Libertarian-Socialism is about a mindset, not about a particular dogma that must be served. It is a way of thinking about America’s issues beyond the partisan paradigm that has this nation stuck on a swinging pendulum of the conservative/liberal battle. What I am calling libertarian-socialism is what helped me to finish the book, “Progressively Restoring America Greatness” about five years ago. Back then, I was really stuck on the Democrat-Republican divide. I had been trying to write things and couch them in a way that I thought people would believe was an objective analysis, but it seemed impossible because there was always a Democrat or a Republican in my head agreeing or objecting vehemently.
I could not finish the book…UNTIL a couple of other muses entered my head. What if a patriotic American, who was a libertarian, and a patriotic American, who is a socialist, were to be brought together? Recognizing that their country is in trouble and moved by their patriotism what would they talk about? Yes, one is a socialist and one is libertarian, but as patriots, they search for a compromise answer. Their Americanism keeps them together in their desire for the real answer. The ensuing conversation that exploded in my mind drove the previous book to completion.
Libertarian-Socialism is not the anarchic-communism that was described by French revolutionaries in the 18th or 19th century. Admittedly, I was warned by some that I would face opposition from intellectuals that libertarian-socialism was considered nothing more than historical anarchic-communism by the academic crowd. Libertarianism is not anarchy. Anarchy is anarchy and socialism is not communism, it is socialism. I would accept that perhaps anarchic-communism is what preceded the birth of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, where anarchy led to communism. However, anarchic-communism is not libertarian-socialism; it is the anarchy that leads to something like the old Soviet Union.
Libertarian-Socialism is about freeing one’s decision-making process from the partisan war. It is a framework for arriving at first what IS the problem and then what are the possible solutions as the patriotic libertarian and the patriotic socialist engage in their hypothetical debate. Each is driven by their ideologies, yes, but they are also guided by their patriotism. It is partisanship that makes America’s problems seem insoluble. Libertarian-Socialism can be a rose-colored prism through which to view American political issues. Imagining this dynamic conversation helped me past the obstacles preventing that first book from being completed. By the time I finished, “Progressively Restoring American Greatness”, I was already thinking I had to write this sequel that you are now reading, “Libertarian-Socialism”.
Many tell me I am a dreamer. Libertarian-Socialism is just another, feel-good, but impractical worldview. Many would say the same about pedaling to work on a bicycle, too. Many useful benefits at casual glance, but not very practical. However, I do commute on my bicycle and I have been doing it for the most of my adult life in the land of cars, Southern California. There is a lot of time to think out there pedaling in traffic. The framework of libertarian-socialism grew in clarity during the commutes.
For 30 years in traffic, I have been riding the bike. There are one hundred thousand pedaling miles on this body. Out there on the bike, I saw further confirmation of the essential truth of the libertarian-socialist point of view. The bicycle helped crystallize that truth for me. One reason why I ride my bike to work is that I feel free out there on my human powered vehicle. I can cut across a parking lot, ride on the sidewalk, jump a berm or otherwise make my own route on a bicycle. I bend, even break some traffic rules and do whatever I want to get where I want to go when I want to get there. The libertarianism of the bicycle is undeniable.
The police mostly ignore my lawbreaking ways and when they do not, I have had more than half of my bicycle tickets dismissed in court. It is very, very libertarian commuting on my bike in traffic. I have one hundred thousand miles while pedaling for 30 years in traffic in the Land of Cars. The aforementioned patriots in my head concurred that Anthony Watson is a magnificent bicycle rider. They also concluded that it does not matter how magnificent of a rider I am. I must depend on other drivers to not make a mistake and run me over for me to have survived this long. More importantly, I need these drivers to be able to adjust and avoid me when I make a mistake.
How is that possible? All these thousands of drivers, driving inches away from me, but I ride on. They have not run me over. They have not killed me, while I pursue my libertarian quest for freedom. They have not run me over, all these different people: a 90-year-old man, a 50-year-old grandmother and many 17 year-old teenagers are among the many souls that drove by me over these 30 years. They did not run me over and put their tread on my back.
In this state and in this nation, we have a system where we license people to drive vehicles. It seems to work pretty well. This socialist program of training and licensing individuals before allowing them to operate a motor vehicle works for me in my pursuit of my libertarian goals to be free. And, there it is: my first example of libertarian-socialism manifested in the real world.
During much of bicycle commuting I have used a flag on my bike to increase visibility. I used Gadsden Battle flag for many years, because it was yellow, it made me a little more visible in traffic. Plus the “Don’t Tread On Me” phrase was/is a cycling pun. That is how that version of the Gadsden Battle flag became the cover of this book.
The patriots in my head have kept up their discussions as I ride my bicycle through traffic. Libertarian-Socialism is everywhere compelling me to complete this book. The most successful aspects of America were created and executed with a libertarian-socialist vision, though unnamed as such. Libertarian-Socialism represents the possibility of a bright future for America.
Libertarian-Socialism is the light to show the way, but that light needs to be “powered” by enlightened debate. Civil discussion between patriots on how to go forward is the fuel for political reform in the United States. Libertarian-Socialism is a way of thinking about any given issue in the context of what is the problem and what is the solution sans any ideology? To make sure one is properly balancing issues, always imagine the discussion between the patriotic libertarian and the patriotic socialist.
My own personal political evolution fluctuated from Democrat to Republican, but I finally settled on Libertarian for most of my adult life. I was a small ‘L’ libertarian, but I did regularly cast my votes for Libertarian candidates throughout the end of the 20th century. The events of the 21st century pushed me toward a more socialist point of view however (…and gets me shouted out of libertarian meet-ups too). Nonetheless, my previous political leanings created this hybrid vision. Hence, this book mirrors my own internal political evolution that led toward this “ism” for the new century. As has had been said many times, no army, no power can withstand this…an idea whose time has come.