Is Libertarianism compatible with Capitalism? | With Richard D. Wolff



let me preface what I have to say by saying that libertarianism for me and again I'm heavily shaped by what goes on here in the United States under the name libertarianism but I see fundamentally that the impulse behind libertarianism is anti-capitalist is a kind of revulsion against the way this society is working and I have many friends who describe themselves as libertarians and that's where I get this idea but and here's my critique they are anti-capitalist in their spirit in their impulse in some of their deepest feelings but they have also got a contradiction I don't think they have faced which is that they attach themselves to a fantastic concept of capitalism in which the idea is almost as though we were back in the French Revolution or the American Revolution that capitalism is the negation of feudalism of an authoritarian society with rigid hierarchy and that capitalism is the explosion away from all of that that like the French Revolution said liberté égalité a fraternity and the American edition democracy okay that the capitalism breaking away from feudalism is the bearer is the partner is the Midwife of a transition to liberty equality fraternity and democracy they live with that idea and they don't want to face the possibility that capitalism isn't the liberation from those old things but is simply a new form of the same thing so when I debate with them I say to them we agree master/slave is awful we Green Lord and surf is awful but for me employer and employee is the same basic division and capitalism promised what it never delivered it promised to be the agent of liberty equality fraternity all the things you libertarian wants but it has never done it and every time you talk about capitalism you and I both know you're talking about what you would like capitalism to be but not what it actually is and you kind of half admit that with me but you have a difficulty making the break let me urge you and I say this half leap Efrain humor but half very seriously let me urge you to read Karl Marx why because Marx himself loved the slogan liberty equality fraternity he was in love with the French Revolution he wanted capitalism to bring those things he believed in that as did his whole generation but he had the honesty to look around Germany France Belgium and England in the middle of the 19th century when capitalism was quite well established and he was able to say we have capitalism but we don't have liberty equality fraternity or democracy none of it and he devoted the rest of his life in my judgement to explaining why not why didn't capitalism deliver the very things libertarians celebrate and his answer was that it continued an exploitative relationship in the core of production it wasn't master slave it wasn't Lord serf but he showed that employer-employee is once again the production of surplus by a large number of people and the gathering into their own hands of that surplus by a very small number of P therefore capitalism is the obstacle to the realizations libertarians celebrate and they just haven't yet gotten to the point of seeing it but I would tell you that here in the United States there is a good bit of conversation between those of us on the left like me and libertarians on the right because we both suspect that as this capitalism continues its decline we will have more and more opportunities to work together well the first thing I can tell you is a good number of the people coming to us and we now have about 20 groups around the United States in local places doing what we have been talking about for five years we actually have organization everywhere that many of the people coming to us are not coming in the traditional left mechanisms they're not coming to us out of the trade unions I mean we have some like that but a growing number are coming out of a to be honest libertarian framework in which they feel that what we represent is the notion of a workplace that will not be dictatorial that will not be authoritarianism Ely can participate in you know we are trying to take if you like the mantle of libertarianism we've into it why it should and good and needs to be anti-capitalist and then finish it off by saying look we're not just anti-capitalist but we're in favor of a differently organized economic system which will more embody your values of individual liberty and difference and participation than anything that real capitalism has to offer




Comments
  1. Capitalism is not giving liberty, equality and fraternity? Marxism Is not the agent of liberty, equality and fraternity and has NEVER delivered and has objectively worse results…

  2. Communists are facists that go against everything These United States were founded on –protection of individual freedoms and property rights. Communism believes is stealing from people. Theft is theft and it makes no difference if someone on the right or left steals, it is still theft. RULE OF LAW is what our country needs. Wall Street has committed fraud and theft and was never held accountable — this does not MEAN u steal from them. You instill a rule of law and hold them accountable. Giving people free stuff, or having to help people that are unwilling to work is not the solution. Collectivism is bad — WHY do you think this is EXACTLY what ruling elite want — do you think Elite like avg person??? They hate the masses, they are disgusted by them and they hate that they must pander to them. Collectism and central control gives them more power. Wolff is a fool and a crack pot — this is not how real world works.

