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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q: Are libertarianism and socialism mutually exclusive?
A: No. Libertarians believe liberty consists of personal autonomy, and they justify a strong distrust of the state upon this foundation. Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.[1] Although socialism is commonly associated with the planned economies proffered by Marxism-Leninism and other "authoritarian socialists," libertarian socialism rejects economic direction from a central authority such as the state.[2] Thus, libertarianism and anarchism have been synonyms since the 1890s,[3] and other equivalents include libertarian socialism,[4] socialist anarchism,[5] and left-libertarianism.[6] The libertarianism of the 19th century had two strong currents, social anarchism and individualist anarchism, both of which fall under the umbrella of libertarian socialism and were explicitly anti-capitalist.[7][8]
In the 20th century, members of the Old Right in the United States such as Albert Jay Nock and H. L. Mencken[9] began identifying as libertarians to declare their commitment to individualism and distance themselves from liberals who supported welfare capitalism. Some libertarians (e.g. Murray Rothbard, who popularized the libertarian philosophy anarcho-capitalism) were explicitly influenced by the American individualist anarchists, but most were "a rather automatic product of the American environment."[10] This modern American libertarianism is also referred to as right-libertarianism.[11]
Q: What is right-libertarianism? What is left-libertarianism?
A: Right-libertarianism refers to those libertarian ideologies that extoll private property without recompense paid by the owner to the local community, and includes anarcho-capitalism and laissez-faire, minarchist liberalism.[11] This is contrasted with left-libertarianism, which either rejects private property, or accepts it only under the condition that the local community is compensated for the exclusionary effects thereof (e.g. a land value tax).[12] Left-libertarianism includes libertarian socialism,[6] left-wing market anarchism,[8] and geolibertarianism.[13]
Q: How are all these political philosophies related? Which ones are closely related or inclusive?
A: Some labels and qualifiers are typically used to group together multiple political movements or ideologies or distance them from others. Below is a rough and simplified visual representation of how many of the political camps described in the article (i.e. groups that have either identified or been described as libertarian) relate to one another, without any regard to their affinity for one another, their prominence or their significance.
Libertarian classification diagram
Libertarianism diagram
  1. ^ Badie, Bertrand; Berg-Schlosser, Dirk; Morlino, Leonardo (2011). International Encyclopedia of Political Science. SAGE Publications, Inc. p. 2456. ISBN 978-1412959636. "Socialist systems are those regimes based on the economic and political theory of socialism, which advocates public ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources."
  2. ^ Sacco, Nicola and Vanzetti, Bartolomeo (1928). The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti. New York: Octagon Books. p. 274. "After all we are socialists as the social-democrats, the socialists, the communists, and the I.W.W. are all Socialists. The difference—the fundamental one—between us and all the other is that they are authoritarian while we are libertarian; they believe in a State or Government of their own; we believe in no State or Government."
  3. ^ Nettlau, Max (1996). A Short History of Anarchism (in English, translated). London:Freedom Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-900384-89-9. OCLC 37529250.
  4. ^ Guérin, Daniel (1970). Anarchism: From Theory to Practice. New York:Monthly Review Press. ISBN 978-0853451754. "Some contemporary anarchists have tried to clear up the misunderstanding by adopting a more explicit term: they align themselves with libertarian socialism or communism."
  5. ^ Ostergaard, Geoffrey. "Anarchism". The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought. Blackwell Publishing. p. 14.
  6. ^ a b Bookchin, Murray and Biehl, Janet (1997). The Murray Bookchin Reader. New York:Cassell. p. 170.
  7. ^ Marshall, Peter (2009). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. Oakland:PM Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-60486-064-1. "[Anarchism] emerged at the end of the eighteenth century in its modern form as a response partly to the rise of centalized States and nationalism, and partly to industrialization and capital. Anarchism thus took up the dual challenge of overthrowing both Capital and the State."
  8. ^ a b Chartier, Gary. Johnson, Charles W. (2011). Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty. Minor Compositions. pp. 4-5. ISBN 978-1570272424. "The anticapitalism of the 'first wave' individualists [represented mainly by 'individualist anarchists' and 'mutualists' such as Benjamin Tucker, Voltairine de Cleyre, and Dyer Lum] was obvious to them and to many of their contemporaries."
  9. ^ Burns, Jennifer (2009). Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. New York:Oxford University Press. p. 309. ISBN 978-0-19-532487-7.
  10. ^ DeLeon, David (1978). The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 127. "only a few individuals like Murray Rothbard, in Power and Market, and some article writers were influenced by [past anarchists like Spooner and Tucker]. Most had not evolved consciously from this tradition; they had been a rather automatic product of the American environment."
  11. ^ a b 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 Murray Rothbard and Robert 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."
  12. ^ Hamowy, Ronald. "Left Libertarianism." The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. p. 288
  13. ^ Foldvary, Fred E. "Geoism and Libertarianism". The Progress Report. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
Former featured article Libertarianism is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on June 25, 2005.
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I just noticed that LuckyLag360 added his personal description of Center-libertarianism to the FAQ. I'm going to remove that for two reasons: Firstly, it's not based on any reliable sources (see also above), and secondly there is no indication there actually are frequently asked questions about Center-libertarianism. Huon (talk) 20:42, 27 October 2016 (UTC)

