The Question of Violence and the Poverty of Libertarianism

LeoCasey at LeoCasey at
Sun Feb 4 09:13:04 MST 1996

Brian --

May I begin by suggesting that you take the time and effort to figure out
where the different folks on this list are coming from before you jump with
all of your assumptions? It might improve your reception here, and might lead
the rest of the list to engage you in a respectful way, rather than as a rude
intruder who has decided that he is going to show all those "Marxists" how
ignorant they are, and there is no reason to pay attentioon to their actual
conversations. For starters, you might have discovered that I do not consider
myself a Marxist, but rather politically a radical democrat and theoretically
a post-Marxist, that is, someone who has an immanent critique of Marxism.

Now to your points:
>Clearly this is wrong. In fact technological improvements in
>armaments has led to citizens having a much greater ability
>to combat the state, IF citizens were allowed access to such
>weaponry, which they currently are not.
Maybe you might want to visit the streets in which I live and work, where
assault weapons are a dime a dozen, and terrorize every decent person who has
no escape. Even in classical liberal theory such as Hobbes and Locke, the
state has the minimal function of  protecting the life and safety of the
citizens. And what meets the condition for the Hobbesian state of nature, a
war of all against all in which no one's life is secure, if not communities
in such a state of seige? Why do I think that this libertarianism is
developed at great length from the inner city?

>The proper balance being that individual rights should
>never be sacrificed for the common good.  We've seen
>where that has gotten us in this century.
Which is to say that you recognize no claims of the common good, since there
is no balance and every claim of individual rights must take precedence over
the common good. Such as the right to bear a gun over the need to establish
the basics of community life, or property rights to do what wants with one's
property, regardless of the destruction to the environment caused by
pollution and the exploitation of working people. I don't understand why you
are on this list, because I don't see any basis for conversation. Modern
democratic political theory is based on the balance between individual rights
and the common good, between liberty and equality. The danger in Marxism has
been to promote the common good at the expense of individual rights, equality
at the expense of liberty. It is hardly the place for someone who would
eliminate, by fiat, the common good and equality. 

>Which is great if it were conceivable that *everyone* 
>would respect my right to life and liberty, but somehow
>I'd put more faith in a Glock to preserve that life and
>liberty than some flowery phrase...beside it's not the size of
>the weapon that counts, but the killing power and skill
>in its use that makes for a good deterrent or method of force.
I am always amazed at how un-self-consciously adult male (and rather
predatory male at that) this perspective is. Just how was the five year old
child attending the elementary school next to my high school supposed to
defend his life -- which he lost -- when he had the misfortune to wander into
the crossfire of two drug dealers with their Tech 9s? And what of the adults
who don't envision themselves in the model of the wild west? Talk about a dog
eat dog world -- this is capitalism at its worst, preying on the youngest and
oldest, those unable or unwilling to defend themselves with force, and you
glorify it.

> do you think Marxists seize power in capitalist
>countries??  Do you think they do so with paraphrases of
>Martin Luther King???
The Shining Path couldn't have said it any better. Welcome to your new

>You mean they maintained a little bit wary of the state,
>rather than accept the Marxist kow towing to anything
>that pretends to authority???
No, I mean that democrats insist that the state provide the same protection
of life, liberty and property for the residents of the inner city as they do
for those contemplating libertarianism in the safety of an university campus.

>Let me get this are teaching children that
>non-violent action has brought down racist power
>structures in America...Puhleeze.  Ever looked around you?
1. Seventeen year old African-Americans and Latino/as are _not_ children.
They are young adults thoroughly capable of thinking for themselves, who can
and do think for themselves all the time. How revealing that you can only see
them as mouthpieces for my ideas.
2. Teaching is not a process of indoctrination. (Imagine that I have to take
this stand in response to a self-avowed "libertarian.") When indoctrination
is attempted, it fails as teaching. Democratic teaching involves a dialogue
between teacher and student, and the development of independent, critical
thinking skills on the part of the student.
3. Yes, it is my view, which I articulate in conversation with my students,
that it was the democratic mass movement of African-Americans, commonly known
as the civil rights movement and organized around campaigns of non-violent
protest and civil disobedience, that brought an end to Jim Crow segregation.
If you take the time to read what I wrote with even elementary care, neither
I nor my students would ever make the preposterous claim that the end of Jim
Crow segregation was the end of racism in America. Why does your libertarian
discourse constantly read African-Americans as passive recipients and
victims, and never as active historical subjects?

     --- from list marxism at ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list