“Why We Left the Left” Update

Tom Garrison is in the process of editing a collection of essays, “Why We Left the Left” seeking 25 essays of 500-5000 words each from big and small L libertarians who were formerly leftists, liberals and/or progressives about their transition. See previous IPR story here. Excerpted from an email from Mr. Garrison to me (Paulie):

I have some very good news to report—I have acquired the services of an experienced literary agent for Why We Left the Left. [..] Literary agents are not going to waste their time on book projects they feel (and they are the experts in such things) cannot be “sold” to a publisher and be commercially successful.

We, all the contributors to Why We Left the Left, are fortunate to engage her services. While this is a huge step forward, much remains to be done. To date I have 13 completed essays (my goal is 25). Seven, are in the editing process. And another five who had indicated an interest but not yet submitted an essay.

[..] The book is more saleable as a finished project, as opposed to waiting for contributors to complete their essays.

Here is where I’m asking for your assistance. If you know other Libertarians (Libertarian Party members or not) who fit the profile (former leftists/liberals who evolved into Libertarians) and who want to share their story, please send me their name and contact information, or have them contact me.

Tom Garrison
126 North 2940 East, St George, UT 84790
Home phone: 435-627-1312
Email: tomgarrison98@yahoo.com

I’ve written a possible essay for the book, although in my view it is not finished (your opinions welcome). IPR rules don’t permit me to publish it as a separate article here, although other IPR writers are welcome to publish it if they wish. Assistance with finding other people who are interesting in contributing essays, and further discussion in comments, would be welcome.

-Paulie

30 thoughts on ““Why We Left the Left” Update

  1. paulie Post author

    followup email….

    Hi Paulie:

    Thanks for the email. I much appreciate all your help in getting the word out about my book project. When it is published, I think it will be an important book for Libertarians (to understand the great diversity of our movement in terms of the types of people and how each evolved into Libertarians), for liberals/leftists (why did all these decent political people leave us?), and for conservatives (why not join us?).

    I have a copy of your essay “I didn’t leave the left, the left left me…” (nice title).[….]

    If you know of folks who are interested in sharing their story, have them contact me. Or, if it is OK with them, give me their name and contact information and I will contact them.

    […]

    Again, thanks so much for your publicizing my project. The earlier posting in May and this one are helpful. Take care and I hope to hear from you soon.
    Tom Garrison

  2. Francois Tremblay

    Yes, let’s hear about the throngs of leftists who have joined the camp of capitalism lite. How can anyone who seriously understands why capitalism has fucked up the US and fucked up the world join your funny little imperialist camp?

    What about the people who have LEFT the Libertarian Party? Here at least we have one well-known example: Ron Paul. That a man of his integrity and his courage would abandon the Libertarian Party says a lot, don’t you think?

  3. Robert Capozzi

    3 ft, I don’t recall RP resigning his life membership from the LP. I do recall him resigning the GOP, only to rejoin later. Minor tactical moves all, IMO….

  4. paulie Post author

    Yes, let’s hear about the throngs of leftists who have joined the camp of capitalism lite.

    That all depends on what you mean by capitalism.

    How can anyone who seriously understands why capitalism has fucked up the US and fucked up the world join your funny little imperialist camp?

    I’m certainly against imperialism, and against corporate capitalism as it is practiced under the state.

    What about the people who have LEFT the Libertarian Party?

    Many of them are still libertarians. Others, not so much.

    Here at least we have one well-known example: Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul is still a member of the LP, and still has good things to say about the LP.

    That a man of his integrity and his courage would abandon the Libertarian Party says a lot, don’t you think?

    What exactly do you think it says? He has been running as a Republican, is a member of the LP, and has endorsed Libertarians and Constitution Party members for office in recent years. He runs as a Republican because they have easier ballot access and more media attention and money, not out of any philosophical difference with the LP.

