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Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology and social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and to value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group while opposing external interference upon one's own interests by society or institutions such as the government. Individualism is often defined in contrast to totalitarianism, collectivism and more corporate social forms.
Individualism makes the individual its focus and so starts "with the fundamental premise that the human individual is of primary importance in the struggle for liberation". Anarchism, existentialism, liberalism and libertarianism are examples of movements that take the human individual as a central unit of analysis. Individualism involves "the right of the individual to freedom and self-realization".
Individualism has been used as a term denoting "[t]he quality of being an individual; individuality", related to possessing "[a]n individual characteristic; a quirk". Individualism is also associated with artistic and bohemian interests and lifestyles where there is a tendency towards self-creation and experimentation as opposed to tradition or popular mass opinions and behaviors such as with humanist philosophical positions and ethics.
In the English language, the word individualism was first introduced as a pejorative by utopian socialists such as the Owenites in the late 1830s, although it is unclear if they were influenced by Saint-Simonianism or came up with it independently. A more positive use of the term in Britain came to be used with the writings of James Elishama Smith, who was a millenarian and a Christian Israelite. Although an early follower of Robert Owen, he eventually rejected its collective idea of property and found in individualism a "universalism" that allowed for the development of the "original genius". Without individualism, Smith argued that individuals cannot amass property to increase one's happiness. William Maccall, another Unitarian preacher and probably an acquaintance of Smith, came somewhat later, although influenced by John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle and German Romanticism, to the same positive conclusions in his 1847 work Elements of Individualism.
An individual is a person or any specific object in a collection. In the 15th century and earlier, and also today within the fields of statistics and metaphysics, individual means "indivisible", typically describing any numerically singular thing, but sometimes meaning "a person" as in "The problem of proper names". From the 17th century on, individual indicates separateness, as in individualism. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individuated being; a person separated from everything with unique character by possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires in comparison to other persons.
The principle of individuation, or principium individuationis, describes the manner in which a thing is identified as distinguished from other things. For Carl Jung, individuation is a process of transformation, whereby the personal and collective unconscious is brought into consciousness (by means of dreams, active imagination or free association to take examples) to be assimilated into the whole personality. It is a completely natural process necessary for the integration of the psyche to take place. Jung considered individuation to be the central process of human development. In L'individuation psychique et collective, Gilbert Simondon developed a theory of individual and collective individuation in which the individual subject is considered as an effect of individuation rather than a cause. Thus, the individual atom is replaced by a never-ending ontological process of individuation. Individuation is an always incomplete process, always leaving a "pre-individual" left-over, itself making possible future individuations. The philosophy of Bernard Stiegler draws upon and modifies the work of Gilbert Simondon on individuation and also upon similar ideas in Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. For Stiegler, "the I, as a psychic individual, can only be thought in relationship to we, which is a collective individual. The I is constituted in adopting a collective tradition, which it inherits and in which a plurality of I's acknowledge each other's existence."
Individualism and society
Individualism holds that a person taking part in society attempts to learn and discover what his or her own interests are on a personal basis, without a presumed following of the interests of a societal structure (an individualist need not be an egoist). The individualist does not necessarily follow one particular philosophy. He may create an amalgamation of elements of many philosophies, based on personal interests in particular aspects that he finds of use. On a societal level, the individualist participates on a personally structured political and moral ground. Independent thinking and opinion is a necessary trait of an individualist. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, claims that his concept of general will in The Social Contract is not the simple collection of individual wills and that it furthers the interests of the individual (the constraint of law itself would be beneficial for the individual, as the lack of respect for the law necessarily entails, in Rousseau's eyes, a form of ignorance and submission to one's passions instead of the preferred autonomy of reason).
Individualism versus collectivism is a common dichotomy in cross-cultural research. Global comparative studies have found that the world's cultures vary in the degree to which they emphasize individual autonomy, freedom and initiative (individualistic traits), respectively conformity to group norms, maintaining traditions and obedience to in-group authority (collectivistic traits). Cultural differences between individualism and collectivism are differences in degrees, not in kind. Cultural individualism is strongly correlated with GDP per capita. The cultures of economically developed regions such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, North America and Western Europe are the most individualistic in the world. Middle income regions such as Eastern Europe, South America and mainland East Asia have cultures which are neither very individualistic nor very collectivistic. The most collectivistic cultures in the world are from economically developing regions such as the Middle East and Northern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East Asia, Central Asia and Central America.
An earlier analysis by Ruth Benedict in her book The Chrysanthemum and the Sword states that societies and groups can differ in the extent to which they are based upon predominantly "self-regarding" (individualistic, and/or self-interested) behaviors, rather than "other-regarding" (group-oriented, and group, or society-minded) behaviors. Ruth Benedict made a distinction, relevant in this context, between guilt societies (e.g. medieval Europe) with an "internal reference standard" and shame societies (e.g. Japan, "bringing shame upon one's ancestors") with an "external reference standard", where people look to their peers for feedback on whether an action is acceptable or not.
Individualism is often contrasted either with totalitarianism or with collectivism, but there is a spectrum of behaviors at the societal level ranging from highly individualistic societies through mixed societies to collectivist.
According to an Oxford Dictionary, "competitive individualism" in sociology is "the view that achievement and non-achievement should depend on merit. Effort and ability are regarded as prerequisites of success. Competition is seen as an acceptable means of distributing limited resources and rewards.
Methodological individualism is the view that phenomena can only be understood by examining how they result from the motivations and actions of individual agents. In economics, people's behavior is explained in terms of rational choices, as constrained by prices and incomes. The economist accepts individuals' preferences as givens. Becker and Stigler provide a forceful statement of this view:
On the traditional view, an explanation of economic phenomena that reaches a difference in tastes between people or times is the terminus of the argument: the problem is abandoned at this point to whoever studies and explains tastes (psychologists? anthropologists? phrenologists? sociobiologists?). On our preferred interpretation, one never reaches this impasse: the economist continues to search for differences in prices or incomes to explain any differences or changes in behavior.
"With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."
Individualists are chiefly concerned with protecting individual autonomy against obligations imposed by social institutions (such as the state or religious morality). For L. Susan Brown, "Liberalism and anarchism are two political philosophies that are fundamentally concerned with individual freedom yet differ from one another in very distinct ways. Anarchism shares with liberalism a radical commitment to individual freedom while rejecting liberalism's competitive property relations."
Civil libertarianism is a strain of political thought that supports civil liberties, or which emphasizes the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms over and against any kind of authority (such as a state, a corporation and social norms imposed through peer pressure, among others). Civil libertarianism is not a complete ideology; rather, it is a collection of views on the specific issues of civil liberties and civil rights. Because of this, a civil libertarian outlook is compatible with many other political philosophies, and civil libertarianism is found on both the right and left in modern politics. For scholar Ellen Meiksins Wood, "there are doctrines of individualism that are opposed to Lockean individualism [...] and non-Lockean individualism may encompass socialism".
