Hello, comrade. Are you a millenial? Are you a former or current democrat that is fed up with the two primary parties? Did you recently attend an International Students for Liberty Conference? Are you looking for something new and edgy? Did you study sociology, gender studies, Marxist theory, or post-modernism, and little to no economics in college? Do buzzwords like “exploitation”, “domination”, and “solidarity” invoke emotion for you? Do words have no meaning to you? Are you looking for a special group who identifies with your interests to join? Well, look no further! Here at the Alliance of the Libertarian Left (ALL) we are always on the lookout for new recruits. Below is a quick guide on how to become a left libertarian. If you feel that you can accomplish these things then maybe being a left libertarian is for you!
1. Be unemployed or have a very bad part-time job. Preferably the former. As a matter of fact, it probably helps to have very poor hygiene and dress like a thrift store greeter. The more of a “victim” you are, the more of a hero you become.
- 1a. All of your own failures, shortcomings, etc, that were the fault of no one else but your own, be sure to blame on some fictional entity such as “society” or “patriarchy”. If that is unsuccessful, blaming “capitalism” always works.
2. Don’t study economics. If someone tries to discuss economics with you, make sure you try and smuggle in the labor theory of value or another leftist concept somehow. You’re not so much doing economic analysis as justifying your ideology.
- 2a. If you must read economics, bastardize Austrian Economics whenever you can in order to accomplish (2).
3. Be sure to use “capitalism” as a pejorative. If possible, appeal to authority and invoke a few dead leftists from the 19th century who did the same. The way leftists use the word is obviously the only appropriate way. The idea is to convey emotion versus using it in a way that can be analyzed economically. Basically, “anything bad with anything” is how it needs to feel to others.
- 3a. Whenever you can, attempt to appeal to authority or tradition. Why advocate ideas on their merit when you can be stuck in the pre-marginal revolution 19th century trying to make points that are barely relevant (i.e., “Lol libertarianism is traditionally left, have you even heard of Proudhon?”) because some dead socialist said something at one point in time?
- 3b. While condemning “capitalism” because of its historical baggage, it is important to be inconsistent and not also condemn other terms such as “anarchism”, “socialism”, “libertarian”, “free market”, and numerous other terms that have their own similar historical baggage and aversions. We don’t want to give away our actual contempt for accumulation of capital.
4. Use obscure, cryptic, and connotative terms such as “social justice”, “exploitation”, “subordination”, “solidarity”, etc, and equivocate when you can. If your listener/reader is in tune with these terms, it feels more or less the same to them as it does to you, and you get to enjoy conflicting or contradictory usages because they all just know what you mean. The idea is to couch everything you say in ambiguous terms and then refuse to define those terms so that you can write huge volumes of stuff without actually uttering a real proposition that can be assessed on its own merits – every criticism is an automatic strawman (“You just don’t understand left-libertarianism, mannnnnn”).
- 4a. If still unsuccessful, link to an article or book that is biblical in length.
- 4b. Get friends to help dog pile.
- 4c. Repeat (4), (4a),and (4b). They will hopefully give up by then. Victory.
5. Read Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) regularly and read C4SS only. If you must read something not on C4SS, be certain it is C4SS-approved material. Be sure not to do any due diligence and have open dialogue with any non left-libertarians regarding what you read for further analysis, either. It actually only takes a cursory glance of the site to become an expert in economics and libertarianism; ask any left-libertarian, especially the younger generation who skimmed a Hayek article once. Try to avoid individuals who have spent years studying the material whose positions conflict with yours; they are all “right libertarians”, “vulgar libertarians”, and probably racist, too.
- 5a. It helps your status if you spend all your time bashing actual libertarians that have contributed and done anything or take what they say out of context, particularly on instances where they conflict with your sensibilities. Heck, just ask another left libertarian who has followed these steps. Gotta stick with the narrative.
- 5b. Charles W. Johnson, Roderick Long, and Kevin Carson are never wrong. Because they are right on a good number of things, it is set in stone that they are correct on everything possible even when they are terribly wrong on something, which they never are, because [see first sentence].
6. Use mottes and baileys constantly. Use terms that mean one thing when you are recruiting (“‘Anti-capitalism’ just means you are against existing ‘capitalism’ and favor freed markets”) and totally does not thereafter (no mention of property norms such as occupancy and use, anti-hierarchy, etc). So now that they’ve agreed to the first part, you can smuggle in other leftist ideas.
