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Nov 10, 2006 10:07 am

More on the Greens

More on Rodericks's attempt to make an alliance with the Greens: Jason's post immediately below is terrific. But it's even worse than that! I went through the entire document with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, and it's no contest.

1.Grassroots Democracy
“Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives; no one should be subject to the will of another."

This is self-contradictory. I agree that no one should be subject to the will of another, but that’s exactly the objection to democracy, under which we are all subject to the will of another anytime we’re outnumbered.

2. Ecological Wisdom
“Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation.”

Ok, but what are the resource limits? And what is the meaning of “sustainable”? That’s typically code for regulation and the precautionary principle.

“to this end we must have agricultural practices that replenish the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.”

“Must have” here seems to suggest (although I concede it need not) imposed rules.

3.Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
“All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment.“

As Jason has noted, this economic outcome-egalitarianism is not at all consistent with libertarianism, or even Rawlsian liberalism for that matter, and reveals an underlying assumption that “society” is the true “owner” of all resources.

“We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and heterosexism, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.“

I know that this is the move Roderick wants to make about thick-versus-thin libertarianism, and I know that this is a key source of intra-libertarian dispute, even here at L&P. For now, though, let’s just note that the way it’s expressed here is sufficiently vague that we can’t tell whether it’s consistent with liberty or not.

4. Nonviolence
“It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the streets, to nations and the world. We will work to demilitarize our society and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.“

This doesn’t seem too bad, although again the vagueness is worrisome. Does “demilitarize our society” mean we stop invading other countries, or that the 2nd Amendment can be disregarded? Generic “nonviolence” positions are worthless if they don’t make the moral distinction between aggression and defense.

5. Decentralization
“Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization.”

Yes, largely due to the state and the ways in which wealth buys political power. In a radically libertarian society, this would be mitigated, and in any case, this conclusion:

“Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions”

is radically inconsistent with liberty; again, there is the tacit assumption that markets are bad and that society is the proper owner of all resources, which may then be “distributed” in such a way as to achieve “social justice.”

“away from a system that is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few,”

That’s an argument against states, not wealth.

“Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.”

Well, that’s the real trick, isn’t it? Reconciling democratic decision-making with robust respect for rights (and here we see some artificial distinction between civil rights and property rights) has always been a tall order, and it only makes matters worse if you also think there should be egalitarian resource distribution.

6.Community-Based Economics

I’m already lost. All economics is community-based. What theory of economics are we talking about here?

“We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living, for all people, while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a "living wage" which reflects the real value of a person's work.”

Oh, now I see: a Marxist theory.

“economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers' rights, broad citizen participation in planning, and enhancement of our "quality of life".“

Citizen participation in “planning”? That’s the market. Unless we’re talking about command-economy planning.

“We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible,”

Socially responsible meaning what? Not, I presume, in the Milton Friedman sense. So then they must mean that companies are only permitted if they mesh with the politically correct set of values and outcomes.

7. Feminism
“We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control, with more cooperative ways of interacting which respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the -sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.”


8. Respect for Diversity
“We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.”

Sounds good, but let’s see where they go with it:

“We believe the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies”

Ah, so if the society is 37% Minority A, then 37% of all CEOs and surgeons and Senators and college professors must be Minority A?

“we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles.”

I think they mean “people from ethnicities other members of which have in the past been closed out of…” This is an anti-individualist way of thinking of people.

“We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms and the preservation of biodiversity.”

While I think Spock was right not to want to kill the Horta, was not the Vampire Cloud also the only one of its kind? Some life forms are a threat to humanity. When respect for biodiversity becomes misanthropic, I draw the line.

9. Personal and Global Responsibility
“We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet. “

Sounds good, but there’s that expression “economic justice” again, which they seem to interpret not in free market terms but in terms of egalitarian redistribution.

10.Future Focus and Sustainability
“Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or "unmaking" all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counter-balance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.”

“Our” policies? Command economy? And how do we “assure” outcomes as prescribed here?
That’s 1 out of 10. I fail to see how this platform can even remotely be shoehorned into libertarianism. The author of this platform fundamentally fails to see how markets work, or how liberty is indivisible, or how democratic institutions are in conflict with rights, or what it means for rights to be compossible. If Roderick can convince someone who holds all these views to actually respect individual liberty and not be aggressive, he’s the best salesman since Ron Popeil. I think very highly of Roderick, but I don’t see it happening.

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