[Editors Note: This essay is part of BHL's Symposium on Left-Libertarianism. Click on the link to see the other essays.]

Left-libertarianism in the relevant sense is a position that is simultaneously leftist and libertarian. It features leftist commitments to:

  • engaging in class analysis and class struggle;
  • opposing corporate privilege;
  • undermining structural poverty
  • embracing shared responsibility for challenging economic vulnerability;
  • affirming wealth redistribution;
  • supporting grass-roots empowerment;
  • humanizing worklife;
  • protecting civil liberties;
  • opposing the drug war;
  • supporting the rights of sex workers;
  • challenging police violence;
  • promoting environmental well-being and animal welfare;
  • fostering children’s liberation;
  • rejecting racism, sexism, heterosexism, nativism, and national chauvinism; and
  • resisting war, imperialism and colonialism.

Simultaneously, it features libertarian commitments to:

A Leftist Position

 A leftist position is marked, I suggest, by concern with subordination, exclusion, deprivation, and war. Left-libertarians whole-heartedly embrace these leftist concerns. But left-libertarians may differ from other leftists insofar as they:

  • affirm the independent value of robust protections for just possessory claims—as, among other things, an expression of and a means of implementing the leftist opposition to subordination and leftist support for widely shared prosperity, but also as constraints on the means used to pursue some leftist goals;
  • make different predictions about establishing a genuinely freed market (rejecting the view that such a market would be a corporate playground);
  • offer different explanations of the origins and persistence of objectionable social phenomena (so that, for instance, state-secured privileges for elites, rather than market dynamics, account for persistent poverty and workplace subordination); and
  • urge different remedies for these phenomena (characteristically, a combination of remedying state-perpetrated and state-tolerated injustice, and fostering voluntary, solidaristic action).

Left-libertarians share with other leftists the awareness that there are predictable winners and losers in society and that being sorted into the two camps isn’t primarily a matter of luck or skill. But left-libertarians emphasize that it’s not a consequence of market exchange, either: it’s a reflection of state-committed, state-threatened, and state-tolerated aggression. As long as there’s a state apparatus in place, the wealthy can capture it, using it to gain power and more wealth, while the politically powerful can use it to acquire wealth and more power. The ruling class—made up of wealthy people empowered by the state, together with high-level state functionaries—is defined by its relationship with the state, its essential enabler. Opposing this class thus means opposing the state.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists the recognition that big businesses enjoy substantial privileges that benefit them while harming the public. But they stress that the proper response to corporate privilege is to eliminate subsidies, bailouts, cartelizing regulations, and other state-driven features of the legal, political, and economic environments that prop up corporate power rather than retaining the privileges while increasing state regulatory involvement in the economy—which can be expected to create new opportunities for elite manipulation, leave corporate power intact, stifle upstart alternatives to corporate behemoths, and impoverish the public.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists both outrage at structural poverty and the recognition that the wealthy and well connected help to shape the rules of the economic and political game in ways that preserve their wealth and influence while making and keeping others poor. But left-libertarians emphasize that poverty isn’t created or perpetuated by the freed market, but rather by large-scale theft and by the privileges and constraints—from licensing requirements to intellectual property rules to land-use controls to building codes—that prevent people from using their skills and assets effectively or dramatically raise the cost of doing so. Eliminating structural poverty means eliminating state-secured privilege and reversing state-sanctioned theft.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists both compassionate concern with economic vulnerability and the recognition that vulnerable people can’t be left to fend for themselves, that shared responsibility for meeting their needs is morally and practically essential. But they stress that mutual aid arrangements have dealt successfully with economic vulnerability. They also emphasize that such arrangements could be expected to be more successful absent taxation (people can and will spend their own money on poverty relief, but they’re likely to do so much more efficiently and intelligently than state officials deploying tax revenues), poverty-producing state regulations, and limitations on choice in areas like medical care.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists the conviction that the redistribution of wealth can be appropriate or even required. But they deny that redistribution may reasonably be undertaken to bring about a particular pattern of wealth distribution, that it may be effected through aggressive interference with people’s justly acquired possessions, or that it is properly the work of the state. Rather, they suggest, redistribution ought to be effected by the legal system (as it restores to people resources unjustly taken from them or their predecessors in interest, as it makes assets stolen by the state or acquired unjustly by its cronies available for homesteading, and as it denies validity to state-secured privileges that preserve the economic positions of the well-connected while keeping others poor), through solidaristic mutual aid, and through the tendency of a market liberated from privilege to “eat the rich.”

Left-libertarians share with many other leftists—New Leftists and Greens, say—the conviction that decision-making should be decentralized, that people should be able to participate to the maximum feasible degree in shaping decisions that affect their lives. But they maintain that this means that, against a backdrop of secure pre-political rights, all association should be consensual. Top-down, forcible decision-making is likely to be marred by the fallibility of decision-makers and their tendency to pursue self-interested goals at the public’s expense. Small-scale political units are more humanizing than large-scale ones; but decentralization must finally be decentralization to the level of the particular person.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists the realization that hierarchical workplaces are disempowering and stultifying, and that supporting workplace hierarchies is thus often morally objectionable. But they stress that hierarchical workplaces are more likely given state action. Hierarchies limit the ability of workers to use their knowledge and skills to respond flexibly and efficiently to production and distribution challenges and to meet customer needs. The inefficiencies of hierarchies would make them less common aspects of worklife, and increase the odds that people would be able to choose alternatives offering more freedom and dignity (self-employment or work in partnerships or cooperatives), in the absence of privileges that lowered the costs of maintaining hierarchies and raised the costs of opting out of them (as by making self-employment more costly, and so more risky). State action also redirects wealth to those interested in seeing that they and people like them rule the workplace; and the state’s union regulations limit the ways unions can challenge workplace hierarchies.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists a commitment to civil liberties. But they stress that the state is a predictable foe of these liberties and that the most effective way to safeguard them is to protect people’s control over their bodies and justly acquired possessions.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists a conviction that the drug war is destructive, racist, and absurdly expensive. But they emphasize that the best protection against prohibitionist campaigns of all sorts is to respect people’s control over their bodies and justly acquired possessions, and that aggression-based limits on all disfavored but voluntary exchanges should be disallowed.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists a concern for the well-being of sex workers. But they note that state actors engage in violence against sex workers and that state policies, including criminalization and regulation, create or intensify the risks associated with sex work.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists a passionate opposition to police violence and corruption. But they emphasize that this is not simply a reflection of poor oversight or the presence in police agencies of “a few bad apples” but instead a reflection of the structural positions of such agencies as guarantors of state power and of the lack of accountability created both by the existence of substantial de facto differences in standards for the use of force by police officers and others and by the monopolistic status of police agencies.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists persistent concerns with environmental quality and animal welfare. But they stress that environmental harms can be prevented and remedied without state involvement, as long as robust legal protections for bodies and justly acquired possessions are in place; that state action is not required to protect non-human animals from abuse; and that state actions and policies are often directly responsible for protecting polluters, promoting environmental harms, and injuring non-human animals.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists a commitment to the well-being of children. But left-libertarians underscore the importance of respecting children’s rights to control their own bodies and possessions—rejecting both attempts to treat children as their parents’ property and paternalistic state action that interferes unreasonably with children’s freedom—and emphasize the degree to which the state is not the protector of children but is responsible in multiple ways for significant threats to their freedom and well-being, notably through compulsory schooling.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists the awareness that racism, sexism, heterosexism, nativism, and national chauvinism are morally repugnant. But they emphasize the crucial role of the state in creating, perpetuating, and capitalizing on these forms of unfairness while stressing that eliminating the props the state provides for prejudice-driven conduct can play a vital role in combating discrimination. Suspicious of the state and respectful of just possessory claims, they stress non-aggressive solidaristic action as the appropriate means of dealing with persistent discrimination. They promote marriage equality while seeking the departure of the state from the marriage business. And, while joining other leftists in opposing xenophobia, they stress that all borders should be razed to enable untrammeled migration.

Left-libertarians share with other leftists a passionate opposition to war and empire and a concern for the victims of both, including native peoples across the globe. But they emphasize the links between warfare, imperialism, and colonialism and the state’s continuing infringements on civil and economic liberties—not to mention ruling-class mischief. Interference with people’s peaceful conduct within the state’s borders is objectionable for many of the same reasons as war beyond the state’s borders. As a form of enslavement, conscription is unjust. The freedom to trade tends to reduce the probability of war. And warfare is a likely consequence of the operation of the state, which seeks predictably to expand its influence by force. Leftist opposition to war should be seen as entailing opposition to the state per se.

A Libertarian Position

A libertarian position is marked, I suggest, by support for equality of authority; for robust protections for just possessory claims; and for peaceful, voluntary cooperation, including cooperation in and through exchange. Left-libertarians share these commitments. But left-libertarians may differ from other libertarians insofar as they:

  • make different predictions about the likely effects of liberating people and eliminating the institutionalized aggression that prevents them from cooperating peacefully and voluntarily (stressing the contingency of hierarchical workplaces, for instance);
  • call attention to particular generally accepted consequences of building a free society (say, by emphasizing not only freedom but also solidarity, diversity, and poverty relief as among the outcomes of eliminating state-secured privilege);
  • tell different historical or social-scientific stories about the causes and dynamics of social phenomena (so that the extant distribution of wealth is seen as a product of state action rather than individual virtue); and
  • treat certain kinds of social phenomena (arbitrary discrimination, for instance) as morally objectionable and argue for non-aggressive but concerted responses to these phenomena.

Left-libertarians share with other libertarians a commitment to equality of authority—to the view that there is no natural right to rule and that non-consensual authority is presumptively illegitimate. This egalitarianism naturally issues in a commitment to anarchism, since state authority is non-consensual. But left-libertarians emphasize that the commitment to moral equality that underlies belief in equality of authority should entail the rejection of subordination and exclusion on the basis of nationality, gender, race, sexual orientation, workplace status, or other irrelevant characteristics. While left-libertarians agree with other libertarians that people’s decisions to avoid associating with others because of such characteristics shouldn’t be interfered with aggressively, left-libertarians emphasize that such decisions can often still be subjected to moral critique and should be opposed using non-aggressive means.

Left-libertarians share with other libertarians a commitment to robust protections for just possessory claims to physical objects. But they reject “intellectual property” and emphasize that possessory protections shouldn’t cover objects acquired with the decisive aid of the state, or otherwise through the use of violence, or to those clearly abandoned. They make clear that there are just limits to the things people can do to protect their possessions (becoming a trespasser doesn’t automatically make one liable to violence). They note that whether claims to land should be held by individuals or groups can only be determined in light of the economics of particular situations and the ways particular claims are established. And they stress that, while just possessory claims should be respected, it’s quite possible to oppose aggressive interference with someone’s use of her possessions in a given way while challenging that use non-aggressively.

Left-libertarians share with other libertarians a commitment to a model of social life rooted in peaceful, voluntary cooperation. But they differ with other libertarians in emphasizing that, while force may justly be used only in response to aggression, peaceful, voluntary cooperation is a moral ideal with implications that go beyond simple non-aggression. Left-libertarians urge that associations of all kinds be structured in ways that affirm the freedom, dignity, and individuality of all participants, and thus allow participants the option not only of exit but also of voice—of influencing the associations’ trajectories and exercising as much individual discretion within them as possible.

While rejecting capitalism, left-libertarians share with other libertarians an enthusiastic recognition of the value of markets. They stress that both parties to a voluntary exchange participate because they prefer it and believe it will benefit them; that prices provide excellent guides for producers and distributors (far better than anything a central planner could offer); and that people should internalize the costs as well as the benefits of their choices. But they emphasize that background injustice can distort markets and constrain traders’ options. They also note that commercial exchange does not exhaust the sphere of peaceful, voluntary cooperation and that people can and should cooperate in multiple ways—playful, solidaristic, compassionate—that need not be organized along commercial lines.

A Transformed Vision

Left-libertarianism embraces and transforms leftist and libertarian ideals.

Many leftists and libertarians already share some commitments: opposition to war, empire, and corporate privilege; support for civil liberties and grass-roots empowerment. However, many leftists and libertarians also embrace, and often share, various mistaken assumptions.

Left-libertarians challenge these assumptions while embracing the commitments leftists and libertarians share. They seek to demonstrate that it’s reasonable both to oppose structural poverty and to favor freed markets, to seek both workplace dignity and robust protections for just possessory claims, to embrace freedom of association while opposing arbitrary discrimination, to foster both peace and economic liberty, to link rejection of war and imperialism with support for peaceful, voluntary cooperation at all levels.

