Leftists corner.

Jacob Cordingley
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Leftists corner.

I'm very tired and about to hit the hay but I just thought we could do with a place to discuss lefty politics, current issues, philosophical ins and outs etc. I'm not going to bother with an introduction because I'm going to fall asleep any minute. Discuss.


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Leftist politics sounds good

Leftist politics sounds good to me. Maybe I'll think of something more substantive to say later.


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A question, and I mean this

A question, and I mean this in all honesty: what does a leftist politics require and look like today?

"The will to revolutionary change emerges as an urge, as an 'I cannot do otherwise,' or it is worthless." --Slavoj Zizek


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what i think should be one

what i think should be one of the top priorities of the left is to wake up and react to the republican war on science. namely, putting a permanent ban on bullshit spin terminology like "sound science" and "junk science", and reastablishing the White House Office of Science and Technology. no more of this privatization of science studies by the right to create results that fit their oil buddy agenda.

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djneibarger wrote: what i

djneibarger wrote:
what i think should be one of the top priorities of the left is to wake up and react to the republican war on science. namely, putting a permanent ban on bullshit spin terminology like "sound science" and "junk science", and reastablishing the White House Office of Science and Technology. no more of this privatization of science studies by the right to create results that fit their oil buddy agenda.

You are quite right. The only problem I guess is the weakness of the left in America. Personally it is my view that privatisation or even semi-privatisation of educational establishments and that includes scienitific research labs as well as schools is destructive and leads to corruption of the truth in search of profit or unjust influence. Your example of scientific results that benefit oil companies is quite right. Oil companies can make a greater profit if they keep the public buying their product and if they keep the government from imposing restrictions upon them, positive scientific results will help here.

Also, there is a real problem in this country with out Prime Minister's city academies and trust schools. Trust schools are state schools partially privatised where the private owner can choose the ethos of the school. In the case of Vardy's schools in the North-East he has imposed a heavily literalist Christian ethos on the school! The head of science at one such school is a guy who will take the bible over science when the two come into dispute!

The left should definately be about stopping privatisation of such institutions as well as defending other things like healthcare from the same fate. The NHS, is one of Britains best assets in terms of welfare for ordinary people. But it is becoming over run with private influence. Private cleaning firms are employed to clean the hospitals, wasting money that could be spent more efficiently on employing cleaners individually (i.e. not having to pay a boss too) and would give better results. Private companies will always seek profit. Profit can conflict with results, it is very hard to control them in order to stop the cutting of corners. Things like MRSA, a disease found in hospitals which has killed patients coming in for something completely different, could be avoided if the level of cleaning was up to scratch.

My views are probably further left than these things. I think capitalism should be gotten rid of. It doesn't work. I will write more about this some other time, I am tired. Had a busy day of events organising etc.


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djneibarger wrote: what i

djneibarger wrote:
what i think should be one of the top priorities of the left is to wake up and react to the republican war on science. namely, putting a permanent ban on bullshit spin terminology like "sound science" and "junk science", and reastablishing the White House Office of Science and Technology. no more of this privatization of science studies by the right to create results that fit their oil buddy agenda.

I think the American left, a term I use very loosly, is so close to the positions of the American right that they have as much interest in defeating science as the right does.

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i agree that the lines

i agree that the lines between the left and right are becoming blurred, partially because of the current need to brown nose evangelicals in order to gather votes. it can definitely be argued, though, that republicans have gone to great lengths to "debunk" many profit threatening scientific studies, i.e. global warming, tobacco related health risks, and to cater to their christian voter base by attacking the science behind(and therefore clouding the understanding of) things such as stem cell research, abortion (life begins at conception? what?), end of life choices, etc.

 

www.derekneibarger.com http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=djneibarger "all postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory." -christopher hitchens


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Jacob Cordingley

Jacob Cordingley wrote:

djneibarger wrote:
what i think should be one of the top priorities of the left is to wake up and react to the republican war on science. namely, putting a permanent ban on bullshit spin terminology like "sound science" and "junk science", and reastablishing the White House Office of Science and Technology. no more of this privatization of science studies by the right to create results that fit their oil buddy agenda.

