150 years of Libertarian

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This year, 2008, marks the 150th anniversary of the use of the word “libertarian” by anarchists.

As is well known, anarchists use the terms “libertarian”, “libertarian socialist” and “libertarian communist” as equivalent to “anarchist” and, similarly, “libertarian socialism” or “libertarian communism” as an alternative for “anarchism.” This is perfectly understandable, as the anarchist goal is freedom, liberty, and the ending of all hierarchical and authoritarian institutions and social relations.

Unfortunately, in the United States the term “libertarian” has become, since the 1970s, associated with the right-wing, i.e., supporters of “free-market” capitalism. That defenders of the hierarchy associated with private property seek to associate the term “libertarian” for their authoritarian system is both unfortunate and somewhat unbelievable to any genuine libertarian. Equally unfortunately, thanks to the power of money and the relative small size of the anarchist movement in America, this appropriation of the term has become, to a large extent, the default meaning there. Somewhat ironically, this results in some right-wing “libertarians” complaining that we genuine libertarians have “stolen” their name in order to associate our socialist ideas with it!

The facts are somewhat different. As Murray Bookchin noted, “libertarian” was “a term created by nineteenth-century European anarchists, not by contemporary American right-wing proprietarians.” [The Ecology of Freedom, p. 57] While we discuss this issue in An Anarchist FAQ in a few places (most obviously, section A.1.3) it is useful on the 150th anniversary to discuss the history of anarchist use of the word “libertarian” to describe our ideas.

The first anarchist journal to use the term “libertarian” was La Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social. Somewhat ironically, given recent developments in America, it was published in New York between 1858 and 1861 by French communist-anarchist Joseph Déjacque. The next recorded use of the term was in Europe, when “libertarian communism” was used at a French regional anarchist Congress at Le Havre (16-22 November, 1880). January the following year saw a French manifesto issued on “Libertarian or Anarchist Communism.” Finally, 1895 saw leading anarchists Sébastien Faure and Louise Michel publish La Libertaire in France. [Max Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism, pp. 75-6, p. 145 and p. 162]

It should be noted that Nettlau’s history was first written in 1932 and revised in 1934. George Woodcock, in his history of anarchism, reported the same facts as regards Déjacque and Faure [Anarchism: A History of libertarian ideas and movements, p. 233] Significantly, Woodcock’s account was written in 1962 and makes no mention of right-wing use of the term “libertarian.” More recently, Robert Graham states that Déjacque’s act made “him the first person to use the word ‘libertarian’ as synonymous with ‘anarchist’” while Faure and Michel were “popularising the use of the word ‘libertarian’ as a synonym for ‘anarchist.’” [Robert Graham (Ed.), Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, p. 60 and p. 231]

Which means, incidentally, that Louise Michel is linked with anarchists both using the term “libertarian” to describe our ideas and with the black flag becoming our symbol. Faure subsequently wrote an article entitled “Libertarian Communism” in 1903.

In terms of America, we find Benjamin Tucker (a leading individualist anarchist) discussing “libertarian solutions” to land use in February, 1897. As we discuss in section G.3, the Individualist Anarchists attacked capitalist (i.e., right-“libertarian”) property rights in land as the “land monopoly” and looked forward to a time when “the libertarian principle to the tenure of land” was actually applied. [Liberty, no. 350, p. 5] The 1920s saw communist-anarchist Bartolomeo Vanzetti argue that:

"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." [Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti, p. 274]

Interestingly, Rudolf Rocker’s 1949 book, published in Los Angeles, states that individualist anarchist Stephan P. Andrews was “one of the most versatile and significant exponents of libertarian socialism.” [Pioneers of American Freedom, p. 85] It should also be noted that 1909 saw the translation into English of Kropotkin’s history of the French Revolution in which he argued that “the principles of anarchism . . . had their origin . . . in the deeds of the Great French Revolution” and “the libertarians would no doubt so the same today.” [The Great French Revolution, vol. 1, p. 204 and p. 206]

