Real Libertarians Don't Shill For The Kochs
By Kevin Carson / c4ss.org

It’s been the thing lately, among certain establishment liberals, to dismiss libertarians as “Koch-funded shills.” We’ve heard a lot of it from Mark Ames and Yasha Levine at NSFWCorp, for example.

This is stupid, first of all, because it’s historically illiterate. Free market libertarianism has its origins in the classical liberalism of two hundred years ago. And historically, much of that movement was quite left-wing. There was a great deal of overlap between the early free market and socialist movements. The English free market thinker Thomas Hodgskin wrote several books arguing, at great length, that land rent, profit and interest were extorted from labor through artificial property rights enforced by the state. Benjamin Tucker, at one time the leading figure in the American individualist anarchist movement, shared Hodgskin’s view of rent and profit, and considered himself a socialist. Dyer Lum, a contributor to Tucker’s Boston anarchist circle and magazine, Liberty, was heavily involved in the radical Chicago labor movement, edited The Alarm with and after Albert Parsons, had ties to future Wobblies and wrote the radical, 1892, pamphlet “Philosophy of Trade Unions” for the American Federation of Labor. Henry George regarded land rent as parasitic and favored taxing the site value of land to prevent landlords from soaking up the entire surplus wealth of society; his followers — like Albert Nock, Ralph Borsodi and Frank Chodorov — have been a significant strand of the libertarian movement ever since.

It’s true that the mainstream of libertarianism fell under right-wing domination in the 20th century, and frequently shilled for big business interests, for more historical reasons than I have space to go into. But the Right and big business apologists have never had uncontested hegemony over the libertarian movement. And there are a growing number of left-wing libertarians in recent years, like those of us at Center for a Stateless Society (the organization which pays me to write this), who use free market conceptual tools to critique corporate power.

The “Koch shills” talking point is also stupid from the standpoint of what the Koch brothers actually promote. What the Kochs and their pet think tanks call “free markets” and “free enterprise,” by and large, is just a smokescreen for their particular economic interests. And they use the state just as obsessively to promote those interests as any other corporate capitalist.

For example, a recent report released by the International Forum on Globalization shows that the Koch brothers are heavily invested in the Alberta tar sands, and stand to make up to $100 billion in profits if the KeystoneXL pipeline is completed (“Koch brothers could make $100 billion out of KeystoneXL pipeline,” Undernews, Oct. 25). The Koch brothers and the think tanks they fund all constitute one big Amen corner in favor of this project.

Is the Keystone project anything a principled libertarian could possibly condone? Let’s see …  The construction of that pipeline has entailed the use of eminent domain to condemn land from Alberta to Texas — much of it in violation of treaties with Indian nations. Demonstrators have fought pitched battles with cops and hired company thugs to prevent construction of the pipeline across stolen land in Oklahoma and Texas. In Canada, members of the Mi’kmaq nation were clubbed and gassed by RCMP cops in full militarized riot gear, trying to stop the evil pipeline company from building on land stolen from the First Nations. You know — just like in “Billy Jack.”

Fracking in Alberta also depends on the use of the state’s minimalist, least-common-denominator regulatory standards, drafted in collusion with polluting industry, to preempt traditional common law standards of liability and protect oil companies from legal action by the surrounding communities whose groundwater and air they’ve poisoned.

Anyone who advocates such things is no libertarian. The Koch brothers are not libertarians.

Let’s get something straight: The “pot-smoking Republican” kind of libertarian isn’t a libertarian at all. They’re just a Republican. And frankly, I suspect they really don’t even like pot that much.

See, Republicans don’t really believe in free markets or economic freedom. They represent one wing of the economic ruling class, and actively seek to promote its interests through the state — just like the Democrats. The Democrats represent the “Yankee” wing of the economic ruling class, in Carl Oglesby’s framework — finance capital and large, capital-intensive, globally-oriented industry. The Republicans represent the “Cowboy” wing — medium-sized, labor-intensive, domestically-oriented industry, extractive industries and “provincial notables” like Sun Belt real estate speculators.

And although Cowboys like the Kochs cloak their statist rent-seeking in “free market” rhetoric, they are the enemies of free markets and of anyone who sincerely believes in them.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 9,937 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited 'Fake News' Blacklist?
Adam Johnson · 6,250 views today · The Washington Post (11/24/16) last week published a front-page blockbuster that quickly went viral: Russia-promoted “fake news” had infiltrated the newsfeeds of 213 million...
The Orwellian War on Skepticism
Robert Parry · 4,908 views today · Official Washington’s rush into an Orwellian future is well underway as political and media bigwigs move to silence Internet voices of independence and dissent, reports Robert...
Where Do You Draw the Line? (2016)
60 min · 3,858 views today · Why is the Ecuadorian government proposing to extract oil in an area frequently classified by ecologists as one of the most bio-diverse rainforest regions left intact on earth?...
Projext X: Using Leaked Documents to Reveal the NSA's New York Spy Hub, Hidden in Plain Sight
10 min · 3,060 views today · A top-secret handbook takes viewers on an undercover journey to Titanpointe, the site of a hidden partnership. Narrated by Rami Malek and Michelle Williams, and based on...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 3,048 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Social Media Echo Chambers: Here's How Most of Us are Living in One
2 min · 2,941 views today · Americans are blocking out the friends and news sites that won't confirm their views.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,500 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,979 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Twelve Things To Remember After The US Election, From Front Line Organizers
Bill Quigley · 1,525 views today · When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do?   Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be.  Others stand still, let their eyes get...
Law Professor's Epic Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint
Social Design Notes · 1,363 views today · A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless. Scans of...
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 1,325 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
Why We Need Big Picture Activism
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 1,108 views today · Despite the countless grassroots projects already under way, the global economic juggernaut can seem too powerful to stop. But because more and more of us are becoming aware of...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 973 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 939 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How a Land High in the Western Himalayas Can Help Us Understand The Crisis of The Modern World
9 min · 583 views today · This is a clip from The Economics of Happiness. Watch it here. It's a brilliant film that was easy to put at the top of our list of the top 100 documentaries we can use to...
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 464 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 460 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 440 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 387 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Real Libertarians Don't Shill For The Kochs