British historians such as Emily Robinson, Camilla Schofield, Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Natalie Thomlinson have argued that Britons were keen about defining and claiming their individual rights, identities and perspectives by the 1970s, demanding greater personal autonomy and self-determination and less outside control, angrily complaining that the establishment was withholding it. Historians argue that this shift in concerns helped cause Thatcherism and was incorporated into Thatcherism's appeal.
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Within anarchism, individualist anarchism represents several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and their will over any kinds of external determinants such as groups, society, traditions and ideological systems. Individualist anarchism is not a single philosophy but refers to a group of individualistic philosophies that sometimes are in conflict.
In 1793, William Godwin, who has often been cited as the first anarchist, wrote Political Justice, which some consider to be the first expression of anarchism. Godwin, a philosophical anarchist, from a rationalist and utilitarian basis opposed revolutionary action and saw a minimal state as a present "necessary evil" that would become increasingly irrelevant and powerless by the gradual spread of knowledge. Godwin advocated individualism, proposing that all cooperation in labour be eliminated on the premise that this would be most conducive with the general good.
An influential form of individualist anarchism called egoism, or egoist anarchism, was expounded by one of the earliest and best-known proponents of individualist anarchism, the German Max Stirner. Stirner's The Ego and Its Own, published in 1844, is a founding text of the philosophy. According to Stirner, the only limitation on the rights of the individual is their power to obtain what they desire, without regard for God, state, or morality. To Stirner, rights were spooks in the mind, and he held that society does not exist but "the individuals are its reality". Stirner advocated self-assertion and foresaw unions of egoists, non-systematic associations continually renewed by all parties' support through an act of will, which Stirner proposed as a form of organization in place of the state. Egoist anarchists claim that egoism will foster genuine and spontaneous union between individuals. Egoist anarchism has inspired many interpretations of Stirner's philosophy. It was re-discovered and promoted by German philosophical anarchist and LGBT activist John Henry Mackay.
Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist and The Peaceful Revolutionist, the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, was the first anarchist periodical published. For American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster, "[i]t is apparent [...] that Proudhonian Anarchism was to be found in the United States at least as early as 1848 and that it was not conscious of its affinity to the Individualist Anarchism of Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. [...] William B. Greene presented this Proudhonian Mutualism in its purest and most systematic form". Henry David Thoreau was an important early influence in individualist anarchist thought in the United States and Europe. Thoreau was an American author, poet, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher and leading transcendentalist, who is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. Later, Benjamin Tucker fused Stirner's egoism with the economics of Warren and Proudhon in his eclectic influential publication Liberty.
From these early influences, anarchism and especially individualist anarchism was related to the issues of love and sex. In different countries, this attracted a small but diverse following of bohemian artists and intellectuals, free love and birth control advocates, individualist naturists nudists as in anarcho-naturism, freethought and anti-clerical activists as well as young anarchist outlaws in what came to be known as illegalism and individual reclamation, especially within European individualist anarchism and individualist anarchism in France. These authors and activists included Oscar Wilde, Émile Armand, Han Ryner, Henri Zisly, Renzo Novatore, Miguel Giménez Igualada, Adolf Brand and Lev Chernyi among others. In his important essay The Soul of Man Under Socialism from 1891, Wilde defended socialism as the way to guarantee individualism and so he saw that "[w]ith the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all". For anarchist historian George Woodcock, "Wilde's aim in The Soul of Man Under Socialism is to seek the society most favorable to the artist. [...] for Wilde art is the supreme end, containing within itself enlightenment and regeneration, to which all else in society must be subordinated. [...] Wilde represents the anarchist as aesthete". Woodcock finds that "[t]he most ambitious contribution to literary anarchism during the 1890s was undoubtedly Oscar Wilde The Soul of Man Under Socialism" and finds that it is influenced mainly by the thought of William Godwin.
Autarchism promotes the principles of individualism, the moral ideology of individual liberty and self-reliance whilst rejecting compulsory government and supporting the elimination of government in favor of ruling oneself to the exclusion of rule by others. Robert LeFevre, a "self-proclaimed autarchist", recognized by anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard, distinguished autarchism from anarchy, whose economics he felt entailed interventions contrary to freedom in contrast to his own laissez-faire economics of the Austrian School.
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Liberalism is the belief in the importance of individual freedom. This belief is widely accepted in the United States, Europe, Australia and other Western nations, and was recognized as an important value by many Western philosophers throughout history, in particular since the Enlightenment. It is often rejected by collectivist, Abrahamic or Confucian in civilized societies, although Taoists were and are known to be individualists. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote praising "the idea of a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed".
Liberalism has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment and rejects many foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, and established religion. John Locke is often credited with the philosophical foundations of classical liberalism. He wrote "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions."
In the 17th century, liberal ideas began to influence European governments in nations such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, England and Poland, but they were strongly opposed, often by armed might, by those who favored absolute monarchy and established religion. In the 18th century, the first modern liberal state was founded without a monarch or a hereditary aristocracy in America. The American Declaration of Independence includes the words which echo Locke that "all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to insure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Egoist anarchism is a school of anarchist thought that originated in the philosophy of Max Stirner, a 19th-century Hegelian philosopher whose "name appears with familiar regularity in historically orientated surveys of anarchist thought as one of the earliest and best-known exponents of individualist anarchism." According to Stirner, the only limitation on the rights of the individual is their power to obtain what they desire, without regard for God, state, or morality. Stirner advocated self-assertion and foresaw unions of egoists, non-systematic associations continually renewed by all parties' support through an act of will which Stirner proposed as a form of organisation in place of the state.
Egoist anarchists argue that egoism will foster genuine and spontaneous union between individuals. Egoism has inspired many interpretations of Stirner's philosophy, but it has also gone beyond Stirner within anarchism. It was re-discovered and promoted by German philosophical anarchist and LGBT activist John Henry Mackay. John Beverley Robinson wrote an essay called "Egoism" in which he states that "Modern egoism, as propounded by Stirner and Nietzsche, and expounded by Ibsen, Shaw and others, is all these; but it is more. It is the realization by the individual that they are an individual; that, as far as they are concerned, they are the only individual." Stirner and Nietzsche, who exerted influence on anarchism despite its opposition, were frequently compared by French "literary anarchists" and anarchist interpretations of Nietzschean ideas appear to have also been influential in the United States. Anarchists who adhered to egoism include Benjamin Tucker, Émile Armand, John Beverley Robinson, Adolf Brand, Steven T. Byington, Renzo Novatore, James L. Walker, Enrico Arrigoni, Biofilo Panclasta, Jun Tsuji and André Arru as well as contemporary ones such as Hakim Bey, Bob Black and Wolfi Landstreicher.
Ethical egoism, also called simply egoism, is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. It differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people do only act in their self-interest. Ethical egoism also differs from rational egoism which holds merely that it is rational to act in one's self-interest. However, these doctrines may occasionally be combined with ethical egoism.