The most famous use of “libertarian communism” must be by the world’s largest anarchist movement, the anarcho-syndicalist CNT in Spain. After proclaiming its aim to be “libertarian communism” in 1919, the CNT held its national congress of May 1936 in Zaragoza, with 649 delegates representing 982 unions with a membership of over 550,000. One of the resolutions passed was “The Confederal Conception of Libertarian Communism” [Jose Peirats, The CNT in the Spanish Revolution, vol. 1, pp. 103-10] This was resolution on libertarian communism was largely the work of Isaac Puente, author of the widely reprinted and translated pamphlet of the same name published four years previously. That year, 1932, also saw the founding of the Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias (Iberian Federation of Anarchist Youth) in Madrid by anarchists.

The term “libertarian” has been used by more people than just anarchists, but always to describe socialist ideas close to anarchism. For example, in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s Maurice Brinton and the group he was a member of (Solidarity) described their politics as “libertarian” and their decentralised, self-managed form of socialism is hard to distinguish from anarchism. So while “libertarian” did become broader than anarchism, it was still used by people on the left who aimed for socialism.

Unsurprisingly, given this well known and well documented use of the word “libertarian” by anarchists (and those close to them on the left) to describe their ideas, the use of the term by supporters of capitalism is deplorable. And it should be resisted. Writing in the 1980s, Murray Bookchin noted that in the United States the “term ‘libertarian’ itself, to be sure, raises a problem, notably, the specious identification of an anti-authoritarian ideology with a straggling movement for ‘pure capitalism’ and ‘free trade.’ This movement never created the word: it appropriated it from the anarchist movement of the [nineteenth] century. And it should be recovered by those anti-authoritarians . . . who try to speak for dominated people as a whole, not for personal egotists who identify freedom with entrepreneurship and profit." Thus anarchists in America should “restore in practice a tradition that has been denatured by” the free-market right. [The Modern Crisis, pp. 154-5]

As we note in section F.2, anarchists tend to use an alternative name for the right-wing “libertarian”, namely “Propertarian.” Interestingly, Ursula Le Guin used the term in her 1974 classic of anarchist Science-Fiction, The Dispossessed. One of the anarchist characters notes that inhabitants of Anarres (the communist-anarchist moon) “want nothing to do with the propertarians” of Urras. Urras is, however, a standard capitalist world (with A-Io representing the United States and Thu representing the Soviet Union) and not explicitly right-“libertarian” in nature. The anarchist protagonist, Shevek, does discover some people who describe themselves as “libertarian” but these declare themselves close to communist-anarchism (asked whether they are anarchists they reply: “Partly. Syndicalists, libertarians . . . anti-centralists”). Shevek, needless to say, is unimpressed with claims he should visit Thu to see “socialism”, replying that he was well aware how “real socialism functions.” [The Dispossessed, p. 70, p. 245 and p. 118]

It should be noted that “archist” and “propertarian” is used pretty much interchangeably in The Dispossessed to describe Urras, showing clear understand of, and links to, Proudhon’s argument in the first self-labelled anarchist book that property was both “theft” and “despotism.” As we noted in section F.1, Proudhon argued that “violates equality by the rights of exclusion and increase, and freedom by despotism” and has “perfect identity with robbery.” [What is Property, p. 251] Little wonder French syndicalist Emile Pouget, echoing Proudhon, argued that:

"Property and authority are merely differing manifestations and expressions of one and the same 'principle' which boils down to the enforcement and enshrinement of the servitude of man. Consequently, the only difference between them is one of vantage point: viewed from one angle, slavery appears as a property crime, whereas, viewed from a different angle, it constitutes an authority crime." [No Gods, No Masters, vol. 2, p. 66]

So, in summary, considered in terms of our political, social and economics ideas it is unsurprising that anarchists have been using the term “libertarian” for 150 years. Regardless of the attempts by others ignorant of both the history of that term and the reality of capitalism to appropriate it for their hierarchical and authoritarian ideology, we will continue to do so.

