One of the most significant developments in contemporary libertarian thought has been the rise of “left-libertarianism,” a position which combines a (libertarian) support for free(d) markets with a trenchant (leftist) critique of contemporary corporate capitalism.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Benjamin Tucker, Thomas Hodgskin, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the current wave of left-libertarian scholarship is led by the likes of Kevin Carson, Charles Johnson, Sheldon Richman, and our own Roderick Long and Gary Chartier. You can find their writings on the web at the Alliance of the Libertarian Left and at the Center for a Stateless Society. And now, thanks to the hard work of Charles and Gary, you can find a great sampling of classic and contemporary left-libertarian writings in their anthology, Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty, available as a free PDF or in paperback.
Left-libertarians see themselves as recognizably leftist insofar as they affirm class analysis and class struggle, shared responsibility for addressing economic vulnerability, grass-roots empowerment, and worker self-management and union activity, while challenging structural poverty, racism, sexism, nationalism, war, and imperialism. They see themselves as recognizably libertarian insofar as they support robust property rights and markets and oppose state power.
Not all of us here at BHL consider ourselves left-libertarians, but most of us are at least sympathetic to the position. And we most definitely think the issues left-libertarians raise are important enough to merit serious attention and discussion.
And so, in conjunction with the Center for a Stateless Society, we’re pleased to announce an upcoming symposium on the topic! From November 5th through November 16th, BHL and C4SS will run a series of six lead essays on various aspects of left-libertarian thought. Those lead essays will run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with shorter response essays and discussion in the comments thread taking place in between. As always, we welcome participation from our readers, both in the comments thread here and at your own blogs.
Here’s the lineup:
Week 1 – The Left Libertarians
- Monday, November 5 – Gary Chartier, BHL-blogger and Professor of Law and Business Ethics at La Sierra University
- Wednesday, November 7 – Roderick Long, BHL-blogger, senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University, and president of both the Molinari Institute and Molinari Society
- Friday, November 9 – Charles Johnson, blogger at Radgeek and occasional guest-blogger at BHL
- Monday, November 12 – John Holbo, blogger at Crooked Timber and Associate Professor of Philosophy at National University of Singapore
- Wednesday, November 14 – David Gordon, senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute
- Friday, November 16 – Steve Horwitz, BHL-blogger, Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY and an Affiliated Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center
Spread the word, and we’ll see you in November!