By endorsing leftist and libertarian concerns and challenging assumptions that make it difficult for leftists to embrace libertarianism and for libertarians to become leftists, left-libertarianism offers a provocative vision of an appealing politics and a world marked by greater freedom and fairness.

Thanks to my colleagues in the Alliance of the Libertarian Left/Center for a Stateless Society/Molinari Society, to Anthony Gregory, and to David Gordon, among others, for reviewing earlier versions of this essay. It is markedly better in virtue of the feedback I have received, though I, of course, remain responsible for its flaws.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2OZ5PV6WZXMMMSHWHJT4MFDEXE Sanja

    “rejecting racism, sexism, heterosexism, nativism, and national chauvinism; and”

    Can you clarify what you mean by “rejecting”?
    I can imagine at least 3 interpretations of that sentence:

    a) Left-libertarians avoid racism, sexism, etc. in their own actions.
    b) Left-libertarians want the government to avoid racism, sexism, etc. in its own actions (i.e. discriminatory marriage legislation).
    c) Left-libertarians want the government to use repressive legislation to force other private citizens into choices and behavior that left-libertarians consider free of racism, sexism, etc.

    • Sergio Méndez

      Sanja:

      Left libertarians embrace “a” and “b”,but clearly not “c”. But I will add a “d”, and is that left libertarians are committed to fight racism true non coercitive methods (awernesss campaigns, boycotts of racist buisness or persons etc).

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/2OZ5PV6WZXMMMSHWHJT4MFDEXE Sanja

        > but clearly not “c”.

        *Is* it that clear?
        Considering that many on the left do in fact demand (c), and this item was listed in the “leftist commitments” section of the article, I’m still skeptical.

        • Sergio Méndez

          Sanja:

          I think it isvery clear in many parts of Chartier essay. Just one on the issue:

          “Left-libertarians share with other leftists the awareness that racism, sexism, heterosexism, nativism, and national chauvinism are morally repugnant. But they emphasize the crucial role of the state in creating, perpetuating, and capitalizing on these forms of unfairness while stressing that eliminating the props the state provides for prejudice-driven conduct can play a vital role in combating discrimination. Suspicious of the state and respectful of just possessory claims, they stress non-aggressive solidaristic action as the appropriate means of dealing with persistent discrimination.”

          “…non-aggressive solidaristic action as the appropriate means of dealing with persistent discrimination.”. So yes, most leftists are not left libertarians. So I fail to undertsand your skepticism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/les.nearhood Les Kyle Nearhood

    You have me on a lot of these things but,

    I have seen an awful lot of harmful and downright stupid policies being pursued in the following areas:

    engaging in class analysis and class struggle;

    affirming wealth redistribution;

    supporting grass-roots empowerment;(what does that even mean)

    promoting environmental well-being and animal welfare;(often the realm of the most fanatical of fanatics)

    fostering children’s liberation; (not fond of the state undermining parental rights)

  • martinbrock

    I’ve eagerly anticipated this symposium. Thanks for providing it.

    affirming wealth redistribution

    I listed this affirmation among my objections on first reading, but you address my concerns well enough. A free society has extremes of wealth, but the extremes are voluntary. People may take vows of poverty or strict economic equality or self-sufficiency (or short-sighted hedonism) limiting their personal wealth, and some people will, but no one is obliged to live this way or to share productivity with people living this way.

    You don’t address rights of the disabled.

    fostering children’s liberation

    This one still seems ridiculous to me. Children’s liberation from what, their own dependency? “Childhood” is a dependent stage of life by definition.

    rejecting racism, …

    I share Sanja’s concern here, and I’m not sure you address it sufficiently. A free society includes the Amish. It includes fundamentalist Mormons practicing polygamy, patriarchal marriage and racial segregation. It includes the Nation of Islam. It also includes Twin Oaks and whatever a Rothbardian community might call itself. As long as membership in these communities is voluntary, all are part of the free society, and expecting “leftist” models to prevail is presumptuous.

    redistribution may reasonable be undertaken

    That’s a typo. You intended “reasonably be undertaken”.

    environmental quality and animal welfare

    My libertarianism requires a racist, polygamous, patriarchial community to permit members to leave the community at will, even if external coercion is necessary. It also requires a gay community to permit members to leave and join heterosexist, racist, polygamous patriarchs, and I make no assumptions about where most people with this liberty end up. I know where I’d end up, but I’m not most people.

    But what about non-human animals? My libertarian philosophy has some gaps here, and you don’t address them well.

    a commitment to the well-being of children

    That’s just baby kissing. Where are the people of any political persuasion opposing the well-being of children?

    attempts to treat children as their parents’ property

    The problem with “children as their parents’ property” involves modern usage of “property”. When people widely thought of children as property of their parents, the word meant something else.

    Holding something within the bounds of propriety is not equivalent to exploiting it for one’s exclusive benefit. Parental “property” in children is the least selfish of customary relationships and is the natural foundation of all other unselfish relationships. Pathological parents do not change this historical and biological fact.

    They promote marriage equality while seeking the departure of the state from the marriage business.

    If no statutory institution governs a gay relationship, calling terms of the relationships “marriage” means little. Gay couples may already “marry” without the statutory institution, so there is no prohibition of gay marriage to oppose in this sense.

    treat certain kinds of social phenomena (arbitrary discrimination, for instance) as morally objectionable and argue for non-aggressive but concerted responses to these phenomena.

    If you don’t like racist, polygamous, patriarchial marriage, you can oppose it non-aggressively, but if you don’t like gay marriage, you can oppose that non-aggressively too. Does left-libertarianism permit only the former non-aggressive but concerted responses? Does it forcibly interfere with the latter? If not, how does this proviso distinguish left-libertarianism from right-libertarianism?

    Are left-libertarians only libertarians with different, personal preferences?

    They note that whether claims to land should be held by individuals or groups can only be determined in light of the economics of particular situations and the ways particular claims are established.

    Why is the holding of land by individuals or groups not determined by the choice of individuals belonging to groups? Do individuals wishing to hold property in common require an economist’s consent? Which economist?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/2OZ5PV6WZXMMMSHWHJT4MFDEXE Sanja

      “historical marriage is not simply a package of benefits for licensed, heterosexual couples”

      But that’s pretty much what marriage in today’s law is.

      And as long heterosexual couples can get these benefits, homosexual couples must not be denied them either.

      I’m sure most people with the word “libertarian” in their political label would agree that in the long term, government should get “out of the marriage business” completely. That goal still pretty unrealistic from today’s point of view. But that shouldn’t keep one from working towards gradual improvements.

      • martinbrock

        Marriage has become a package of benefits for licensed, heterosexual couples, but that’s no reason to license other relationships similarly. It’s a reason to stop licensing heterosexual couples simply for being heterosexual couples. If we must license anyone, licensing parents makes a hell of a lot more sense to me.

        Group X gets benefit Y from the state; therefore, group Z must have benefit Y too? That’s libertarianism now? What two siblings who are domestic partners? Do they get benefits of marriage? What about two nuns? What about three nuns? Your logic requires a massive increase in statutory benefits for every conceivable class of people.

        Only a few decades ago, legislatures routinely outlawed homosexual relationships? Now, they’re supposed the craft terms of these relationships in the best interests of homosexuals? When and how did this transformation of states, from the worst enemy of gays to their best friend, occur?

        Who says that gay marriage improves gay relationships? Gay marriage is the pretext to gay divorce.

      • TracyW

        Marriage is a system of defining property rights if the relationship breaks down (mostly by divorce, but also if by death if there’s no will), or one party is incapable of making necessary decisions, for example because they’re in a coma. When you marry someone, you sign up to a set of rules covering these situations, along with the social statement that you’re committed to each other.

        Anyone of course could write individual contracts covering each of these situations, obviously many married people also have wills, living wills and powers-of-attorney are available, and people could write their own sets of rules on what happens to property if the relationship broke up, etc. But a wedding licence is cheaper than contracting lawyers to draw up individual sets of contracts, and in a common-law system takes advantage of the experiences of numerous other judges looking at numerous other relationship failures. No one should be obliged to get married in the legal sense, but I don’t get the enthusiasm of so many for depriving everyone of the option of legally defined marriage. (I don’t think they’re all lawyers hoping for a boost in income).

        • martinbrock

          Marriage is not a uniform package in the United States. Some states enact community property. Others enact equitable distribution. Some enact no default divorce. Others offer covenant marriage as an option. Some have waiting periods for a license. Others don’t. Some have waiting periods for divorce, and others don’t.

          Individuals paying lawyers for a customized package is not the only alternative. Free associations like the Metropolitan Community Church or the Unitarian Universalists or the Council for Secular Humanism or the Alliance of Left Libertarians could craft packages, and a couple could adopt the package of their choice with a single signature. The question is: why state governments instead of these free associations?

          No one should be obliged to support one package over another, but that’s just what you advocate. If states tax homosexual couples to subsidize heterosexual couples, states should stop doing that. You advocate instead that states add some heterosexual couples to the privileged group while continuing to omit countless others.

          Lawyers undoubtedly support gay marriage overwhelmingly. The large costs of marriage to married couples do not occur on the front end. Gay marriage is the pretext to gay divorce.

          • TracyW

            Marriage is not a uniform package in the United States

            Nor is it uniform outside the USA either. But marriage everywhere that I know of does deal with questions of property rights if the relationship ends, be that by death or divorce, or is temporarily suspended (eg one partner in a coma).

            Free associations like the Metropolitan Community Church or the Unitarian Universalists or the Council for Secular Humanism or the Alliance of Left Libertarians could craft packages, and a couple could adopt the package of their choice with a single signature. The question is: why state governments instead of these free associations?

            For you maybe. But I am responding to the statement “They promote marriage equality while seeking the departure of the state from the marriage business.” and I think Martinbrock is too. So the question, for us, is, “why should the state depart from the marriage business?”

            I have no objection to groups of free associations crafting packages of contracts, and other people choosing to choose them, what I am puzzled by is the enthusiasm of so many libertarians for eliminating one option: that of the state providing standard marriage contracts.

            No one should be obliged to support one package over another, but that’s just what you advocate.

            Really? I’m surprised to hear that, I thought I was advocating that people be free to choose the option of state-defined marriage. I’ve re-read my comment above, and I can’t see anywhere where I advocated that. Can you tell me what I said that gave you this impression?

            That said, I do think that judges should support the contract that the two people before them chose, unless there’s some strong reason why not (eg fraud, one member being under-age).

            If states tax homosexual couples to subsidize heterosexual couples, states should stop doing that.

            Agreed. And vice-versa. But, for example, in NZ, the tax code does not subsidise married couples and yet people still choose to get married, including myself.

            You advocate instead that states add some heterosexual couples to the privileged group while continuing to omit countless others.

            Perhaps. But we do have living wills, adult adoption, powers-of-attorney, etc to let these countless others design their own contracts. If there is some sizable and diverse group of people signing very similar contracts in intent, I don’t have any objections to the state offering a standardised form. In NZ, the state offers a standard residential tenancy agreement, and in my experience of renting the landlord typically offers it, with perhaps a few changes (eg responsibility for lawn-mowing), which suits both tenants and landlords in that they have some confidence that they’re signing up to something reasonably fair without needing to consult with expensive lawyers.

            I say “diverse”, because a well-knit group can probably do this far more competently internally than by using the state, and “sizable” because there are certain fixed costs to any law going through and many of the advantages of state-defined marriage I think come from the large body of existing cases applying judgments to a wide range of potential outcomes, changing as circumstances change, many not envisaged by the parties when signing the initial contract, which can’t really happen if only a couple of cases a decade come before the legal system.

            . The large costs of marriage to married couples do not occur on the front end. Gay marriage is the pretext to gay divorce.

            No, you’ve got this the wrong way around. The costs of divorce are from the relationship breakup. As I said, in the comment you are responding to: “marriage is a system of defining property rights if the relationship breaks down”. Cohabitation relationships break up too, if you don’t know of any cases in your personal social circle a brief Google of relevant terms should give you plenty of cases.

            The other point is that marriage contracts aim to incentivise certain long-term trades, by providing some protection for one partner if the other reneges (classic being woman abandons her career to raise children and take care of the house, losing her personal earning potential while supporting her husband’s).

          • martinbrock

            But marriage everywhere that I know of does deal with questions of property rights if the relationship ends, be that by death or divorce, or is temporarily suspended (eg one partner in a coma).

            A totalitarian dictatorship deals with with questions of property rights if relationships ends. I just don’t like the way totalitarian dictatorships deal with things in general.

            So the question, for us, is, “why should the state depart from the marriage business?”

            Right. The state should depart from the romantic partnership business, because romantic partnership is the business of romantic partners and no one else’s business.

