Archive for December 15th, 2008

Exchange with Dave Schwab at GreenChange.

Subject: Libertarian Greens?

Hi Paulie,

I just read the commentary you posted about the Libertarian Party turning into a free-market conservative vehicle. Very interesting. I’ve noticed that you post both Green and Libertarian related articles – do you belong to both?

p] I’m a life member of the Libertarian Party and a region rep for several counties in Alabama.

I don’t formally belong to any Green Party organization right now, but I’ve been getting more involved with Green activities the last few months – attended the national meeting in Chicago, write articles at IPR and sometimes GPW. You should be aware however, that not all articles I post at IPR represent my own views – I post a variety of opinions from and about independents and alternative parties.

As it so happens, I do indeed share the concerns of the author of that article, except that he has already quit the LP and I am still involved in it. But I make no secret of being involved in other parties as well. I’m also a petitioner, and I have worked with the Greens – I and people I brought in got Arkansas Greens on the ballot in 2006 and 2008, and I tried to help out the Utah Greens, but got there too late to make the difference.

I’ve heard of left libertarians, are there also green libertarians?

p] Yes. Roderick Long has a couple of good articles that address these two topics. They are long, but I highly recommend reading them:


deals with left and right issues relating to libertarianism in a way I agree with


relates to Green-Libertarian fusion – the short summary I would provide is that libertarianism is a philosophy of means: the non-initiation of coercion principle, see


whereas Green politics is defined by ends: the ten key values, and the best application of both is using libertarian means to achieve green ends – in other words, there is no contradiction. Long goes into detail about how exactly this works.

I also studied environmental geography in college and belonged to an environmental club in college, and worked briefly for a PIRG going door to door back in 1989 when I was 17 years old – so I have been into environmental issues for a long time.

I’ve sometimes wondered about making the Green Party appealing to Libertarians, but I always figured that issues like climate change and free trade would preclude much cooperation.

p] It depends on what you want to do about climate change – I don’t think the government is the best organization to solve any real problem we have. For instance, I would agree that terrorism, poverty, and drug abuse are real problems, but I don’t see all the government money spent to solve them as doing so.

On the other hand, there is much that government could do by way of getting out of the way to help solve climate change and other environmental problems: ceasing actions such as corporate welfare, corporate personhood, nonconcensual limited liability, military-industrial complex actions on behalf of petrochemical interests, prohibition of hemp…and less obvious ones, such as the disproportionate impact taxes and regulations have on new and startup businesses that could challenge prevailing ways of doing things.

As for free trade, I’m for it – but not globally managed trade, with book-length agreements and enforcement bureaucracies, which is deceptively called free trade, and not with the aforementioned corporate personhood, non-concensual limited liability, corporate welfare, etc., that in my view greatly distorts the would-be natural ecology of a true free trade system.

On the other hand, if it’s true that the LP is following in the footsteps of Mr. Barr, then I can see left libertarians finding the GP to be a stronger advocate for equal rights, civil liberties, ending the drug war, reproductive choice, and other issues that people care about.

What do you think?


p] I think there is much in the way of potential there, but it would by no means be easy. With your permission, I would like to post our exchange thus far.

Dave writes back:

Thanks for the reply, and the links. I look forward to reading them soon.

Feel free to post our exchange on the sites you mentioned. It seems like the fur is still flying at LP meetings, but if the right-wingers take over, it might be worth looking into how to welcome left libertarians into the Green tent.

I also wonder about issues like a carbon tax, progressive taxation schemes, and fuel efficiency requirements, and the general preference among Greens for community decision-making in areas that recent government actors have treated as the domain of private interests, such as logging in public forests or offshore drilling. Basically, if government intervention is the only feasible way to conserve the environment, can libertarians make peace with that?

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