    To the extent that he differs with LP positions, it is mostly in a social conservative direction, so I am surprised that you of all people would like him better than you do the LP. It certainly is not because he shares an anti-voting or anti-market economy perspective of any sort, so I’m surprised that you of all people like him. That is in itself a very interesting data point, isn’t it?

    But, if you’ve read the article I wrote “Tom Garrison is in the process of editing a collection of essays, “Why We Left the Left” seeking 25 essays of 500-5000 words each from big and small L libertarians…” Note big AND small l libertarians, which would by most definitions include Ron Paul.

    So, your distaste for the LP is quite misplaced here.

    But I’ll keep this in mind the next time I see you go on about how voting or participation in politics of any sort is evil (which, incidentally, is still a perspective that some prospective contributors to this collection may have, as well as Ron Paul supporters who were formerly leftists).

  5. Michael H. Wilson

    Depends on what is meant by the left. Once upon a time in a far off land it was mostly antiauthoritarian; i.e. against the state, against the church, the corporations, etc. Now it means using to state to achieve certain social and economic goals.

    For what my opinion is worth personally I don’t think you can develop a peaceful society by using the coercive policies of the state.

  6. paulie Post author

    Depends on what is meant by the left. Once upon a time in a far off land it was mostly antiauthoritarian; i.e. against the state, against the church, the corporations, etc.

    For any of you who have read my essay-in-development (linked from the post), that is largely why I was on the left. It was supposed to be against the military/police state, against mergers of church and state, and against corporatist power (backed by state power). Those things turned out to be selling points unfulfilled in practice.

    For what my opinion is worth personally I don’t think you can develop a peaceful society by using the coercive policies of the state.

    Exactly.

  7. rloy

    “I had my own debate with so-called libertarians recently and they couldn’t refute a single one of my points”

    And it’s still accurate. Libertarian anti-environmentalist propaganda is as false as it ever was., and capitalism remains a state invention (as all historical i.e. real anarchists understood).

  8. Austin Battenberg

    I was very apathetic throughout my young life. I became a liberal because I’m very anti-violence and anti-war, and President Bush was horrible. My mom was a liberal and we listened to Air America Radio, and I digested the talking points effortlessly. I know not everyone here agrees with him, but it was Congressman Ron Paul in his 2008 Presidential run that opened my eyes to Capitalism. I of course have differing views then him, but I am far from a liberal. I try to convince my liberal friends every day of the advantages of the free market.

  9. paulie Post author

    “I had my own debate with so-called libertarians recently and they couldn’t refute a single one of my points”

    And it’s still accurate.

    All your pointes were refuted. Perhaps you meant to say they were not refuted to your satisfaction.

    Libertarian anti-environmentalist propaganda is as false as it ever was.,

    I’m not anti-environmentalist. I’m pro-environmentalist, and I believe state coercion is bad for the environment.

    capitalism remains a state invention (as all historical i.e. real anarchists understood).

    It appears that you mean corporatism by capitalism. If so, I fully agree with you, and I’m against it.

    Libertarianism does not necessarily imply support for any particular economic system. It merely means opposition to all initiation of coercion (in the case of anarchist libertarians like myself), or a desire to minimize it (in the case of minarchists).

    Voluntary communal cooperatives are fully compatible with libertarianism. So is a true free market, absent any intervention from the state at any level. State capitalism (corporatism) and state “socialism” are both equally incompatible with libertarianism, however.

  10. rloy

    “All your pointes were refuted.”

    Such as?

    Capitalism is based on unsustainable growth, global warming is a fact, etc, etc. If any of those points were “refuted” I must have missed it.

    “I’m not anti-environmentalist. I’m pro-environmentalist, and I believe state coercion is bad for the environment.”

    Unfortunately, libertarians (99% of them at least) believe that it is only coercion when the state is *stopping* pollution. The pollution itself is never seen as “coercion” nor is the state’s protection of it.

    “It appears that you mean corporatism by capitalism. If so, I fully agree with you, and I’m against it. ”

    Without corporations, capitalism as we know it would not exist. If you support that I applaud you, but it isn’t a typical libertarian stance.

