Portal:Libertarianism

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Portal:Libertarianism

The Libertarianism Portal

Libertarianism (from Latin libertas, meaning "freedom") is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle.

Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgment. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic 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.

Most libertarians, specifically left-libertarians, seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production in favor of their common or cooperative ownership and management, viewing private property as a barrier to freedom and liberty. Other libertarians, notably right-libertarians, instead advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights, such as in land, infrastructure and natural resources.

An additional line of division is between minarchists and anarchists—while minarchists think that a minimal centralized government is necessary, socialist anarchists and anarcho-capitalists propose to completely eliminate the state.

Selected article

Anarcho-capitalism is a right-libertarian and individualist anarchist political philosophy that advocates the elimination of the state in favor of individual sovereignty in a free market. Economist Murray Rothbard is credited with coining the term; in an anarcho-capitalist society, law enforcement, courts and all other security services would be provided by voluntarily-funded competitors such as private defense agencies rather than through taxation and money would be privately and competitively provided in an open market. According to anarcho-capitalists, personal and economic activities would be regulated by the natural laws of the market and through private law rather than through politics. Furthermore, victimless crimes and crimes against the state would not exist.

Anarcho-capitalists argue for a society based on the voluntary trade of private property and services (including money, consumer goods, land and capital goods) in order to maximize individual liberty and prosperity. However, they also recognize charity and communal arrangements as part of the same voluntary ethic. Though anarcho-capitalists are known for asserting a right to private property (individualized or joint non-public), some propose that non-state public or community property can also exist in an anarcho-capitalist society, for them, what is important is that it is acquired and transferred without help or hindrance from the compulsory state. Anarcho-capitalists believe that the only just and/or most economically beneficial way to acquire property is through voluntary trade, gift, or labor-based original appropriation, rather than through aggression or fraud.

Anarcho-capitalists see free market capitalism as the basis for a free and prosperous society. Rothbard said that the difference between free-market capitalism and "state capitalism" is the difference between "peaceful, voluntary exchange" and a collusive partnership between business and government that uses coercion to subvert the free market. "Capitalism", as anarcho-capitalists employ the term, is not to be confused with state monopoly capitalism, crony capitalism, corporatism, or contemporary mixed economies, wherein market incentives and disincentives may be altered by state action. They reject the state based on the belief that states are aggressive entities which steal property (through taxation and expropriation), initiate aggression, are a compulsory monopoly on the use of force, use their coercive powers to benefit some businesses and individuals at the expense of others, create monopolies, restrict trade and restrict personal freedoms via drug laws, compulsory education, conscription, laws on food and morality and the like. The embrace of unfettered capitalism leads to considerable tension between anarcho-capitalists and many social anarchists that view capitalism and its market as just another authority. Anti-capitalist anarchists generally consider anarcho-capitalism a contradiction in terms and vice versa.

Selected quote

I remember the occasion when a fellow graduate student at Columbia from Sweden wanted to take me downtown to a restaurant for a Swedish meal and introduced me to the Swedish drink aquavit. This was a restaurant at which this Swedish fellow had been getting aquavit all during Prohibition; they had been selling it to him. And this was just after the repeal of Prohibition. We went there and he asked them for some aquavit, they said, "Oh, no, we haven't gotten our license yet." And finally, he talked to them in Swedish and persuaded them to take us into the back where they gave us a glass of aquavit apiece. Now that shows the absurdity of it.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933 when I was 21 years old, so was a teenager during most of Prohibition. Alcohol was readily available. Bootlegging was common. Any idea that alcohol prohibition was keeping people from drinking was absurd. There were speakeasies all over the place, but more than that. We had this spectacle of Al Capone, of the hijackings, of the gang wars...

Anybody with two eyes could see that this was a bad deal, that you were doing more harm than good; in addition, I became an economist. And as an economist, I came to recognize the importance of markets and of free choice and of consumer sovereignty and came to discover the harm that was done when you interfered with them, the laws against drugs were passed in 1914, but there was no very great enforcement of it.

— Milton Friedman (1912–2006)
America's Drug Forum (1991)

Selected picture

The Nolan chart, whose basic form is used in the World's Smallest Political Quiz
Credit: JayCoop

Selected biography

Murray Newton Rothbard
Murray Newton Rothbard was an American economist of the Austrian School who helped define modern libertarianism and founded a form of free market anarchism he termed "anarcho-capitalism".

An individualist anarchist of the Austrian School of economics, Rothbard associated with the Objectivists in his early thirties before allying with the New Left in the 1960s and eventually joining the radical caucus of the Libertarian Party. In the course of his life, Rothbard was associated with a number of political thinkers and movements, during the early 1950s, he studied under the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises along with George Reisman. He then began working for the William Volker Fund, during the late 1950s, Rothbard was an associate of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, a relationship later lampooned in his unpublished play Mozart Was a Red. In the late 1960s, Rothbard advocated an alliance with the New Left anti-war movement on the grounds that the conservative movement had been completely subsumed by the statist establishment.

However, Rothbard later criticized the New Left for not truly being against the draft and supporting a "People's Republic" style draft, it was during this phase that he associated with Karl Hess and founded Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought with Leonard Liggio and George Resch, which existed from 1965 to 1968. From 1969 to 1984, he edited The Libertarian Forum, also initially with Hess (although Hess' involvement ended in 1971); in 1977, he established the Journal of Libertarian Studies, which he edited until his death in 1995.

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