A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.

— Edward Abbey

Garry Reed's picture

How is crony socialism better than crony capitalism?

A recent Huffington Post article tells the tale of Republic Windows and Doors factory workers in the Chicago area who banded together and, with funding help from worker cooperative The Working World, bought the failed business and transformed it into the successful worker-owned New Era Windows Cooperative.

Some libertarians who support traditional capitalism oppose worker-owned co-ops since they see them as a form of socialism. But that would be a false choice. True free market advocates concern themselves only with voluntary interactions, not with the various forms such voluntaryism may take.

American libertarians have long rejected "crony capitalism" (aka "corporatism") which involves collusion between business and government and instead define their capitalism as "laissez-faire" or simply "libertarian" with a definition rooted in the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP) that no one may coerce, intimidate or defraud another.

But many "left libertarians" call themselves "libertarian socialists," using the old European definition of "libertarian" that simply means "anarchist." Thus, "libertarian socialism" distinguishes itself from "state socialism" but doesn't necessarily embrace ZAP and therefore leaves open the possibility of condoning non-government sources of coercion, intimidation and fraud. ZAP libertarians would reject that form of "libertarian socialism" out of hand.

So where did The Working World investment money come from? It's like tracking a deer across mudflats and granite outcroppings; the money trail appears and disappears. For example, The 2014 Annual Report from the USFWC (United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives) bragged that they and "a broad coalition" of organizations successfully lobbied the New York City Council "to pass $1.2m in city budget for worker cooperative development." One member of that "broad coalition" was The Working World.

In the same report the USFWC listed income from "Government Grants" (money forcibly redistributed from taxpayers to politically connected favorites) as $56,697.98 for 2014 and $180,939.63 in 2013. So while The Working World never mentions on their website where their funding comes from they did help the USFWC acquire taxpayer money and then, according to the New Era Windows Cooperative article, "funding for the purchase of the factory and equipment came from a $665,000 investment raised by The Working World."

Just how much of the "$665,000 investment raised by The Working World" came from taxpayer loot funneled to it by the USFWC? If any did they can claim that they've done nothing more than what virtually every corporate entity does when they grab every form of corporate welfare they can get their sticky mitts on, but then they've lost all claim to any moral high ground.

To libertarians, crony socialist thugs are no better than crony capitalist thugs. Capitalism, socialism and many other isms can all work together in a free society but only if they all reject coercion, intimidation and fraud and accept voluntaryism. Only that would make "libertarian socialism" a morally meaningful concept.