            … what I am puzzled by is the enthusiasm of so many libertarians for eliminating one option: that of the state providing standard marriage contracts.

            Because it’s unnecessary. If you’re discussing a standard contract with no strings attached, with no subsides encouraging partners to choose the state’s contract over others, then I don’t care, but what’s the point? Why do we need states crafting the terms of contracts? Why do you want states crafting “contracts” unless you have some ulterior motive, like craftily forcing people to accept particular terms?

            … I thought I was advocating that people be free to choose the option of state-defined marriage.

            If you advocate marriage that states currently define, then you favor an institution with all sorts of statutory benefits attached, with costs imposed on people who are not married. If you do not advocate simply extending these benefits to gay couples generally, we have no disagreement.

            But, for example, in NZ, the tax code does not subsidise married couples and yet people still choose to get married, including myself.

            The tax code is only one possible means of imposing involuntary costs. If there are no benefits to state marriage, compared with other partnerships people may choose, why do want a state crafting the terms?

            But we do have living wills, adult adoption, powers-of-attorney, etc to let these countless others design their own contracts.

            Right. So why aren’t these arrangements sufficient for childless straight couples? Why are you avoiding this question? Why are you outraged by the fact that you enjoy privileges denied to others, or if your statutory marriage doesn’t privilege you in any way, why do you care that the terms are statutory?

            The costs of divorce are from the relationship breakup.

            No. Relationships break up all the time without these costs, because the partners are not married. Childless straight couples in the U.S. now routinely do not marry for this reason, despite various statutory carrots. Straight people flee statutory marriage in droves while gay rights advocates demand to be let into the club. The irony is wonderful.

          • TracyW

            Martinbrock, I don’t think you’re really reading what I said.

            You ask me several times why I want the option of a legally-defined marriage and stated that I am avoiding the question. But I stated exactly why I favour the option of being able to choose a legally-defined marriage in my first response.

            But a wedding licence is cheaper than contracting lawyers to draw up individual sets of contracts, and in a common-law system takes advantage of the experiences of numerous other judges looking at numerous other relationship failures.

            That’s why I want the option to sign up to the state’s terms. And this also explains why my statutory marriage does privilege me, in my opinion (namely that I think that I get access to a better set of rules more cheaply than otherwise obtainable). As it happens, I’m not outraged by this privilege. Perhaps my lack of outrage makes me a bad person, but I am surprised that you are telling me that I am outraged, as I’ve said nothing to imply it.

            Perhaps you disagree with my reasoning, but I did explicitly state it. Please pay attention to what I’m saying, it will make for a more informative debate for both of us.

          • martinbrock

            Again, a wedding license is not cheaper than a package of benefits crafted by a free association, and if your state happens not to craft the terms I want, then a “cheap wedding license” hides all sorts of costs. If I’m flying to Vegas to marry, it omits the price of the plane ticket for example.

            The “cheapness” of a wedding license also omits the cost of not knowing all of the terms of the “contract” I’m signing. Again, marriage is not a contract. It is a legal institution. The difference is that a state, not the contracting parties, craft terms, and furthermore, the state may change the terms after the parties accept them.

          • TracyW

            If you think that signing up for a contract provided by a free association is cheaper and better quality than state-provided marriage, then go for it. But why do you want to deny me the chance to choose differently?

            Surely, if libertarianism is about anything, it’s about the right to make poor decisions, where the harm will mostly fall on consenting partners (namely myself and my husband)? If you’re happy to forbid me from choosing my preferred option because you think it’s actually more expensive and worse quality, in what situations would you be happy for me to forbid you from choosing your preferred option?

          • martinbrock

            I don’t want to deny you the chance. If your favorite legislature offers a package of contractual terms, with no strings attached, with no costs imposed on anyone else, and if your acceptance of the terms is completely voluntary, then the legislature is, for all intents and purposes, a free association itself.

          • TracyW

            The NZ government makes marijuana consumption illegal. It’s not a free association for all intents and purposes, despite its neutrality towards marriage.

          • martinbrock

            All the more reason not to trust it with the terms of gay relationships or any other romantic relationship.

          • TracyW

            Marriage isn’t about the terms of the relationship, it’s about the terms of the break up of the relationship.

          • martinbrock

            All the more reason not to trust it with the terms of the breakup of gay relationships or any other romantic relationship.

          • TracyW

            I think we may have to disagree on the merits of common-law traditions in setting contract disputes.

          • martinbrock

            You’ll always have a judge deciding the disposition of disputed assets in a divorce, regardless of who crafts the terms. If you think that judges revere statutory language more than contractual language, you don’t know many judges.

          • TracyW

            Yes, judges always decide the disposition of disputed assets in a divorce, regardless of who crafts the terms. The common-law tradition creates some stability to this, as decisions accumulate across a wide range of different factual situations.

            I don’t know why you think the distinction between statutory language and contractual language might be relevant to me, but thank you for phrasing this statement conditionally, it’s a nice change from your past habit of telling me what my thoughts and feelings are, generally wrongly.

          • martinbrock

            I don’t recall telling you what your thoughts and feelings are. Clearly, I only know your words here.

  • Ray

    “extant distribution of wealth is seen as a product of state action rather than individual virtue”

    Can you explain this further. I doubt that you mean that ALL inequality of wealth is a result of state action. What about the inequality that is the result of differences in intellectual abilities, diligence, etc?

    • Sergio Méndez

      Ray:

      The problem is that due to state interference in favor of some forms of buisness or companies, we have clear evidence of why some inequealities are generated. I guess in a true free market inequalities would certainly exist, but left libertarians doubt they will be as big as they are in the actuall capitalistic society.

    • martinbrock

      In the U.S., government spending at every level is around 40% of GDP, and that’s only direct government spending. It excludes Lockheed-Martin’s spending even though Lockheed-Martin sells practically everything it produces to the Federal government. It also excludes Fannie Mae’s and now the Fed’s purchase of mortgage backed securities. A more meaningful figure presumably exceeds 50%.

      Inequality resulting from differences in ability and diligence and simply the desire to have more rather than less material wealth also exist, but when the state controls half of everything everyone produces, it’s tough to say how much this inequality accounts for the distribution of wealth. Left libertarians assume, rightly in my opinion, that the distribution of wealth could be far less skewed toward the wealthiest, rather than more skewed, with a much smaller state.

      • Ray

        Fair enough, a smaller state MAY lead to a less skewed distribution, but that hardly supports the claim inequality is due to state action RATHER THAN individual virtue. If anything, it means that current inequality is a result of BOTH state action AND individual virtue.

        • martinbrock

          Left libertarians need not refute claims that they don’t make.

        • Sergio Méndez

          Ray:

          But the left libertarian claim is that state action accounts for a great part of unequality in wealth distribution, or that at least (by pure logic) if you take state interference in the process wealth distribution will be necesaraly far less unequall.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    So, I have two questions for Prof. Chartier and the other left-libertarians. First, if contrary to your quite reasonable and logical expectations, it turns out that the implementation of your prescriptions makes whatever class, group, community, strata, etc. that you favor worse off than they are now, would you still implement them? Second, if implementation made the domestic members of whatever class, group…etc. that you favor substantially worse off, but made foreign members of that class substantially better off, would you still implement them?

    • martinbrock

      My prescription presumably can’t make people worse off than your prescription, because my prescription leaves people free to choose your prescription instead. As long as people themselves decide what makes them better off, as long as you can’t substitute your assessment of people’s welfare for their own, you can’t prescribe anything better.

      Intentional communities don’t have foreign members. You either belong to a community, or you don’t; however, my prescription is not strictly stateless. Intentional community implies a right to leave a community at will, so some authority over communities must enforce this right. This authority must be a state, so people can be foreign to this state.

      If people outside of my intentional communitarian state are better off than people outside of it, then people inside of it are free to leave it; however, I can imagine this scenario only if the world outside of my state is richer in nature resources or something. If free people must leave a free society to find richer natural resources, and if the outside world is not similarly free, I just think that’s tragic.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Thanks, Martin, but I would still like to hear Prof. Chartier’s response. I continue to believe that both scenarios I mention are at least theoretically possible, and thus merit a more substantive answer. I would have thought it clear that by “worse off” I meant at least in part materially, and it is certainly possible that by ending the redistributive elements of the state, the poor could have less than they have now, and thus they might prefer the status quo. I personaly don’t think this would happen, but it is a fair question philosophically. The same analysis might be true if all states devolved, i.e. U.S. citizens, or some subclass thereof, might be worse off than they are now.

        • martinbrock

          I do have concerns about the unproductive, like the disabled, but in my utopia, a community may not kill a member, and it may not leave a member out in the cold to die either. If another community will not accept a community’s unwanted member, the community must at least keep him alive if possible, unless he chooses to be out in the cold and thus to die.

          Intentional communities are just associations of free people, so I don’t know why they’d be any less humane that the Congress of the U.S. for example. I expect more prosperous communities to accept disabled members from less prosperous communities, even if the disabled members are not productive.

          Intentional communities still have prisons, but if I’m imprisoned in one community’s prison and another community will have me, my current community must release me to the other community.

          Of course, resource constraints could prevent keeping people alive, but I prefer not to think about that.

  • Dan Dennis

    ‘emphasize the degree to which the state is not the protector of children but is responsible in multiple ways for significant threats to their freedom and well-being, notably through compulsory schooling’

    Hilarious! I didn’t realise that there are still people who hold this view. Most people recognise that what is harmful to children is parents and states failing to educate them adequately.

  • Dan Dennis

    Ps Once the unjustly acquired assets have been redistributed to the less well off, what then? What about the poor of future generations? How can you respect property rights and yet redistribute wealth to them?

    • martinbrock

      “Have been redistributed” is misconstructed. There is no central authority redistributing wealth. People are ceasing to respect particular property rights, like software patents and source code copyrights and the right of Treasury security holders to receive tax revenue, and current proprietors just can’t stop them. As a consequence, producers have more options, and consumers have more options, and current proprietors have fewer options.

  • Sean II

    Wow. Hard to believe you covered that much ground with fewer than 3,000 words. Two things I’d add to the list if it were mine:

    RELIGION – One of the biggest sources of non-state oppression, now and throughout history, has been organized religion and religious morality. The left, from Karl Marx to Bill Maher, has often made hay from that issue, by placing itself in opposition to some unmistakably creepy ideas, institutions, and people.

    It’s been my experience that leftish libertarians and libertarianoid lefists are almost always atheists, with quite a number being militant anti-theists. This is significant, because it means that while we are generally enthusiastic about voluntary social organizations, many of us would strongly prefer not to see churches, synagogues, and mosques play much of a role in our hoped-for libertopian order.

    Even more simply, there may be some left-libertarians who are left-leaning precisely because they like freedom but they just couldn’t stand the thought of being asked to share a prayer with Bill Kristol or Lew Rockwell.

    ECONOMIC LAW – Here we have a point of difference. If I use my fingers to count out the number of (non-libertarian) leftists I’ve met who grasped even the most elementary principles of economics, I still end up with one whole hand free for typing.

    Ignorance of economics, and indeed a stubborn refusal to accept that economics matters, has long been a defining feature of the left. The refusal to talk about or plan for unintended consequences, the quest to change behavior by decree rather than by incentive, the desire to makes prices obey commands, the fevered hope that scarcity can be escaped by fiat alone… these things are the stuff of leftism as it has existed for the past two-hundred years.

    In the same way, one could probably say that knowledge and acceptance of the “laws” of economics is a starting point for most libertarians. For all our bickering to and fro, one thing that keeps us loosely together is that we know what subjective value and voluntary exchange are, we know what incentives do, and what prices mean, and we know that no social order can be built without them, unless it’s built on bloodshed and relentless coercion.

    For my money, that’s what a left-libertarian really is: a leftist who, in blatant defiance of his tribe, refused to go on pretending that economics doesn’t exist.

    • martinbrock

      You remember the “left” of Marxism more than the “left” of Tolsoy’s Christian Anarchism, but both are definitely “on the left” historically.

      You’re right about Mahr and Hitchens and the rest, but they’re hardly libertarians of any description. I’m practically an atheist myself, but I realize that religion will be far more important as an organizing principle in a free society. A variety of faith systems will replace the now dominant state religions. Barack Obama is the head of a state Church every bit as much as Henry VIII ever was.

      • Sean II

        Of course Maher and Hitchens aren’t libertarians – I thought the name of the game was to find similarities and differences between left-libertarians and mainline leftists.

        Rothbard styled himself a man of the left for many years, before taking some steps that made the left reject him. Rand never was in the least bit leftish, and you get the sense she would’ve stamped a cigarette out on anyone who took part in a symposium like this. But then…I never said all the libertarian atheists were on the left, just that all the left-libertarians I know seem to be atheists.

