View Full Version : Anarchism vs. Libertarianism
07-06-2003, 12:32 AM
This is totally my ignorance talking, but I'm not sure I understand the difference. The way I read it (and I must admit, that ain't much), libertarianism strikes me as "mild anarchism".
Correct me, please.
07-06-2003, 12:43 AM
Libertarianism, taken to its extreme, calls for a government whose role is strictly limited to protecting the property rights of the people who choose to submit to it.
Anarchism, taken to its extreme, calls for the elimination of all government.
07-06-2003, 12:46 AM
So you could choose to opt-out of a libertarian government?
07-06-2003, 12:50 AM
In theory, yes. Though I think most people who call themselves libertarians don't generally take things that far.
07-06-2003, 12:57 AM
So what's the more common political ideal?
07-06-2003, 12:58 AM
Ayn Rand, an Objectivist (a "type" of Libertarian) said that government should be financed voluntarily (she suggested a lottery, among other things). However, she made clear that nobody should be exempt from the police/ protection power of government.
07-06-2003, 01:05 AM
Originally posted by Panzerfaust
So you could choose to opt-out of a libertarian government? Well, no. No more than you could opt-out of our current Federalist state. It would be easier to largely ignore a Libertarian state, but if you choose to shoot up a bus full of nuns, the police will be on your ass like ugly on a chimp.
The concept of a Libertarian state is the Social Contract taken in a very narrow sense: By living in this nation, you choose to support the state via taxes and, in return, gain the state's protection from coercion via force or fraud. Anything else is beyond the purview of the state and shall be provided by private enterprise, if anyone wants it.
The difference is crucial: A Libertarian system still has taxes and a recognizable, though smaller, government, while Anarcho-Capitalism* has no taxes and, thus, no state.
*As opposed to Anarcho-Syndicalism, which is probably what most people view when they think of theoretical Anarchy as a concept. In AC, private enterprise has taken over everything, including all of the roles of the state (legislation, judicial powers, and law enforcement/self-defense). In AS, communes have sprung up to deal with the state's job. In AC, private property is the basis of individual liberty (same in Libertarianism, in fact), whereas in AS, private property has been abolished.
NormanConquest: I think most Libertarians are informed by Ayn Rand's views to a large extent, even though Ayn hereself called Libertarians "the hippies of the right." I have no idea why Ayn felt that way about us.
07-06-2003, 01:07 AM
Originally posted by Panzerfaust
So what's the more common political ideal? There's a Libertarian Party in the US which has commonly won small-scale (from state legislatures on down) elections. I know of no Anarchist party that's at all politcally viable.
07-06-2003, 02:14 AM
Ayn Rand constantly contradicted herself... Other than that she was a pushy bitch. How can anyone actually listen to her?
07-06-2003, 02:28 AM
Let's try to keep this thread as factual as possible. Calling a political theorist, even a dead one, a "pushy bitch" isn't helping matters any. Debates about Rand's and her followers' views should be confined to the Great Debates forum. Rants about her or their supposed personal failings should be confined to the BBQ Pit forum.
07-06-2003, 02:47 AM
You might want to take a look at this thread, which addresses the subject:
Really Not All That Bright
07-06-2003, 02:42 PM
You can't really opt out of a Lib government, BUT, if you were a flinty-eyed cowpoke in Montana with a private arsenal and stockpiles of whatever you'd need in case society ends, you would no longer need to shoot all the government officers that kept poking around.
07-06-2003, 04:32 PM
Darleth and dutchboy, according to the most common definitions of libertarianism that I have read over the years, financing of the government in an entirely libertarian system would be voluntary. If one refuses to do so, he loses the protection of that government.
07-06-2003, 05:30 PM
I have to point out that financing a libertarian government would be a very minor issue, since the cost of said government would be infinitessimal, compared to what we have now.
07-06-2003, 06:08 PM
Basically, here's a way to sum it up: Libertarians believe in the principle, "not on my land!", whereas Anarchists believe in the principle, "this is nobody's land, but we can all share it!"
Alright, that is REALLY oversimplifying the differences between these two ideologies, however, there is much validation to it. Anarchism, in its current ideological state can be broken up into three apparatuses: Ecofeminism, Anarchosyndicalism and Anarachocapitalism. Essentially, all of these theories branch from the ideologies set forth at the turn of the last century and a little earlier with the works of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, the Haymarket Incident (which gave anarchists the 'bomb-thrower' moniker), and in the USSR, Peter Kropotikin and Mikhail Bakunin. Now, much of the groundwork has also been laid out by the Socialists of the Marx-Engles bent, and over time there has been an insurgence of Capitalist ideology into the spectrum of Anarchy as proposed by Kropotkin and Bakunin. Essentially, where I'm going with this is that Libertarianism of the sort that is associated with the Libertarian Party in the United States of America has absolutely nothing to do with anarchy, nor any link to any ideals sprung from it. Libertarianism branches from the idea of pure democracy, or Jeffersonianism (as does it's severely conservative counterpart, Constitutionalism). Libertarians believe in limited government, but not in communal ideals. They do not generally support welfare of any kind, even health related. Ayn Rand is a good example of a Libertarian who did indeed develop her own ideology, Objectivism, in which she actually more or less fused Machiavellian philosophy with Jeffersonian politics. Now, getting back to anarchy and how all of this diatribe links together...
Anarchy developed as an organized ideology not out of a desire on the parts of its constituents for lawlessness, but for communal order. The basic belief system of any anarchist of the left leaning bent today can be similarly compared to a large-scale New England Town Meeting style of governing. In the case of the Ecofeminists, take members of the Rainbow Family as a good example of how they operate; sort of like hippie communists without a head of state. Anarchosyndicalists believe in a form of Marxism minus the leadership structure found in Lenin's reign over the Soviet Union, or Mao's in China. Now interestingly enough, Anarchocapitalists believe in something that can be akin to Libertarian Marxism, an actual term that is essentially analogous to Anarchocapitalism, but is in now way shape or form related to the Libertarian Party. This form of Libertarian belief does utilize much of the Libertarian principles of government stating a belief in limited government interaction in the affairs of civilian economic life, and much of the beliefs of Marxist government concerning a structured welfare system supplied by the government. Like all anarchists, they still believe in a decentralized government, but not the lack of one--nor even the lack of money in this case, as the Ecofeminists typically believe (they prefer a system of bartering and trading). So, in essence, there is a thread of similarity between Libertarianism and Anarchism, but they are two separate ideas that happen to bleed together in a post-modern construct of political thought.
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