appreciate that we can agree to disagree, but education doesn’t necessarily lead to agreement.

    Uninformed critiques should be called out. I’m sure you’d agree that if someone wanted to critique the tea-party intelligently, they would have to know about:
    – Fundamental influences (ie. Ayn Rand of whatever),
    – Current books and articles by tea party people, and
    – The campaigns currently being waged by tea party people.
    If you don’t have much knowledge of the fundamental influences of anarchist thought throughout history, current anarchist books, or current anarchist campaigns then you can’t talk intelligently about anarchism. I sent you the barest introduction (http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/britanniaanarchy.html) to an ideology that has thousands of books, and at least a dozen essential ones.
    You would never base your critique of the tea party on a general impression and hearsay, you are most studious than that. You should have the same standards for yourself about anarchism.

    > To perhaps clarify, when I say I scanned the information, that is to say I read chunks and ‘scanned’ other chunks that seemed to go into finer detail of the chunks I read.

    ok, a good start

    > As for ‘pure’ anarchy, even the Britannica article discusses how people would be ‘free’ to associate with various crafts and interest groups, which becomes a limit on personal freedom unless those groups operate on unanimity or consensus; human beings tend to make those sorts of arrangements short-lived when large numbers of people are involved. One is thus free to feel ‘oppressed’ in a minority, find another group, or strike out on their own. The end result, imho, would be conflict (people being people), or being left to strike out on one’s own, being essentially defenseless against those organized in groups.

    Exactly, this is a realization that most anarchists had over the last century when anarchism was further refined. For a person who just wants a working definition, use this: anarchists seek to reduce power hierarchies. Of course, they don’t all agree about how to do so. Any anarchist who thought simply getting rid of government would solve things (at this point when corporations and international financial institutions are at least as powerful as governments) would be a fool. Like knocking down strawmen, debating positions held by fools is a weak goal. Instead you should be seeking to understand what the great thinkers within anarchism are presenting.

    > These groups, by the way, would have to be hierarchical in some form to function over time. Isn’t this a form of nascent government?

    Sure, the Zapatistas, which are the clearest example of an anti-hierarchy government is still a government and still has hierarchies within it. The thing that makes it anti-hierarchical is not that they have overcome hierarchy, it is that they are constantly re-evaluating based on attempting to reduce hierarchies. To give you an example, the Zapatistas don’t have equal female and male participation in government. They know this is a problem and are working on it. They know it won’t be solved tomorrow. They are in it for the long haul. To this issue and any others, the Zapatistas say, “the struggle continues.”

    > Again imho, Anarchism is as practical as Communism. Each assumes that people will respond peacefully and rationally in an ideal world, but we never live in an ideal world. People are timid or aggressive or greedy or generous or narcissistic or hedonistic or sociopathic, and or any of dozens of other personality permutations.

    I think the book you should read on this topic would be “Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology” by David Graeber. It is essential that you stop assuming you can dismiss concerns you have about anarchism or anything else without reading how anarchists address those exact same concerns. Anarchists are not politicians with talking points, they have open wide ranging discussions and get into philosophical questions constantly. Many are intellectuals and writers. So, try not to come off like you think that there are no coherent answers to these questions. Anarchists have been debating and writing about these concerns for hundreds of years. There are the classics (anarchism.net/books.htm), and the modern books (akpress.org and anarchistbookfair.net), but the general point here is that if you aren’t familiar with any of the material, starting from a place of being dismissive is insulting to the Pacifica audience. As journalists and opinion writers, we should start off from a place of acknowledging what we don’t know.
    You and I are familiar with the generic talking-points that people use to dismiss Pacificans. People will say, “the problem with Pacifica Radio is that freedom isn’t free, and there are some truly evil people on this planet who only understand violence.” To anarchists you would come off as just as dismissive and uninformed.

    > Human history shows that some form of hierarchy is ‘the natural order’ of things. Human societies virtually always end up there.

    Some anarchists would agree.

    > I believe that your freedom ends at the tip of my nose, so to speak, and vice versa. Our actions affect each other, and government in an ideal world (there’s that phrase again) helps to negotiate the boundaries of your freedom versus mine.


    > In principal, I belief in a certain degree of socialism. Prisons, armed forces and schools should be publicly owned and financed. I’d be willing to look at publicly owned banks, hospitals and utilities. The devil is always in the details, and corruption will occur whether these things are publicly owned or privately owned; each has advantages and disadvantages. Over time, the preferability of one kind of ownership over the other will vary on some of these things like banks and utilities. The pendulum always swings.

    Some anarchists also would agree about that. That is to say that many anarchists are anarco socialist (ie. it wouldn’t be odd to see anarchists marching for universal health care).

    > Perhaps a threat of socialization can keep some of these institutions more honest. In the absence of the threat, I think corruption is more likely. Only the law then provides a check on them, and the laws have been only weakly enforced.


    > So how far apart are we?

    Philosophically you probably would have many agreements with most anarchists, though you aren’t familiar with the material, terminology, and history yet. However, it is essential that you understand that being dismissive of political movements you haven’t even studied is a widespread practice that serves the status quo. If you agree with me that imperialism, resource looting, war, pollution, climate change, etc. is currently destroying natural beauty, well-being, biodiversity, and sustainability, then you should agree that it is Pacifica’s role to consider and present alternatives seriously, studiously, and respectfully.

    [From Mike: Nick later added this closing remark, which I think is helpful:] “Libertarians, even “left” ones, are against government coercion, war, the drug war, the police state, etc. However, they usually promote capitalist solutions. They’re against coercion, but don’t acknowledge the coercion of markets. It’s true that the US government is too often telling Americans what to do, but this level of coercion doesn’t compare with what free markets do to those who make our food, clothes, buildings, labor, technology, and etc. Libertarians are so concerned that they are being oppressed, that they fail to notice those they are oppressing.”


  2. Pingback: #Thinkwing Radio: Weds, FEB. 18, 2015, 10PM, @KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). TOPIC(s): OPEN FORUM (Topical and journalistic expertise, libertarianism vs. anarchism, the ‘CSI Effect’, and more . GUESTS: CALLERS! [AUDIO] | ThinkWing Radio with Mike Hon

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.