You are quite right. The only problem I guess is the weakness of the left in America. Personally it is my view that privatisation or even semi-privatisation of educational establishments and that includes scienitific research labs as well as schools is destructive and leads to corruption of the truth in search of profit or unjust influence. Your example of scientific results that benefit oil companies is quite right. Oil companies can make a greater profit if they keep the public buying their product and if they keep the government from imposing restrictions upon them, positive scientific results will help here.

Also, there is a real problem in this country with out Prime Minister's city academies and trust schools. Trust schools are state schools partially privatised where the private owner can choose the ethos of the school. In the case of Vardy's schools in the North-East he has imposed a heavily literalist Christian ethos on the school! The head of science at one such school is a guy who will take the bible over science when the two come into dispute!

The left should definately be about stopping privatisation of such institutions as well as defending other things like healthcare from the same fate. The NHS, is one of Britains best assets in terms of welfare for ordinary people. But it is becoming over run with private influence. Private cleaning firms are employed to clean the hospitals, wasting money that could be spent more efficiently on employing cleaners individually (i.e. not having to pay a boss too) and would give better results. Private companies will always seek profit. Profit can conflict with results, it is very hard to control them in order to stop the cutting of corners. Things like MRSA, a disease found in hospitals which has killed patients coming in for something completely different, could be avoided if the level of cleaning was up to scratch.

My views are probably further left than these things. I think capitalism should be gotten rid of. It doesn't work. I will write more about this some other time, I am tired. Had a busy day of events organising etc.

privatization seems to have become like a drug to republicans. it was appalling the way the bush administration tried to paint social security as a ticking time bomb, but the statistics they used to prove their point were nothing more than unrealistic age/income input figures fed through a conservative think-tank (the heritage foundation) to produce a worst case scenario. 

and i agree that the left is being nowhere near aggressive enough. perfect example, the iraq spending bill. i don't want soldiers in the field to suffer, but i think compromise from the democrats is hitting the table too early. bush has mastered the art of the bully, but he's not invulnerable. 

www.derekneibarger.com http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=djneibarger "all postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory." -christopher hitchens


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(kind of going off track of

(kind of going off track of where the thread is going)

What do you guys/gals think of the libertarian left?

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought


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i see it as being relative

i see it as being relative to the whole small vs big government debate. inadvertantly libertarianism could play into the hands of privatization advocates. look at it this way; at the moment FEMA is a disaster, the perfect argument for the scaling down of government. but just suppose that FEMA actually did what it was originally intended to do, did it well, and was properly run without partisan interference.

i absolutely agree that the state can be given to much power, and cases such as terry schiavo definitely highlight the blatant interference of government in the lives of private citizens, but i still feel that you can scale back big government TOO much. 

www.derekneibarger.com http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=djneibarger "all postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory." -christopher hitchens


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I agree with most of what

I agree with most of what has been said, especially Jacob's insistence that capitalism is the problem. There is also, as most have pointed out, I think, the lack of any left in the United States, at least that has any real political influence.  So, to my mind, it is not even a question of some democrats abandoning their leftist leanings to compromise with the right; they never had had these leanings in the first place.  What I find disturbing in this country (speaking of USA here) is the way that "left" and "right" gets divided over "moral" issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, and so on.  I don't want to dismiss the importance of such issues, but focusing on these only allows us to ignore larger, structural problems.  One is assumed to be on the left if they support homosexual unions or marriage--but it is quite possible to support such marriage while owning numerous shares in Exxon, Walmart, and so on.  This hardly sounds left to me.  Another example that really bugs me is the issue of stem-cell research.  Here we are, talking about government funding of stem-cell research when we don't even have an adequate healthcare system that covers all citizens.  I am not against stem-cell research, but I do think that before we talk about government funding for it, we should seek improvement of the quality of healthcare at the level where it affects most people.  In other words, universalize the healthcare system, get rid of the endless maze of corporate profits that surround it, and so on--and then let's talk about what the government can do to fund said research.  Now I'm starting to ramble...guess it's a little bit early.  