Ethical egoism contrasts with ethical altruism, which holds that moral agents have an obligation to help and serve others. Egoism and altruism both contrast with ethical utilitarianism, which holds that a moral agent should treat one's self (also known as the subject) with no higher regard than one has for others (as egoism does, by elevating self-interests and "the self" to a status not granted to others), but that one also should not (as altruism does) sacrifice one's own interests to help others' interests, so long as one's own interests (i.e. one's own desires or well-being) are substantially-equivalent to the others' interests and well-being. Egoism, utilitarianism, and altruism are all forms of consequentialism, but egoism and altruism contrast with utilitarianism, in that egoism and altruism are both agent-focused forms of consequentialism (i.e. subject-focused or subjective), but utilitarianism is called agent-neutral (i.e. objective and impartial) as it does not treat the subject's (i.e. the self's, i.e. the moral "agent's") own interests as being more or less important than if the same interests, desires, or well-being were anyone else's.
Ethical egoism does not require moral agents to harm the interests and well-being of others when making moral deliberation, e.g. what is in an agent's self-interest may be incidentally detrimental, beneficial, or neutral in its effect on others. Individualism allows for others' interest and well-being to be disregarded or not as long as what is chosen is efficacious in satisfying the self-interest of the agent. Nor does ethical egoism necessarily entail that in pursuing self-interest one ought always to do what one wants to do, e.g. in the long term the fulfilment of short-term desires may prove detrimental to the self. Fleeting pleasance then takes a back seat to protracted eudaemonia. In the words of James Rachels, "[e]thical egoism [...] endorses selfishness, but it doesn't endorse foolishness."
Ethical egoism is sometimes the philosophical basis for support of libertarianism or individualist anarchism as in Max Stirner, although these can also be based on altruistic motivations. These are political positions based partly on a belief that individuals should not coercively prevent others from exercising freedom of action.
Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who generally held, despite profound doctrinal differences, that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of existence of the individual person and his or her emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts. The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, posthumously regarded as the father of existentialism, maintained that the individual solely has the responsibilities of giving one's own life meaning and living that life passionately and sincerely, in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation and boredom.
Subsequent existential philosophers retain the emphasis on the individual, but differ in varying degrees on how one achieves and what constitutes a fulfilling life, what obstacles must be overcome, and what external and internal factors are involved, including the potential consequences of the existence or non-existence of God. Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophy in both style and content as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience. Existentialism became fashionable after World War II as a way to reassert the importance of human individuality and freedom.
Freethought holds that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend and all other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to scientifically validate the existence of supernatural phenomena.
Humanism is a perspective common to a wide range of ethical stances that attaches importance to human dignity, concerns, and capabilities, particularly rationality. Although the word has many senses, its meaning comes into focus when contrasted to the supernatural or to appeals to authority. Since the 19th century, humanism has been associated with an anti-clericalism inherited from the 18th-century Enlightenment philosophes. 21st century Humanism tends to strongly endorse human rights, including reproductive rights, gender equality, social justice, and the separation of church and state. The term covers organized non-theistic religions, secular humanism, and a humanistic life stance.
Philosophical hedonism is a meta-ethical theory of value which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good and pain is the only intrinsic bad. The basic idea behind hedonistic thought is that pleasure (an umbrella term for all inherently likable emotions) is the only thing that is good in and of itself or by its very nature. This implies evaluating the moral worth of character or behavior according to the extent that the pleasure it produces exceeds the pain it entails.
A libertine is one devoid of most moral restraints, which are seen as unnecessary or undesirable, especially one who ignores or even spurns accepted morals and forms of behaviour sanctified by the larger society. Libertines place value on physical pleasures, meaning those experienced through the senses. As a philosophy, libertinism gained new-found adherents in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, particularly in France and Great Britain. Notable among these were John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and the Marquis de Sade. During the Baroque era in France, there existed a freethinking circle of philosophers and intellectuals who were collectively known as libertinage érudit and which included Gabriel Naudé, Élie Diodati and François de La Mothe Le Vayer. The critic Vivian de Sola Pinto linked John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester's libertinism to Hobbesian materialism.
Objectivism is a system of philosophy created by philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand which holds that reality exists independent of consciousness; human beings gain knowledge rationally from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic; the moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest. Rand thinks the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez-faire capitalism; and the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally. Objectivism celebrates man as his own hero, "with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
Philosophical anarchism is an anarchist school of thought which contends that the state lacks moral legitimacy. In contrast to revolutionary anarchism, philosophical anarchism does not advocate violent revolution to eliminate it but advocates peaceful evolution to superate it. Although philosophical anarchism does not necessarily imply any action or desire for the elimination of the state, philosophical anarchists do not believe that they have an obligation or duty to obey the state, or conversely that the state has a right to command.
Philosophical anarchism is a component especially of individualist anarchism. Philosophical anarchists of historical note include Mohandas Gandhi, William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Max Stirner, Benjamin Tucker and Henry David Thoreau. Contemporary philosophical anarchists include A. John Simmons and Robert Paul Wolff.
Subjectivism is a philosophical tenet that accords primacy to subjective experience as fundamental of all measure and law. In extreme forms such as solipsism, it may hold that the nature and existence of every object depends solely on someone's subjective awareness of it. In the proposition 5.632 of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: "The subject doesn't belong to the world, but it is a limit of the world". Metaphysical subjectivism is the theory that reality is what we perceive to be real, and that there is no underlying true reality that exists independently of perception. One can also hold that it is consciousness rather than perception that is reality (subjective idealism). In probability, a subjectivism stands for the belief that probabilities are simply degrees-of-belief by rational agents in a certain proposition and which have no objective reality in and of themselves.
Ethical subjectivism stands in opposition to moral realism, which claims that moral propositions refer to objective facts, independent of human opinion; to error theory, which denies that any moral propositions are true in any sense; and to non-cognitivism, which denies that moral sentences express propositions at all. The most common forms of ethical subjectivism are also forms of moral relativism, with moral standards held to be relative to each culture or society, i.e. cultural relativism, or even to every individual. The latter view, as put forward by Protagoras, holds that there are as many distinct scales of good and evil as there are subjects in the world. Moral subjectivism is that species of moral relativism that relativizes moral value to the individual subject.
Horst Matthai Quelle was a Spanish language German anarchist philosopher influenced by Max Stirner. Quelle argued that since the individual gives form to the world, he is those objects, the others and the whole universe. One of his main views was a "theory of infinite worlds" which for him was developed by pre-socratic philosophers.
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. The term comes from Latin solus ("alone") and ipse ("self"). Solipsism as an epistemological position holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure. The external world and other minds cannot be known, and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist. Solipsism is the only epistemological position that, by its own postulate, is both irrefutable and yet indefensible in the same manner. Although the number of individuals sincerely espousing solipsism has been small, it is not uncommon for one philosopher to accuse another's arguments of entailing solipsism as an unwanted consequence, in a kind of reductio ad absurdum. In the history of philosophy, solipsism has served as a skeptical hypothesis.
