Roderick Long on Class Theory
Joining me today is Roderick Long. If you spend much time looking at C4SS’ work or any work in the market anarchist tradition in the last twenty years, you have likely come across Roderick’s work and surely something inspired by or responding to it. Dr. Long is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University, president of the Molinari Institute and Molinari Society, editor of The Industrial Radical and Molinari Review. He is a founding member of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, an original founding member of C4SS, and senior fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society. His work centers on the intersection of ethics, especially in the Aristotelian tradition, political philosophy, especially in the libertarian anarchist tradition, and philosophy of social science. You can find Long’s writing on his blog, the Austro-Athenian Empire, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and, of course, C4SS.org, among other places. Today’s discussion centers around Long’s work on libertarian class theory, as well as the normative concerns that rise out of such a theory on balancing distributive and relational justice concerns with individual liberty. As we will discuss, libertarian class theory sees a primary creator and enforcer of class distinctions as the state. This is a wide-ranging discussion that touches on the economic and sociological analysis on class theory at the heart of Roderick’s work on the issue, the empirical plausibility of such a theory, whether class distinctions of this sort would continue to exist under market anarchism, and the ethical and normative framework of justice that motivates this theory. Roderick draws from Aristotelian virtue ethics to bring the seeming contradictions between a concern for individual property rights and a concern for equal treatment of all in society into balance in interesting ways. This was an extremely good, informative discussion of the sort that C4SS has become quite well known for, and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed having it. Just to set the stage a little more, like our last episode with Will, this was recorded at the Eastern Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Roderick, through the Molinari society, organized a panel with himself, William Nava, Jason Lee Byas, and myself where we presented papers on new work in anarchist philosophy. The following day, Roderick and I went out to lunch, with a few others from the Center. We then went up to my hotel room and recorded this fun conversation off-the-cuff. I’m surprised it went so well with so little preparation. I also recorded our previous episode with Will Nava on political legitimacy that weekend, so if you haven’t I encourage you to go checkout that episode. But without further ado, here is my conversation with Roderick Long.