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19 October 2013

The New Left-Right Paradigm?

discussion between Adam Kokesh and Peter Joseph inspired me to look deeper into the critical exchange taking place between The Zeitgeist Movement and Liberty Movement. As can be seen in this Abby Martin interview (watch@22:50), I am not the only one who's noticed an emerging polarity within the greater movement--that is, the greater movement against the current system and one for better alternatives.

To stimulate further discussion, I hosted a debate called "What Social System Best Serves Humankind" between Anarcho-Capitalist Victor Pross and Zeitgeist Vancouver spokesman Matt Berkowitz. Judging by the event page activity alone (which at its peak surpassed 1000 posts per day), my efforts together with Matt and Victor's definitely stoked the fire for further discussion. But the question remains: What progress has been made?

A few months after my debate, two of the biggest proponents of their respective "camps" - Peter Joseph (of Zeitgeist) and Stefan Molyneux (a Free-Market Anarchist) - faced off in a spirited exchange. Both men followed up with post-debate analysis and commentary, which you can find here(<S.M.), (P.J.>)here and here. Sadly it looks as though friends are 'off' between Peter and Stefan, at least for now. But even if communication is cut between these two heavy hitters, other voices continue to add perspective (e.g., AnCapChase's critical response).

A firm resolution has been hard to come by between the two positions due to a fundamental disagreement over The Root Cause of society's problems. What ends up happening is that advocates of each positions tend to talk past each other because they come from incompatible starting points for action. There is also a tendency of both parties to use like terms with definitions that vary (e.g., the free-market). It is clear that while some dialogue continues between loyal AnCaps and RBE advocates, many find the prospect of working together unfathomable.

To review each position:
AnCaps condemn the state or anybody that maintains illegitimate control over others. Coercive authority is thought to be illegitimate and immoral because it has not come about voluntarily. Most of society's institutions have been hijacked by the state and the perpetual violence witnessed in society is argued to be an in/direct effect of this party that claims a monopoly on violence. By disempowering institutions of violence and fraud, AnCaps wish for the world to realize what a true free-market has to offer.

To be clear, The Zeitgeist Movement also dislikes the state. Similar to AnCaps, they await its demise along with the inevitable collapse of the fiat-based financial system. But compared to AnCaps, Zeitgeist advocates view the state as just another symptom of capitalism, or 'an outgrowth' of the market as Peter Joseph puts it. So long as the capitalist market system exists, eliminating the state will not eliminate people's exploitative mindset. In other words, even if 'the state' as we know it were no more, humanity would find other ways to oppress each other because of how the competitive system we live in has socialized us. 
A viable alternative is proposed: the implementation of a global non-competitive economy, namely a Resource Based Economy/ Natural Law Economy. The egoless scientific method would be used to solve many problems we've been told are political when in reality, they have technical solutions. Using a systems approach to map and distribute the Earth's resources, the basic needs of everyone would be met first and foremost, eliminating the need for monotonous and wasteful jobs and giving us more time to enjoy life and pursue our interests sustainably. 

By engaging myself in this debate, I have changed from an audience member to actively becoming part of the discussion. In so doing, I can't help but wonder if what I'm experiencing is the formation of a New Left-Right paradigm: a rehashed schism between collective and individual rights, hierarchy versus egalitarianism without a nationalist distraction. Yet it's hard to ignore that both sides agree on principles of non-violence, equality  and efficiency (at some level or another). Wouldn't it then prove useful to establish a list of other issues and initiatives that members of both camps can agree on and work from there? 

While always upholding the importance of critical thinking, we should remain respectful of all positions that at their core aim to achieve the greatest possible prosperity for a humanity faced with collapse. There is plenty of room for others too, such as Left libertarians, to join the conversation and strike a balance between AnCap and RBE factions. The implementation of many proposed alternatives are already possible. It's now time to make them part of a workable reality. Surely some solidarity can be found in how we assist in retiring the corrupted system and transition into a society of higher-consciousness. 

[last edit: Feb 21, 2014] 

To date, one of the most civil conversations between TZM and AnCap: Neil Kiernan and Mike Shanklin

Also recommended:
Libertarian Socialist Critique of TZM

13 September 2013

Steve Hughes

For some laughs: