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As you might have noticed, one of the (very quickly) upcoming Virtual Reading Groups will cover a wide selection of readings on left-libertarianism. So a reasonable question to ask, then, is just what is “left-libertarianism?”

The term (as it’s being used here[1]) points to a broad tradition of intellectual undercurrents that are simultaneously radically libertarian and radically leftist. It includes some of the most radical elements of English liberalism (such as Thomas Hodgskin and the earlier writings of Herbert Spencer), nineteenth-century individualist anarchism, the 1960s alliance between free market anarchists and the New Left, and the contemporary resurgence of left-wing market anarchism.

It’s probably impossible to come up with any concise, neat, and fully exhaustive definition of what ties together the general cluster of ideas that fall under “left-libertarianism,” and there will be clear counter-examples for any attempt at doing so. However, here are three of its most important features. (more…)

Econ nerds demanded it and Dorian Electra has supplied it. “Econ Songs,” the long-awaited album of the Dorian Electra econ-jams you know and love is now available for download for the market-clearing price of $10! Including the smash hit that brought her fame and fortune* “I’m in Love With Friedrich Hayek” and her comeback single “Roll With the Flow,” not to mention her dance-pop banger “FA$T CA$H” about the boom and bust cycle. When the bass goes BOOM, you’ll be BUSTing a move on the econ-conference dance floor. Get your copy TODAY! 

*Err, the famous Miss Electra is still awaiting her fortune. Buy this album NOW. PLEASE.

The following is the first in a series by Students For Liberty 2014-2015 Blog Team member and Carlton University student Elizabeth Morran.

On August 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the size of the current epidemic of Ebolavirus in West Africa, which has been ongoing since early 2014, has been “vastly underestimated.” The death toll is at least 1100 among four nations and the head of the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse called the epidemic “uncontained and out of control.” Several days before, WHO suggested that a promising vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline would not be available until early 2015 after expedited clinical trials have been run to ensure the drug’s safety — despite the rising death toll in Africa and fears of the virus’s spread to other nations, including the United States. Without any regard for the personal choices of people affected by and at risk for Ebola, regulatory agencies have prevented the use of these drugs even for consenting volunteers who have been informed of the risks at hand.

To put it another way, a Liberian Ebola patient, afflicted with one of the most gruesome diseases known to man, hemorrhaging from his nose and mouth, days away from death and with access only to fluid restoration treatment, is deemed incapable of deciding for himself whether to try medicine with a strong chance of saving his life and his family’s — because Western authorities have not seen proof that it is safe. The WHO and the FDA have apparently decided that the safest option is to deny people medical treatment during an epidemic of a disease that kills in 80 to 90% of cases.

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The following is a post by 2014-2015 Blogging Team and North American Executive Board Member Brittney Little.

On the first weekend of August at St. Edwards University in Austin, TX, over 100 eager Libertarian Christians gathered for the inaugural Christians for Liberty Conference. Yup! You read it right…Christians for Liberty.

The conference was organized by Dr. Norman Horn, the founder of LibertarianChristians.com. Dr. Horn managed to gather a large number of incredible speakers from all over the libertarian spectrum to enlighten the audience. Some speakers included: David Theroux, president of the Independent Institute, Texan Representative David Simpson, Dr. Mark Cherry from St. Edwards University, and Alexander McCobin.

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The following is the first of many posts by 2014-2015 SFL Blogging Team member and Marist College student, Juliana Perciavalle.

Sublime – April 29, 1992 (Miami) – Album Version (Edited)

Bradley Nowell made it clear that it wasn’t about Rodney King in 1992, and it’s not about Michael Brown in 2014. It wasn’t about Trayvon Martin either, for that matter.

When you live in an area like St. Louis, or the surrounding suburbs which have been fraught with racial tension for decades, you aren’t thinking of the theoretical roots of your justification for looting and rioting. When your community has seen the brunt of state violence: substandard public schooling, drug prohibition, ghettoization, on top of police brutality, desperation trumps reason. It would be extremely naïve to expect anything short of rioting when a powder keg incident like this happens, regardless of the specific circumstances.

The fact is that Ferguson is 70% black with a police force that is 90% white. It’s easy to think that racism and classism are a series of isolated incidents and microaggressions but it is a deadly, omnipresent force for these people.

I’m not going to sit here and say things like “check your privilege,” but I do think every college-educated libertarian should think long and hard about how it must feel to be targeted by the police if you haven’t read books and sat through talks about your civil liberties, or to have numerous family members dead or in jail for nonviolent crimes. This video is a powerful example of this mindset.

My experiences with cops in my college town haven’t escalated past being shooed away from loud, predominantly white parties. I go to city council meetings where black mothers, fathers, teachers are lamenting that police are hassling their kids who don’t have after-school programs to go to.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t really matter.

Reason was quick to fire back at the accusation that libertarians stayed silent in the face of recent police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, but while Justin Amash is a stand-up guy, many libertarians still scoff at those who use street protesting and rioting to try to achieve the same free society we all want. Of course looting and destroying private businesses isn’t morally right, especially since these business owners are presumably members of the same community. But this article from Prison Books Collective is quick to point out:

I’m not sure how people who make this argument imagine ‘owning’ a neighborhood works, but I’ll try to break it down: we don’t own neighborhoods. Black businesses exist, it’s true. But the emancipation of impoverished communities is not measured in corner-store revenue. It’s not measured in minimum-wage jobs. And no, it’s especially not measured in how many black people are allowed to become police officers.

Now, solidarity isn’t about condoning property destruction or violent retaliation, but it is about understanding. Context is everything. Individuals in these situations don’t see things in terms of statistics, philosophy or abstract political concepts. Malcolm X said in the thick of the civil rights movement, “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

So what are we, as college kids, supposed to do about the cops? How do we show solidarity?

SFL Northeast Regional Director Dannelly Rodriguez proposed during the Campus Coordinator retreat that his region start an initiative to teach kids in rougher neighborhoods about their civil liberties in situations where police are involved. The project is still in its planning stages, but Rodriguez cites the Flex Your Rights website as a good starting point.

While flexing your rights is not a fail-safe method of avoiding police violence, it could provide vital harm reduction techniques to people who are most liable to fall victim to law enforcement violations. At the same time, providing advice on how to deal with real-world situations while understanding the undercurrent mindsets of those you are educating will improve the effectiveness of the liberty movement.

Basically, these are libertarian issues even if you don’t find the actions of this community libertarian.

To show your support for the people on the ground in Ferguson right now, find a National Moment of Silence event in your area.