“At no time since the Vietnam era,” Tom Knapp wrote recently on his blog, “have we found ourselves more in need of a vital, active Movement of the Libertarian Left — and the intellectual infrastructure that [Samuel Edward Konkin III] worked so hard to create for one is not just disintegrating due to our failure to maintain its currency and relevance, but is under active attack, not least in the form of attempts to expropriate and alter the meaning of the proud title New Libertarian.”
Regularly, I’m asked by readers of this blog and of my essays elsewhere how I — a fierce supporter of laissez-faire and free markets — can call myself a “Left Libertarian, with roots in the liberal tradition.”
For many years, I’ve subscribed, as did SEK3, to the notion first suggested in the 1960s by Murray Rothbard in his seminal essay “Left and Right: The Prospects for
The once “conservative Republican” Rothbard exhorted libertarians to recognize their past and ally themselves with the New Left, from which had sprung the anarchistic, anti-imperialist “Port Huron Statement.” He and other libertarians shared podiums with Leftists like Paul Goodman and Carl Oglesby. At the end of the ’60s, many libertarians — most of them, like me, student members of the Young Americans for Freedom — followed Rothbard and former Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess out of the right wing to build coalitions with the Left. An exchange of interesting strategic and tactical ideas ensued, but the fusion didn’t hold ultimately.
The Movement of the Libertarian Left (MLL) worked to lay the groundwork for a day of reconciliation with the Left from 1978 until Sam’s sudden death last year. And they made inroads. MLL had this goal: to develop a coherent, long-term, non-political, anti-party strategy consistent with hard-core Rothbardian theory. Sam and other New Libertarians (aka Libertarian Leftists) interacted regularly with New Leftists like Alexander Cockburn, Christopher Hitchens, Carl Oglesby, Jon Rappoport, and Noam Chomsky. And many libertarians continue to forge alliances with the Left. Take a look at MLL’s busy e-list and at Doug Fuda’s efforts to build a new Antiwar League.
As Knapp says, principled libertarians now stand at a crossroads. Both the Cato Institute and the so-called “Libertarian” Party and its “New Libertarian” faction, all front groups for the warmongering right-wing, have hammered a wedge into the libertarian movement. There is no better time than now for a libertarian rapprochement with not the “leftists” of the Democratic Party but the vital, rebellious, antiwar, anti-state Left of CounterPunch and other radical journals. We have a lot to talk about, and I look forward to the dialogue.
In the meantime, those afraid to make a sharp left turn and join us should heed SEK3’s suggestion to “wake up and smell the tear gas!” And to those courageous enough to shrug off the right-wing, unite with other staunch enemies of the State, and reclaim the Left for libertarians, I say, “Forward to liberty!”
Our politics? Anarchy!
Our economics? Counter-Economics!
Our style? Action!
Our flag? Black!
Our slogan? Agora, Anarchy, Action!
Technorati Tags: New Libertarian, Movement of the Libertarian Left