    If Libertarians oppose corporatism, why does their platform not call for an end to corporate personhood or corporate financing of elections?

  11. Brian Holtz

    On the 2012 Platform Committee I’ll again be proposing language like the following:

    “Pollution of other people’s property is a violation of individual rights, and polluters must bear the full costs of their pollution.”

    “We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association, as long as ultimate responsibility for each non-contractual liability of the firm is accepted by at least one of the individuals in it.”

    For information about green libertarianism, see EarthFreedom.net.

  12. FAN of Dr. STAN

    LOL- Cut your electricity and water off bother. Live what you preach and stop being a hypocrite. You worship the earth, stop harming it. Shut the damn AC off and find a shade tree to live under…

    * * *

    “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme

    “Hundreds of billion dollars have been wasted with the attempt of imposing a Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory that is not supported by physical world evidences…AGW has been forcefully imposed by means of a barrage of scare stories and indoctrination that begins in the elementary school textbooks.” — Brazilian Geologist Geraldo Luís Lino, who authored the 2009 book “The Global Warming Fraud: How a Natural Phenomenon Was Converted into a False World Emergency.”

    Wake up friends, when they come to your door for non-compliance it will be TOO LATE …

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.)” – Carl Sagan

    Environmentalists Pick Up Where Communists Left Off: http://townhall.com/columnists/charleskrauthammer/2008/05/31/environmentalists_pick_up_where_communists_left_off

    “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” – Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace

    “The threat of environmental crisis is the ‘international disaster key’ to unlock the New World Order.” – Mikhail Gorbachev

    Who’s the greatest polluter of all? The oil companies? The chemical companies? The nuclear power plants? If you guessed “none of the above,” you’d be correct. Our government, at the federal, state, and local levels, is the single greatest polluter in the land. In addition, our government doesn’t even clean up its own garbage! In 1988, for example, the EPA demanded that the Departments of Energy and Defense clean up 17 of their weapons plants which were leaking radioactive and toxic chemicals — enough contamination to cost $100 billion in clean-up costs over 50 years! The EPA was simply ignored. No bureaucrats went to jail or were sued for damages. Government departments have sovereign immunity. – http://www.lp.org/

    The environment would benefit immensely from the elimination of sovereign immunity coupled with the privatization of “land and beast.” The third and final step in the libertarian program to save the environment is the use of restitution both as a deterrent and a restorative. – http://www.lp.org/
    For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222

  13. rloy

    “Who’s the greatest polluter of all? The oil companies? The chemical companies? The nuclear power plants? If you guessed “none of the above,” you’d be correct. Our government, at the federal, state, and local levels, is the single greatest polluter in the land.”

    If you actually believe this, what’s the point in telling me to shut off my electricity? (I do live in a solar powered house btw, not that it will halt any of your guys’ pathetic ad hominem tu quoque arguments–which is all that libertarians are ever capable of making).

    Government and industry are indeed responsible for the majority of environmental problems–I said as much in the last thread. Libertarians choose to scream about an ordinary person taking a shower while giving golf courses (which often use as much or more water as everyone in the entire area) a free pass. And so on.

  14. rloy

    Brian Holtz,

    Thank you very much for the Free Earth link. I actually think much of what is written there is *very* reasonable–far more compelling than simply insulting environmentalists.

  15. paulie Post author

    Such as?

    See previous thread.

    Capitalism is based on unsustainable growth, global warming is a fact, etc, etc. If any of those points were “refuted” I must have missed it.

    I saw answers to your posts, whether they satisfied you or not is a separate issue.

    In most cases you are arguing against a strawman. Libertarianism itself is neutral as to econimc systems per se, and opposed to state coercion which seems clearly to be implicit in your apparent definition of capitalism.

    For instance, you claim that the IMF is a market institution because some non-libertarian economists said so. Per wikipedia, “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an intergovernmental organization that oversees the global financial system by taking part in the macroeconomic policies of its established members,”

    Whether global warming is or is not a fact has nothing to do with the validity or non-validity of libertarianism. Libertarians disagree on that point with each other, as do some non-libertarians.