"The will to revolutionary change emerges as an urge, as an 'I cannot do otherwise,' or it is worthless." --Slavoj Zizek


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qbg wrote: (kind of going

qbg wrote:
(kind of going off track of where the thread is going)

What do you guys/gals think of the libertarian left?

Socially it corresponds with my views. Economically a polar opposite. Capitalism is flawed.

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spiritisabone wrote: I

spiritisabone wrote:
I agree with most of what has been said, especially Jacob's insistence that capitalism is the problem. There is also, as most have pointed out, I think, the lack of any left in the United States, at least that has any real political influence. So, to my mind, it is not even a question of some democrats abandoning their leftist leanings to compromise with the right; they never had had these leanings in the first place. What I find disturbing in this country (speaking of USA here) is the way that "left" and "right" gets divided over "moral" issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, and so on. I don't want to dismiss the importance of such issues, but focusing on these only allows us to ignore larger, structural problems. One is assumed to be on the left if they support homosexual unions or marriage--but it is quite possible to support such marriage while owning numerous shares in Exxon, Walmart, and so on. This hardly sounds left to me. Another example that really bugs me is the issue of stem-cell research. Here we are, talking about government funding of stem-cell research when we don't even have an adequate healthcare system that covers all citizens. I am not against stem-cell research, but I do think that before we talk about government funding for it, we should seek improvement of the quality of healthcare at the level where it affects most people. In other words, universalize the healthcare system, get rid of the endless maze of corporate profits that surround it, and so on--and then let's talk about what the government can do to fund said research. Now I'm starting to ramble...guess it's a little bit early.

i absolutely agree that "moral" issues obscure the more pressing matters, and i think that's exactly the intention. in any time during the last 5 years you could say that there was nothing more important on bush's plate than fixing the mess in iraq and fixing health care, but whenever he began to feel the heat from these issues he would divert public attention with "moral" issues. their something that fires people up and creates controversy, and ultimately draws attention away from our governments failings.

i tend to put a little more priority on stem-cell research, but that's just because i feel that universal health care is as simple as saying "yes" and doing it, while stem-cell research is a universe of possibilities that's still sitting a the starting gate. 

www.derekneibarger.com http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=djneibarger "all postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory." -christopher hitchens


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I agree, and did not mean to

I agree, and did not mean to imply that stem cell research is unimportant. I would simply like to see universal health coverage at the foundation of it. And, although reconfiguring the healthcare system would take a lot of work at this point, I think you are right that it would, in the end, simply take saying "yes" and doing it.  Sometimes, we must simply say "yes" to something, and work out the difficulties later.  

"The will to revolutionary change emerges as an urge, as an 'I cannot do otherwise,' or it is worthless." --Slavoj Zizek


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another slight topic change:

another slight topic change: from what i've heard so far, most dems see hillary as too much of a target, and obama as too inexperienced. anybody think the democrats have any chance of winning the white house in 08?

www.derekneibarger.com http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=djneibarger "all postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory." -christopher hitchens


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I think they have a shot,

I think they have a shot, but mostly because there does not seem to be a viable Republican candidate right now. I think putting Hillary in would be a big mistake, because, like you said, she does not really have any broad appeal (and I personally think that she should just switch to the Republican party, since she seems more in line with them). Obama is inexperienced, but maybe we need a little inexperience right now.  I do fear that Obama is losing the edge he seemed to have in 2004.  I would not rule Edwards out, though I hate that his populism gets bogged down in his personal spending habits (though he has come out and basically called the War on Terror an ideology, which I like and, to my knowledge, none of the major contenders have gone this far).  I personally would like to see Kucinich make a run, but he does not have a chance in hell.  All this is a long way of saying that they have a chance, as long as they don't blow it.  