took you long enough to realize that it was added. The funny thing is that add was approved by another admin, might wanna get a consensus on this before you remove that to. LuckyLag360 (talk) 21:29, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
And who was that admin who approved it? We can ping them and ask them whether they have a problem with the removal. Huon (talk) 21:54, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure LuckyLag360 (talk) 22:26, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
If it is not in the article, it should not be mentioned in FAQ.--Eduen (talk) 21:56, 8 November 2016 (UTC)

Libertarian possibilism unreliable source[edit]

Libertarian possibilism has a broken source[1] that is unreliable and does not verify anything in its sentence. it should be removed or fixed. LuckyLag360 (talk) 21:38, 28 October 2016 (UTC)

Source was fixed but it has no mention of Libertarian Possibilism, which is what its sourced for. LuckyLag360 (talk) 21:57, 28 October 2016 (UTC)

Just a heads up Libertaire means Liberty in English not Libertarian. Steelstarz (talk) 19:54, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Why do we have an article that focuses on taxonomy of Libertarianism variants?[edit]

I created my account just now so that I could weigh in with opinion of this article. Please forgive me if I'm breaking rules that I do not yet understand.

Libertarianism is essentially Classical Liberalism, and the word "Libertarian" is used to avoid confusion with modern American liberalism. If something rejects most of the principles of Classical Liberalism then is it really Libertarianism? Even if you can find something to site, is there value in mentioning obscure, contrived ideas that detract from the basic tenets of Libertarianism?

In a short video, Nigel Ashford of Institute for Humane Studies explains the tenets of classical liberalism on which most classical libertarians agree. Bob Weeks summarizes those basic tenets: Liberty, Individualism, Skepticism about power, Rule of law, Civil society, Spontaneous order, Free markets, Toleration, Peace, and Limited government. (IHS video included) [2]

Sources to consider:,,


I think this may be what happens sometimes when you get a contentious topic. Labeling the variants provides a place for "advocates" to say their piece, leaving alone the question of who really "owns" the main topic word. A similar problem exists because of the tension among various styles of anarchism.
This is not ideal, but it may be easier to maintain than a completely neutral description that somehow tries to reconcile or paper over the disagreements between factions.
Look at the FAQ posted at the head of this talk page for some examples of how some people may disagree with your formulation. Is "extol" the right word?  —jmcgnh(talk) (contribs) 00:20, 23 December 2016 (UTC)

I agree, that article seems to spend lots of time describing different branches of libertarianism, and not enough of the libertarian philosophy/ideology. When most people think libertarian, they think of right-libertarianism (which is similar to classical liberalism). But, a reader of the article would think that socialists ideologies are a bigger part of the movement than they actually are. The article only explains the non-aggression principle a few times, despite being the defining fundamental value of libertarianism (it should be explained more). Although it's not great, jmcgnh gives good reasons for why there's not much we can do about it. IWillBuildTheRoads (talk) 06:59, 13 January 2017 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

@Finx:, thanks for your edits. I am reverting some parts that were not explained in the edit summaries and that I believe require an explanation. Care to provide a rationale in terms of policy for these changes? I'm listing them in my edit summaries and will copy the diffs here once it's done. Hopefully we can agree on what should be incorporated or not. 1. Ref removal 2. Wikilink removal and reordering I also fixed a missing space between words and a wrong wikilink. Saturnalia0 (talk) 20:19, 16 February 2017 (UTC)