        (Also, for what it’s worth, I’ve always read Obama as a closet-case atheist who simply figured out that his interests would be best served by pretending otherwise. Two places in America where it’s especially difficult to be an atheist – and where admitted atheists are almost never seen – are: a) the black community, b) inside a ballot box.)

        • martinbrock

          Chartier does seem to play this game to some extent, but I’m arguing that his left-libertarianism isn’t quite right.

          Possibly, so many left-libertarians today are atheists because so many atheistic “libertarians” in the past stamped out their cigarettes on theistic libertarians. I wish they’d stop it.

          Countless Democratic politicians are closet atheists, and so are countless Republican politicians. We don’t discover them until they tap the wrong foot in a public restroom.

      • Sean II

        I can say that better on a second try:

        If any actual libertarians bite down and vote for Barack Obama today, it will very likely be because they don’t want to see the New Testament used as a policy handbook, ever again.

        • martinbrock

          I don’t think that’s true at all. Many actual libertarians do want to see the New Testament used as a policy handbook. In my way of thinking, an actual libertarian can use the New Testament this way, but he can’t compel anyone else to use it this way.

          Ironically, people resisting states most stubbornly and effectively (like the Amish) are the very people that the “left libertarians” you imagine most dislike, even while these “libertarians” vote for Obama, hoping to cleanse state indoctrination centers and ever expanding state lands of other religions.

          Do the Amish force people to join their community? Do they force people to remain in their community, as opposed to shunning apostates? If not, they are the actual libertarians, and the “left libertarians” you imagine are just more political pretenders seeking to impose their will on others in the name of “liberty”.

          “Libertarianism” cannot coherently mean that everyone else thinks like me.

    • martinbrock

      Is this web page “left” or “right”?

      http://www.ic.org/

      How about this one?

      http://directory.ic.org/records/christian.php

      • Sean II

        I’m sorry, Martin – I didn’t see this until just now.

        Those pages seem more than a bit lefty to me, but then I’ve never denied that there are leftists Christians, or Christian lefties, or whatever.

        I merely claim these things:

        If you introduce me to 100 atheists and tell me nothing else about them, then ask me to guess their political leaning, I’ll say “left”, and I think I’ll be proved right more often than not.

        If you introduce me to 100 Christian libertarians or anarchists, and tell me nothing else about them, I’ll say: “How did I get to the Mises Institute? I don’t remember driving to Alabama.”

        If you introduce me to 100 people who distrust big corporations, oppose wars of choice, support gay marriage and abortion rights, and who also understand the concept of spontaneous order, I’ll say “Definitely left-libertarian, probably atheist.”

        In you introduce me to one libertarian atheist who supports wars of choice in the Middle East, and who backs gay marriage and abortion rights, and who also understands the concept of spontaneous order, I’ll say “Yaron Brook, nice to meet you sir.”

        • martinbrock

          More atheists identify with “left” than with “right” in my experience, but most atheists do not identify with “libertarian”. Most atheists agree with you that religion is oppressive and want a powerful state to protect them from its pernicious influence, as most leftists want a state to protect them from capitalism. Atheists on the left frequently want a state to protect them from both. These people ever seem to get enough of what they want.

          Libertarian atheists are a small subset of atheists, so even if most atheists identify with “left”, most libertarian atheists could identify with “right”. Libertarians identifying with “left” also seem to be a minority of “libertarians” these days, but that’s debatable.

          Left-libertarians seem to be a minority at the Mises Institute, but Roderick Long is obviously an exception, and if we’re discussing supporters rather than fellows, I’m another exception. I was in Alabama two weeks ago, following a visit to Callaway Gardens. Many supporters are Catholic, but I doubt that they’re a majority. Mises and Rothbard certainly weren’t Christians. Neither is Walter Block. I don’t know about Long, but I’m guessing that he isn’t either.

          I suppose most Rothbardians are atheists, and I’m sure that most Randians are either atheists or masochists. Excluding them, the list of right-libertarians is much shorter, so even if most left-libertarians are atheists, I suppose most right-libertarians are too.

          On the other hand, we could be defining “libertarian” too narrowly here. The Amish are more genuinely libertarian than most of the self-described “libertarians” I know (including me), certainly more libertarian than the state employed, professional academics posting here. Talk is cheap. Are the Amish left-libertarians or right-libertarians? I’d say that’s highly debatable.

          Drop gay marriage and abortion rights from your list, and you’ve covered practically everyone at the Mises Institute. If only these two issues separate “left-libertarians” from “right-libertarians”, the distinction seems superficial to me, but I think the differences go far deeper and have more to do with property rights. Certainly, the historical differences involve property far more.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RyanCCalhoun Ryan Calhoun

      Pretty sure Chartier is a professed Christian and has done work in the philosophy of religion, so I doubt he’ll be sympathetic to anti-theism.

      • Sean II

        Well, that would certainly explain the omission…of what otherwise seems to be a widely shared value in the leftish corner of libertopia.

        • Christian Gruber

          As an ex-religious (now firmly atheist) person who is quite anti-authoritarian, I also did a lot of work in comparative religion, and did get to see a lot of the good side of religious community… in short… community. While I would, at first, be watching carefully out of the corner of my eye, in principle I am not opposed to people having superstitious beliefs share my libertopia. If they’re committed to the human values of self-autonomy, mutual beneficial exchange, etc., but they voluntarily enter into a hierarchy (and may voluntarily leave) then that is, strictly speaking, their business. In a sense it’s no different than any other voluntary relationship.

          Of course the risk is that such groups would want to assert dominion over others, but at that point we’re already out of the libertopia, so it’s sort of a different issue.

          But I know lots of nice christians and muslims and pagans and others with whom I share personal social spaces with comfort and ease. These (individuals in my social circle) are people characterized by mutual respect for others, and this is why they’re in my social space. But I suspect that in the main extant religions, as they are expressed in cultures of hierarchy and dominance would be problematic… but no more than statist beliefs are now… in fact, they’re the same beliefs, at the core, I propose. But simply being religious is not, ipso-facto the same thing as supporting involuntary hierarchy and dominance. It’s just massively correlative in today’s culture(s).

    • ThaomasH

      Only if Sean II defines “left” as “Ignorance of economics, and indeed a stubborn refusal to accept that economics matters,” can it be true that “Ignorance of economics, and indeed a stubborn refusal to accept that economics matters, has long been a defining feature of the left.”

      • Sean II

        You know, you could try to falsify my claim, by coming up with a nice handful of non-libertarian leftists who understand the very things I’m suggesting they don’t understand. No doubt there are a few, but the question must turn on how many one could find, and what kind of influence they have. I even have a suggestion as to how you might proceed:

        One of the more famous demands made by many people in the Occupy movement was a $20 federal minimum wage.

        To understand why that is a dreadful idea requires a very simple grasp of economics. Basically, you just have to know that wages are the price of labor, and that they are connected to price of any good and service the labor is used to produce, and that there is something called capital that is also a vital part of the production process. In the simplest terms, you have to know that wages aren’t just numbers that are “made up” in the blackened heart of Ebenezer Scrooge. That’s it. A fairly low bar to clear.

        So how many prominent non-libertarian leftists can you find, who opposed the $20 minimum wage demand AND who gave evidence of understanding AND being able to explain why it is such a bad idea.

        • ThaomasH

          The occupy movement?  That’s as representative of mainstream liberals as KKK is of conservatives.  That would consist in defining the “left” as those who know no economics.  I’d take someone like Matt Yglesias as a typical liberal.

          Thomas L Hutcheson

          • Sean II

            I wasn’t asking you to consider the Occupy movement as an example of mainstream leftism. I was merely asking you to take a look at the way mainstream leftists responded – or failed to respond – to one of the challenges posed by the Occupy movement.

            I think you’ll find that Matt Yglesias and Mickey Kaus (to spot you one name) are very unusual. Indeed, Yglesias is somewhat famous for his brave departures from the standard leftist party line. But you’re right to mention him, since he at the very least UNDERSTANDS opposition to further minimum wage hikes.

            Trouble is, this is a number’s game, and one or two examples won’t do. You got any more where Matt came from?

          • ThaomasH

            Why does anyone have to “respond” to Occupy?

            Thomas L Hutcheson

          • Sean II

            Because every political family has to deal with its fringes. Because when the left starts a conversation about rising economic inequality, and the young people of the left join in, saying “I know, why don’t we just pass a law making it illegal for anyone to earn less than $20 an hour?”, then the wise old sages and the mainstream leaders of the left have an obligation to explain to them why that won’t work.

            I’m saying they haven’t explained it, because for the most part they can’t explain it, because for the most part they themselves do not understand it.

            In other words, I’m saying economic ignorance is a defining feature of the non-libertarian left. And If I’m wrong (as you seem to believe), it should not be terribly difficult to summon evidence to the effect. But so far I haven’t seen more than one counter-example you thought of, and one that I myself volunteered.

          • ThaomasH

            Sometimes the best policy is to ignore silliness.  Refuting the opinions of someone camped out in parks just may not be in anyone’s job description.

            Thomas L Hutcheson

          • Sean II

            But you seem to have forgotten something. Occupy was just thrown out here as an example. It was unquestionably a leftist movement, and far from being ignored as a manifestation of silliness, it received a lot of sympathy and in many cases outright backing from prominent leftists.

            I think it’s a good example, and that’s why I suggested it. But if you don’t like that example, you could always pick another.

            Remember, the point here was to see if we could find some evidence that many or most or all people from the non-libertarian left actually do understand economics, and design their policies with a due regard for economics laws.

            I think they don’t, and you think they do. If you’re right, it should be easy enough to falsify me by finding non-libertarian leftists who show evidence of understanding, say, what’s wrong with central planning, or why price controls cause shortages, or how minimum wage laws hurt the very poor, or the way subjective marginal utility solved the previously thorny problems of value theory, etc.

            I cant find many examples, and lord knows I’ve tried. But you seem convinced I’m mistaken, so you MUST have some reason for thinking that. I just don’t know what that is yet, because you haven’t told me.

          • ThaomasH

            Maybe it was just the people I was talking to, but It seemed to me that the only people paying attention to Occupy (to the opinions of the “occupiers”) were people who were put off by it.  Liberals seemed to take it as a symptom of a trend toward increasing concentration of income.  It seemed to frighten Republicans who injected the “class warfare” meme into the political debate.
            I’m not sure I agree that the discussion is over whether “many or most or all people from the non-libertarian left actually do understand economics, and design their policies with a due regard for economics laws.”  I think the group to the left of libertarians contains a very wide spectrum of view and of levels of knowledge about and agreement with the mode of analysis of economics.  I was refuting that such lack of knowledge or agreement was the defining characteristic of the group.

            Thomas L Hutcheson

  • john tomasi

    i read this excellent post as staking out what we might call “aspirational* left libertarianism” as opposed to merely *technical* LL. (By the latter i mean roughly the familiar phi LL view combining private self-ownership with public world-ownership.) thank you gary adding this grist to our mills….

  • http://thoughtsonliberty.com V.A. Luttrell

    So, I was hoping for some clarification on the section of redistributing wealth. It seems here that your definition seems to deviate somewhat from the typical leftist idea of redistribution. It doesn’t seem that leftists, when working in theory, differentiate between money fairly earned in a freed market and money “gamed” in a corrupted system. That is, there seems to be the perception that even in freed markets you’d still have a disparity of wealth, and then wealth should then be redistributed. I take it that is not your position here. As such, I wonder if it really can be deemed a leftist position, as these postulates seem to be originating from different understandings of redistribution.

    Secondly, some questions: How far back in time should redistribution go? For instance, to what extent should descendants of Native Americans be compensated for their lost property and wealth? The Japanese whose wealth was taken from them in WWII? What metrics would the legal system use to determine what is fair and equitable redistribution? One can argue that the CEO of a major company gains his wealth from gaming the system, but to what extent should he be legally faulted for that? It seems counter-intuitive, to me, to be able to sue someone under the grounds of rules/regulations/laws that didn’t exist at the time they gamed the system.

    Finally, an observation: With a couple of exceptions (the emphasis on methods of “redistribution” [or, perhaps more accurately "restoration"], the emphasis on hierarchical business structures), I do not see how this is necessarily distinct from libertarian philosophy in general. Libertarians, as a whole, tend to lean towards economic fields, and, as such, libertarian efforts have been heavily engaged in some areas rather than others. However, that is not uniformly the case. For the vast majority of these principles, I can think of a libertarian who is passionate about these issues. Perhaps that is because they are “left-libertarian,” but, for the most part, these are pretty standard derivations of the liberty philosophy to me and for most people. Some libertarians just work more intensively in one area than others.

