The political attitudes of this blog, Red Liberty, can quite easily be divined from its name: Red (socialism) Liberty (libertarianism). The libertarian socialist tradition of course is very diverse and historically significant. Even the word ‘libertarian’ was originally a word coined by a French anarchist communist who couldn’t use the word “anarchist” because of France’s then persecution of the anarchist movement. We likewise have our own place on that spectrum, and in many ways differ quite substantially from other libertarian socialists, not to mention other socialists and other libertarians.
We reject outright both the historically authoritarian, sometimes totalitarian forms of socialism that existed in the twentieth century and the right-wing libertarian tradition as the word “libertarian” is often used today, which in my view would more aptly be called “proprietarian”. We also reject liberalism not because we are opposed to the majority of what it stands for, quite the contrary in fact, but because we believe that insofar as individual rights are concerned, that it does not go far enough.
The right-wing libertarian conception of liberty as expressed through such thinkers as Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard, proclaims bourgeois private property rights as the pillar prerequisite on which all other individual freedoms are assured. My argument against this assertion is that such reasoning goes beyond the mere equating of correlation with causation, but that such thinking actually equates causation with necessitation. This is a particularly egregious error, especially in our day.
Bourgeois property rights to us, far from being a prerequisite to other freedoms is a hindrance to them. If anything it is privacy today which deserves the defense that right-wing libertarians give to private property as the prerequisite freedom of our time. And privacy in our digital age can only be assured by the universal implementation of free (as in freedom) software and the liberation of all proprietary software. That personal property is fundamental we do not deny, but this alone is not what we nor such thinkers mean by the word ‘property’. We likewise reject outright the notion of intellectual property, which is neither intellectual nor can it rightfully be called property.
Private property rights and with them the centralization of power have become a vine which today chokes the tree of liberty with an increasingly tight death grip. It is not only positive liberty which is not allowed to blossom because if it, but also negative liberty is increasingly being eroded in our post-9/11 era. In our rapidly changing world, when it comes to freedom stagnation is decay. The tree of liberty in our era can only either expand or continually wither away and die. Stagnation is decay.
While the bourgeoisie played a historically progressive role in the general establishment of the bourgeois epoch— both politically and economically, today that same ruling class now endangers the very civil liberties it once ushered in, and furthermore it endangers the habitability of the planet itself. Capitalism has become not only a threat to freedom and democracy, but to the long-term survivability of the human race.
The ecological crisis is a social crisis, and it can only be solved through social ends. The domination of man over man is a necessary prerequisite for the domination of nature by man. When individuals are able to grow extremely rich and powerful off of the destruction of the environment, which is detrimental to all, ecologically and existentially such a society is irrational. Therefore we must fight for a social ecology, for a free, democratic, post-capitalist future that is more free for the individual than the present society.
Our aim is not to squander the achievements of free society and the American project, but to safeguard and to work to expand it. We wish to create a people capable of governing themselves. Today it is we who are the torchbearers of the great legacy of 1776, not the anti-intellectual “patriots” who today wave Trump flags and wear MAGA hats.
We merely wish to bring a face-to-face democracy to the municipal level and to the workplace, to challenge the control a small, extremely rich and powerful oligarchy has control over what should be a democracy for all of us, not just the top 1%. We merely wish to challenge the increasingly authoritarian nature of our society, as expressed both by the undemocratic private corporation and the state at its root with the weapon democracy, transparency, public accountability, and rule of law. We merely wish to put communities in control of their own destinies, to give people a voice in their communities, and to thereby give people real and meaningful control over their own lives. We merely wish to create an ecologically harmonious society where the future of humankind is not threatened by climate change.
We call this ideal by many names. Some call it libertarian socialism, others libertarian municipalism, and still others Communalism. Call it what you will, we are Red Liberty and this is what we stand for.