This article appeared in Freedom vol. 69, No. 23-4

Comments

(from France) it is a

(from France) it is a surprise to me that no one made a commentary about the error, though it is only a small one : it is true that the word "libertaire" seems to have been used for the first time in French by Joseph Déjacque, who created it in the... United States. But he was still in La Nouvelle-Orléans, not in New York, when in 1857 -not "1858"- he used it in his brilliant brochure "De l'Etre-Human, mâle et femelle" which was an answer to Proudhon in his attempt to give a socialist (!) basis to discrimination against Women.

Luc Nemeth

It is quite right that

It is quite right that Libertaire was first coined in 1857, in a letter from Déjacque to Proudhon. The article is based on the public use of the term -- namely as a title of a journal.

from my point of view it is

from my point of view it is difficult to present the 1857 text as a... private letter, sent by Déjacque to Proudhon -anyway Proudhon had not much taste for contradictors and did not save anything, in his archive, of the material he received from Déjacque. This text, was public : it was a brochure, published by Déjacque at his own expenses, under title "De l'Etre-Humain, mâle et femelle" (in this affair the words "Lettre à P.J. Proudhon" were only the sub-title). It's in it that he clearly and openly opposed 'libertaire' to 'libéral', as well, as to 'anarchiste modéré'.

Suffice to say, we can agree

Suffice to say, we can agree to disagree. The letter can be read here:

The Human Being by Joseph Déjacque

The letter uses the word once. The question is would it have had the impact it did if he had not used it as the title of a publication the following year? Probably not. That is why the article concentrates on the journal.

Concerning the impact of the

Concerning the impact of the brochure it is quite difficult to give a precise answer since at that time no radical press was allowed in France (under the Second Empire) ; then the brochure concerned 'feminine' topics which sometimes give place to a wide and permanent 'verbal' debate, not to a wide written one... It seems the brochure had some success -in one of the last issues of "Le Libertaire", when Déjacque tried to sell all his remaining writings before he made return to Europe, it is mentioned among the ones which are quite out of print. But for the rest, though neither Sébastien Faure nor Louise Michel (as far as I remember) gave any explaination of their choice of the title, in 1895, there is no doubt that the fact it had been formerly the title of a journal had more than some weight.

Concerning the word itself a

Concerning the word itself a long study has been published here in France now quite fourty years ago in the periodical "Economies et sociétés", n. 12, déc. 1972. As far as I know it has not been translated in English but I give you its reference, anyway. It is the one of Valentin Pélosse : “Joseph Déjacque et la création du néologisme ‘libertaire’ (1857)”.

The modern use of the term

The modern use of the term "libertarian" is not limited to the United States -- at least a couple dozen countries have political parties and organizations that identify as libertarian and advocate views which are both anti-authoritarian and pro-property rights (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_libertarian_political_parties).

Nor is today's meaning of "libertarian" as far from the roots of the word as the essay above appears to suggest. Libertarians today generally understand that libertarianism is not right-wing -- as the Nolan or Advocates chart illustrates (see http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz), it is pro-freedom or anti-statist, being against *both* the moral authoritarianism of the right, *and* the economic authoritarianism of the left. Many people self-identify as both libertarians (in the modern sense) and anarchists.

There is also a growing strain of libertarianism called geo-libertarianism which is seeking to reclaim the Georgist (per Henry George) ideas on land espoused by people like Benjamin Tucker, arguing that since land (almost uniquely among resources) is not the result of human effort in the way that other types of property are, everyone born into the world has an equal right to a share of it.

How this might work in practice is that a jurisdiction adopting geo-libertarian approach to land could:

(1) add up the market value of all the land in the jurisdiction, arriving at a dollar figure
(2) subtract from that figure the market value of all the human-created improvements (buildings, roads, orchards, gardens, etc.) to arrive at a second figure
(3) divide this second figure by the number of people in the jurisdiction, to arrive at a per-person dollar amount (the "fair share")
(4) require anyone owning lands worth (after subtracting the value of improvements) more than this dollar amount, to pay "rent" into a fund to be divided among anyone owning lands worth (after subtracting the value of improvements) less than this dollar amount, or no land at all, with the amount of land rent paid or received by each person proportionate to the amount by which the value of his or her land, minus improvements, exceeded or fell short of the per-person "fair share" figure.