  3. Real libertarians are those who have been inspired by more anarcho strands of socalism which include people like Proudhon, Peter Kropotkin, and Murray Bookchin. Right "libertarians" are those who think that there should only be capitalist institutions, no government, and that there is no such thing as "society" only self-interest alone. Disregarding the fact that capitalism is reliant on the State in order to exist, if we actually had a so called "anarcho-capitalist" society where small groups of people owned everything privately and viciously competed with one another, we would actually devolve back into Feudalism. Because that is what a Feudal Lord is, a privateer with no limits who owns not only the means of production, but also all public services and land. As a serf or peasant you trade in your work not for a wage, but to simply live in your mud brick house provided "graciously" by your lord and subsist in complete service to your master. Right-libertarianism is a bankrupt ideology that shouldn't be taken seriously and serves to bootlick the authoritarian impulses of unbridled capitalism.

  4. So basically you want to define capitalism as something bad without actually doing that and rubbish people for holding another definition. Please do something useful with your life at some point.

  5. Marx too believed that bourgeois society (of historical necessity transitioning into capitalism in the 19th century) had made a clean break with feudalism with the Great French Revolution. I'm certain he would have said that it was the negation of a negation– a genuine Hegelian Aufhebung. The Libertarians, however, haven't broken with feudalism at all, since they base their idea of the "free market" on the feudal right of usufructure (today known as the 'usufructuary right'), which is the absolute right of owners to their property— including the absolute right of factory owners to their enterprises, with the implication that labor strikes are illegal. While the courts ruled on this basis that the 1799 New York and Philadelphia cordwainers' (shoemakers') strikes, in which the workers had been guilty of participating in "a combination to raise their wages" (i.e., a conspiracy against their employers); Thomas Jefferson, who was known to have supported the right of usufructure, nevertheless took the side of the workers and their right to strike. http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5500&context=fss_papers

  6. The only system necessarily incompatible with libertarianism is authoritarianism. Therefore, whatever system we devise, we need to make sure it isn't authoritarian. In fact, we can see it manifold in present states of affairs where the most authoritarian systems have the worst standards of living compared with the least authoritarian — the most authoritarian current socialist state: Venezuela, least authoritarian currently socialist states: all of Scandinavia, most authoritarian Communist Party state: North Korea, least authoritarian Communist Party state: Cuba.

    What I see as a potential danger in designing any form of government based on the ideas of a visionary is the inability of that visionary to anticipate the potential for megalomaniacs to hijack that vision for their own devices. I think the best way to avoid such hijacking is to put the principles of libertarianism as the priority in designing any system of government even if that system is a communist or socialist system. The goal should always to be to form a government that is there not for the individual to serve that government but rather for the government to serve all the individual constituents of that government. Just as a for instance, I have often criticized the Venus Project because I have yet to hear or read anyone from the project address the potential danger of authoritarian power being used to force people to comply with the projects ideals were those ideals ever to be implemented in a widespread societal manner. Instead the Venus Project just seems to assume that people will behave according to its predictions for human behavior.

    But rather than anarchism, it seems that a powerful central government is necessary to protect, through laws and regulations, those individual constituents, including lets not forget the wild and domestic animal critters, from exploitation whether it be as workers, consumers or citizens and the natural environment they live in.

  7. US libertarians are concerned about one thing…themselves. Anyone or anything, be it a person, a government, a corporation, a religion, that limits a lbertarian's self defined rights or takes their hard earned money is bad and is hated by the libertarian…other wise they have no issues with capitalism, none whats so ever. US libertarians are not socialist in any way, apart from willing to let others do what they want long as it doesn't effect them. They only care about themselves! They are selfish, greedy people who are more then willing to use capitalism to get rich and dam any socialist or government that tries to stop them.

  8. Rick Wolff is correct. Right Libertarians only want to deregulate global corporations and pay no tax to fund society. I'm not Marxist, Socialist nor Democrat. I'm a Left Libertarian Bakunin Anarchist. American Freedom: I sell my own paintings on sidewalks illegal no permit and sleep in my car illegal. I must be my own boss and cannot be employee.