"The will to revolutionary change emerges as an urge, as an 'I cannot do otherwise,' or it is worthless." --Slavoj Zizek


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djneibarger wrote: i agree

djneibarger wrote:

i agree that the lines between the left and right are becoming blurred, partially because of the current need to brown nose evangelicals in order to gather votes. it can definitely be argued, though, that republicans have gone to great lengths to "debunk" many profit threatening scientific studies, i.e. global warming, tobacco related health risks, and to cater to their christian voter base by attacking the science behind(and therefore clouding the understanding of) things such as stem cell research, abortion (life begins at conception? what?), end of life choices, etc.

 

I'm pretty well disgusted with both major U.S. political parties.  I don't think we have much of a choice, anymore.

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djneibarger wrote: i agree

djneibarger wrote:

i agree that the lines between the left and right are becoming blurred, partially because of the current need to brown nose evangelicals in order to gather votes. it can definitely be argued, though, that republicans have gone to great lengths to "debunk" many profit threatening scientific studies, i.e. global warming, tobacco related health risks, and to cater to their christian voter base by attacking the science behind(and therefore clouding the understanding of) things such as stem cell research, abortion (life begins at conception? what?), end of life choices, etc.

 

There is a similar situation in this country, perhaps not so much anti-science but the blurring of left and right in mainstream parties. The Labour Party and the Conservative Party are very very similar these days. They aim for the middle because that is where the votes are won. In the meantime the grassroots of both parties, the right wing conservatives and the left wing socialists are getting more and more frustrated at their party.

Personally I am not a member of the Labour Party, nor do I vote for them unless there's a chance the Tories could win the constituency/ council I live in. In Manchester, the Tories cannot win so I don't vote Labour. In Lancaster it's marginal red/blue (think of them as the other way round from the US) so I voted Labour the other week in the council elections.

I want to move totally off topic if I may and talk about Marxism. I do accept Marx' criticisms of capitalism, its effect on the workers, alienated labour/ exploitation etc. It fits perfectly with what actually exists, how many people I know actually feel about work, even if (as most do) they accept it as normal. There is a strong belief that communism doesn't work, and who can blame people for that? Soviet communism was abysmal and any reader of Marx can tell you that virtually none of it can be found in Marx. I see capitalism as destructive and also see how it forms mechanisms that will lead to its destruction, dissatisfied workers, reliance on profit, unsustainability of resources (in response to the problem of unsustainability of markets that Marx recognises). However, I also see that a totally state-based economy is not the answer either, it still alienates people from their product, it still has all the negative aspects of capitalism and more.

The only answer I find is co-operatives, working within an organised market framework. It rids the problem of alienated labour, the worker owns his product, he also shares labour communally, reestablishing a connection to other men. There is no need for surplus values (=less working hours) - No profits from the worker's labour goes anywhere but to the worker i.e. no boss. A democratic way to organise production i.e. no boss to rule the workers, the workers rule their own labour, again defeating alienation. If co-operatives have responsibilities to the environment, increased recycling etc, they are more likely to respond as co-operatives (cost becomes less of an issue) than a capitalist profiteer. Goods may also become cheaper to buy, not only because of less need for surplus value but also because competition remains because of the market. There may also be government subsidies/advisors to help smaller co-operatives keep their feet.

What do you think?


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Jacob Cordingley wrote: I

Jacob Cordingley wrote:

I want to move totally off topic if I may and talk about Marxism. I do accept Marx' criticisms of capitalism, its effect on the workers, alienated labour/ exploitation etc. It fits perfectly with what actually exists, how many people I know actually feel about work, even if (as most do) they accept it as normal. There is a strong belief that communism doesn't work, and who can blame people for that? Soviet communism was abysmal and any reader of Marx can tell you that virtually none of it can be found in Marx. I see capitalism as destructive and also see how it forms mechanisms that will lead to its destruction, dissatisfied workers, reliance on profit, unsustainability of resources (in response to the problem of unsustainability of markets that Marx recognises). However, I also see that a totally state-based economy is not the answer either, it still alienates people from their product, it still has all the negative aspects of capitalism and more.