An advantage of the system above is that it would provide a basic safety net without the use of coercive taxation based on seizing the fruits of peoples' labor.

But those here called "individualist anarchists" should really be called simply "anarchists", because the default condition of human beings is essentially individualist. That is to say, we are not hive creatures by nature, and while humans have often organized themselves into various tribes and such, there is nothing in the elimination of government that would *automatically* result in a communist-type social arrangement. Certainly such arrangements could be made, but not everyone would want to participate in them. If governments disappeared tomorrow, people would naturally still have possessions (property) and many would naturally use this property to engage in voluntarily exchange among themselves (free trade). Any successful organized effort to forcibly redistribute or communalize property, or to regulate or restrict consensual trades, would constitute the de facto establishment of a government and the end of anarchy.

This is what many so-called "anarcho-syndicalists" or left-wing anarchists I've encountered seem to ignore. In their minds, as far as I've been able to understand their thinking, eliminating government would mean the elimination of hierarchically organized business and large-scale ownership as well. Some even foresee the elimination of money and personal property. But they fail to explain exactly how any of this would happen without the use of aggressive force.

Governments universally rely on coercive taxation to sustain them, but that is not generally true of businesses. No doubt without the overt and hidden government subsidies that benefit large companies, such institutions would be far less dominant and prevalent in an anarchic world than they are today, but to imagine that property and for-profit enterprise would disappear entirely is as unrealistic as Karl Marx's belief that once the proletariat had fully seized power, the State would eventually wither away.

As Frank Zappa said, "People like to own stuff." :-)

"[Libertarianism] is

"[Libertarianism] is pro-freedom or anti-statist, being against *both* the moral authoritarianism of the right, *and* the economic authoritarianism of the left."
Moral and economic authoritarianism aren't exclusive to one authoritarian political tradition but tend to show up in all of them. For example pornography is banned in China and there were anti-gay witch hunts in Cuba during the 60s and 70s.

Also, if you want to understand social anarchism better, and especially the social anarchist conception of property, you should read the book What Is Property. Here's an English translation: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/pjproudhon/property

I would suggest reading An

I would suggest reading An Anarchist FAQ

The modern use of the term "libertarian" is not limited to the United States...

Anarchists never stopped using the term libertarian, so the fact that propertarians are using the term outside America is beside the point. Interestingly, in France they are not called libertaires -- what a surprise!

Nor is today's meaning of "libertarian" as far from the roots of the word as the essay above appears to suggest. Libertarians today generally understand that libertarianism is not right-wing...

And how many proclaim "property is theft" and "property is despotism"? None. And, please, it IS right-wing.

Many people self-identify as both libertarians (in the modern sense) and anarchists.

And as section F of An Anarchist FAQ proves, they would be mistaken.

But those here called "individualist anarchists" should really be called simply "anarchists", because the default condition of human beings is essentially individualist. That is to say, we are not hive creatures by nature...

Who said they were? And you confuse individualisation with individualism. Anarchists are very supportive of the former and argue that capitalist individualism is self-defeating. As can be seen, under capitalism people sell their liberty to top-down autocratic firms -- hardly individualistic.

In their minds, as far as I've been able to understand their thinking, eliminating government would mean the elimination of hierarchically organized business and large-scale ownership as well.

Anarchism has always been against hierarchically organised business. Read Proudhon!

Some even foresee the elimination of money and personal property. But they fail to explain exactly how any of this would happen without the use of aggressive force.

No anarchist wants to get rid of personal possession. As for private property, that requires a state to maintain -- otherwise people would just use it. I would suggest you read An Anarchist FAQ.

As Frank Zappa said, "People like to own stuff." :-)

And so why do they tolerate a system in which a small minority own the bulk of resources and wealth? Only anarchism, by abolishing private property, ensures that everyone has sufficient personal possessions to live a full life.

Anarchists never stopped

Anarchists never stopped using the term libertarian, so the fact that propertarians are using the term outside America is beside the point.

It's not "beside the point" -- it's the *reality* of how language is currently used in the world now, as opposed to how some on the left may *wish* it were being used.

And, please, it (libertarianism) IS right-wing.

Pleading doesn't make it so! Not everything which is not left-wing, is right-wing!

...under capitalism people sell their liberty to top-down autocratic firms -- hardly individualistic.

Under capitalism, or whatever term you want to use to describe a system in which people are allowed to choose what to do with their own time, money, bodies, and property so long as they do not initiate force or fraud against others, *some* people may choose to spend some of their time in the service of top-down firms in exchange for what those firms offer them. You and I may think their choices are unwise, even pathetic or reprehensible, but the right to choose belongs to those individuals, not to us! As long as they are not being coerced, and are free to change their minds and leave the arrangements, to deny them the freedom to make poor choices is to deny them freedom.

Anarchism has always been against hierarchically organised business.

"Always?" Hardly. I know plenty of anarchists who are *not* against hierarchically organized business. Probably as long as governments have existed, there have been some people who were opposed to any government control per se. Some of those people have held views we might consider right-wing or conservative, while others have held views we might consider left-wing or liberal, while still others have held views that don't fall neatly into either category.

To assert that wanting to get rid of government automatically means one must want to get rid of private property and management in voluntary business arrangements as well is to assert an absurdity. The two concepts do not necessarily go together.

You want to call people who favor the abolition of governments without abolishing private property "propertarians" in order to smear them with the charge of being selfish materialists who only care about possessions. But in fact the reason many anarchists do not want to get rid of private property is because their opposition to government is based on their opposition to *aggression* (initiating force/fraud), and simply owning property does *not* constitute aggression if the property was consensually obtained.

No anarchist wants to get rid of personal possession. As for private property, that requires a state to maintain -- otherwise people would just use it.

The distinction you're attempting to make here between "personal possessions" on one hand and "private property" on the other is a false dichotomy. Consider -- how large, valuable, or infrequently used must something be, before you would say it ceases to be a "personal possession" and becomes "private property"? Can someone else claim your "personal possession" after you've "abandoned" it for a minute? An hour? A day? A week? A month? A year? There is no basis upon which to draw a clear dividing line, and so any line that is drawn will be arbitrary and therefore philosophically unjustifiable.

(Why do those who like to own stuff) tolerate a system in which a small minority own the bulk of resources and wealth?

Because we recognize that having a harmonious society requires us to respect the property rights of others, in order that our own property rights and those of people we care about will also be respected. Those who do not succumb to malicious envy and hatred will not begrudge others their wealth, if they see that this wealth was honestly (consensually) earned, rather than being the result of State privilege.

A balanced view of life will also recognize that there is more to life than material comforts, and that one's happiness need not depend upon having as much wealth as others. In a free world no longer being plundered by the forces of government aggression, so much more wealth would be generated than is presently the case that it would be relatively simple for virtually everyone to get their basic material needs met.

Again, read An Anarchist

Again, read An Anarchist FAQ...

It's not "beside the point" -- it's the *reality* of how language is currently used in the world now, as opposed to how some on the left may *wish* it were being used.

Ah, right, if some people start calling black white then others have no reason to object? No, far from it. If a group of people decide to appropriate a word and twist its meaning, those from whom the word was stolen can and should object. Rothbard was quite clear that the propertarians stole the word from the left:

“One gratifying aspect of our rise to some prominence is that, for the first time in my memory, we, ‘our side,’ had captured a crucial word from the enemy . . . ‘Libertarians’ . . . had long been simply a polite word for left-wing [sic!] anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over...” (The Betrayal of the American Right, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, 2007, p. 83)

Yes, the right are trying to steal the word libertarian internationally as they did in America. Genuine libertarians are trying to stop them by pointing out the origins of the word AND that the right stole it from the left.