The doctrine of economic individualism holds that each individual should be allowed autonomy in making his or her own economic decisions as opposed to those decisions being made by the community, the corporation or the state for him or her.
Liberalism is a political ideology that developed in the 19th century in the Americas, England and Western Europe. It followed earlier forms of liberalism in its commitment to personal freedom and popular government, but differed from earlier forms of liberalism in its commitment to classical economics and free markets.
Notable liberals in the 19th century include Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo. Classical liberalism, sometimes also used as a label to refer to all forms of liberalism before the 20th century, was revived in the 20th century by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek and further developed by Milton Friedman, Robert Nozick, Loren Lomasky and Jan Narveson.
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Libertarianism upholds liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, emphasizing free association, freedom of choice, individualism and voluntary association. Libertarianism shares a skepticism of authority and state power, but libertarians diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions. Different categorizations have been used to distinguish various forms of libertarianism. This is done to distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines.
Left-libertarianism represents several related yet distinct approaches to politics, society, culture and political and social theory which stress both individual and political freedom alongside social justice. Unlike right-libertarians, left-libertarians believe that neither claiming nor mixing one's labor with natural resources is enough to generate full private property rights, and maintain that natural resources (land, oil, gold, trees) ought to be held in some egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively. Those left-libertarians who support property do so under different property norms and theories, or under the condition that recompense is offered to the local or global community.
Related terms include egalitarian libertarianism, left-wing libertarianism, libertarianism, libertarian socialism, social libertarianism and socialist libertarianism. Left-libertarianism can refer generally to these related and overlapping schools of thought:
- Anti-authoritarian varieties of left-wing politics, in particular within the socialist movement, usually known as libertarian socialism.
- Geolibertarianism, an American synthesis of libertarianism and Georgism.
- Left-wing market anarchism, stressing the socially transformative potential of non-aggression and anti-capitalist freed markets.
- Steiner–Vallentyne school, named after Hillel Steiner and Peter Vallentyne, whose proponents draw conclusions from classical liberal or market liberal premises.
Right-libertarianism represents either non-collectivist forms of libertarianism or a variety of different libertarian views that scholars label to the right of libertarianism such as libertarian conservatism. Related terms include conservative libertarianism, libertarian capitalism and right-wing libertarianism. In the mid-20th century, right-libertarian ideologies such as anarcho-capitalism and minarchism co-opted the term libertarian to advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights such as in land, infrastructure and natural resources. The latter is the dominant form of libertarianism in the United States, where it advocates civil liberties, natural law, free-market capitalism and a major reversal of the modern welfare state.
In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Peter Vallentyne calls it right libertarianism, but he further states: "Libertarianism is often thought of as 'right-wing' doctrine. This, however, is mistaken for at least two reasons. First, on social—rather than economic—issues, libertarianism tends to be 'left-wing'. It opposes laws that restrict consensual and private sexual relationships between adults (e.g., gay sex, non-marital sex, and deviant sex), laws that restrict drug use, laws that impose religious views or practices on individuals, and compulsory military service. Second, in addition to the better-known version of libertarianism—right-libertarianism—there is also a version known as 'left-libertarianism'. Both endorse full self-ownership, but they differ with respect to the powers agents have to appropriate unappropriated natural resources (land, air, water, etc.)."
With regard to economic questions within individualist socialist schools such as individualist anarchism, there are adherents to mutualism (Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Émile Armand and early Benjamin Tucker); natural rights positions (early Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner and Josiah Warren); and egoistic disrespect for "ghosts" such as private property and markets (Max Stirner, John Henry Mackay, Lev Chernyi, later Benjamin Tucker, Renzo Novatore and illegalism). Contemporary individualist anarchist Kevin Carson characterizes American individualist anarchism saying that "[u]nlike the rest of the socialist movement, the individualist anarchists believed that the natural wage of labor in a free market was its product, and that economic exploitation could only take place when capitalists and landlords harnessed the power of the state in their interests. Thus, individualist anarchism was an alternative both to the increasing statism of the mainstream socialist movement, and to a classical liberal movement that was moving toward a mere apologetic for the power of big business."
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Libertarian socialism, sometimes dubbed left-libertarianism and socialist libertarianism, is an anti-authoritarian, anti-statist and libertarian tradition within the socialist movement that rejects the state socialist conception of socialism as a statist form where the state retains centralized control of the economy. Libertarian socialists criticize wage slavery relationships within the workplace, emphasizing workers' self-management of the workplace and decentralized structures of political organization.
Libertarian socialism asserts that a society based on freedom and justice can be achieved through abolishing authoritarian institutions that control certain means of production and subordinate the majority to an owning class or political and economic elite. Libertarian socialists advocate for decentralized structures based on direct democracy and federal or confederal associations such as libertarian municipalism, citizens' assemblies, trade unions and workers' councils.
All of this is generally done within a general call for liberty and free association through the identification, criticism and practical dismantling of illegitimate authority in all aspects of human life. Within the larger socialist movement, libertarian socialism seeks to distinguish itself from Leninism and social democracy.
Past and present currents and movements commonly described as libertarian socialist include anarchism (especially anarchist schools of thought such as anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, collectivist anarchism, green anarchism, individualist anarchism, mutualism, and social anarchism) as well as communalism, some forms of democratic socialism, guild socialism, libertarian Marxism (autonomism, council communism, left communism, and Luxemburgism, among others), participism, revolutionary syndicalism and some versions of utopian socialism.
Mutualism is an anarchist school of thought which can be traced to the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who envisioned a socialist society where each person possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market. Integral to the scheme was the establishment of a mutual-credit bank which would lend to producers at a minimal interest rate only high enough to cover the costs of administration. Mutualism is based on a labor theory of value which holds that when labor or its product is sold, it ought to receive goods or services in exchange embodying "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility" and that receiving anything less would be considered exploitation, theft of labor, or usury.
As creative independent lifestyle
The anarchist writer and bohemian Oscar Wilde wrote in his famous essay The Soul of Man under Socialism that "Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine." For anarchist historian George Woodcock, "Wilde's aim in The Soul of Man under Socialism is to seek the society most favorable to the artist, [...] for Wilde art is the supreme end, containing within itself enlightenment and regeneration, to which all else in society must be subordinated. [...] Wilde represents the anarchist as aesthete." In this way, individualism has been used to denote a personality with a strong tendency towards self-creation and experimentation as opposed to tradition or popular mass opinions and behaviors.
Anarchist writer Murray Bookchin describes a lot of individualist anarchists as people who "expressed their opposition in uniquely personal forms, especially in fiery tracts, outrageous behavior, and aberrant lifestyles in the cultural ghettos of fin de siècle New York, Paris, and London. As a credo, individualist anarchism remained largely a bohemian lifestyle, most conspicuous in its demands for sexual freedom ('free love') and enamored of innovations in art, behavior, and clothing."
