Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Fish Politics

Will at AGTOR demolishes the libertarians in one fell visual swoop.

The New Internationalist, using an eerily similar strategy, provides the alternative.

Strangely, an interesting, if brief and a little too cordial, exchange occurs in the comments between said Will and a libertarian. Funnily enough, I think libertarians and Marxists have a lot in common - both (at their best obviously) take their political ideas seriously, approach them with intellectual rigour...and follow through to their conclusions, in a way mainstream liberals and social democrats might not.

Will mentions the libertarian thinker Robert Nozick, which reminded me of renowned Marxist (at least I think he's still a Marxist?) G.A. Cohen, who has engaged with Nozick's ideas quite a bit. As Cohen says in this interview:

"...the thing that I found disturbing was, quite simply, the challenging quality of Nozick’s arguments."

This was "disturbing" because, as the interview remarked:

"In the struggle by serfs against feudal lords who extracted labour from them with no contract or agreement, the slogan ‘The fruits of a person’s labour belong to himself or herself’ was an historically progressive one. The difficulty is that Marxists and other socialists have maintained that slogan into an era when different battles are on the agenda...You can reach libertarian conclusions by drawing out some of those implications and turning them into a reactionary theory."

The fundamental flaw of the libertarian analysis is its neglecting to question, and therefore failure to establish, the ethical foundations of private property itself - while libertarians cast an impressively critical eye on most matters, property is usually privileged by neglect, remaining unconsidered. This was brilliantly demonstrated by Cohen himself in the final chapter of History, Labour and Freedom, which I heartily recommend, manifesting as it does the author's usual intellectual rigour and integrity.

DC: "a little too cordial"

Hey! I was brought up to have some manners you know.

I hadn't seen that NI cover before, strange how these things happen isn't it. Or not.

Thanks for the link to the Cohen interview article as well, I will read that. It's good to know that I have arrived independently at similar conlusions as such a thinker. Must be doing something right. I hadn't read the book it mentions although his other one I have and recommend to all, although I think he modified and then abandoned some of his defence of karl's history after some criticisms (I may be wrong here, I'm always reading stuff and then forgetting where and then thinking I must have dreamed it). That is all. Over and out.
Yeah, he mentions something about his shifts in the interview and explains many of them in that book. His "Defence" is impressive of course, though I probably enjoyed History etc. more. Firstly it's more up to date; secondly it's possible to dip in and out since it's more a collection of essays than a whole book.

I'd certainly recommend that chapter dealing with libertarianism, and his treatment of the flaws (which are such that they discredit it) of the labour theory of value is excellent.
Is your comments section on this post nackered? I can't sem to read the comments? Clueless me. Obviously.
And I've just realised that if you answer here then I won't know what you say because I can't read the comments here. As I said, clueless I am.
No still can't read comments here. Come on over to my place :)
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Finally got them. Sorry to leave so much litter ;)
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