  9. Those who think capitalism is superior to worker owned co-ops should continue working for an employer. Those who would rather be part owner of the company should go that route. Unless one is harming the other I see no reason for disagreement.
    Whether you are working for someone else or working for yourself ,as your own boss ,shouldn't matter as long as you are able to
    bring home a living wage. Personally I don't believe all capitalists are greedy just as I don't believe worker co-ops are Utopian. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

  10. Most competent "Marxist Economist" wow! Sounds like an Oxymoronic Title to me.

    You cannot have freedom without "freedom to choose" in the Free Market. Libertarians and Free Markets go together.

  11. Real libertrarians are people like Noam Chomsky,Howard zinn, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman,Rosa Luxembourg, European anarcho syndicalist, the American early 20th century anarchist movement and the wobblies. People like Milton Friedman, Hayek, roathbard and others are religious fundamenlist their religion happens to be Capitalism. The reason American libertarnism is more well known is because it's a philosophy heavily subsidized by billionaires.

  12. Also. Would capitalism be considered "exploitative" if the employee's relationship with their employer were EXCLUSIVELY determined by both parties, and renegotiable for either party at any time?

  13. prof wolff's belief that libertarian ideology is based on that of the bourgeois revolutions that brought us capitalism is, i think, wrong. it much more seems to follow in the tradition of celebrating capitalism BECAUSE of its UNEQUAL treatment of individuals based on their supposed "merit", i.e. they subscribe to social darwinism, survival of the "mightiest". those who are not "worthy" of life will purged from society. their idea of "freedom" is for the "worthy" to be free to triumph over the "unworthy" , hence they hate the welfare state and taxation and anything that might let the "unworthy" survive on merits of the "worthy" , i.e. their ideal is a fascist one

  14. At the end of the day it's a choice between which master you want. The government or the market both will control and oppress you, which one do you want more and or can see yourself getting more out of.. there is no difference between capitalism and communism/socialism the only difference is where assets are amassed.. capitalism it's amassed by individuals where as communism the government amassed it for you. At least in capitalism given that its operative and exploitative in nature there is upward mobility which is a function of your ability to force oneself onto said situation and the markets. I think I prefer that option… for the record I'm not chastising any idea or person I'm just saying I think that's better, also I'm not trying to be rude, dismissive and or smug with my comments of anyone else's opion just sharing mine guys so don't skewer me plz

  15. Capitalism is incompatible with genuine libertarianism IMO. It will always lead to a tyranny run the the richest few, who will have risen to the top through ruthlessness, greed and narcissism. It is demanded by competition and the 'survival of the fittest' paradigm.

  16. Nonsense.

    Employer – employee relations is a social ordering feature, not an economic one, and capitalism has nothing whatsoever to do with its construction, perpetuation, or even a preference for it. That is, capitalism as a theory of social economic arrangements would be just as operable with workers' owned factories as with current predominant arrangements.

    And while both modern democracy and capitalism developed more or less at the same time, and at some points by the same people, THEY are not intertwined, and are essentially and fundamentally separate ideals for two vastly distinct spaces – the political and the economic, and while Mr Wolff's confusion is understandable since in Marxism they are one and the same (and hence prone to totalitarian implementations),part of the distinction of democracy IS that it separate the social into three distinct realms – the cultural, the economic, and the political.

  17. unfortunately it is obvious he never talked a lot to libertarians, i even know the liberarian answers to most of his points. he simplifys it all quite a bit.

  18. Murray Rothbard, a founder of the so-called “libertarian” right:
    “One gratifying aspect of our rise to some prominence [in the late 1950s] is that, for the first time in my memory, we, ‘our side,’ had captured a crucial word from the enemy […] ‘Libertarians’ […] had long been simply a polite word for left-wing anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over,” (The Betrayal of the American Right, 83)

  19. I don't see how redefining libertarianism spares it any criticism that Ayn Rand received for it. The very idea that individual consent should (if ever) receive greater priority than universal consent eliminates politics. Hello?

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