In relation to this view of individuality, French individualist anarchist Émile Armand advocated egoistical denial of social conventions and dogmas to live in accord to one's own ways and desires in daily life since he emphasized anarchism as a way of life and practice. In this way, he opined that "the anarchist individualist tends to reproduce himself, to perpetuate his spirit in other individuals who will share his views and who will make it possible for a state of affairs to be established from which authoritarianism has been banished. It is this desire, this will, not only to live, but also to reproduce oneself, which we shall call 'activity.'"
In the book Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism, humanist philosopher Tzvetan Todorov identifies individualism as an important current of socio-political thought within modernity and as examples of it he mentions Michel de Montaigne, François de La Rochefoucauld, Marquis de Sade, and Charles Baudelaire. In La Rochefoucauld, he identifies a tendency similar to stoicism in which "the honest person works his being in the manner of a sculptor who searches the liberation of the forms which are inside a block of marble, to extract the truth of that matter." In Baudelaire, he finds the dandy trait in which one searches to cultivate "the idea of beauty within oneself, of satisfying one's passions of feeling and thinking."
The Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky once wrote that "[t]he surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you will—eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn't be happy with." Ralph Waldo Emerson famously declared that "[w]hoso would be a man must be a nonconformist"—a point of view developed at length in both the life and work of Henry David Thoreau. Equally memorable and influential on Walt Whitman is Emerson's idea that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Emerson opposed on principle the reliance on civil and religious social structures precisely because through them the individual approaches the divine second-hand, mediated by the once original experience of a genius from another age. According to Emerson, "[an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man." To achieve this original relation, Emerson stated that one must "[i]nsist on one's self; never imitate", for if the relationship is secondary the connection is lost.
People in Western countries tend to be more individualistic than communitarian. The authors of one study proposed that this difference is due in part to the influence of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. They pointed specifically to its bans on incest, cousin marriage, adoption, and remarriage, and its promotion of the nuclear family over the extended family.
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- "Paralelamente, al otro lado del atlántico, en el diferente contexto de una nación a medio hacer, los Estados Unidos, otros filósofos elaboraron un pensamiento individualista similar, aunque con sus propias especificidades. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), uno de los escritores próximos al movimiento de la filosofía trascendentalista, es uno de los más conocidos. Su obra más representativa es Walden, aparecida en 1854, aunque redactada entre 1845 y 1847, cuando Thoreau decide instalarse en el aislamiento de una cabaña en el bosque, y vivir en íntimo contacto con la naturaleza, en una vida de soledad y sobriedad. De esta experiencia, su filosofía trata de transmitirnos la idea que resulta necesario un retorno respetuoso a la naturaleza, y que la felicidad es sobre todo fruto de la riqueza interior y de la armonía de los individuos con el entorno natural. Muchos han visto en Thoreau a uno de los precursores del ecologismo y del anarquismo primitivista representado en la actualidad por Jonh Zerzan. Para George Woodcock, esta actitud puede estar también motivada por una cierta idea de resistencia al progreso y de rechazo al materialismo creciente que caracteriza la sociedad norteamericana de mediados de siglo XIX.""Voluntary non-submission. Spanish individualist anarchism during dictatorship and the second republic (1923–1938)" Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
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- "Los anarco-individualistas, G.I.A...Una escisión de la FAI producida en el IX Congreso (Carrara, 1965) se pr odujo cuando un sector de anarquistas de tendencia humanista rechazan la interpretación que ellos juzgan disciplinaria del pacto asociativo" clásico, y crean los GIA (Gruppi di Iniziativa Anarchica) . Esta pequeña federación de grupos, hoy nutrida sobre todo de veteranos anarco-individualistas de orientación pacifista, naturista, etcétera defiende la autonomía personal y rechaza a rajatabla toda forma de intervención en los procesos del sistema, como sería por ejemplo el sindicalismo. Su portavoz es L'Internazionale con sede en Ancona. La escisión de los GIA prefiguraba, en sentido contrario, el gran debate que pronto había de comenzar en el seno del movimiento""El movimiento libertario en Italia" by Bicicleta. REVISTA DE COMUNICACIONES LIBERTARIAS Year 1 No. Noviembre, 1 1977 Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- "Proliferarán así diversos grupos que practicarán el excursionismo, el naturismo, el nudismo, la emancipación sexual o el esperantismo, alrededor de asociaciones informales vinculadas de una manera o de otra al anarquismo. Precisamente las limitaciones a las asociaciones obreras impuestas desde la legislación especial de la Dictadura potenciarán indirectamente esta especie de asociacionismo informal en que confluirá el movimiento anarquista con esta heterogeneidad de prácticas y tendencias. Uno de los grupos más destacados, que será el impulsor de la revista individualista Ética será el Ateneo Naturista Ecléctico, con sede en Barcelona, con sus diferentes secciones la más destacada de las cuales será el grupo excursionista Sol y Vida.""La insumisión voluntaria: El anarquismo individualista español durante la Dictadura y la Segunda República (1923–1938)" by Xavier Díez Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- "Les anarchistes individualistes du début du siècle l'avaient bien compris, et intégraient le naturisme dans leurs préoccupations. Il est vraiment dommage que ce discours se soit peu à peu effacé, d'antan plus que nous assistons, en ce moment, à un retour en force du puritanisme (conservateur par essence).""Anarchisme et naturisme, aujourd'hui." by Cathy Ytak Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
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humanism n. 1 a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. 2 a Renaissance cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought.Typically, abridgments of this definition omit all senses except #1, such as in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Collins Essential English Dictionary, and Webster's Concise Dictionary. New York: RHR Press. 2001. p. 177.
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Secular and Religious Humanists both share the same worldview and the same basic principles... From the standpoint of philosophy alone, there is no difference between the two. It is only in the definition of religion and in the practice of the philosophy that Religious and Secular Humanists effectively disagree.
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- Tucker said, "the fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labour, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labour by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labour. . . . And to such a state of things I am as much opposed as any one. But the minute you remove privilege. . . every man will be a labourer exchanging with fellow-labourers . . . What Anarchistic-Socialism aims to abolish is usury . . . it wants to deprive capital of its reward."Benjamin Tucker. Instead of a Book, p. 404
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[L]ibertarianism, political philosophy that takes individual liberty to be the primary political value.
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[F]or the very nature of the libertarian attitude—its rejection of dogma, its deliberate avoidance of rigidly systematic theory, and, above all, its stress on extreme freedom of choice and on the primacy of the individual judgement [sic].
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- Carlson, Jennifer D. (2012). "Libertarianism". In Miller, Wilburn R., ed. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America. London: SAGE Publications. p. 1006. ISBN 978-1412988766. "There exist three major camps in libertarian thought: right-libertarianism, socialist libertariaism, and left-lbertarianism; the extent to which these represent distinct ideologies as opposed to variations on a theme is contrasted by scholars. Regardless, these factions differ most pronouncedly with respect to private property."
