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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.
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the first paragraph is heavily biased towards one particular type of libertarianism[edit]

"Libertarianism (Latin: liber, "free") is a political philosophy that upholds liberty through self-ownership and the non-aggression principle[1] as its principal objectives. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association, and the primacy of individual judgment."

This paragraph describes right-libertarianism. The concept of self ownership and the non-aggression principle are not major components of left-libertarianism. The second sentence is okay, except maybe for the individual judgement part, since some forms of libertarian are collectivist and "individual judgement" is not a major theme of collectivist libertarianism and is substituted with opposition to hierarchy and support for direct democracy.

This is just as biased as if it said "Libertarian is a political philosophy which upholds opposition to political and economic hierarchies as its principal objectives, libertarians seek to emphasize the primacy of collective decision making."

Since this first paragraph is supposed to represent all libertarianism, not just right-libertarianism, I recommend we either make it more general and remove the mentions of specific right-libertarian concepts like the NAP and self-ownership(which is mostly a classically liberal/right libertarian idea and not left-libertarian) or break it up so that it describes right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism separate. Any ideas? If this doesn't get any replies I'll just write something myself, but I'd appreciate discussion and input here before I change anything. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

  • The above is incorrect. It is an attempt by the so-called left-libertarianism to change the definition of libertarianism. This is an on-going political issue. Buncoshark 19:15, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I notice that the long-standing lead was replaced with text sourced to the Libertarian Party of the United States. That is only a reliable source for the opinions of that party and is not a reliable source for this article. I will put back the earlier version of the lead. TFD (talk) 00:05, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Alright, thanks. The new lead is much better. Buncoshark, left-libertarianism is far older than right-libertarianism and wanting to make the lead represent both philosophies accurately is not "redefining" anything. I'm assuming by the way you say "so called" left-libertarianism that you disagree with it as a philosophy, but that doesn't matter, this is wikipedia, not your own private blog. Left-libertarianism is an ongoing political school of thought just as significant as right-libertarianism and we should describe its ideas accurately. The NAP and self ownership are not left-lib concepts, they are exclusive to right-libertarianism, and thus should not be in the lead. It says as much on the wikipedia page for it, the NAP was developed by Ayn Rand and then adopted by right-libertarians. 16:12, 17 January 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
    • Actually, that is incorrect. The thought that libertarianism started out as an entity of the left was created by the left in the 1960s. This has been disproved but the left won't accept the information. Buncoshark 22:00, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
      • Nolan, Rothbard and Hess were not left-wing, although their colleagues in Young Americans for Freedom accused them. TFD (talk) 00:16, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
      • I'm not even sure how to respond to this. Bakunin, Proudhon, and Kropotkin weren't leftwing? They were socialists. They opposed private property and supported worker control. One of the people who popularized the usage of the term in a political sense is Joseph Déjacque, a french anarchocommunist. Is anarchocommunism not leftwing? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:46, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

Do right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism have anything in common other than the name? Dimadick (talk) 19:02, 17 January 2016 (UTC)

Yes. Nolan, Rothbard and Hess were impressed with libertarian socialist views on freedom and government, and adopted terminology and symbols from them. Where they disagreed was on property, which of course puts them at opposite sides of the U.S. political spectrum. OTOH, libertarianism is also used as a synonym in the U.S. for laissez-faire liberalism. TFD (talk) 21:05, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • This absolutely should be changed to reflect the totality of libertarianism. While the term is identified primarily with right-wing libertarianism in the United States nowadays, that does not reflect the historic roots of the ideology. And as far as I can tell this Wikipedia article is supposed to reflect more than just the American bias. --Adilawar (talk) 11:05, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • The Center For a Stateless Society, which describes itself as "A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center" asserts that "left-libertarianism" today most commonly refers to those who "combine a belief in self-ownership and the non-aggression principle with left-wing views on the limited extent to which individuals can remove property from the common and acquire unlimited rights of disposal over it simply by mixing their labor with it." So, I think it is entirely justifiable to include self-ownership and non-aggression in the leader. TBSchemer (talk) 17:42, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
So called "non agression principle" is mostly something talked about only in US right wing libertarian sources and spaces. Within Anarchist and other libertarian socialist places that concept is not used at all. The wikipedia article on it is, as they say in the US, "as american as apple pie".--Eduen (talk) 03:50, 13 April 2016 (UTC)
while the link says "To the general public these days, “left-libertarian” is more apt to call to mind," it also acknowledges the "oldest and broadest usage of “left-libertarian,” and perhaps most familiar to those in the anarchist movement at large...includes pretty much the whole non-statist, horizontalist or decentralist Left...." Certainly libertarianism can be narrowly defined to refer to the followers of Nolan, Rothbard and Hess, but per disambiguation, this artcle is about the general topic. TFD (talk) 08:01, 13 April 2016 (UTC)