    You know, I promised myself I wouldn’t write a long comment… :-/

    • martinbrock

      You’d rather have Chartier’s reply, but that never stops me.

      Left-libertarians are not typical leftists, but right-libertarians are not typical rightists either. Typical leftists, like typical rightists, are thoroughly statist, but the argument between libertarians and statists on the left is older than the argument between libertarians and statists on the right. Right-libertarians are the late comers to this game.

      In my way of thinking, libertarianism generally is consistent with any systematic wealth distribution imaginable, except the compulsory sort. The hundred people freely living at Twin Oaks, holding property in common and sharing income, are definitely libertarians. The Amish and monastic Christians are similarly libertarian.

      Outside of a few, small communities like Twin Oaks, I don’t find many genuinely libertarian, secular communities. Where are they? Where are the Rothbardians living by Rothbardian rules and stubbornly refusing to be governed otherwise? Where are they going to jail for refusing to educate their children according to statute? Where are they refusing, successfully, to participate in the Social Security system?

      A million (hypothetical) people living similarly are also libertarians. We can argue about how productive this sort of community is likely to be, but we can’t argue that it isn’t free unless it really isn’t free. Libertarianism cannot compel people to be rich, because it cannot compel people at all.

      I doubt that Chartier advocates any statutory system of redistributing property titles. How could he? Left libertarians mostly want to abolish various forms of property or to make respect for them voluntary. The redistribution of wealth then proceeds through market forces.

      Driving a descendant of European colonists out of a house and transferring title to a descendant of Native Americans is neither practical nor likely to be peaceful, but land on “Indian Reservations” could be free of the coercive dominance of the Bureau of Indian Affairs as Russell Means imagined. This freedom does not imply any perpetual right of descendants of Native Americans to rents, and it should not imply this right in my way of thinking.

      You want Chartier to specify a legal system, but compelling everyone to respect a particular legal system is precisely what left libertarians (of my sort) oppose. Particular legal systems, including systems called “capitalist”, are precisely the source of the wealth we want redistributed, but we don’t want wealth redistributed by imposing another legal system. We want it redistributed by freeing people to choose among any number of legal systems.

    • Christian Gruber

      I struggle with this question of “restorative justice” as well, as regards to just property claims. My suspicion is that “how far do we go” is “as far as the evidence takes us and no further” with respect to real victims and their heirs, and real property that can be tied to a crime. Beyond that, we run into collective guilt and collective punishment, and I think there we simply substitute injustices. We are stuck with Bastiat’s “that which cannot be seen” (or calculated) beyond concrete evidence of theft, etc. But I think there IS plenty of real evidence of theft. Beyond that, I would have no objection to state resources being homesteaded by those who had a structural disadvantage under the state to begin with.

      But all that said, my experience of many in the libertarian broad camp, including anarchists without adjectives, voluntaryists, and many other stripes have a morality-based emotional relationship to property and I suspect a great many would voluntarily participate in various investment funds to help those who suffer systemically from historical injustices to get ahead, simply because they realize that some of their wealth accrued from system injustice. As I write that, it reads as hopelessly naive… but if I posit a human species capable of and, ultimately, willing to live a voluntary life in social cooperation with other humans – in short, if we’re right and humanity can do this wonderful project – then I think the very fact of that would imply that many would respond this way.

      We’ve seen it in the past, with groups offering their resources in compensation beyond what was required by justice, in order to heal past ills.

    • http://www.facebook.com/noah.siegel1 Noah Siegel

      Chartier phrases things in a way that would appeal to a reader coming from the Left, but the ideas have generally been expressed by Rothbard, David D Friedman, and other anarcho-capitalist writers.

  • Pingback: On Chartier’s Left-Libertarian Symposium Paper « Libérale et libertaire

  • Shawn P. Wilbur

    Nice summary, Gary. It is interesting to see the more programmatic side of left-libertarianism made more explicit. This is obviously a much more concrete set of assumptions and agreements than were characteristic of “left-libertarianism” at the launch of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, and certainly not an ideological position I could call “home” anymore. Coming from a position very deeply rooted in the libertarian traditions of socialism, the apparatus and many of the assumptions seem quite alien (I would still be tempted to say “of the right”) to me, which probably accounts for the failure of the larger alliance to persist.

    • martinbrock

      I don’t suppose that Gary’s summary is the official doctrine of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left or that any disagreement is grounds for ex-communication. I don’t know enough about the Alliance to call it “home”, but I do know enough about other libertarianisms to feel an affinity for them without agreeing on every tenet of the faith.

      I’m here to learn more of what historically is both “left” and “libertarian”, so I’d like to know more specifically where and how you disagree.

      • Shawn P. Wilbur

        Martin, I didn’t mention either “doctrine” or “excommunication,” and was one of the founding members of the Alliance and at one time on the advisory board of the C4SS. You don’t need to defend my friend Gary when there was no attack. It seems to me simply a matter of fact that the Alliance was initially broader and more diverse, but it is also a fact that it was almost launched under the “Agorist Action Alliance” banner, and that there has always been some tension between the more-or-less Rothbardian side of “market anarchism” and the thought of those of us who were primarily influenced by Proudhon and “social anarchism.” The fact that some folks, like Charles Johnson, straddle those traditions honestly and convincingly doesn’t change the fact that there are tensions, and that one of the developments of the original Alliance was an environment in which a variety of marginalized anarchist and libertarian approaches could develop more fully.

        But we couldn’t always develop together, and it is probably not useful at this point to, for example, describe the neo-Proudhonian mutualism that I’m pursuing and elaborating as “left-libertarian” in the same way as the projects of folks

        — and, again, friends and allies

        — like Gary and Roderick.

        While there is certainly no requirement of a lockstep in left-libertarian circles, I think Gary has done a nice job of summarizing the positions generally held in ALL/C4SS circles.

        In terms of disagreements, as a much more traditionally libertarian socialism mutualist, I am considerably more skeptical about the virtues of markets. I don’t reject market exchange, but neither do I think that there is something specific to the character of markets that if “freed” would necessarily lead the sorts of outcomes most left-libertarians predict. I also approach property rather differently, which means that questions like “intellectual property” play out rather differently for me as well. You can find my essay on “The Gift Economy of Property” in “Markets, not Capitalism,” which at least gives a taste of the sort of analysis I’ve been doing since then.

        • martinbrock

          I mentioned “doctrine” and such without intending any slight. Doctrines are goods in my way of thinking, and ex-communication isn’t necessarily an evil, but I want to trade in the largest possible market. I identified with Proudhon myself when I was younger, and I still prefer “mutualism” to “capitalism”, but I get along with Rothbardians. I’m not sure about “social anarchism”. I just don’t know what you mean by it precisely enough.

          I read your essay a couple of days ago, but I didn’t connect you with it until now. I’ll review it again. What do you think of the web site at favorati.net? It’s something like a gift economy, but it doesn’t eschew “tit for tat”. Mutualism is all about tit for tat in my way of thinking. The site originally used only common labor as a standard of value.

  • Gary Chartier

    This is proving to be a provocative and thoughtful conversation. FWIW, my plan at present is to post an essay a few days from now that will pick up on some of the issues raised in the comments on my piece. I don’t expect to address every issue that’s been raised, but I hope to clarify my position in ways that will prove helpful to readers. Thanks to everyone who’s cared enough to contribute to the discussion of left-libertarianism here.

  • TracyW

    They promote marriage equality while seeking the departure of the state from the marriage business.

    Why? Do you seek the departure of the state from the will-enforcing business? or from the land-ownership registry business? Or the contract-enforcing business?

    Isn’t assigning property rights, in matters of dispute, a pretty important duty for some entity to be doing? Given that many people want to live with a partner (mostly, though not invariably, at the same address), and share property, and have that person make decisions in the event of the other one being medically disabled, and inherit, and so forth, and given that occasionally said partnerships have been known to fall apart acronymiously and leave the ex-partners unable to agree on a distribution of shared property, shouldn’t the state be able to enforce contracts related to these partnerships? And, why shouldn’t the state offer a standard contract, with reasonably-well known laws and court interpretations of those laws covering the likely fall-outs when such relationships end (be that by death or disagreement)?

    • martinbrock

      States don’t write a uniform will for everyone wanting a will, and states don’t write uniforms contracts for everyone wanting a contract. That’s the point.

      • TracyW

        States do determine what happens to the property of those who die without wills. It’s called “dying intestate”.

        Determining the distribution of property when rights are unclear or disputed is the fundamental job of states.

        • martinbrock

          States don’t tax the general population to enrich the heirs of people dying intestate.

          Gay couples are not the only partnerships excluded from marriage. All sorts of domestic partners may not legally marry. If equality is the problem, withdrawing benefits of marriage from childless straight couples, by making any parental benefits strictly parental benefits available to any person responsible for a child regardless of sexual orientation or any characteristic, also addresses the inequality, and this solution doesn’t further disadvantage cohabiting siblings or first cousins or parents living with adult children or platonic roommates or nuns or domestic partnerships with three partners rather than two.

          • TracyW

            You appear here to be making an argument that the government should not provide direct monetary benefits to married couples per se (including by tax deductions). This argument is a good one, indeed it’s so convincing that Roger Douglas adopted this in NZ back in the 1980s (although he abolished inheritance tax entirely for everyone rather than your recommended alternative.)

            What I am responding to though is the argument that the state should get out of the marriage business entirely. Chartier didn’t limit his statement to that the state should eliminate such incentives as you discuss.

            On your listed groups, IANAL but AFAIK:
            – nothing stops platonic room mates from getting married if they both want.
            – In most of the western world it is legal to marry your first cousin. And apparently it’s legal in some 20 US states. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin_marriage#United_States_2
            – marriage contracts in the west have not been designed for nuns and monks and domestic partnerships between more than two people. So there’s no body of law dealing with things like what if A wants to leave while B and C remain in partnership, or what happens if A is in a coma and B and C disagree on medical decisions. I don’t know how nuns and monks manage things legally but I presume that they’ve been through a number of legal cases. And there is a lot of law including common-law relating to business partnerships, charitable trusts, etc. If we do want to introduce a standard legal contract for domestic partnerships of more than two people, I think it would be a good idea to give such contracts a different name, so that people can still go on marrying in the Western sense (given widespread ignorance about the law).
            – Parents living with adult children and cohabiting siblings already have a family relationship by virtue of the genetic link. It strikes me as rather over-the-top to withdraw marriage contracts from everyone just because a lot of voters find the concept of marrying such a close relative icky.

          • martinbrock

            … nothing stops platonic room mates from getting married if they both want.

            I don’t care how platonic roommates arrange their relationship. It’s none of my business. That’s the point. Why should a statutory arrangement encouraged by statutory benefits, with costs imposed on others, even be an option?

            In most of the western world it is legal to marry your first cousin. And apparently it’s legal in some 20 US states.

            The U.S. has 50 states, and none of the residents of these states reside anywhere else in the western world.

            … marriage contracts in the west have not been designed for nuns and monks and domestic partnerships between more than two people.

            They obviously haven’t been designed for gay couples either; otherwise, we aren’t having this conversation.

            Parents living with adult children and cohabiting siblings already have a family relationship by virtue of the genetic link.

            But they don’t have various benefits of marriage. They have wills and such, but so do gay couples. My mother had my cousin’s power of attorney when my cousin died, but this power was not my mother’s birthright. It was my cousin’s birthright. What is wrong with letting people craft terms of their relationships themselves?

          • TracyW

            Martinbrock, you’re responding to an argument I’m not making.

            I don’t know why you’re talking about the US only. Chartier’s statement was that the state should get out of the marriage business, I saw nothing in his statement to limit it to the US states.

            Marriage contracts haven’t been designed for gay couples, but since there are only two people involved, the laws can be applied to them with no, or minimal changes.

          • martinbrock

            I’m not addressing the U.S. only or the U.S. vs. other states. I’m addressing the distinction between a contract and a statutory institution generally.

            Extending benefits of marriage to childless gay couples is precisely my problem with gay marriage. If anything, we should be withdrawing these benefits from childless straight couples while strengthening the cooperative bond between a child’s two parents.

          • TracyW

            Can you explain some more as to what you see is the distinction between a contract and a statutory institution in the case of marriage?

          • martinbrock

            A contract between two parties is a set of rules governing the two parties and only the two parties explicitly accepted by the two parties with due consideration.

            A statutory institution is a set of rules decreed by a state and governing persons the state declares to be governed by them. An institution may or may not involve an explicit agreement of persons governed by it, but either way, these persons must accept all of the rules as a package, and the state may change the rules even after this acceptance.

    • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

      Gary Chartier:

      They promote marriage equality while seeking the departure of the state from the marriage business.

      TracyW:

      Why? Do you seek the departure of the state from the will-enforcing business? or from the land-ownership registry business? Or the contract-enforcing business? …

      Yes.

      I’m an left-wing market anarchist. So is Gary.

    • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

      TracyW:

      Given that many people want to live with a partner (mostly, though not invariably, at the same address), and share property, and have that person make decisions in the event of the other one being medically disabled, and inherit, and so forth, and given that occasionally said partnerships have been known to fall apart acronymiously and leave the ex-partners unable to agree on a distribution of shared property, …

      Of course people should be able to do the former sorts of things and take precautions against the latter sorts of things. But nothing Gary has said about decoupling marriage from the state would prevent either. And this:

      Isn’t assigning property rights, in matters of dispute, a pretty important duty for some entity to be doing?

      . . . seems to me to be confusing the issue. Sometimes in life this can be a pretty important thing to get done. But the fact that something is socially important doesn’t mean that you need a political or institutional “entity” to be in charge of doing it.

      (“But in a free market, who would be in charge of making all the shoes?” In fact there is no discrete entity or fixed institution that could be an answer to this question. But not because free-marketeers have no answer to the question of how people would get shoes; and not because they think the question isn’t important.)

      • TracyW

        So, situation: A and B have been living together on terms that fall short of the Platonic for a couple of years now. Sadly, A contracts some rare disease, is rushed to hospital and is now in a coma. Some urgent medical decisions need to be made, which A is incapable of making. A has not made any formal statements about who should be making medical decisions for A in the event she was laid out. B and A’s parents are in sharp disagreement about the right treatment for A. Mediation has failed to bring their opinions together. Whose instructions should the doctors follow in an anarchist society? What is the process for deciding these matters?

        Or, A and B have lived together for 15 years and had two kids together. A gave up work when the first kid was born, B signed a contract saying that if the relationship broke up she would give A 40% of her income as a compensation for A’s lost earnings and experience. The relationship has broken up, and B has inherited a large amount of money from her family. A claims that she is entitled to a 50% share of this inheritance, B disputes this on the basis that the inheritance isn’t really part of her income. They are unable to come to an agreement (and quite frankly by this point if A said it looked like rain B would immediately dig out the sunscreen). What is the process in an anarchist society for deciding on the ins-and-outs of unclear contracts?

        • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

          TracyW – Well, I could rehash about 712pp or so on this, but, as briefly as possible let me just say that the answer to your question is probably going to have something to do with overlapping, competing and polycentric outlets for public hearings, dispute settlements, and binding arbitration provided through consensual civil society. (This may for example include medical ethics boards, ad hoc community meetings, private arbitration associations, and a bunch of other folks.)

          There’s a lot of work in the literature, and a lot of lively arguments, about what the details are likely to look like. And I guess we can talk about that if you’re interested but the main thing to keep in mind with the kind of questions you’re asking here is that the need for some social processes to deal with all these kinds of problems does not even remotely prove that there must be one single social process which addresses them all, nor does it mean that there must be one single social entity with a permanent institutional identity, professionalized administrators, a territorial monopoly, and vertically-integrated jurisdiction to do the processing.

          Anarchists do not propose a society where there’s no way of settling hard disputes or arbitrating the terms of agreements. What we propose is that a bunch of other people, not just those in positions of political power, be freed to take on the task of doing these things. That is, it’s not the end of dispute-resolution or arbitration, but the liberation of these social functions from the institutional control of a single, territorially-exclusive political entity (the state). The point is to allow them to be taken up by other associations, institutions, customary conventions, contractual arrangements, non-institutionalized social processes, etc. that don’t necessarily claim the territorial monopoly, the expansive authority, the coercive sanctions, or the unaccountable legal sovereignty, claimed by the modern state legal system.

          (Maybe you have an argument for why the permanence, the professionalization, the territoriality, the hierarchy of exclusive jurisdictions, or the monopoly control, is necessary to do this sort of thing in the right way — that is, for why anarchic social processes couldn’t manage it without becoming more or less archic in the process. But if so you’d have to give that argument.)

          • TracyW

            Your answer strikes me as a strong argument against anarchism. “overlapping, competing and polycentric outlets for public hearings, dispute settlements” – oh joy, let’s drag out the fight not merely through one court system, but through multiple court systems! A in my medical system will have died before there is resolution, and in the divorce situation A and B’s kids will have grown up and had kids of their own.

            This sounds pretty expensive and unattractive to me.

            As for your comments about the lack of a need for a single, territorial authority, etc, that strikes me as an attempt to change the topic from the anarchist solutions to an attack on the current world, which in turn strikes me as reason to think despite all this lively debate and 712 pp books, you anarchists have no solutions for my hypothetical As and Bs.

          • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

            TracyW -

            1. I haven’t spent a lot of time offering “good solutions for [your] hypothetical As and Bs” because I think that giving detailed legal advice to the characters in an underspecified thought-experiment is probably going to be missing the point without having a lot more knowledge of the interpersonal and social circumstances that you’ve constructed for them. It seems that you have some fairly specific circumstances in mind (rain, sunscreen, etc.) but I haven’t any real way of knowing from what you say how much these people are operating in good or bad faith, how willing they are to sacrifice their putative goals in order to try to “win” the conflict, etc.

            If you just want some short answer or another then, briefly, the first case sounds like a case for a medical ethics board (although I can imagine other ways of dealing with it; but whatever means they adopt it seems like all the parties concerned have a pretty strong incentive to make the process as quick as possible); and the second case sounds like a case for entering into binding arbitration, either with a professional or with disinterested arbitrators chosen ad hoc. (Let me just assert that there is every reason to think that there will be medical ethics boards and disinterested arbitrators in any anarchic society that has medicine, and contracts.) Of course you might wonder how A and B could agree on an arbitrator if they can’t agree on the terms of the contract, But historically people have figured out ways to do this when government court’s weren’t available. In any case if people are making contracts in a social environment where there is no single entity that can be presumed to exercise a monopoly on final arbitration of contracts, then there will be both an incentive to write high-stakes contracts in such a way as to specify, ahead of time, the process for arbitration; and also a reason to develop some pretty strong customary conventions for finding arbitrators after the fact if it’s not spelled out in the contract.

            2. You write: “A in my medical system will have died before there is resolution, and in the divorce situation A and B’s kids will have grown up and had kids of their own.”

            Of course this kind of move is exactly why I hesitate to spend a lot of time on the detailed suggestions for A and B, and why I referred you to some of the existing literature. The existence of multiple overlapping institutions and processes for resolving disputes does not mean that disputants will want to, or will be able to, avail themselves of every possible venue for their conflict; and it doesn’t mean that the disinterested parties who participate in those processes will be willing to play along with them.

            Now if we begin by assuming that in each of your cases A and B will be infinitely unwilling to let an adverse decision stand, no matter what the cost involved in prolonging the case; and also that people on boards, hearings, arbitration associations, private arbitrators, folkmoots, etc. will be infinitely willing to take on a nightmare dispute that has already been heard and reheard; and that third parties (e.g. the doctor in your first case) will also be infinitely unwilling to act on any decision until every logically possible venue has been exhausted, then I don’t doubt that there is no difficulty in proving that anarchy will be an absolute nightmare for cases like these. But if you start with that presumption there is no difficulty in proving that government legal systems will produce similarly nightmarish results. (People have been known to stonewall and to drag out legal proceedings under the existing legal system; sometimes courts let them get away with it, sometimes not.) Maybe you think there is some argument that shows that in anarchy sufficiently nightmarish people with intractable conflicts will be more able to prolong nightmarish legal situations than they are under a state legal system; or that third parties would be more willing to play along with them in prolonging it. But then you’d have to give the argument. (And you’d have to show why an argument that starts from such strong starting presumptions about the hypothetical people involved in the dispute would justify a general conclusion against anarchism, rather than a narrower conclusion to the effect that anarchy might mean that some fairly narrowly specified subset of the population will be at greater risk for getting themselves into intractable legal nightmares. I don’t know about that; but maybe. But if so, is it a defeater for the claim that anarchy would on the whole be desirable for other reasons? Why?)

            In any case, this is largely a retread of the argument over “legal finality” that Roderick Long discusses at some length in his article “Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism.” Note especially the section in that paper on Platonic legal finality and realistic legal finality.

            3. You write: “As for your comments about the lack of a need for a single, territorial authority, etc, that strikes me as an attempt to change the topic from the anarchist solutions to an attack on the current world, . . .”

            If that’s how it strikes you that’s how it strikes you, but it seems to me that this is something you’ve brought to my comments more than something I put there. My point in mentioning those peculiar features of the State is that from the start of this particular sub-thread you repeatedly asked questions on the presumption that anarchism somehow contemplates a society in which there is no “assigning of property rights , in matters of dispute,” no social “process for deciding” matters of medical ethics, no social “process … for deciding on the ins-and-outs of unclear contracts,” or at least that the idea of anarchism poses some large and obvious conceptual problem to developing any answer to these questions. And my point is that it poses a large and obvious conceptual problem to developing an answer if you assert that, in order for these social functions to be exercised, there must be a single social entity with some or all of the peculiar features (territoriality, sovereignty, etc.) that I mentioned to do the exercising. But of course that assertion is precisely what anarchists deny. And you gave no argument at all for that assertion until your reply just now.

            The reason for mentioning Stringham’s anthology and the rest of the literature on this is that in the absence of a concrete argument for why you think social processes for dispute resolution would necessitate a monopoly-state-like social “entity” to handle them, I could either try and guess what the background argument for this presupposition was supposed to be; or I could point you to the people who have already written on several different arguments in the neighborhood that you might have had in mind. Unless you have something in the hole that is very novel compared to the cards you’ve shown so far, what you’ve been asking are very basic questions about anarchist theory that have been extensively dealt with elsewhere, in forums that are probably more conducive to explaining the ins and outs of how it works than is a Disqus comment thread, which I’ve already wildly overburdened just with this response.

          • TracyW

            I don’t really have specific circumstances in mind, the rain and sunscreen was a comment about A and B being on really bad terms with each other.

            On the question of A, I’ve always thought the question as being working out what A’s wishes were about who should be making medical decisions, given that A is incapable of communicating on his behalf. So I’m not sure if a medical ethcis board would be the best choice, for me the key question is did A prefer his parents or his girlfriend. With marriage, A would definitely have chosen his girlfriend. If the parents dispute the marriage, the courts can check the legal records, call the witnesses and celebrant, the system is not immune to fraud, but there’s more evidence there than bare assertions. With over-lapping, competing, polycentric outlets, what’s the process for deciding if A made such a commitment to his girlfriend?

            And if A is thinking ahead of time, and wants to sign a contract to keep his parents out of the decision, how can he do so in a way that will stick if his parents don’t agree to any such contract?

            It strikes me as much more convenient for there to be a central registry of marriages.

            On the divorce situation, so you do agree with me that some entity should be arbitrating whether B’s inheritance should be shared with A. And, I agree that in an anarchist society there would be definite interest for both parties to agree on an arbitrator when signing a contract, which would get around the problem with polycentric, overlapping outlets (assuming that the non-chosen outlets will refrain from interferring if A or B decide ex-post they’ll get a better deal from a different arbitrator). But, in this world where we do have a state, the sorting-out-unclear-contracts strikes me as something the state does reasonably well. So why seek the departure of the state from this particular area? Gary Chartier didn’t call for the departure of the state from land disputes, say, indeed he still contemplates a role for the legal system, to quote:

            they [Left-libertarians] suggest, redistribution ought to be effected by the legal system (as it restores to people resources unjustly taken from them or their predecessors in interest”

            .

            If you want to abolish the state entirely, that’s one thing. But if you’re still going to have a legal system, recognising marriages strikes me as a logical thing for it to do.

          • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

            TracyW: If you want to abolish the state entirely, that’s one thing. But if you’re still going to have a legal system, recognising marriages strikes me as a logical thing for it to do.

            This involves an elementary mistake. If Gary thought that the only form of “legal systems” available were monocentric legal systems administered by territorial states, then he would be “contemplating a role” for the state in adjudicating land disputes (say). But he doesn’t think that. So inferring that his comments about a “legal system” entail a role for a government to administer the legal system is premature. (Gary is in fact an anarchist and advocates the general and complete departure of the state from legal systems, not only in the case of marriage.)

            TracyW: With over-lapping, competing, polycentric outlets, what’s the process for deciding if A made such a commitment to his girlfriend?