I feel that Anarchism is better than (authoritarian) Marxism. And if you don't know, Anarchism's opposition to Capitalism and Marxism's opposition to Capitalism is similar economically-wise.
Quote:

The only answer I find is co-operatives, working within an organised market framework. It rids the problem of alienated labour, the worker owns his product, he also shares labour communally, reestablishing a connection to other men. There is no need for surplus values (=less working hours) - No profits from the worker's labour goes anywhere but to the worker i.e. no boss. A democratic way to organise production i.e. no boss to rule the workers, the workers rule their own labour, again defeating alienation. If co-operatives have responsibilities to the environment, increased recycling etc, they are more likely to respond as co-operatives (cost becomes less of an issue) than a capitalist profiteer. Goods may also become cheaper to buy, not only because of less need for surplus value but also because competition remains because of the market. There may also be government subsidies/advisors to help smaller co-operatives keep their feet.

Having the cooperatives/collectives competing against each other is a bad idea as it reintroduces the problems that the cooperatives/collectives try to fix...

Now then... Does anyone feel that democracy in the US is mostly a lie? It may appear to be superfacially democratic, but in reality it isn't all that democratic.

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought


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Marx said that Liberal

Marx said that Liberal Democracy is neither liberal nor democratic. I find that to be fairly true.

As for anrachism, it really cannot work. I really do think it doesn't protect people from the rise of tyranny. Most humans could be trusted to live and get along peacefully and productively but there are always those who don't.

Setting co-operatives in a market is an ideal solution. I did not mean absolute competition as with free-marketism. That is dangerous. All economic systems have markets, not just capitalism. If there is a controlled market where no co-op is let to go out of business (subsidies, advice and benefits), and where co-ops are not let to drive others out of business (rules to adhere to) and yet some kind of price battle is aloud to remain (within reason) then the market can then perpetuate rough equality. At the same time nationalised institutions (healthcare, schools etc) can operate along more Rawlsian lines, i.e. we can justify some inequality if over all standards of living improve, so we can justify paying doctors a high wage as incentive to perform actions to the benefit of society.

What I suggest is a controlled market. The market is necessary, not only to avoid state/individual monopolies, but also to cater to the welfare and needs of society at large. The market is a strong force, let it loose and it can cripple everything in sight, control it, set co-ops within a guided framework and it can be a positive force.   


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i think the karl rove's of

i think the karl rove's of america have perfected the art of manipulating our "democracy" in ways we never imagined possible. every possible loophole has been exploited, and obviously spin is a ten times more potent political device than truth or reason.

i still try to resist the notion that my single vote is useless, because though there is some truth to that, it's also playing directly into the hands of people live Rove, who are catering to the whim of the wealthiest 1%, and are dependent on the gullibility of the poor and uneducated as well as the apathy of the educated and frustrated.

so does democracy still exist? technically, yes, but i think it's been turned against us. 

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Personally I subscribe to

Personally I subscribe to the belief that one-dimensional measures are not enough to describe politics.

I like the two-dimensional Nolan map (http://freedomkeys.com/nolancharts.htm), though three dimensions is OK too (http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/6/14/45425/6208)

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well, the WSPQ pegged me as

well, the WSPQ pegged me as a liberal. not a big suprise, there.


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Yeah, they all peg me as way

Yeah, they all peg me as way out in the liberal quarter. There's a great one that I have lost the URL to, that shows famous people and political parties on the graph. It put me in the same spot as ghandi, the green party and martin luther king: diametrically opposite the two main parties of the UK, which were prettymuch on top of eachother.

This was interesting: I do not appear to have been voting for my beliefs, since I have been voting LibDem (The UK's only Libertarian party) rather than Green (The UKs only Liberal party).

Part of that's tactics, though. LibDems are way more likely to win.

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www.politicalcompass.org you

www.politicalcompass.org you take the test and it places you on a two dimensional scale. Personally I think it is more complex than this, and of course it doesn't take into account a passage of time, the right wing of today is very different to the feudal right. The same goes for the left. I normally come near the bottom left.