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- Carson, Kevin (8 November 2015). "Are We All Mutualists?" Center for a Stateless Society. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
- Gillis, William (29 November 2015). "The Organic Emergence of Property from Reputation". Center for a Stateless Society. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- Bylund, Per (2005). Man and Matter: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Justification of Ownership in Land from the Basis of Self-Ownership (PDF). LUP Student Papers (master's thesis). Lund University. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Long, Roderick T. (2006). "Land-locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights" (PDF). Journal of Libertarian Studies. 20 (1): 87–95.
- Verhaegh, Marcus (2006). "Rothbard as a Political Philosopher" (PDF). Journal of Libertarian Studies. 20 (4): 3.
- Sundstrom, William A. (16 May 2002). "An Egalitarian-Libertarian Manifesto". Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- Sullivan, Mark A. (July 2003). "Why the Georgist Movement Has Not Succeeded: A Personal Response to the Question Raised by Warren J. Samuels". American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 62 (3): 612.
- Spitz, Jean-Fabien (March 2006). "Left-wing libertarianism: equality based on self-ownership". Cairn-int.info. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
- Bookchin, Murray (January 1986). "The Greening of Politics: Toward a New Kind of Political Practice". Green Perspectives: Newsletter of the Green Program Project (1).
- Bookchin, Murray; Biehl, Janet (1997). The Murray Bookchin Reader. New York: Cassell. p. 170.
- Long, Roderick T. (2012). "The Rise of Social Anarchism". In Gaus, Gerald F.; D'Agostino, Fred, eds. The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy. p. 223.
- Grunberg, Gérard; Schweisguth, Etienne; Boy, Daniel; Mayer, Nonna, eds. (1993). The French Voter Decides. "Social Libertarianism and Economic Liberalism". University of Michigan Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-472-10438-3
- Carlson, Jennifer D. (2012). "Libertarianism". In Miller, Wilbur R. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia. SAGE Publications. pp. 1006–1007.
- Foldvart, Fred E. "Geoism and Libertarianism". The Progress Report. Progress.org. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- DeCoster, Karen (19 April 2006). "Henry George and the Tariff Question". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
- Sheldon Richman (3 February 2011). "Libertarian Left: Free-market anti-capitalism, the unknown ideal". The American Conservative. Archived 10 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Chartier, Gary; Johnson, Charles W. (2011). Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty. Brooklyn: Minor Compositions/Autonomedia. pp. 1–11. ISBN 978-1570272424.
- Zwolinski, Matt (9 January 2013). "Markets Not Capitalism". Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
- Will Kymlicka (2005). "libertarianism, left-". In Ted Honderich (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. New York City: Oxford University Press.
- Olsaretti, Serena (2004). Liberty, Desert and the Market: A Philosophical Study. Cambridge University Press. pp. 14, 88, 100.
- Graham, Paul; Hoffman, John (September 13, 2003). An Introduction to Political Theory. Routledge. p. 93. ISBN 978-1-3178-6342-7.
A distinction is made between right libertarianism and left libertarianism. Self-ownership is the starting point for all libertarians, but right and left libertarians divide over the implications for the ownership of external things from the self-ownership premise.
- Vallentyne, Peter (February 12, 2007). "Libertarianism and the State". In Frankel Paul, Ellen; Miller Jr., Fred; Paul, Jeffrey (eds.). Liberalism: Old and New. 24. Cambridge University Press. pp. 187–205. ISBN 978-0-521-70305-5.
The best known form of libertarianism—right-libertarianism—is a version of classical liberalism, but there is also a form of libertarianism—left-libertarianism—that combines classical liberalism's concern for individual liberty with contemporary liberalism's robust concern for material equality.
- Heywood, Andrew (2015). Key Concepts in Politics and International Relations: Palgrave Key Concepts. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-1374-9477-1.
- Graber, Mark A. (1991). Transforming Free Speech: The Ambiguous Legacy of Civil Libertarianism. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 18. ISBN 9780520913134.
- Narveson, Jan (2001). The Libertarian Idea (revised ed.). Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press. p. 8. ISBN 9781551114217.
- Passavent, Paul (2003). No Escape: Freedom of Speech and the Paradox of Rights. New York City, New York: New York University Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780814766965.
- Reiman, Jeffrey H. (2005). "The Fallacy of Libertarian Capitalism". Ethics. 10 (1): 85–95. doi:10.1086/292300. JSTOR 2380706. S2CID 170927490.
- Goodway, David (2006). Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 4. "'Libertarian' and 'libertarianism' are frequently employed by anarchists as synonyms for 'anarchist' and 'anarchism', largely as an attempt to distance themselves from the negative connotations of 'anarchy' and its derivatives. The situation has been vastly complicated in recent decades with the rise of anarcho-capitalism, 'minimal statism' and an extreme right-wing laissez-faire philosophy advocated by such theorists as Rothbard and Nozick and their adoption of the words 'libertarian' and 'libertarianism'. It has therefore now become necessary to distinguish between their right libertarianism and the left libertarianism of the anarchist tradition".
- Marshall, Peter (2008). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. London: Harper Perennial. p. 565. "The problem with the term 'libertarian' is that it is now also used by the Right. [...] In its moderate form, right libertarianism embraces laissez-faire liberals like Robert Nozick who call for a minimal State, and in its extreme form, anarcho-capitalists like Murray Rothbard and David Friedman who entirely repudiate the role of the State and look to the market as a means of ensuring social order".
- Fernandez, Frank (2001). Cuban Anarchism. The History of a Movement. Sharp Press. p. 9. "Thus, in the United States, the once exceedingly useful term 'libertarian' has been hijacked by egotists who are in fact enemies of liberty in the full sense of the word."
- Rothbard, Murray (2009) . The Betrayal of the American Right (PDF). Mises Institute. p. 83. ISBN 978-1610165013.
One gratifying aspect of our rise to some prominence is that, for the first time in my memory, we, 'our side,' had captured a crucial word from the enemy. 'Libertarians' had long been simply a polite word for left-wing anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over.
- Hussain, Syed B. (2004). Encyclopedia of Capitalism, Volume 2. New York: Facts on File Inc. p. 492. ISBN 0816052247.
In the modern world, political ideologies are largely defined by their attitude towards capitalism. Marxists want to overthrow it, liberals to curtail it extensively, conservatives to curtail it moderately. Those who maintain that capitalism is an excellent economic system, unfairly maligned, with little or no need for corrective government policy, are generally known as libertarians.
- Rothbard, Murray (1 March 1971). "The Left and Right Within Libertarianism". WIN: Peace and Freedom Through Nonviolent Action. 7 (4): 6–10. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
- Miller, Fred (15 August 2008). "Natural Law". The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
- Boaz, David (12 April 2019). "Key Concepts of Libertarianism". Cato Institute. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
- "What Is Libertarian". Institute for Humane Studies. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
- Baradat, Leon P. (2015). Political Ideologies. Routledge. p. 31. ISBN 978-1317345558.