    Unfortunately, libertarians (99% of them at least) believe that it is only coercion when the state is *stopping* pollution. The pollution itself is never seen as “coercion” nor is the state’s protection of it.

    I have no idea where you get your 99% statistic. I am not part of it, nor are many other libertarians I have talked to. Pollution is most certainly coercion when it trespasses against the property of another person, including their body. The state’s protection of polluters from liability, corporate welfare for polluters, and direct polluting activities undertaken by the state are most certainly problems. These problems are acknowledged by many libertarians, including quite a few who participate in discussions here, and others in sources you were referred to in the last thread with which you claimed to be already familiar.

    If Libertarians oppose corporatism, why does their platform not call for an end to corporate personhood..?

    Again, you confuse the LP with libertarianism. Most libertarians are not in the LP. And I believe that the LP’s platform at one time did oppose corporate personhood. Our side has been outvoted at LP conventions, which does not mean that all (or 99%, or anything close to that) of libertarians agree with the LP platform on this or any other single issue.

    Since I oppose corporate personhood, for a libertarian of my beliefs the point of corporate financing of elections would be moot – the corporation as we know it today would not exit if I had my way. Since I am an anarchist, ultimately elections in anything like the present form would not exist either.

    Again:

    1) Not all LP members agree on the issue of corporate personhood

    2) Most LP members do not attend national conventions, much less actively participate in platform votes and debates

    3) Most libertarians are not LP members.

    To deduce a position for all libertarians from what the LP platform currently says or does not say is silly.

  16. paulie Post author

    Libertarians choose to scream about an ordinary person taking a shower while giving golf courses (which often use as much or more water as everyone in the entire area) a free pass.

    Some libertarians.

  17. paulie Post author

    pathetic ad hominem tu quoque arguments–which is all that libertarians are ever capable of making

    Are you seriously making a generalized statement like that about all libertarians? And you expect to be taken seriously…?

  18. paulie Post author

    To deduce a position for all libertarians from what the LP platform currently says or does not say is silly.

    I’ve often made the same point about the Green Party platform in arguments with libertarians, btw. FWIW I consider myself both a libertarian and a green, although I participate in the LP much more than I do in the GP. To see how this is possible, start with http://aaeblog.com/2006/11/24/greensleeves-was-all-my-joy/

  19. paulie Post author

    “Pollution of other people’s property is a violation of individual rights, and polluters must bear the full costs of their pollution.”

    I agree.

  20. Darryl W. Perry

    I know that most of the golf courses in/near San Antonio, Texas (and I assume most across the country) use recycled water… while most individuals do not – though a small percentage of households have installed “greywater systems”

  21. paulie Post author

    *very* reasonable–far more compelling than simply insulting environmentalists.

    I agree that we should not insult or generalize people. That also applies to some of your comments as well. It so happens that some libertarians are also environmentalists, btw.

  22. paulie Post author

    Just re-read the previous thread. Much as I remembered. rloy’s points were pretty thoroughly addressed; rloy refused to acknowledge any of the responses except to twist around what people said and conflate it with a non-existing defense of the status quo, state power and corporatism on our part.

    Still laughing at Francois Tremblay finding merit in both Ron Paul and in rloy’s positions as stated in the previous exchange. Where exactly is the common ground between the two, in any area where libertarians like myself would not also agree?

  23. paulie Post author

    My response to someone else on a previous thread; equally true as to environmental issues as it is to economic ones:


    my experience with people on the Left is that their basic premise is collectivist, and if they become libertarians it means “leaving the left.”

    The basic premise of the left is not collectivist. It tends to be less collectivist than the right on 2 of 3 broad policy areas – social issues and foreign policy.

