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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part Two, sectio
Patrice Riemens on Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:18:06 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part Two, section #2

(section 2)
Libertarians - or a short history of capitalism on steroids

Libertarianism is a rather heterogeneous set of political currents which
came to the fore in the sixties promoting a radical strengthening of
individual liberties, this strictly within a 'free market' context. These
political positions have nothing in common with and are totally adverse to
any kind of socialist tradition or practice. Some of its representative
may admit to keeping a bare minimum of shared society, and may head under
the banner of /minarchism/ - proposing a minimalist state by deliberately
jumbling together social relationships with social institutions. But truly
radical individualism, posing as "anarchist", as it is set out in the
works of the better known libertarian authors as Murray N Rothbard, Robert
Nozick or Ayn Rand, can only come to fruition if all oppressing social
institutions are dismantled, first and foremost the State; hence the
somewhat paradoxical definition 'anarcho-liberals' [anarcho-libertarians?
-transl]  or 'anarcho-capitalists' [1].

A good start to understand the theoretical context in which
anarcho-capitalism came into being, is the work of Murray Rothbard, the
first author to use the 'libertarian' monicker in his writings. Rothbard,
an economist who was also a student of Ludwig von Mises in New York in the
40s, manages a quirky synthesis between the ferocious anti-socialism of
the Austrian (economic) School and American individualist thinkers,
especially Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker. According to the Austrian
School, free market capitalism is the only economic system that will
vouchsafe individual freedom: it is good 'by nature'. Equally, property
rights are 'natural rights', and expanding property forms the only bulwark
to protect 'true liberty'.  Any system interfering between the individual
and the enjoyment of her/his private property is oppressive by definition,
and constitutes a tyranny which should be gotten rid of by all means
available. Being a staunch advocate of individual freedom as supreme good,
Rothbard criticises the moral legalism of those libertarians who
accommodate to the institutional status quo. For Rothbard  market freedom
can only be effective if the political practice itself is free of
oppressive laws and regulatory measures by the State.

This approach shorts the definition of liberty at its core, since the only
liberty that matters then, is that of the capitalist market, itself the
outcome of the free agency of totally free individuals motivated by their
purely private interest in accumulation and consumership. And since
individualist anarchism constitutes the apex of individual liberty and
that the free market is itself the realisation of that liberty, anarchism
and capitalism are, according to Rothbard, one and the same thing.

"(W)e are anarcho-capitalists. In other words, we believe that capitalism
is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest
expression of capitalism. Not only are they compatible, but you can't
really have one without the other. True anarchism will be capitalism, and
true capitalism will be anarchism. " [2]

We will see further on what are the paradoxes underlying this blind belief
in the goodness of the free market. For now let us just underline the
affinities between the libertarian economic and political orthodoxy and
the actual practices of Californian turbo-capitalism [3]: individual
liberty can only be validated through economic and monetary transactions;
individuals are taken to be free 'by nature', and they assign, in a
totally subjective fashion, value to goods, services, and utilities that
are available in an ideal free, capitalist market; full and absolute
de-regulation is the necessary condition to bring about a market that is
'benign by nature', without statist or 'over-individual' intervention;
private property, as a 'natural right' is the bedrock of individual
identity; and the accumulation of goods and utilities constitutes the very
substance of (the concept of) liberty.

(to be continued)
Next time: society, individuals, aims, and actions - in the libertarian


[1] A libertarianist '101', with many references to the 'foundation texts'
check out the anarcho-capitalist site
[2] http://archive.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard103.html
[3] Conservative economist  Edward Luttwak coined the term
'turbo-capitalism' in his book /Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in
the Global Economy/, New York, Harpers 1999. We use the term in a much
more polemic way, since it has become clear that today's economic trends
have gone much further - for the worse - than Luttwalk's analyses. We may
refer to the second chapter of our book The Dark Side of Google ('The
Googleplex, or Nimble Capitalism at Work'), where we draw a tentative
description of Google's 'abundance capitalism' , and of the 'Silicon
Valley model' in general.

Translated by Patrice Riemens
This translation project is supported and facilitated by:
The Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
The Antenna Foundation, Nijmegen
(http://www.antenna.nl - Dutch site)
(http://www.antenna.nl/indexeng.html - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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