- Vallentyne, Peter (24 July 2006). "Libertarianism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
- Kevin Carson. Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective. BOOKSURGE. 2008. p. 1
- Bookchin, Murray and Janet Biehl. The Murray Bookchin Reader. Cassell, 1997. p. 170 ISBN 0-304-33873-7
- Hicks, Steven V. and Daniel E. Shannon. The American journal of economics and sociology. Blackwell Pub, 2003. p. 612
- Miller, Wilbur R. (2012). The social history of crime and punishment in America. An encyclopedia. 5 vols. London: Sage Publications. p. 1007. ISBN 1412988764. "There exist three major camps in libertarian thought: right-libertarianism, socialist libertarianism, and ..."
- "It implies a classless and anti-authoritarian (i.e. libertarian) society in which people manage their own affairs" I.1 Isn't libertarian socialism an oxymoron? Archived 2017-11-16 at the Wayback Machine at An Anarchist FAQ
- "unlike other socialists, they tend to see (to various different degrees, depending on the thinker) to be skeptical of centralized state intervention as the solution to capitalist exploitation..." Roderick T. Long. "Toward a libertarian theory of class." Social Philosophy and Policy. Volume 15. Issue 02. Summer 1998. Pg. 305
- "So, libertarian socialism rejects the idea of state ownership and control of the economy, along with the state as such. Through workers' self-management it proposes to bring an end to authority, exploitation, and hierarchy in production." "I1. Isn't libertarian socialism an oxymoron" in Archived 2017-11-16 at the Wayback Machine An Anarchist FAQ
- "Therefore, rather than being an oxymoron, "libertarian socialism" indicates that true socialism must be libertarian and that a libertarian who is not a socialist is a phoney. As true socialists oppose wage labour, they must also oppose the state for the same reasons. Similarly, libertarians must oppose wage labour for the same reasons they must oppose the state." "I1. Isn't libertarian socialism an oxymoron" in Archived 2017-11-16 at the Wayback Machine An Anarchist FAQ
- "Their analysis treats libertarian socialism as a form of anti-parliamentary, democratic, antibureaucratic grass roots socialist organisation, strongly linked to working class activism." Alex Prichard, Ruth Kinna, Saku Pinta and Dave Berry (eds) Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red. Palgrave Macmillan, December 2012. pg. 13
- " ...preferringa system of popular self governance via networks of decentralized, local voluntary, participatory, cooperative associations. Roderick T. Long. "Toward a libertarian theory of class." Social Philosophy and Policy. Volume 15. Issue 02. Summer 1998. Pg. 305
- "What is of particular interest here, however, is the appeal to a form of emancipation grounded in decentralized, cooperative and democratic forms of political and economic governance which most libertarian socialist visions, including Cole's, tend to share." Charles Masquelier. Critical theory and libertarian socialism: Realizing the political potential of critical social theory. Bloombury. New York-London. 2014. pg. 189
- Mendes, Silva. Socialismo Libertário ou Anarchismo Vol. 1 (1896): "Society should be free through mankind's spontaneous federative affiliation to life, based on the community of land and tools of the trade; meaning: Anarchy will be equality by abolition of private property (while retaining respect for personal property) and liberty by abolition of authority".
- "...preferring a system of popular self governance via networks of decentralized, local, voluntary, participatory, cooperative associations-sometimes as a complement to and check on state power..."
- Rocker, Rudolf (2004). Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice. AK Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-902593-92-0.
- "LibSoc share with LibCap an aversion to any interference to freedom of thought, expression or choice of lifestyle." Roderick T. Long. "Toward a libertarian theory of class." Social Philosophy and Policy. Volume 15. Issue 02. Summer 1998. pp 305
- "...what categorizes libertarian socialism is a focus on forms of social organization to further the freedom of the individual combined with an advocacy of non-state means for achieving this." Matt Dawson. Late modernity, individualization and socialism: An Associational Critique of Neoliberalism. Palgrave MacMillan. 2013. pg. 64
- "What is implied by the term 'libertarian socialism'?: The idea that socialism is first and foremost about freedom and therefore about overcoming the domination, repression, and alienation that block the free flow of human creativity, thought, and action...An approach to socialism that incorporates cultural revolution, women's and children's liberation, and the critique and transformation of daily life, as well as the more traditional concerns of socialist politics. A politics that is completely revolutionary because it seeks to transform all of reality. We do not think that capturing the economy and the state lead automatically to the transformation of the rest of social being, nor do we equate liberation with changing our life-styles and our heads. Capitalism is a total system that invades all areas of life: socialism must be the overcoming of capitalist reality in its entirety, or it is nothing." "What is Libertarian Socialism?" by Ulli Diemer. Volume 2, Number 1 (Summer 1997 issue) of The Red Menace.
- "The IAF - IFA fights for : the abolition of all forms of authority whether economical, political, social, religious, cultural or sexual.""Principles of The International of Anarchist Federations" Archived January 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- Ward, Colin (1966). "Anarchism as a Theory of Organization". Archived from the original on 25 March 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- "The Soviet Union Versus Socialism". chomsky.info. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
Libertarian socialism, furthermore, does not limit its aims to democratic control by producers over production, but seeks to abolish all forms of domination and hierarchy in every aspect of social and personal life, an unending struggle, since progress in achieving a more just society will lead to new insight and understanding of forms of oppression that may be concealed in traditional practice and consciousness.
- "Authority is defined in terms of the right to exercise social control (as explored in the "sociology of power") and the correlative duty to obey (as explred in the "philosophy of practical reason"). Anarchism is distinguished, philosophically, by its scepticism towards such moral relations – by its questioning of the claims made for such normative power – and, practically, by its challenge to those "authoritative" powers which cannot justify their claims and which are therefore deemed illegitimate or without moral foundation."Anarchism and Authority: A Philosophical Introduction to Classical Anarchism by Paul McLaughlin. AshGate. 2007. p. 1
- "Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations." Emma Goldman. "What it Really Stands for Anarchy" in Anarchism and Other Essays.
- Individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker defined anarchism as opposition to authority as follows "They found that they must turn either to the right or to the left, — follow either the path of Authority or the path of Liberty. Marx went one way; Warren and Proudhon the other. Thus were born State Socialism and Anarchism...Authority, takes many shapes, but, broadly speaking, her enemies divide themselves into three classes: first, those who abhor her both as a means and as an end of progress, opposing her openly, avowedly, sincerely, consistently, universally; second, those who profess to believe in her as a means of progress, but who accept her only so far as they think she will subserve their own selfish interests, denying her and her blessings to the rest of the world; third, those who distrust her as a means of progress, believing in her only as an end to be obtained by first trampling upon, violating, and outraging her. These three phases of opposition to Liberty are met in almost every sphere of thought and human activity. Good representatives of the first are seen in the Catholic Church and the Russian autocracy; of the second, in the Protestant Church and the Manchester school of politics and political economy; of the third, in the atheism of Gambetta and the socialism of Karl Marx." Benjamin Tucker. Individual Liberty.
