James Leroy Wilson's blog

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Left and Right

Bob Wallace writes:

I used to write for a site called LewRockwell.com. But no more. My archives have been erased, and on top of that, they have been erased from the Google cache, which can only happen if the owner of the site where the articles were posted requests it (I’ve already saved all of them, so not to worry). Now who could it be who did this, I wonder?

Here’s what happened: I occasionally post outrageous comments at various sites, wondering what kind of response I’ll get. Call it bait. I have found out you have to push the envelope to get a truthful response from people. So I pushed it.

This particular time, I made some very crude remarks about race and ethnic groups. [Note: Wallace's controversial comments were not made at LewRockwell.com, but in a forum at Strike-the-root.com - jlw] What I said was essentially the truth, but I said it in a rather brutal way. The reason? Perception travels through the emotional brain first, to the rational brain last. Then includes you, me, and everyone else, including those who considers themselves the most egghead of intellectuals. Many of whom, in my opinion, believe some of the dumbest ideas on earth. Not only that, they're gullible and naive.

What I did, I did on purpose, to bypass the rational brain. I had made similar comments before, without a peep from anyone – except for those who agreed with me.

This time, finally, I got a response, and woo hoo was it one!
[...]
They proved what I'm been saying for years: there are leftwing libertarians and rightwing ones. The leftwing ones tend toward anarchism and confused thought. Like I said, they're gullible, and will fall for...well, a lot.

The comments at various sites fell into two categories: the more rightwing ones who supported free speech, and the PC leftists, who believe in Thoughtcrime. The leftists, being more narcissistic (as all leftists are) were writing about me as if I was a bad person. Not one realized I had tricked them.

After thinking about this for years, I've decided the leftwing ones (or ancaps, meaning anarcho-capitalists) are actually Marxists. Marx thought all the god-like qualities of humanity would blossom like hot-house flowers once the State "withered away." That's exactly what leftist-libertarians think. And if they think that, they have another think coming.


Of course, this has nothing to do with free speech or thought crime. This is the free marketplace of ideas at work. I don't know specifically why Lew Rockwell dropped Wallace, but I know why I would have. Wallace himself admits his comments were "very crude," and if I'm an editor, I wouldn't want to be bothered excusing or explaining the authors I publish or develop a reputation for supplying a forum for racists. A site that believes in freedom of conscience, freedom of association, and the right of secession has enough problems with fallacious charges of racism; why gives these critics real ammunition?

What is intersting, however, is Wallace's description of left-libertarians as Marxists. I've identified myself with the label "left-libertarian," but not because I believe everything would be just great without the State. I did because I believe that coercion as a means of social improvement is morally unacceptable and practically counter-productive, and because I believe that the monopolization of land and natural resources is another form of coercion. I am on the "left" in this sense in opposition to those on the "right" who believe in absolute private ownership of land. Socially, you could say I'm also on the left, preferring a more "permissive" society.

But I don't have a monopoly on the concept or definition of "left-libertarian." And I am also a Constitutionalist conservative, not because I worship the Constitution but because it is the law of the land. (Or should I say, it was the law when we had law in our land, and I would like to go back to that.) I also believe in states' rights and oppose open borders if they lead to increased rents and depressed wages.

In any case, is is silly to be totally on the "left" or the "right." With our arms and legs, we prefer having both left and right, instead of cutting one side off. When you drive, sometimes you turn left and sometimes you turn right on the way to your destination. In politics, sometimes my idealism sounds leftist but my pragmatism rightist; other times vise versa. It's not about, say, "tradition v. reason" but "tradition and reason." It's not about the individual v. the community but the individual and the community.

Moving away from empire and from global government and toward individual freedom won't lead to utopia, but I believe it will lead to a more just and prosperous place than we have now. And there are resources both left and right, liberal and conservative, that can help us achieve this. The "side" I'm on is the side of the individualists and decentralists; the "enemies" are the imperialists and globalists.

To be on both the right and the left is not to be on the fence. It is to appreciate that in many ways, both sides of that fence are correct.

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