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Personally I think the thing

Personally I think the thing is biased, like online IQ tests.

Online IQ test: Your IQ is 180! You can order this framed...
Me: I'm being sold something. I suspect the test was biased. I shall retake it, answering all questions as wrongly as possible. Lessee, capital of Holland: timbucktoo. Anagram of "topeat": carrot...
Online IQ test: Your IQ is 105! You can order this framed...
Me: Riiight.

If: I see a test that places me ontop of Gandhi and other people commonly considered "definitely good", and the green party; and I see that all the other political parties in my country hold views diametrically opposed to my own; then what am I to assume?

Am I to assume that the green party holds my best interests and I should vote for them?

Or should I suspect "This feels too pat, and I am being sold something", and hypothesise that perhaps the questions were such that everyone would show up as a liberal or a libertarian, and the ads on the results page for liberal and libertarian sites are not just concidence?

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Some thoughts....   I

Some thoughts....

 

I agree that there is no left in the USA.  Dems are center right, Reps are far right.  Both parties value profits of private corporations more than the welfare of the people.  Both are capitalist in nature, both are agressive in starting wars around the globe.

 

Someone mentioned FEMA and its ineffectiveness...yes they are a government organization but they are run with a capitalist goal of privatization and efficiency.  Effectiveness and efficiency are two different things, and sometimes, like during natural disasters, they are odds with each other.  FEMA, to be run cheaply and efficiently, has almost no resources of their own.  They subcontract out everything.  They have different suppliers they go to...they call up some private trucking company and say "we need 500 trucks for this disaster" and the company says "great, we'll have them for you in a week".  This is a very efficient way to run things, you only get resources when you need them..you dont have to pay to have 500 trucks sitting around all year.  But its not effective for something like a disaster, which needs help immediately.  Something like the national guard is effective, because we pay them to be ready and they and their equipment sit around idle most of the time (except in times like now, of course, when they are all in Iraq).

 

As for anarchy, don't dismiss it out of hand so easily.  Remember that anarchy simply means "no rulers", not no laws, and not total chaos.  Anarchy is the best solution Ive found to socialism's problems.   Socialism of course has essential and material goods nationalized and distributed equally among the people, according to their needs.  The problem with it is one of beauracracy and corruption, which can be avoided by severely limiting the political power of ambitious individuals.  With internet, anarchy would be easier than ever to implement, imagine running our laws and government like wikipedia.  Everyone who cares about an issue can have a vote in how its resolved and implemented.

 

That would be a true democracy, one that leaders in power, be they democrat or republican, fear.


Zhwazi
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qbg wrote:(kind of going

qbg wrote:
(kind of going off track of where the thread is going) What do you guys/gals think of the libertarian left?

Depends which "Libertarian Left". The radical libertarian left, I'm a part of (anything on this site that says "Agorism" describes my beliefs, Mutualism is close too). The moderate libertarian-left is a confused inconsistent set of ideas.

Radical libertarian leftists are primarily libertarian to the extent that they don't advocate the initiation of force at all, leftists in a somewhat secondary sense in their advocacy of worker control over the means of production and the end of upper and lower classes.

I think the left and libertarians are actually ultimately the same group. They're both motivated by a belief that everybody is equal and a strong belief in a principle of justice, the problem is that they've taken off in two wrong directions with the same ideas. One was the people who believe in a natural born economic elite class and came to defend the products of favoritism in the name of equal rights and the "free market" which when pressed they'll admit isn't present and not see a contradiction, and that's where most libertarians are today. The other is the people who believed in an elected political elite class and came to defend political inequality of power because it hid under the thin veil of democracy, under which even a cursory glance would reveal a priviledged class of underworked well-paid inherently-parasitic bureaucrats exactly antithetical to any values of equality. And because of Rand on the right-libertarian end declaring egalitarianism as basically evil and the Austrian School's conflation of authoritarianism and socialism, and also because of the left's tendency to conflate the products of capitalism with the free-market rhetoric it's apologists love to use, they hate each other.

The differences are more than reconcilable.