- Anarchist historian George Woodcock report of Mikhail Bakunin's anti-authoritarianism and shows opposition to both state and non-state forms of authority as follows: "All anarchists deny authority; many of them fight against it." (p. 9)...Bakunin did not convert the League's central committee to his full program, but he did persuade them to accept a remarkably radical recommendation to the Berne Congress of September 1868, demanding economic equality and implicitly attacking authority in both Church and State."
- Brown, L. Susan (2002). "Anarchism as a Political Philosophy of Existential Individualism: Implications for Feminism". The Politics of Individualism: Liberalism, Liberal Feminism and Anarchism. Black Rose Books Ltd. Publishing. p. 106.
- "It is forgotten that the early defenders of commercial society like (Adam) Smith were as much concerned with criticising the associational blocks to mobile labour represented by guilds as they were to the activities of the state. The history of socialist thought includes a long associational and anti-statist tradition prior to the political victory of the Bolshevism in the east and varieties of Fabianism in the west. John O'Neil." The Market: Ethics, knowledge and politics. Routledge. 1998. Pg. 3
- "In some ways, it is perhaps fair to say that if Left communism is an intellectual- political formation, it is so, first and foremost, negatively – as opposed to other socialist traditions. I have labelled this negative pole 'socialist orthodoxy', composed of both Leninists and social democrats...What I suggested was that these Left communist thinkers differentiated their own understandings of communism from a strand of socialism that came to follow a largely electoral road in the West, pursuing a kind of social capitalism, and a path to socialism that predominated in the peripheral and semi- peripheral countries, which sought revolutionary conquest of power and led to something like state capitalism. Generally, the Left communist thinkers were to find these paths locked within the horizons of capitalism (the law of value, money, private property, class, the state), and they were to characterize these solutions as statist, substitutionist and authoritarian." Chamsy el- Ojeili. Beyond post-socialism. Dialogues with the far-left. Palgrave Macmillan. 2015. pg 8
- Sims, Franwa (2006). The Anacostia Diaries As It Is. Lulu Press. p. 160.
- An Anarchist FAQ. "(Benjamin) Tucker referred to himself many times as a socialist and considered his philosophy to be "Anarchistic socialism."
- Armand, Émile (1907). "Anarchist Individualism as a Life and Activity". French individualist anarchist Émile Armand shows clearly opposition to capitalism and centralized economies when he said that the individualist anarchist "inwardly he remains refractory – fatally refractory – morally, intellectually, economically (The capitalist economy and the directed economy, the speculators and the fabricators of single are equally repugnant to him.)"
- Sabatini, Peter (1994–1995). "Libertarianism: Bogus Anarchy". Anarchist Peter Sabatini reports that in the United States "of early to mid-19th century, there appeared an array of communal and "utopian" counterculture groups (including the so-called free love movement). William Godwin's anarchism exerted an ideological influence on some of this, but more so the socialism of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier. After success of his British venture, Owen himself established a cooperative community within the United States at New Harmony, Indiana during 1825. One member of this commune was Josiah Warren (1798–1874), considered to be the first individualist anarchist."
- Chartier, Gary; Johnson, Charles W. (2011). Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty. Brooklyn: Minor Compositions/Autonomedia. Back cover. "It introduces an eye-opening approach to radical social thought, rooted equally in libertarian socialism and market anarchism."
- "A Mutualist FAQ: A.4. Are Mutualists Socialists?" Archived 9 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- Masquelier, Charles (2014). Critical Theory and Libertarian Socialism: Realizing the Political Potential of Critical Social Theory. New York and London: Bloombury. p. 190. "It is by meeting such a twofold requirement that the libertarian socialism of G.D.H. Cole could be said to offer timely and sustainable avenues for the institutionalization of the liberal value of autonomy [...]."
- Prichard, Alex; Kinna, Ruth; Pinta, Saku; Berry, Dave, eds. (December 2012). Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 13. "Locating libertarian socialism in a grey area between anarchist and Marxist extremes, they argue that the multiple experiences of historical convergence remain inspirational and that, through these examples, the hope of socialist transformation survives."
- Boraman, Toby (December 2012). "Carnival and Class: Anarchism and Councilism in Australasia during the 1970s". In Prichard, Alex; Kinna, Ruth; Pinta, Saku; Berry, Dave, eds. Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 268. "Councilism and anarchism loosely merged into 'libertarian socialism', offering a non-dogmatic path by which both council communism and anarchism could be updated for the changed conditions of the time, and for the new forms of proletarian resistance to these new conditions."
- Bookchin, Murray (1992). "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism".
- Graham, Robert. "The General Idea of Proudhon's Revolution".
- Bromley, Kent (1906). "Preface". In Kropotkin, Peter. The Conquest of Bread. London and New York City: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
- Mutualist.org Introduction
- Miller, David. 1987. "Mutualism." The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought. Blackwell Publishing. p. 11
- Tandy, Francis D., 1896, Voluntary Socialism, chapter 6, paragraph 15.
- "The most ambitious contribution to literary anarchism during the 1890s was undoubtedly Oscar Wilde The Soul of Man under Socialism. Wilde, as we have seen, declared himself an anarchist on at least one occasion during the 1890s, and he greatly admired Peter Kropotkin, whom he had met. Later, in De Profundis, he described Kropotkin's life as one "of the most perfect lives I have come across in my own experience" and talked of him as "a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ that seems coming out of Russia." But in The Soul of Man under Socialism, which appeared in 1890, it is Godwin rather than Kropotkin whose influence seems dominant." George Woodcock. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. 1962. (p. 447).
- _wlo:dek. "Emil Armand "Anarchist Individualism as a Life and Activity"".
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- Brown, L. Susan (1993). The Politics of Individualism: Liberalism, Liberal Feminism, and Anarchism. Black Rose Books.
- Dewey, John. (1930). Individualism Old and New.
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1847). Self-Reliance. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
- Gagnier, Regenia. (2010). Individualism, Decadence and Globalization: On the Relationship of Part to Whole, 1859–1920. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Dumont, Louis (1986). Essays on Individualism: Modern Ideology in Anthropological Perspective. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-16958-8.
- Lukes, Steven (1973). Individualism. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-631-14750-0.
- Meiksins Wood, Ellen. (1972). Mind and Politics: An Approach to the Meaning of Liberal and Socialist Individualism. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02029-4
- Renaut, Alain (1999). The Era of the Individual. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02938-5.
- Shanahan, Daniel. (1991) Toward a Genealogy of Individualism. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 0-87023-811-6.
- Watt, Ian. (1996) Myths of Modern Individualism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-48011-6.
- Barzilai, Gad. (2003). Communities and Law. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11315-1.