Sure. As far as I can tell, the only reversion needing explanation is the change from "anarcho-capitalist" back to "anarchist" - right? I don't think I introduced the errors you corrected, but my apologies if I had. So, I tried to explain in the edit summaries but I can expand here. I think pretty much everything below is already cited in the article.
  • The historic anarchist movement, which is a branch of the socialist movement, has always called for abolition of state
  • On the other hand, "minarchists" (who are advocates for laissez-faire capitalism) wish to maintain it reduce it to a night-watchman state
  • The historic anarchist movement is the origin of "libertarian" as a political label; the anarchist communist Joseph Dejacque coined the term
  • The obscure, mostly American phenomenon born in the 1970s called "anarcho-capitalism" is a far-fringe outgrowth of laissez-faire/neoliberal politics – which also calls for abolition of state and considers itself a form of anarchism
  • Anarcho-capitalism, of course, is wholly rejected by the entire historic anarchist movement as a form of anarchism, since - again - anarchism has always been anti-capitalist
So, it really doesn't seem to make any sense to refer to something so irrelevant that it barely merited two sentences in the article on anarchism as if it were the most relevant form of anarchism, particularly for this article, if indeed you want to call it a form of anarchism at all. fi (talk) 20:55, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
Looking back at the other changes, I may have inadvertently reverted more than I meant to do. I intended only to undo some changes to the lead: the exclusively propertarian additions, the ancap bits and the clunky wording. I'm not sure how the sections below got reordered back to the way they were before. Seems like a pretty trivial detail and I don't really care which comes first, personally. I hope I didn't mess up any other corrections in the process. Apologies on that. fi (talk) 21:17, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
You need to explain why you're removing sourced material from the lead. This is what all reliable sources say on libertarianism, and Wikipedia can only say what reliable sources say (WP:RS). What exclusively propertatian additions, anarcho-capitalist bits, and clunky wording are you referring to in the lead? If you let me know, I can try to fix those. IWillBuildTheRoads (talk) 11:54, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
Reliable sources like Woodcock describe traditional anticapitalist anarchism, and reliable sources cited on the term's history point to a 19th century anarcho-communist coining the label in the sense that is the topic of this article. Is it you position that anarchists base their philosophy on "rule of law"? Or perhaps that communists start from a position of "self-ownership"? Could you please provide a reliable source for either of those claims? I rather doubt it, as those are liberal concepts. If you don't have reliable sources saying otherwise, they don't belong in the lead, and neither does anarcho-capitalism, specifically – or at least not any more than anarchist primitivism, for another fringe example that's barely relevant to the topic. The lead needs to address all major "libertarian" camps, instead of pretending like neoliberal ideologies own the label. fi (talk) 18:48, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
But, this isn't an article on anarchism, this is an article on libertarianism (I understand that the terms have some overlap). The first paragraph of the lead doesn't even mention anarchism, so I don't know why you're mentioning that. Citing the first usage of the term in political contexts is an etymological fallacy. Just because the first political ussage was by a communist, doesn't mean the contemporary meaning of the word has anything to do with communism (and this is supported by reliable sources). It is not my assumption that libertarians base their philosophy on the rule of law. It is what the reliable sources say on the matter. We have to say what the reliable sources say, and nothing more. I cannot provide a reliable source to the claim that communists start from a position of self-ownership, because I never stated it. Anarcho-capitalism wasn't mentioned in the first paragraph of the lead, so I don't know why you keep mentioning it. The lead just needs to make the main points that are affirmed by the reliable sources. You still haven't explained why you're removing reliably sourced material, and you haven't answered by question about the supposed clunky wording, ancap bits, and propertarian additions (or why that's even relevant to its removal). IWillBuildTheRoads (talk) 18:41, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
It's very simple, if you elect to read the actual article, which I strongly suspect you have not done. "Anarchist," for over one and a half centuries, had meant the same thing as "libertarian" – referring to socialists, largely communists; "anarcho-capitalist" had not. "Anarcho-capitalism" is very marginally related to this topic. If you want to write an article exclusively dedicated to the last several decades of US neoliberalism and its fringiest outgrowths, there's plenty of articles for that. This is not one. fi (talk) 00:53, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
I have no objection to the current "anarchists and anarcho-capitalists" wording, even though one could argue that there's a problem with giving "anarcho-capitalists" that much weight. fi (talk) 01:00, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
I'm going to try to redo my revert correctly without changing the parts I assume you wanted to discuss. fi (talk) 21:24, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
Done. My apologies again for that whole mess. Here is the diff of what I actually meant to edit/revert, without messing with the other changes and corrections since the lead was altered. Please let me know if you still have concerns on the ancap-back-to-anarchist undo. I'll apply it again, if there's no objections. Thanks! fi (talk) 21:41, 16 February 2017 (UTC)