Left-Wing Paleolibertarianism

By Chris Shaw

While my economic views put me on the trajectory of left-libertarianism, with my belief in wider, distributed ownership and the return of mutual aid associations and voluntary, even democratic, structures, I’ve always maintained a cultural conservatism in my outlook, coming from the ideas of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. In combining the two, I come to an idea of left-wing Paleolibertarianism, rejecting the cultural libertinism of elements of the libertarian left and supporting pastoral, paternal structures which are voluntary and decentralist. I respect the multitude of different communities and respective traditions that exist, desiring their maintained existence, and have no inherent problem with hierarchy so long as mutuality is maintained.

In line with National-Anarchists, I see a world consisting of multiple tribes, which contain in-groups and out-groups and many different forms of economic and political organisation. Culture and settled relations are important, as are voluntary customs and grassroots legal institutions, such as those present in feudal England[1]. Tradition, and its preservation amongst generations, should be one of the paramount practices of individual communities and nations (not nation-states[2]). Creating little platoons of maintained culture and tradition that act as discursive spaces of resistance against the forces of empire. Further, I don’t limit such constructs to homogeneous Western communities. Homosexual communities and minorities should be able to construct their own in-groups, much like the Nation of Islam has done in Chicago and the Black Panthers did the 60s and 70s. Globalisation and modern capitalism act as the enemy of this conception, commodifying social relations and gleefully internationalising capital and wealth while crushing solidarity and labour under its boot. This is where the left and right should unite, in creating new economic alternatives that tackle the domination of capitalist discourse, as I’ve discussed before[3].

Like other Paleolibertarians, immigration is something that I would reject as creating unequal outcomes, unnecessarily damaging the working and lower middle classes and limiting their in-group culture and subsidiarity. Much of modern mass immigration is influenced by the interests of capital, destroying the communal traditions of the emigrant and the solidarity networks of settled populaces. The community capital that created institutions like mutual aid and friendly societies (which were unfortunately expropriated by the state in Britain through the Beveridge reforms) is destroyed when immigration can act as a free-rider on these institutions. The combination of social democracy (partly privatised in the 90s) and neoliberalism which pervades the modern era has led to bloated state-spending to prop up both corporate economies of scale and the welfare-warfare state. Traditional working class communities, bastions of cultural conservatism and economic solidarity, have been destroyed by this combination, which purposefully gutted traditional industries through fake privatisations and a dogmatic belief in globalisation. Any sort of control or order in these communities ended under the likes of Reagan and Thatcher, vile liberals more interested in the crafting of a centralising market society than improving on the gifts of our ancestors.

Going to the left-wing element of Paleolibertarianism, I believe crafting economic alternatives means significant economic decentralisation, creating autonomous communities where markets and other institutions are embedded in the culture rather than a society being made around the market. Many paleoconservatives believe in forms of economic nationalism, but I think that actual market logic need not rely on such protectionism. The market mechanism, when freed from the corporate-state nexus, naturally decentralises, moving down to the level of the local community for many needs, and moving away from the industrialism of mass production, instead favouring community control and the mixture of technology into more agrarian, localist lifestyles. Such systems favour Paleolibertarian culturalism. Mass immigration can only exist in the economies of scale that neoliberalism relies on to exist. Natural forms of government, such as fiefdom-size monarchy, clan and multi-family social systems, and direct democracy with decentralised decision-making (through juries and townhalls), can be developed, with social hierarchies growing with each individual communities in varied ways. Such culturalism rejects the artificiality of economic hierarchy, which separates consumption from production and ownership from control. In a genuine market economy shaped by different identitarian and cultural politics, this artificiality is easily outcompeted by distributist and decentralist alternatives, such as worker-ownership, commons-based control of land, different systems of private property, and local economies, with production for the direct economy rather than mass production for the international marketplace.

The ideas I’ve laid out are being seen in the nascent alt-right, which contains ideologies like pastoral culturalism and right-wing socialism. There is an acceptance of multiple identities which can develop their own communities and lifeworlds. Ethnocentrism and nationalism are not limited to white Westerners in the world of the alt-right. Instead, the false dogma of multiculturalism, which has led to forced exclusion and inclusion[4], need to be repealed. The clock of social democracy needs to be turned back. And in turning back, conceptualising a left-wing Paleolibertarianism means looking back to the radical traditionalism of the working and peasant classes, who in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, the worker takeover of Ghent in the 1300s[5], the rebellions and riots during the Tudorian era[6] and the development of the moral economy[7], show a desire for economic decentralisation, rejecting ‘free trade’ and taxation for arbitrary warfare, and a belief in traditional custom and common law, where social hierarchies exist but are tempered by voluntary mutuality. This radical history should continue, with left and right uniting against the globalised empire, rejecting the neoliberal status quo and crafting different alternatives for the variety of tribes and identities that exist. Smash the state, and smash social democracy with it.


