The Distinctiveness of Left-Libertarianism

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This essay from Gary Chartier, originally written for the Bleeding Heart Libertarians symposium on left-libertarianism in November 2012, lays out the distinctive vision of left-libertarian theory and practice: a social struggle to achieve left-wing ends by libertarian means — for a leftism that challenges the authoritarianism and privilege of the state, and a libertarianism that stands for liberation across the board from multidimensional, intersecting forms of oppression. Chartier applies left-libertarian thought to anti-capitalism, class, solidarity, grassroots mutual aid, civil liberties, the drug war, the rights of sex workers, the emancipation of children, challenging police power, resisting social privilege, and resisting war, imperialism and colonialism.

“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. . . .

“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 the awareness that racism, sexism, heterosexism, nativism and national chauv­inism are morally repugnant. 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.”

Gary Chartier is an American legal scholar and philosopher at La Sierra University in Riverside, California. A left-wing market anarchist and a proponent of New Classical Natural Law theory, Chartier moved from state social-democracy to anarchist views after his contact with the work of left-libertarian authors such as Kevin Carson and Roderick Long, the New Left-inspired decentralism of Karl Hess, and the individualist anarchism of Benjamin Tucker. He is the author of books including The Conscience of an Anarchist and Anarchy and Legal Order. Together with Charles W. Johnson, he is the editor of the free-market
anticapitalist collection Markets Not Capitalism.

Introduced May 2013.

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