    On economic issues, what defines someone as being on the left is not collectivism per se, but whether they want to maintain or break up established economic privilege. Most people in America today tend to believe that collectivism tends to break up economic privilege and that laissez faire economic policies tend to concentrate wealth. I believe that this is exactly the opposite of what is actually true. If leftists came to once again believe that economic collectivism works against their goals – as they once did – they would cease to be collectivists in any sense.

    I met lots of people from rightwing backgrounds, and still involved in rightwing groups who are libertarian on most issues, and some who are almost completely libertarian.

    This is again the product of the common modern American misconceptions that collectivism defines the left and laissez faire defines the right.
    In fact, this has never been the case anywhere in practice, nor is it the case in America today. The right works towards collectivism in social policy and on military spending, and is not shy about using collectivism – corporate welfare, etc. – in the service of maintaining economic privilege. Libertarians who paint themselves as part of the right and work within rightist groups are falling into the trap that this modern misconception sets up, just as progressives fall into a trap when they think collectivist means help achieve their economic goals. So long as both libertarians and progressives fall for this misconception, both are working against their ultimate goals.

    Who wins by this misalignment? The collectivist right wins because it gets libertarians to work on its behalf, and the collectivist pseudo-left wins because it gets genuine liberals to work on its behalf. Both groups are mostly motivated by fear of each other. The elitists who consciously manipulate this dynamic are the ultimate winners, as all political power sharing compromises between the left and right in power tend to be in the direction of bigger government, whether on social, economic or foreign policy.

    To break up the dynamic, we have to go back to looking at government and corporate power as largely aligned on the same side and against those of us at the bottom. This was the original left, and it is also libertarian. It needs to be again if we are ever to move forward.

  24. rloy

    “I saw answers to your posts, whether they satisfied you or not is a separate issue.”

    ‘Answering’ =/= refuting

    I’d be interested in seeing a quote that you believe refuted any of my major arguments. Where was it “proven” that capitalism doesn’t depend on growth? I must have missed it.

    “Libertarianism itself is neutral as to econimc systems per se, and opposed to state coercion which seems clearly to be implicit in your apparent definition of capitalism.”

    Economic systems don’t fall out of the sky; they are all backed by government policy and legislation. In that sense they are *all* coercive.

    Does this count as state coercion?

    http://www.addisonindependent.com/201108bill-mckibben-arrested-tar-sands-action

    “For instance, you claim that the IMF is a market institution because some non-libertarian economists said so.”

    I’d be curious in hearing which part of the IMF’s ideology libertarians disagree with.

  25. paulie

    Answering’ =/= refuting

    In other words if you are not persuaded than you haven’t been refuted. Sounds rather circular.

    I’d be interested in seeing a quote that you believe refuted any of my major arguments.

    I’d say you arguments were refuted quite well. I’m not inclined to pick out one quote.

    The totality of arguments against your positions does not boil down to one line, and I have better uses for my time than trying to boil everything down to a one liner.

    Where was it “proven” that capitalism doesn’t depend on growth? I must have missed it.

    You continue to chase red herrings. Not all libertarians defend “capitalism”, and fewer still defend what you apparently think capitalism is. On that point, please refer to http://mises.org/daily/2099#6

    Economic systems don’t fall out of the sky; they are all backed by government policy and legislation. In that sense they are *all* coercive.

    So you are saying that no system without government coercion is possible? If so, you are saying a libertarian world is impossible. In that case, I’m not even sure why you would waste any of your time talking to libertarians.

    I’m a bit confused, however. At some earlier point you referred positively to certain types of anarchists. Anarchists are people who believe an absence of monopoly/coercive government is both possible and desirable. What type of economic system can any type of anarchists, including the ones you said you like, favor if all economic systems are backed by (monopoly coercive) government?

    And why exactly do you think ALL economic systems have to be backed by monopoly coercion?

    Imagine there’s no government…it’s easy if you try!

    Does this count as state coercion?

    Yes.

    I’d be curious in hearing which part of the IMF’s ideology libertarians disagree with.

    In my case I would say all of it, starting with the fact that it exists at all.

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