Libertarianism

political philosophy and movement that upholds liberty as a core principle

Libertarianism is a political stance generally known as about the idea of individual liberties, responsibility/self-ownership, and free choice. It says the government should have less control over the lives of its citizens and should let them be responsible for themselves without the involvement of the government. It is based on the idea of maximum liberty. They also believe not everything has to have the government involved. They believe people should be free to do as they please unless it harms another person.

Other pages about libertarianism
This flag is often used as a symbol of libertarianism.[1] It is a snake on a yellow background with the words "Don't Tread On Me" underneath.

Libertarianism can be a kind of centre politics.[2][3] Many of its beliefs come from classical liberalism. This usually means supporting a capitalist economy but with far more liberal freedoms, like a free market. This is different from left-wing libertarianism or more right-wing types. But many libertatians do not believe in left vs. right politics.[4][5][6] Libertarianism also has roots in anarchism, direct democracy, and the Austrian School of economics. Some libertarians are part of the sovereign citizen movement.

Individual rights

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Libertarians believe that no person can justly own or control the body of another person, what they call ‘self-ownership’ or ’individual sovereignty.’ In simple words, every person has a right to control their own body.

In the 19th century, United States libertarians like William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Lysander Spooner were all abolitionists. Abolitionists were people who wanted to end slavery right away.

Garrison based his opposition to slavery on the idea of self-ownership. Since you have a natural right to control your own body, no one else has any right to steal that control from you. Garrison and Douglass both called slave masters ‘man stealers.’

Stopping violence

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If you have a right to control your own body, then no one has a right to start violence (or force) against you.

Some libertarians believe that all violence is unjust. These libertarians are often called "anarcho-pacifists". Robert LeFevre was a libertarian who rejected all violence. However, most libertarians believe that there are some ways violence can be justified.

The libertarian Murray N. Rothbard said that it would be wrong to kill someone for stealing a pack of chewing gum. If you steal gum, this is an act of violence against the property owner. The owner has a right to use defensive violence to get the gum back, but killing the thief goes too far. That is too much force because it is not equal to the force used by the thief. Punishment must be equal to the crime. A student and colleague of his, Walter Block, said that a punishment should not be equal to the crime, but rather enough to make up for the damage the crime caused plus how much it cost to catch the criminal.

All libertarians believe that it is wrong to start violence against any person or against the property that he or she owns. They call this the "non-aggression principle."

Property

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Ownership is the right to control something. Property is the thing that you control.

Libertarians believe that property rights come from self-ownership. This means that because you have a right to control your own body, you also have a right to control what you make with it.

The English philosopher John Locke said that a person comes to own something by using it. So, if you turn an area that no-one else owns into a farm and use it, that area becomes your property. This is called the "homestead principle."

Libertarians also say that you can become a legitimate owner by receiving something as a gift or by trading it with someone for something they own. You do not become a legitimate owner by stealing. You also do not become a legitimate owner by simply saying you own something. If you have not "homesteaded" the thing or received it through trade or gift, you do not own it.

Government

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Libertarians are opposed to states (or governments) creating any "laws" that tell people what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. The only legitimate laws are laws that say a person may not start violence against other people or their legitimate property. All "laws" stopping people from doing nonviolent things should be repealed, according to libertarians. (These "laws" are usually called "victimless crimes" because there is no victim if there is no harm.)

In most countries, the state (or government) takes tax money from the people. All libertarians support cutting taxes back, and some libertarians believe the state should not take tax money at all. Libertarians think people can take care of the poor without the government. They believe that people should pay for the things that they want to use, but not have to pay for other things that they do not want. Tax evasion (refusal to pay taxes to the state) is a victimless crime. Libertarians would prefer to see taxation replaced with lotteries, user fees, and endowments.

Libertarians think everyone should be allowed to decide what is good or bad for his or her own body. Libertarians think if people want to drive cars without wearing seat belts, it is their own choice. They should not be forcibly stopped from doing that, not even by the state. If a person wants to donate all of her/his money to a charity, or waste it all gambling, that is also something she or he should decide for herself or himself. No one should be forcibly stopped from doing that, not even by the state. Libertarians even say that if adults want to use harmful drugs, they should be allowed to do that, even if it spoils their lives. It is the drug user's own choice because it is the drug user's own body. As long as the drug user does not start using violence against other people or their legitimate property, no one should use violence against the drug user or the drug user's legitimate property, not even the government.

Many libertarians also believe that families and friends should look after people so that they will not use drugs, drive without seat belts, or do other things that are dangerous for them. But no one can force others to do things that they do not want to do, or to stop them from doing nonviolent things that they want to do.

Types of Libertarians

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There are two broad basic types of libertarians.

Minarchism

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Minarchists are libertarians who believe that society should have a state with very limited power. They believe that free markets are the most moral and efficient way of providing goods and services. They typically believe that the only things the state should provide are police and judges to make sure that people obey the laws, and a military to make sure that no one attacks the country. Some minarchists believe in having a small amount of taxation and limited provision of public goods such as international diplomacy and public parks.

Two famous minarchist libertarians are Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand. Nozick believed that the only legitimate thing a state can do is have a police force. He called his legitimate state a "night-watchman state." Ayn Rand believed that the state should have a police force and a court system.

Anarchism

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Libertarian anarchists usually call themselves anarcho-capitalists, free-market anarchists, individualist anarchists, or just anarchists.

Libertarian anarchists do not believe the state is needed. They believe that people can organize their own lives and businesses. They want to replace the state with voluntary organisations, including charities, private companies, voluntary unions, and mutual aid societies. They also want to end all forced taxation.

They say that state police can be replaced with "DROs" (Dispute Resolution Organisations) or "private protection agencies." They also say that state judges can be replaced with "private arbitration."

A famous libertarian anarchist thinker was Murray N. Rothbard. Others include Lysander Spooner, Benjamin R. Tucker, and Linda & Morris Tannehill.

Other types

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  • Libertarian constitutionalists are libertarians who believe the only things a state can do are the things approved in a constitution. Libertarian constitutionalists include Ron Paul.
  • Agorists are revolutionary libertarian anarchists who believe that we should fight the state through what they call "counter-economics." Agorists include Samuel Edward Konkin, III and Brad Spangler.
  • Objectivists are also libertarians, but often reject that name. They believe that humans are able to know things, as opposed to skepticism, which is the idea that people cannot know things with certainty. They believe reason is the only path to truth, and that a system of free capitalism is the only ethical system of government. The most prominent objectivist is Ayn Rand. (There are also some "anarcho-objectivists", such as Linda & Morris Tannehill and Roy A. Childs, Jr.). Objectivists are typically atheists or agnostic.
  • Left-libertarians are libertarian leftists who believe that a free market system does not lead to more freedom and equality. They are often open to ideas such as worker self-management and feminism. They also frequently fall into the category of civil libertarians, since they may not support economic freedom but usually support civil liberties. These beliefs often work well with anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism. Left-libertarians include Benjamin R. Tucker and Roderick T. Long.
  • Anarcho-pacifists are libertarians who believe that no force is ever legitimate, not even in self-defense. Although Robert LeFevre did not call himself an "anarcho-pacifist" (or even an "anarchist"), he was one.
  • Autarchism is a form of libertarian anarchism which supports individual freedom, self-reliance, and individualism. To put it simply, they believe in the philosophy: "Control yourself".[7] Robert LeFevre is an autarchist.
  • Georgism is a form of libertarianism which supports a single tax on land. They seek to use this tax as a way to solve ecological and social problems.
  • Voluntaryism is a term for libertarian anarchism. Voluntaryists believe that only voluntary actions are legitimate. This means that all government force is illegitimate, and thus immoral. Auberon Herbert was the first voluntaryist.
  • Civil libertarians are people who believe in the preservation of civil liberties, such as free speech. However civil libertarians do not necessarily support economical freedom.

Criticism

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Criticism of libertarianism includes moral, traditional, pragmatic, and other concerns. It's argued it has no clear concept of what liberty is or that a lack of restriction does not always result in the best outcome in industry,[8][9][10] nor does its philosophy of individualism and policies of deregulation prevent the abuse of natural resources.[11] It is also argued libertarianism goes against democracy.

Libertarianism has been accused of promoting ideas that ignore the role of communities. In response, they denied this, arguing that giving freedom of individualism does not mean the rejection of community living.[12] Critics such as Corey Robin describe this type of libertarianism as a reactionary conservative ideology coming from a desire to enforce hierarchies.[13]

Nancy MacLean argued libertarianism undermined democracy citing libertarians Charles and David Koch have used lobbying for the appointment of libertarian judges to United States federal and state courts to oppose laws.[14]

Conservative philosopher Russell Kirk argued that libertarians have no authority and respect for customs. In response, they said they follow traditions but are against laws forcing individuals to.[12]

References

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  1. "Yellow Gadsden Flag Carries a Long and Shifting History". Snopes.com. 8 January 2021.
  2. Rainey, James (November 12, 2012). "Has America gone from center-right to center libertarian?". Los Angeles Times.
  3. Lindsey, Brink (July 8, 2007). "The Libertarian Center". Cato Unbound.
  4. Block, Walter (2010). "Libertarianism Is Unique and Belongs Neither to the Right Nor the Left: A Critique of the Views of Long, Holcombe, and Baden on the Left, Hoppe, Feser, and Paul on the Right" (PDF). Journal of Libertarian Studies. 22: 127–170.
  5. Read, Leonard (1956). "Neither Left Nor Right". The Freeman. 48 (2): 71–73.
  6. Rothbard, Murray (1971). "The Left and Right Within Libertarianism". WIN: Peace and Freedom Through Nonviolent Action. 7 (4): 6–10.
  7. "Autarchy. In RAMPART JOURNAL OF INDIVIDUALIST THOUGHT (1966)". Fair Use Repository. 1966. Archived from the original on 2018-03-14. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  8. Lester, J. C. (22 October 2017). "New-Paradigm Libertarianism: a Very Brief Explanation" Archived 6 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine. PhilPapers. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  9. Fried, Barbara (2009). The Progressive Assault on Laissez Faire: Robert Hale and the First Law and Economics Movement. Harvard University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0674037304.
  10. Liu, Eric; Hanauer, Nick (7 May 2016). "Complexity Economics Shows Us Why Laissez-Faire Economics Always Fails" Archived 26 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Evonomics. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  11. Matthew, Schneider-Mayerson (14 October 2015). Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture. Chicago. ISBN 978-0226285573. OCLC 922640625.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Boaz, David (30 January 2009). "Libertarianism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 4 May 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2017. [L]ibertarianism, political philosophy that takes individual liberty to be the primary political value.
  13. Robin, Corey (2011). The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin. Oxford University Press. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0199793747.
  14. MacLean, Nancy (2017). Democracy in Chains, The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1101980965.