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19 October 2013

The New Left-Right Paradigm?

discussion between Adam Kokesh and Peter Joseph earlier this year inspired me to look deeper into the critical exchange 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 this division within the greater movement--that is, the movement against the current system and for better alternatives.

To stimulate further discussion, I hosted a debate called "What Social System Best Serves Humankind" between Victor Pross and Matt Berkowitz, two outspoken Vancouver locals advocating Anarcho-Capitalism and Resource Based Economy respectively. As witness to the event page activity alone (which peaked at 1000+ posts per day), my efforts together with Matt and Victor's definitely stoked the fire for further discussion. But the question remains: Given these efforts, what progress has been made? Where do we stand since the debate?

A few months after my debate, two of the biggest proponents of the aforementioned "camps" - Peter Joseph (creator of the Zeitgeist films) 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 ties are cut between these two heavy hitters, other voices continue to add to the debate (e.g., AnCapChase's critical response).

Still, anything close to a resolution has been hard to come by between the two debating wings. This, I think, is due to a fundamental disagreement over The Root Cause of society's problems. Advocates of each position tend to talk past each other because they come from incompatible starting points for social critique. There is also a tendency of both parties to use like terms (e.g., the free-market) with definitions that vary according to . It is clear that while dialogue continues between loyal AnCaps and RBE advocates, many find the prospect of living and working together unlikely if not impossible.

To review each position:
AnCaps condemn the state or anybody that maintains illegitimate control over others. Coercive (forceful) authority is argued 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 throughout society is argued to be an in/direct effect of this party that retains its monopoly on violence. By disempowering institutions of violence, fraud and theft, AnCaps wish for the world to realize the promise that a 'true' free-market is capable of offering society.

To be clear, The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) also dislikes the 'state', as defined above. 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. 
TZM proposes a revolutionary alternative argued to be well within humanity's reach: the implementation of a global non-competitive economy, namely a Resource Based Economy (aka 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. Utilizing a systems approach to map and distribute the Earth's available resources, the basic needs of everyone (clean water, food, shelter) would be met first and foremost, eliminating the need for useless and wasteful jobs and as a result giving humanity more time to enjoy life and pursue our interests sustainably. 

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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, socialism and capitalism, 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, I think 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, 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 laying the corrupted system to rest and transition into a society of higher-consciousness. 



[last edit: Aug 17, 2014] 

To date, one of the more civil conversations between TZM and AnCap: Neil Kiernan and Mike Shanklin
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/v-radio/2013/10/11/v-radio-invites-anarcho-capitalist-michael-shanklin

Also recommended:
Libertarian Socialist Critique of TZM

13 September 2013

Steve Hughes

For some laughs: