nozick and why right libertarianism sucks

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2existis2resist
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Mar 4 2009 19:16
nozick and why right libertarianism sucks

Hi, I'm doing a presentation on Nozick and right libertarianism and need some credible theory as opposed to passionate rambling to convince my lecturers of an anarcho socialist/ libertarian critique. any thoughts on 1) why a minimal state is not the same as anarchy 2) anarchist ideas of RIGHTS etc. Cheers xxx

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Khawaga
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Mar 4 2009 21:37
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1) why a minimal state is not the same as anarchy 2) anarchist ideas of RIGHTS etc.

1). Somalia.

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888
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Mar 5 2009 01:02

Right libertarianism is based on all sorts of flawed idealistic concepts of "rights" and "contracts" and ignores the fact that rights and contracts are really just the expressions of balances in power.

Anarchism is a theory that evolved through practice. Its concepts are based on the experience of workers in struggles. Right libertarianism is merely a weird extension of the ideologies that were developed to justify the seizure of lands from the poor in Europe and indigenous cultures in America, taking some of those ideas to their logical conclusions.

Boris Badenov
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Mar 5 2009 03:07

Nozick is obviously a supporter of capitalism; therefore to criticize his position is to criticize capitalism, which is what communist and anarchist theory is all about. Right libertarianism is by no means a special case regardless of how right libertarians differ from other liberals/tories/etc. on social issues such as "rights" for certain minorities or drug use. The fact remains that what Nozick and Bush (for lack of a better example of religious right winger) have in common far outweighs what they might differ on, i.e. support for capitalism and the oppressive social relations it entails.
Minarchism is not anarchism because it reduces the role of the state to its policing functions - which still means repression of elements that the state perceives as threatening to its hegemony, but only in the name of "freedom", no doubt (sounds familiar?) - rather than do away with it entirely, and sees private property as a "natural right" and capitalism as the ideal economic system.

Zeronowhere
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Mar 5 2009 12:00

I haven't read Nozick for ages, so I couldn't come up with anything too detailed. However, I've heard that 'Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State' by Jonathan Wolff was pretty good on this front. Hell, IIRC, Nozick was a rather disorganized writer, this apparently states his ideas in a more concise fashion itself. I'll probably get it sooner or later, and read it after re-reading AS&U from the library.

Also, Hilferding's critique of Bohm-Bawerk may help, seeing as most people arguing for laissez-faire capitalism tend to use the 'subjective theory of value'.

Actually, wasn't Nozick's idea based completely on a conception of 'natural rights' and a 'state of nature'? Of course, his 'state of nature' isn't a nice, anarchic place, it's more of a Hobbesian 'state of war'. Now, if he had started off from, say, a syndicalist or mutualist society, there's not that much chance of his dominant protection agency rising at all. He claims that, if a society could have come about by 'morally legitimate' means, then even if the society come about by other means, this society will still be morally legitimate, which is somewhat original, but...

While if one shares Nozick's 'natural rights' beliefs, it would be feasible and 'morally legitimate' to have a protection agency with a monopoly, Nozick fails to come up with a 'morally legitimate' means for this to transform into his 'minimal state'. For that matter, he doesn't really explain why a company having a monopoly on this couldn't just result in it raising prices and cutting services, nor why there's no chance of the DPA, like many companies nowadays, owning more businesses and therefore turning into more than a 'minimal state'. Or, in fact, why it would naturally form into a monopoly, rather than there being, say, different DPAs for the rich and the poor/'middle class'. I'm sure that somebody else could expand on this, of course.

Also, he claims, as many of his persuasion have, that contracts between the worker and capitalist are completely voluntary, and thus justified. As De Leon put it:
"In other words, if a pistol is put at a man's head and (he is) told to surrender his purse or his life, it is the exercise of a right on his part when he plunks down his money;

"If a man is placed before a pyre into which he will be hurled if he does not renounce his views, his renunciation of his views is the exercise of a right!

"The workingman, placed before the pyre of capitalism and with the capitalist pistol at his head, accepts wages (pay for his INDIVIDUAL labour power) and cedes to his employer, among other things, that new power that flows from his COLLECTIVE effort - and that is called the exercise of a "right" and the entering into a "contract"!

"Civilization calls the act highway robbery, and it brands the attempt of decking out a manifestation of slavery in the light of an act of freedom as fathomless immorality."

Another argument of his that I recall would be the possibility of easily forming 'utopias' within his ideal society. This was addressed here in the Anarchist FAQ. Basically, an isolated commune would be practically impossible to maintain, especially with a high standard of living. One would generally just have members of the commune become a collective capitalist. Also, the poor would move to more co-operative communities flooding them, and using their resources without bringing resources in. This is because, well, poverty sucks. That's not even raising the problems of buying land and raising capital.

As for a 'minimal state' in Nozick's sense not being anarchist, it's because firstly it's a state, even in the Weberian definition and such, and because there is capitalism, a hierarchal system incompatible with anarchism.

Anarcho
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Mar 8 2009 21:47
2existis2resist wrote:
Hi, I'm doing a presentation on Nozick and right libertarianism and need some credible theory as opposed to passionate rambling to convince my lecturers of an anarcho socialist/ libertarian critique. any thoughts on 1) why a minimal state is not the same as anarchy 2) anarchist ideas of RIGHTS etc. Cheers xxx

Well, start with Section F of "An Anarchist FAQ" which is about why "anarcho"-capitalism is not anarchist, but many of its arguments are valid against Nozick (what is the different between Rothbard's monopoly "general libertarian law code" and Nozick's minimal state anyway?).

Also, section B.4 discusses Nozick somewhat as well. section F.2.2 talks about Nozick's support for voluntary slavery.

Also, good material here: Critiques Of Libertarianism, from many different perspectives.

Also, the minimal state is hierarchical and exists to defend private property,i.e., authoritarian social relationships associated with wealth. What part of "hierarchy" is compatible with an-archy? Pretty obvious why a minimal state is not anarchist, imho.

petey
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Mar 9 2009 01:09
Anarcho wrote:
Also, good material here: Critiques Of Libertarianism, from many different perspectives.

v. interesting, hadn't seen that before