            I don’t want to be rude, but a question like this strikes me as little more than a belligerent lack of imagination. Can you really not figure out some minimally creative way that people might try to deal with this? You might start by asking around. Or you might count on the parties to the dispute to provide evidence of a past public commitment one way or t’other by A (since, if they intend to have their claims taken seriously, they have an obvious incentive to point out the basis for those claims). In your imagined case, if we presume that we’re living in a community where the local norm is that the next-of-kin will be presumed to speak and decide for a patient who is unable to speak or decide for herself, then, given that context, either (a) A has taken it upon herself to publicize an explicit waiver of this presumption, and to vest the decision-making with someone else; or (b) A has taken it upon herself to publicize an explicit choice that someone should be considered her next of kin (for example B, which A might have done when she married B), or (c) A has not taken it upon herself to do either of these things. Ex hypothesi, we were supposed to assume that (a) was not the case, but you said nothing about whether (b) had been done or things had been left to (c). If (b) had been done, then of course there is a perfectly clear answer, and whoever did the publicizing of A’s marriage to B would presumably also have an interest in making it known should the question ever come up whether B really was A’s next of kin. (And in any case B would have every reason to point the doctor to these folks if the doctor had any questions.) It would then of course be up to the publicizing folks to produce any documentary evidence that the situation might call for. (Maybe they didn’t keep any documentary evidence of a public ceremony. If so, they’re evidently not very good at documenting marriages, and I expect anyone who seriously cared about the outcome would want to entrust the formalities with somebody else.) In case (c), then it seems like A didn’t really care too much about making sure that B would be able to make decisions for her, and the best that we can do is to rely on whatever local conventions may have developed for sorting these things out. (If A is a grown adult, and A and B have been living together for years, with or without explicit commitments about next-of-kin issues, then I suspect a local convention that strongly favors the parents in the absence of any explicit declaration is likely to lead to some pretty unjust outcomes. But then that’s a reason to develop some different social conventions.)

            And if A is thinking ahead of time, and wants to sign a contract to keep his parents out of the decision, how can he do so in a way that will stick if his parents don’t agree to any such contract?

            Easily. A does not need parental agreement to designate someone else as his proxy for medical decision-making (or any other kind). It’s not a “right” that they have to waive (A is their child, not their property); it’s a privilege that they have as long as A still consents to give it to them.

            I agree that in an anarchist society there would be definite interest for both parties to agree on an arbitrator when signing a contract, which would get around the problem with polycentric, overlapping outlets …

            Well, this seems like an odd way to put it. I deny that there is any “problem with polycentric, overlapping outlets” to be solved. Choosing one outlet among many is not the same thing as solving a “problem” with having many outlets; when I say, “Let’s go to Cottage Inn for dinner tonight, not Blue Nile,” that’s not exactly solving some “problem with polycentric, overlapping” competition in food.

            So why seek the departure of the state from this particular area?

            Well this seems simply like a flat denial of the central problem that Gary’s comments were introduced to discuss (the problem that gay couples, among others, have in dealing with these issues by means of a marriage through the exsting legal system). Because it is not actually something the state does reasonably well. Notably, the state currently engages in extensive discrimination against those who attempt to make use of existing legal forms for handling these situations; it fails to serve the specific real-world needs that you claim it is serving “reasonably well” for significant numbers of couples. There are three ways of trying to deal with these problems: you could deny that these forms of discrimination really are a problem (i.e., there’s some good reason for them); or you could try to deal with them by urging the state to make those legal forms of recognition more general and universally available, without changing the monopolistic control over the recognition of marriages (and family relationships more broadly); or you could try to deal with them by getting rid of the monopolistic control over the recognition of marriage (so that other kinds of social entities, non-institutionalized social processes, social conventions, etc. could emerge to handle it, for those who wish for an alternative to the current norm). But given left-wing market anarchist commitments to LGBT liberation (among other left-wing values), a left-libertarian is hardly going to deny that there is any problem here. And given left-wing market anarchist commitments to anarchism, there seem to be some strong reasons to favor the radical and anti-statist solution over the reformist and statist solution. One reason being the great likelihood that, whatever reforms you may be able to make in the short-term under the right circumstances, anarchists typically point out the likelihood that any monopolistic, politically-administered social entity is going to be captive, to a lesser or greater degree, to dominant social norms and political power structures. Thus, when you write:

            It strikes me as much more convenient for there to be a central registry of marriages.

            … I’m inclined to doubt that it really is as “convenient” as you think it is for everyone concerned. It might seem more convenient, if you haven’t got any worries about subjecting the definition of marriage to a uniform, centralized community monopoly in a moral and religious environment where many people have deeply conflicting ideals about marriage. But many people (LGBT people among them, not to put too fine a point on it) may have some reasons for thinking that community monopolies will tend to reflect some pretty strong bias in favor of the dominant ideals of marriage in the community, and may not allow a space for alternative ideals. Certainly this has been the outcome so far.

          • TracyW

            I don’t want to be rude, but a question like this strikes me as little more than a belligerent lack of imagination.

            You say that you don’t want to be rude, then immediately you say something rude. I am so unimaginative that I figure this sentence could only have been meant as a joke.

            A has taken it upon herself to publicize an explicit waiver of this presumption, and to vest the decision-making with someone else; or (b) A has taken it upon herself to publicize an explicit choice that someone should be considered her next of kin (for example B, which A might have done when she married B), or (c) A has not taken it upon herself to do either of these things.

            The question is what counts as an explicit waiver. Does A’s signature (or purported signature) count? Or should some witnesses be required? Let’s say that A wants to not only settle the medical next of kin issue, but agree that his girlfriend inherit his property, which may well be substantial. Given the high incentives to lie when large sums of money are involved, a community might want to set a high level of proof as to what counts as an agreement, for example, maybe two witnesses. Or maybe as well as the witnesses, some respected member of the community there who can check that the legal forms are followed, and who has a reputation in the community to worry about. Plus everyone involved could sign a piece of paper, which could be put on record somewhere known.

            I deny that there is any “problem with polycentric, overlapping outlets” to be solved. Choosing one outlet among many is not the same thing as solving a “problem” with having many outlets; when I say, “Let’s go to Cottage Inn for dinner tonight, not Blue Nile,” that’s not exactly solving some “problem with polycentric, overlapping” competition in food.

            I imagine this “I deny that…” is another example of your sense of humour, along with “I don’t want to be rude”. (Of course, as you have already pointed out, I am pretty unimaginative).

            But, to treat your comment seriously for the pleasure of the argument, legal disputes are different to restaurants. All parties going to a meal at a restaurant are consenting at that point in time. If I don’t want to go to the Cottage Inn for dinner tonight, and you do, we can split up and go to different restuarants. But if one party wants to go to court, I don’t see how the other can just refuse to go (leaving aside such stupid claims that just get laughed out of court/all-polycentric-overlapping-outlets).

            (If A is a grown adult, and A and B have been living together for years

            You do realise that sometimes people do live on platonic terms with flatmates for years? Even crazy flatmates? Or indeed sometimes live for years on non-platonic terms with crazy flatmates who’d they’d never want to marry in the non-legal sense of the term? I suspect a local convention that strongly favour the flatmate in this situation is likely to lead to some pretty unjust outcomes too.

            Easily. A does not need parental agreement to designate someone else as his proxy for medical decision-making (or any other kind). It’s not a “right” that they have to waive (A is their child, not their property); it’s a privilege that they have as long as A still consents to give it to them.

            But A is unconscious, and unable to consent to anything. The hypothetical dispute is over whether A did wish to designate someone else as their proxy.

            Notably, the state currently engages in extensive discrimination against those who attempt to make use of existing legal forms for handling these situations; it fails to serve the specific real-world needs that you claim it is serving “reasonably well” for significant numbers of couples.

            States in the western world are recognising same sex marriage, see http://reason.com/blog/2012/11/21/mapping-gay-marriage

            It might seem more convenient, if you haven’t got any worries about subjecting the definition of marriage to a uniform, centralized community monopoly in a moral and religious environment where many people have deeply conflicting ideals about marriage.

            Or if you have even more concerns about subjecting the definition of marriage to a system of over-lapping, competing, polycentric outlets in a moral and religious environment where many people have deeply conflicting ideals about marriage. Indeed, what happens under your polycentric, overlapping outlets if one of those legal outlets is heartily opposed to same-sex sexual relationships? Or is heartily opposed to people born into its religion marrying outside that religion? Or is quite happy with the idea that a father can marry off his daughter regardless of her consent?

            … I’m inclined to doubt that it really is as “convenient” as you think it is for everyone concerned.

            You are of course free to doubt this. I have no desire to force anyone to get married who doesn’t want to and I am opposed to any state that would insist that you were married if you had not actually consented to a marriage. But, even assuming that I am wrong about the convenience, why do you want to deny my husband and me the possibility of making use of such a legal registry?

            so that other kinds of social entities, non-institutionalized social processes, social conventions, etc. could emerge to handle it, for those who wish for an alternative to the current norm

            Modern Western states provide numerous other legal conventions, entities, etc, for those who wish for alternatives to the current norm. One can set up partnerships, trusts, living wills, power-of-attorney, etc. For example monasteries and nunneries for example still operate in modern Western societies and must have some legal set-up to own or rent property.

          • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

            TracyW: The question is what counts as an explicit waiver. … Given the high incentives to lie when large sums of money are involved, a community might want to set a high level of proof as to what counts as an agreement, for example, maybe two witnesses. Or maybe as well as the witnesses, some respected member of the community there who can check that the legal forms are followed, and who has a reputation in the community to worry about. Plus everyone involved could sign a piece of paper, which could be put on record somewhere known.

            Maybe you’re right about this, and maybe you are not. But whether you’re right about this or not, you do seem to have lost track of what we’re arguing about. Of course I never said (and Gary never said) there was anything necessarily wrong with people choosing to use something like the presence or absence of a public, documentable marriage ceremony as part of determining the most reasonable choice for next-of-kin in case of situations (b) or (c). The claim Gary argued for is the claim that publicity, documentation and ceremony in this regard needn’t, and shouldn’t, have anything in particular to do with state recognition. Nothing at all that you describe in this passage (witnesses, disinterested or respected officiant, formal ceremony, written and authenticated documentation) requires a territorial state be involved at any point in the process. If your argument is that marriage may in some cases be a useful social institution, which need not have anything to do with a state, then that’s not an argument against Gary’s position. If your argument is that marriage must be licensed by a state to be useful, you haven’t given any argument at all for that conclusion.

          • TracyW

            If your argument is that marriage must be licensed by a state to be useful, you haven’t given any argument at all for that conclusion.

            Oh come on, do be serious. This is what I’ve been arguing this entire time! You’ve even been responding to my arguments on this point, To quote myself:

            “overlapping, competing and polycentric outlets for public hearings, dispute settlements” – oh joy, let’s drag out the fight not merely through one court system, but through multiple court systems!

            You don’t find my arguments convincing, any more than I find yours, but it’s rather late for you to start pretending that I haven’t given them.

          • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

            Me: A does not need parental agreement to designate someone else as his proxy for medical decision-making (or any other kind). It’s not a “right” that they have to waive (A is their child, not their property); it’s a privilege that they have as long as A still consents to give it to them.

            TracyW: But A is unconscious, and unable to consent to anything.

            It is hard to know what you’re trying to get at at this point, unless you are simply forgetting the question in debate, or changing the subject without saying so. You asked about what A should do “if A is thinking ahead of time, and wants to sign a contract to keep his parents out of the decision.” Of course if A is thinking ahead of time, then the answer is what I said: A doesn’t need the consent of A’s parents. If you want to change the question to ask what A’s supposed to do once A is already unconscious (?!) then of course the answer is that A no longer has a chance to do anything about it, and disputes will have to be handled according to the customary social processes we’ve been discussing. But that’s not a problem that’s unique to anarchy; in any sort of society at all, with or without government, if you don’t make any effort to get an outcome other than the conventional default, then you’re going to be stuck with the conventional default. The question then becomes whether the conventions available ought to be based on the unilateral authority of a territorial state; or whether it ought to be based on something else (e.g. freely-developing local custom, etc.).

            TracyW: Indeed, what happens under your polycentric, overlapping outlets if one of those legal outlets is heartily opposed to same-sex sexual relationships? …

            Then they most likely won’t recognize it. And people who want to have their same-sex sexual relationships impact decisions about next-of-kin then they will no doubt make some effort to ensure that the “outfit” certifying their relationship is one that doesn’t have a hearty opposition to same-sex sexual relationships. (If you want to have a same-sex marriage, and you also want to get married in the Catholic Church, you’re probably going to have a problem. But not a problem that can really be solved without either you or the Catholic Church to make an unacceptable concession on a question of conscience. So probably you will have to get married elsewhere. But part of the point of polycentrism is to ensure that there are at least plenty of elsewheres to get married.)

