An Ambiguous Utopia


Ryan Noonan

Ryan Noonan is an economist with a small federal agency. Fields in which he considers himself reasonably well-informed: literature, college athletics, video games, food and beverage, the Supreme Court. Fields in which he considers himself an expert: none. He can be found on the Twitter or reached by email.

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6 Responses

  1. Good thoughts.  Haven’t read you enough to put them in perspective yet.  But no errors at least in this post.

    1) the term libertarianism was intentionally appropriated.  I’m not sure it evolved per se. 😉

    2) I don’t see much left of left libertarianism.

    3) I am not sure that I agree  with your use of propertarian.  Which refers to the reduction of human rights to property rights, and has nothing to do with the state.  one can use propertarian analysis to advocate individual property rights, but I don’t see any cases where t is used to justify the state.  The written record is  composed of just the opposite.  Property is antithetical to statism.  Democratic socialism treats all property as communal, but leased out to individuals in order to provide them with incentives.   Anarcho capitalism and  monarchy, and even republican capitalism treat property as individual with incr easing obligations to the community in order to prevent free riding.  But it’s hardly statist to  advocate property.  So either I misunderstand you or you’re conflating property and state.

    4) the problem that both communal and individual property models face, is that freedom is the desire of a creative minority.  It is all well and good that liberty lovers of all kinds create free utopian models.  But the vast unwashed masses are demonstrably interested in little else but rent seeking.  Leaving democratic government of any kind. Little but a tool by which to capture the productivity of the creative classes.Report

    • On the issue of “propertarian”, in this post I use it only in the sense Le Guin’s characters use it in the book: to refer to those (the Urrasti, mainly) who live in a society where individuals own things (in contrast to the anarchist Annaresti, who have no individual property). I agree that there’s no reason the state and propertarianism have to be combined, which I think is actually a really useful back-of-the-envelope way of distinguishing between right- and left-libertarianism. But, for the purposes of meaningfully talking about this book, Le Guin’s characters use “libertarian” to mean what I would call left-libertarian and “propertarian” presumably includes a large number of social arrangements in which individuals own property.

      Thanks for the comment. Very thoughtful stuff.Report

  2. Avatar Erik Kain says:

    Haven’t read this yet, but I did read ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ recently, and there’s a similar juxtaposition of societies in that book as well, though neither is particularly nationalistic. The more communitarian and centralized society is presented in rather bleak terms. Compared to their monarchical neighbors, they are like half-people, drained of any individual will and controlled by the secret police.

    Now I’m curious to read this one and compare.Report

  3. Avatar Maribou says:

    Despite a few painful spots, this is probably my most favorite of all LeGuin’s books (and she’s in my small handful of favorite writers). I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about it.Report