An Open Letter to Libertarians
by Stan Goff
I disagree with you philosophically. We will not agree on many issues. But we (leftists and libertarians) find ourselves in a peculiar conjuncture in history where we might coordinate our actions toward a commonly agreed upon end. Here are some key points on which we might agree.
(1) We oppose the war; and we oppose using the military for anything except the direct self-defense of the territory of the US.
(2) We oppose setting up and maintaining military bases abroad.
(3) We oppose the huge subsidies that are routinely provided by tax revenues to corporations. Lleftists consider this the essence of capitalism, and libertarians consider it a betrayal of capitalistic “free market” principles… who cares… we oppose the subsidies to nuclear power plants, to transportation infrastructure — like interstate highways and airports, and in particular to Agribusiness, Pharmaceuticals, and Big Energy.
(4) We oppose the Security State apparatus that spies on its residents; and the outrageous “Drug War” that has resulted in phenomenal incarceration rates in this country.
(5) We oppose the enforced and continued monopoly on political power exercised by the two dominant parties (one party with two names).
The aforementioned conjuncture is the 2008 General Election. We are seeing crises emerge in the bellies of both parties — Republicans on immigration and reproductive choice, and Democrats on both “free trade” and the war.
Senators Obama and Clinton recently engaged in the cynical maneuver of voting against war funding after the vote count confirmed that the measure would pass. This was a clear indication that the antiwar movement’s threats to withhold votes for those who refuse to withhold war funding has made them very anxious. At the same time, the Republicans, who would have people believe they are the “free marketeers,” provide billions in subsidies (open and hidden); and their primary process has led, once again, to the hegemony within the party of its most theocratic and intolerant faction.
We on the left do not want to vote for Democrats who refuse to stop a hideous war or who run like frightened children away from simple common-sense ideas like marijuana decriminalization. You among the libertarians are surely weary of alliances with theocrats and with the autocrats of the neocon Security State.
The issues where we will find major agreement are not minor. Surely there is a way for us to agree upon a limited program of mutuality, roughly outlined above, and set aside our differences, long enough to break the Republicrat duopoly. Support for Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich in the primary season is a beginning; but after the existing apparatus spits them out, where do we go from here? Can we convince these two to stand together to talk about a basic five-point program? Can we threaten the parties with mass abstentions? Can we combine resources at the local level (I am in the relocalization wing of the left; and oppose Big Government every bit as much as you in many respects) to run fusion tickets on everything from medical marijuana to challenging eminent domain abuses (taking private property on behalf of WalMart, for example)?
There is no need for us to love each other, nor to hate each other. We can continue our debates on philosophy, epistemology, and so forth. But at this particular time, precisely because there are deep fissures emerging in both parties, we might be looking into a window of opportunity to begin the process of putting new debates on the table, and breaking the power of the political establishment.
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