7. Along with motte and bailey, use special pleading. It helps to use unbacked declarative statements such as “capitalism causes horrible income inequality”, or specify that voluntary exchanges on the free market are actually a zero-sum game rather than mutually beneficial. Never explain or feel that you have to defend these statements. If the opposition makes similar empty claims, require an unfair standard of evidence that you do not need to supply yourself. If they provide further argumentation, just dismiss it with more empty and unbacked claims. Remember, you don’t ever have to prove anything; they do.
8. Even hierarchies absent the state are bad. Because we all know true economic and social spontaneity won’t ever result in hierarchical orders as some people decide they’d like to hire others, and others decide they’d prefer to work for others, as they each pursue different goals. Hierarchies and bosses push people around, and libertarians should be against pushing people around. Because people aren’t equally “pushed around” in proprietorships, partnerships, and patron-owned firms — indeed, in all forms of social cooperation. Or something. The state is evil. The state is a hierarchy. Therefore, hierarchies are evil.
- 8a. Assert that flat firms are more efficient than hierarchies and that, absent the state, flat firms will flourish because of (2) and (2a), but dismiss criticisms that our preferred networks of decentralized contractors, cottage production, cooperatives, and the like all suffer from various information, incentive, and coordination problems, because that’s just “vulgar libertarian” rhetoric. We must compare real-world hierarchies against some hypothetical ideal, find them lacking, and conclude that our own favorite methods of organizing are better because left-libertarianism (see also: (2), (2a), (5), (5a), (8), (8a)).
9. Make sure to conflate the doctrine of libertarianism with your entire identity. A philosophy which once dealt with the proper role of force in society will now be blended and combined with every other disparate belief you hold. If you, as a person, favor an equality of outcome, then that’s a part of being libertarian. If you, as a person, are for feminism, then feminism must be a libertarian position. If you, as a person, favor a libertine lifestyle, then libertinism must be a libertarian position. If you, as a person, believe that racism is a systemic part of modern social structures, then opposing that is clearly a part of libertarianism. Of course, the more you add to the definition of libertarianism the more it doesn’t exclude anyone… what are you, some sort of bigot? Make sure to exclusively participate in circles where everyone already agrees on those things. When you run into a libertarian who doesn’t, he will stick out like a sore thumb, empowering you to dismiss him easily with an air of condescension and appeal to what is obviously basic libertarian principle. Remember, if any libertarian says that they care about other issues outside the proper role of force in society — but not as a libertarian qua libertarian — they really don’t care and are probably not really libertarians at all.
- 9a. If they disagree, they are automatically “right libertarian”, “social conservative” (see: fascist), or racist. Also, take care to point out the alt-right Nazi takeover of the libertarian movement—keep in mind that no claim is too hysterical when discussing this important topic. If there is further dissent or honest disagreement, be sure to revert to kafkatrapping or suggest they don’t understand because of their “privilege”.
- 9b. In-group virtue signalling is an important characteristic. All other libertarians are bad, but you must put yourself in the shoes of the most unfortunate, even if they don’t ask for your help or if you never meet. It’s about you, not them.
- 9c. While non-left-libertarians can agree that certain things such as misogyny or bigotry are vile, it is important not to empower those who experience these acts where the acts no longer have a negative impact. Once they are empowered, they’ll no longer need you.
10. You are a leftist first, and a libertarian second. What that means, for starters, is leftism (including but not limited to left-libertarianism) and collectivist rhetoric go together like peas and carrots. Second, things like private property are a convention but not necessarily sacrosanct, particularly when it conflicts with your ideological sensibilities, in which case they need to be deprived. The problem isn’t that there are those who are oppressed, the problem is that there are those who aren’t. We are far more interested in abolishing prosperity than poverty; depriving those with “too much” isn’t necessarily a means to an end — helping those with less is an excuse to harm those with more. The underdogs are in inherent conflict with those in society who are on top. Just look at who we hate: bosses, people with money, white men, etc.. anybody with more than average agency. And who do we love and/or identify with? Basically, anybody claiming victimhood, anybody who lacks agency. A defining attribute to the libertarian left is egalitarianism, since, in the short run that involves those on the bottom on their way up, and those on the top on their way down merging in the direction of equality, yet that can be dropped in the long run since those on top will be gone.
With rigorous application to these steps, one day you might be able to write for C4SS, or even become a C4SS “Senior Fellow.” It’s not too hard. Just abide by all of the steps outlined above, especially (1) and (1a), and you’ve got it. Make sure you buy an ALL button so you can non-conform like the rest of us, and do your best to visit our tables in the janitor’s closet (it’s all that our Gofundme can usually afford to raise) at conferences or your local shelter and you’re well on your way!