[1] Wood, A. Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics in Early Modern England, 2002

[2] Rothbard, M. Nations by Consent, 1994

[3] https://thelibertarianideal.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/family-and-the-community/

[4] Hoppe, H.H. The Case for Free Trade and Restricted Immigration, 1998

[5] Federici, S. Caliban and the Witch, 2004

[6] Wood, A. Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics in Early Modern England, 2002

[7] Thompson, E.P. The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century, 1971


    • I think we’re on the same page. Where I differ is that I believe such a society cannot function for very long on market principles. The market leads to capitalism, and capitalism leads inevitably to social disintegration. While I accept that market /=/ capitalism, I believe that one leads to the other. That, as I see it, is the main flaw with National Anarchism. However, I believe what you have outlined could be achieved within a global system of co-operative, non-market socialism.

      • I have to disagree with your supposition that markets naturally lead to capitalism. Kevin Carson wrote a good article that shows why this wouldn’t be the case: https://c4ss.org/content/29849

        It has to be remembered that modern capitalism has required massive, systemtic state intervention to achieve its modern grandeur. It’s commodified natural social relations and hierarchies, introduced credit money through state taxation, created artificially large economies of scale and has constantly needed to externalise costs onto taxpayers. And even with all this there exists a plethora of alternative-market and non-market systems which are much more sustainable, and have higher productivity and life outcomes. Looking at this, I see no reason why in an anarchist society different systems, such as market or non-market, or communistic or wage labour arrangements, could not coexist side-by-side.

        • Can you provide an example from history of a really-existing non-capitalist market society, or alternatively, can you point to any current examples of functioning market-based societies that lack significant capitalist influence?

          • There is the Shanzhai economy, which contains small, flat, clustered firms who create products for their direct economy by ignoring intellectual property. Similarly, the Emilia-Romagna economy of Italy is a demand-pull production system rather than the wasteful mass production systems. The Salinas cooperative of South America has a gift-economy based safety net system and is a network of cooperative firms. On land ownership, Ostrom noted multiple examples of successful commons ownership regimes, such as those in Switzerland, Japan and Spain, the first two of those which have lasted for centuries. On money, there exists a large variety of LETS and alternative currency systems which are quite long lasting. Konkin noted the existence of black market heavy industry in Burma as well as other alternative-market systems which make-up a black market. Even historically, Kropotkin noted how in the Industrial Revolution the firms with the most longevity were those small, family-owned ones that were a major player in actual industrial production.

            • Thanks. Obviously I’m not familiar with all of these, so I will have to look into them, but at first glance, not all of them, if any, are market-based. A bartering system, for instance (which is what LETS really is) is not a market as I understand it, and most alternative currency systems seem not to be currencies at all, but just residual indicators of exchange value used for administrative purposes.

              To put the point a different way, I’m not yet convinced that a genuine free enterprise economy could survive for very long without becoming capitalist, other than perhaps under the very limited conditions of small-scale artisan and agrarian producers.

              But I will look further at the examples provided.

  1. Would Big Gabb* be interested in writing something on the long-running persecution of a thought-criminal? Libertarians should be interested in a story like this:

    None of us thought the totalitarian British state was done with Tommy Robinson yet, and now it’s been confirmed: The Crown Prosecution Service is considering retrying Tommy for the “assault” in prison.

    One thing that should be noted about the article below: it wasn’t simple boiling water that was going to be thrown on Tommy; it was boiling water with sugar dissolved in it, which in prison argot is known as “napalm”. The sugar adheres to the skin, and makes the resulting burns much more severe and painful. That’s what his Muslim assailant intended to use on Tommy.


    A section of the Jehovah’s Witness community are supporting him, but another section seem to want him killed in jail.

    *Who Is Watching You, don’t forget.

    • Tommy Robinson is a blue collar type, and I think that explains why hardly anybody cares what happens to him. The same applies to others, such as Emma West, who are hounded and pursued by the police like fugitives just for saying something “racist”. The Enemy Class have appointed themselves as the moral and civic superintendents of the uneducated masses, and this is a class war as much as a race war.

      • You’re right. But he’s been shamefully treated from a standard liberal point of view, let alone a libertarian one.

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