            If your question is, what’s to keep the hospital from operating on the Catholic Church’s views about your marriage, rather than operating on the views of the place where you got married, then my answer is that in an anarchic society it would be pretty odd to expect hospitals to select a completely arbitrary authority to certify or nullify a marriage, rather than selecting the outfit the married couple had actually chosen to certify it. If you’re asking what’s to keep a doctor who has, or a hospital which is run by people who also have, hearty religious or moral opposition to same-sex marriage from only listening to outlets whose authority they accept (say, a Catholic hospital might only accept marriages within the Catholic Church, or might only accept marriages that meet some of the RCC’s criteria, etc.), then the answer is that in an anarchic society nothing will forbid the hospital from doing that (in the sense of outlawing it), but nothing will forbid people from seeking care from other hospitals or other doctors, and if this is likely to be a problem for same-sex couples then those couples can always take some care to ensure that their medical providers will be people who do recognize their marriage. (Similarly, if you want to get contraception, you will probably have to take the care to look for an apothecary who is willing to sell it, etc.) If your question is what’s to keep an outfit that’s really heartily opposed to same-sex relationships from forcibly intervening to stop the decision from being made by a tolerant outfit that allows them, and a doctor who accepts the tolerant outfit’s certification, then the answer falls under the general answer to questions about why non-governmental defense associations won’t go to war with each other whenever they have a dispute. (You might see Roderick Long’s shorter discussion of this in Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections for a start; this is also widely discussed in more or less all market anarchist literature about private dispute-resolution and defense agencies.)

          • TracyW

            Radgeek: What I’m envisaging here is:

            1. A ahead of time signs a contract saying that girlfriend is next of kin.

            2. A is knocked unconscious by a coma.

            3. A’s parents forum-shop to pick a legal entity that will be inclined to rule whatever contract A signed was not legally valid, on the basis that say there’s not sufficient legal proof of intent.

            And people who want to have their same-sex sexual relationships impact decisions about next-of-kin then they will no doubt make some effort to ensure that the “outfit” certifying their relationship is one that doesn’t have a hearty opposition to same-sex sexual relationships.

            And the parents who want to be making the medical decisions for their son, rather than that crazy girlfriend, have every incentive to pick a legal outfit that only recognises relationship certification that meet some standard that the son didn’t meet (eg, only recognises marriages formalised in the Catholic church, requires parental consent to marriage, or refuses to recognise relationships unless signed in blood and witnessed by three men dressed as Elvis).

            As for the doctor, so now A has to ahead of time pick a doctor/hospital as well as the marriage contract?

          • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

            TracyW: Modern Western states provide numerous other legal conventions, entities, etc, for those who wish for alternatives to the current norm. One can set up partnerships, trusts, living wills, power-of-attorney, etc. For example monasteries and nunneries for example still operate in modern Western societies and must have some legal set-up to own or rent property.

            I am aware of all of these mechanisms, and some others you didn’t mention. (For example, in the past some gay couples would actually have one partner legally adopt the other in order to kludge their way around the range of next-of-kin issues involved in the absence of marriage.) I have some reasons for thinking that these are not fully adequate as solutions. (Both because of some significant legal gaps because of what they can and cannot cover in normal cases, and also because of the extraordinarily high and discriminatory transaction costs they can impose in setting them up, etc.) But this is of course simply taking the course of denying that there is any significant problem currently with respect to gay marriage. If you want to believe that, I will disagree with you, but the disagreement has nothing essentially to do with a disagreement about anarchism, government, polycentricity, monopoly, or any of the other issues you’ve tried to tie it to; it’s a disagreement about the need for gay marriage (or other alternatives to the dominant model), not a disagreement about whether or not market anarchy can successfully recognize it.

            Of course “partnerships, trusts, living wills, power-of-attorney, etc.” could be set up and reocgnized in the polycentric institutions of a market anarchy as well or as poorly as marriages or any other kind of agreement. If (for the sake of argument) I granted that the state really does handle these tolerably well, and if these really do suffice to handle alternative models of marriage or kinship, then their availability might give left-wing market anarchists some reason to abandon the specifically left-wing considerations in favor of their radical approach to problems of state marriage (e.g., it might undermine a specifically gay-liberationist case for getting the state out of it). But it hardly affects other, independent reasons that market anarchists have for favoring the radical approach (i.e., it doesn’t do anything to undermine the general libertarian case for getting the state out of it).

            Now as a few of your questions have indicated, perhaps you didn’t understand that Gary was in fact an anarchist, or that he was introducing positions for which he has both specifically left-wing and also specifically libertarian reasons for advocating. (Or that he intended for the libertarian reasons to apply quite broadly, i.e. to disputes over land, contracts, etc. quite broadly, not only to questions about marriage.) If you didn’t realize that, well, now you know. Or perhaps you fundamentally misunderstood what getting the state to depart from recognizing marriages means. (Certainly, some of your questions seem to indicate that you think Gary is proposing a society in which nobody pays any attention to formal ceremonies, rather than simply a society in which formal ceremonies no longer require the backing of a territorial monopoly.) Or you may perhaps want to have an argument which is not about recognition and dispute resolution in a market anarchy, but instead about the details of the left-wing case that there are significant political problems in state marriage as it currently exists (e.g. problems having to do with gay couples or people with other alternatives in mind), which one might want to take either a reformist or a radical approach towards. If so I’m happy to leave that argument for someone else to take up with you.

            In any case dragging the conversation into a general discussion of the basic mechanisms of dispute-resolution under market anarchy seems like a change of subject, when the subject is really your views on gay marriage rather than Gary’s views on what to do about it.

          • TracyW

            I’m in favour of states recognising same-sex marriage. I think that recognising same-sex marriage is a simpler solution than deciding that no state will recognise any marriage at all.

            I note furthermore, that states recognising same-sex marriage is already happening, while you’ve cited no cases of states getting out of the marriage business altogether.

            As for Gary wanting the state to get out of contracts all together, I’m still surprised that he would specifically mention states getting out of marriage contracts, but not the more general case.

          • http://twitter.com/radgeek radgeek

            Replying to my brief parenthetical comment about default outcomes in case (c) that don’t uncritically privilege parents of an adult son or daughter over someone she has been living with for years, you write:

            TracyW: You do realise that sometimes people do live on platonic terms with flatmates for years?

            Right, which is why common-law marriage has historically depended on features other than simply the cohabiting in order to determine an intention to be treated as married, with the kinship relationships that come along with that. In particular, it has usually depended on (1) a recognition that the relationship is probably sexually “consummated,” and (2) the public “habit and repute” of the couple to present themselves as husband and wife, even without any definitive public announcement or witnessed formal ceremony. (If your idea is that existing forms of state marriage have only been recognized where the high standards of formal public ceremony you mentioned above were met, then of course your idea is a historical fantasy.) I didn’t go to great length to specify these “non-platonic” features of the relationship because I was answering on the assumption that I could take your characterization of the relationship, when setting up the hypothetical, more or less in good faith, but if you didn’t intend for those “non-platonic” features to be assumed in discussing the hypothetical, then we can go back and talk about different possible cases.

            In any case, in societies with governments, it has typically been believed that simply privileging A’s parents over B in the absence of a formal marriage ceremony, no matter how intimate and how long-standing A and B’s relationship may have been, would be obviously unjust, so they have adopted legal conventions and customs that recognize a marriage in many cases where there had been no formal ceremony,(*) and somehow, even though in the past it was actually far more common for unrelated people to live in the same house with each other, folks largely managed to figure out ways around problems like crazy flatmates you’d never want to marry, etc. But a society without government is of course not a society without any local customs or conventions, and if A and B live in an anarchic community then the community they live in will no doubt have developed local customs about determining the default next-of-kin which are no less adaptive and creative than what people came up with under states. (Indeed, they might well come up with some new conventions that do a better job than the traditional customs, e.g. in recognizing and taking seriously the forms of intimacy in same-sex relationships where presumptive next-of-kin status might be reasonable, or possibly in considering other kinds of intimacy other than sexual intimacy, etc.)

            But, in any case, no matter how crazy or unsuitable the conventions that might be developed in an anarchic community, those who do not like the default customary outcomes will not be constrained to stick with those customary outcomes by any territorial monopoly on legal recognition; they will be free to explicitly designate that they don’t want the default customary outcome. (So if A really has good reason to worry about her crazy flatmate, or crazy live-in sex partner, or whatever, being recognized as next-of-kin, even though they don’t publicly indicate any intent to be treated as next-of-kin to each other, etc., then it is open to A, and up to her, to make some effort to explicitly designate someone else.)

            (* States have been moving against this trend recently, and many, especially in Europe, have eliminated many categories of “irregular” marriage from their codes in the past few decades. But this is a historical exception, not at all the rule; and it should be no surprise that the general trend in modern states has often been to demand totalistic licensing, and compliance with formal ceremony at the expense of substantively just outcomes. So much the worse for nationalized marriage.)

          • TracyW

            Sure, all my point here was that assuming a common-law marriage, or some legal equivalent, is also likely to lead to some pretty unjust outcomes in some particular cases.

  • TracyW

    Left-libertarians share with other leftists a commitment to the well-being of children. But left-libertarians underscore the importance of respecting children’s rights to control their own bodies and possessions—rejecting both attempts to treat children as their parents’ property

    This sort of thing seems to be written by people who’ve never spent much time around small children since they were one.

    • Neverfox

      And your response seem to be written by someone who cannot distinguish between respecting someone’s rights and leaving someone who is functionally too impaired to be the steward of those rights to fend for themselves.

      • TracyW

        That strikes me as a good description, yes.

  • ThaomasH

    Of the initial list only

    “crafting a thoroughly anti-statist politics.”
    seems at odds with standard liberalism,, although not every libeeral woud agree on every item.

  • http://twitter.com/Loganzheroes Logan

    Am I a Leftist Libertarian? I thought I was but from this article I would say,”maybe, pretty close”. To say your left or right is dependent on whether your in favor of capitalism and nobility or not. This is a thin line of oxymoron-ism but the rest is in the details of how far into the future you look. Should we have democratic representation for construction issues? Yes. Should we vote on moral issues? NO. This is for the courts of science to decide.

    There are only two real issues i see in this article that I hole-heatedly disagree with.

    One is private CHARITY in a non-utopian society. This is a capitalistic idea that gives power to one and takes from those who have to ask for it. Until the human race is ready for utopia we have to take steps towards our goal. Some people are introverts and some are extraverts so there is a wide range of degrees in competitive behaviors as well as intellectual capabilities.

    Two is education. No one should be scared of the courts stepping into family matters but as we humans are not ready for utopia it is unavoidable. One human can not harm or repress another under any false notions that one can own their child. This is a blessing not a right of nobility. Discipline is not needed when proper direction and support is offered for we are intellectually simple in youth. Home schooling for those that are qualified but a public education system that gives the basic knowledge to someone so that they may have discussions about the choices to their own future is imperative for cases that apply. A child must reach a certain enlightenment before a decision on their capabilities is made. How do you know if you love music if your not allowed to hear it.

    We all have a human right to go after our dreams weather we suck at them
    or not. We will not be human or connected to nature if there is no
    degree of genetic differences so to think we as a race will be one color
    and of one mind is ideologically flawed but may be unavoidable.
    Tradition and religion are honest dreams for those who chose that path.

    Just an idea: Redistribution of wealth isn’t about the past it’s about the present. Minimal income, pay scales, equal work for equal pay, salary caps, strict banking and market regulations. This would slow inflation except for population growth and there would be no need for personal taxes. The definition of economy is simply, finding a mechanism that revolves “currency”.

    I would imagine that we’d see a minor exodus of the noble populace that both wants and needs to be greedy. With a three party nation new boarders for distinct societies will be drawn to stipulate cultural and language differences. People could chose to live where and how they wanted as long as they didn’t cross the law of the land which would react in a just and non-aggressive manner.

    Sorry for my mutilation of the english language
    Thanks for a great article for thought.
    Am I a socialist-libertarian?

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  • nadiasindi

    Take a look at what the former Oregon A.G. above the law Dave Frohnmayer has done to me.

    Racism, Bigotry, Gender, Chauvinism, are well & alive in Oregon!!

    Please sign both petitions with Change.org and with Causes too.

    https://www.change.org/petitions/a-g-eric-holder-sent-jeff-merkley-gov-john-kitzhaber-investigate-abuse-of-power-and-criminal-forgery-by-former-oregon-a-g-david-frohnmayer-and-lane-county-government#share

    and this one with Causes too. Thanks!

    https://www.causes.com/posts/899197

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