Anti-Socialist Libertarianism vs. Libertarian-Socialism
Janurary 19, 2013

An anti-socialist libertarian presented the proceeding diatribe to me:

"The symbol of all relationships among rational men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit—his love, his friendship, his esteem—except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread—a man of justice."

He then asked, "How can you dispute this?"

My libertarian-socialist reply to him was this:

I do not dispute that people should earn what they get and not give or take the undeserved, nor do I think that people should be paid for failures or be loved for flaws. I think there is virtue in being a trader, but we can't only think of ourselves as traders, because we are also laborers. We must forget the virtue we earn in labor as we do in trade, nor forget that labor and trade are separate virtues. Capitalism treats labor as a commodity to be traded and it treats human beings as capital - this is just as parasitic as people collecting welfare without vital cause, and unlike welfare cheats, capitalist predators are both pervasive and powerful in our society. Market forces can often be like natural disasters if we let them take control. We as a democratic society should always have the power to determine what is just and fair for ourselves as laborers, and then be able to trade the products of our labor freely in the marketplace. If all labor was respected and justly compensated for, there would be no more poverty except for those who deserve it. The labor movement that started in the 1800's has improved the quality of life for millions of people and should continue to be the antidote against the true parasites.

back to articles