Left-Libertarian does not exist outside of books[edit]

The reason why so many arrive here confused is the common usage of the term refers to the modern practicing Libertarians. WP:Weight directs us to include tiny minorities in tiny amounts. There are no current Left-Libertarian parties active or politicians or party members. The vast majority of citations found in modern periodicals and books refer exclusively to what some call right-libertarian or US Libertarian. I suggest we remove much of the material devoted to the tiny minority. Darkstar1st (talk) 10:18, 13 April 2016 (UTC)

Question regarding Volunteering[edit]

Volunteering does not necessarily bring any economic benefits to GNP or GDP and is more popular with Marxist ideologies than capitalist enterprising theories.--WindWalk55555 (talk) 11:43, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Why is classical liberalism placed under Libertarianism?[edit]

Anarchism/Libertarianism was a reaction to capitalism, and now Mises & CATO camps think they can revise history? Even Murray Rothbard admits there's no such thing as anarcho-capitalism. I don't understand why these CATO/Mises sources are accepted, they are but a footnote in anarchism/libertarianism as a whole. Yet, right wing libertarianism and "classical liberalism" take up an absurd amount of this page. Care to explain how expansion of property and business via government, aka colonialism in the New World, is "libertarian"? It was a horror show of genocide (of the natives), slavery (property), stealing land and & resources, women/wives as property, etc.

And why is Ayn Rand under "Prominent currents"? She should be located under criticism of libertarianism, particularly right wing libertarianism. She considered conservative libertarians a mockery of philosophy and ideology and "wannabe hippies".C1918081 (talk) 09:13, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

It is not the role of Wikipedia editors to decide matters of undue weight based on personal feelings about a political ideology. If you believe there are distortions here, or that libertarianism of the neoliberal variety is over-represented, it would probably be best to address specific points, with references where needed. I think two things are very much open questions, because there is clear disagreement between sources: 1 - to what extent, if any, did classical liberalism influence libsoc/libcom anarchism (and similar); 2 - to what extent, if any, did classical liberalism influence Mises/CATO/USLP-styled libertarianism. I think you'll find several good sources arguing that anarchism has its roots in classical liberalism, despite Adam Smith having been canonized as some kind of capitalist saint. There is also significant disagreement on how much neoliberalism draws from those traditions. As for Rand, while she made her contempt for those libertarians very clear, many of them do seem to be influenced by her nonetheless. fi (talk) 04:41, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
According to WP policies, this should be determined by reputable tertiary sources. Reputable encyclopedias usually do not mention socialism in their articles on libertarianism, nor do they use the term "libertarianism" to refer to socialism. Nor does it seem anyone else does, except for socialists themselves, which hardly constitutes legitimacy. The term obviously means "advocate of liberty", not "advocate of imposing a particular economic system" or "advocate of prohibiting some undesired economic activity". Imposing and prohibiting are generally authoritarian, not libertarian, ideas, by definition. Blue Eyes Cryin (talk) 13:40, 13 June 2016 (UTC)


The purpose of the FAQ section on this talk page seems to be to pass off contested assertions as if they were settled facts, rather than answer questions people are actually asking. Any verifiable record of anyone even asking those questions here? Any real reason to have it, other than as an attempt to prevent honest discussion of those assertions? Blue Eyes Cryin (talk) 13:40, 13 June 2016 (UTC)

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