My Tuesday blog post on RAW and libertarianism inspired an interesting comment from Michael Johnson in the comments on RAW politics, which I'll reprint here:
RAW once said he thought Rand turned around and invented Objectivism as an atheistic religion to compete with the atheistic religion that killed her family members.
For sombunall of what RAW thought of Austrian economics, see the New Libertarian interview from Sept 5, 1976.
RAW seems more radical in general that any of the acknowledged-by-the-likes-of New York mag's "libertarians." Chomsky has often accepted the term "libertarian socialist." RAW's politics seem much closer to Chomsky's (who is almost totally marginalized in mainstream US media, but NOT in the rest of the world); the right-libertarians had ideas that RAW thought needed more of a hearing in the mass marketplace of ideas in the US; however, he thought the right-libertarians could care less about the poor, and that their ideas about regulations protecting the commons and the poor and disenfranchised had been shown to be demonstrably wrong...RAW was so radical he thought land/rent/banks/money were questionable ideas. I don't see much of that in Rand/Rothbard/Hayek/Mises/Friedman...which is why comsumers of mainstream media get to read about THEM as "libertarians," I suspect.
I'm hoping to make the point that if you don't read the comments for this blog, you're missing a lot. If you go back to my Tuesday post, you can see some back and forth between Michael and I after I mention a point where I differ a bit from RAW's politics.
But to follow on Michael's original point: When I got involved with the Internet years ago, I found that it became much easier to read articles by other libertarians, and interact with them. More recently, it has made it easier to see that there are quite a few leftist libertarians and libertarian leftists out there — in addition to the people Michael mentions, I would suggest Glenn Greenwald (see Justin Raimondo's remarks), R.U. Sirius, Arthur Hlavaty (who, it should be said, doesn't self identify as a libertarian anymore), Jim Henley, and Will Wilkinson.
I feel closest ideologically to Wilkinson. I support a national health insurance program and an individual mandate (although I'd include the ability to opt into medical savings accounts) and a cash transfer social safety net, e.g. a negative income tax, expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit or something of that sort. On many other issues, I'm a conventional libertarian: I like free trade, a peaceful foreign policy, an end to import barriers and farm subsidies, immigration that's as free as politically possible, no government picking and choosing of winners and losers in the marketplace, an end to the war on drugs, etc. etc. This puts me in the position of being too "leftist" for the average libertarian, and too libertarian for everyone else.
Incidentally, Douglas Rushkoff has continued to work on many of the economic and political ideas that RAW was interested in.