> And, please, it (libertarianism) IS right-wing.

Pleading doesn't make it so! Not everything which is not left-wing, is right-wing!

Quite -- and (some) propertarians pleading their ideology is not right wing does not change the fact (as pointed out by many other propertarians and everyone else!) that it is.

Under capitalism, or whatever term you want to use to describe a system in which people are allowed to choose what to do with their own time, money, bodies, and property so long as they do not initiate force or fraud against others, *some* people may choose to spend some of their time in the service of top-down firms in exchange for what those firms offer them.

And once the wealthy have appropriated all the wealth then everyone else has little choice BUT to sell their liberty to capitalists! Anarchists have argued this since Proudhon's What is Property? in 1840 and it shows how far propertarians are from genuine libertarian ideas (and reality) that they deny this.

B.3 Why are anarchists against private property?

You and I may think their choices are unwise, even pathetic or reprehensible, but the right to choose belongs to those individuals, not to us!

It is not a question of whether their choices are unwise but whether they have genuine alternatives. Under capitalism, they do not. And, of course, even if there was a genuine choice and they decided to be exploited by capitalists then it would not be a libertarian structure -- they would still be subject to hierarchy and so it would not be an anarchist system.

A.2.14 Why is voluntarism not enough?

As long as they are not being coerced, and are free to change their minds and leave the arrangements, to deny them the freedom to make poor choices is to deny them freedom.

Now that is funny... a system which reduces freedom to picking which master to obey is presented as true freedom... Economic power associated with a few owning the means of production makes a mockery of freedom:

F.1 Are "anarcho"-capitalists really anarchists?

> Anarchism has always been against hierarchically organised business.

"Always?"

Proudhon argued against hierarchical workplaces in 1840 in What is Property? when he coined the phrase anarchist to describe his libertarian socialist ideas. So, yes, since anarchism has been a named socio-economic theory and movement it has been opposed to hierarchically organised businesses. It is basic commonsense, given anarchist ideas:

G.4.1 Is wage labour consistent with anarchist principles?

Hardly. I know plenty of anarchists who are *not* against hierarchically organized business.

You know plenty of people who call themselves anarchists. Rothbard called himself an anarchist, it did not make it so.

Probably as long as governments have existed, there have been some people who were opposed to any government control per se.

And the vast majority of them recognised the obvious contradiction in opposing government control while supporting employer control. That is why anarchists opposed by state and property. Proudhon argued that "property is theft" and that "property is despotism", for example. Genuine libertarians have followed that path.

Some of those people have held views we might consider right-wing or conservative, while others have held views we might consider left-wing or liberal, while still others have held views that don't fall neatly into either category.

And the right-wingers were not anarchists:

F.7 How does the history of "anarcho"-capitalism show that it is not anarchist?

To assert that wanting to get rid of government automatically means one must want to get rid of private property and management in voluntary business arrangements as well is to assert an absurdity. The two concepts do not necessarily go together.

You obviously have not read Proudhon nor the main anarchist thinkers like Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Goldman and so on.

You want to call people who favor the abolition of governments without abolishing private property "propertarians" in order to smear them with the charge of being selfish materialists who only care about possessions.

No, not at all. Propertarian is just far more accurate a description than libertarian. Given a clash between liberty and property, propertarians side with property. This can be seen from their defence of the hierarchical capitalist workplace.

But in fact the reason many anarchists do not want to get rid of private property is because their opposition to government is based on their opposition to *aggression* (initiating force/fraud), and simply owning property does *not* constitute aggression if the property was consensually obtained.

But they are NOT anarchists. They wish to maintain the rule of the property owners. And when property is monopolised in the hands of the few, the rest have no choice but to sell their liberty to them in order to survive. And it should be noted that modern property is the result of centuries of coercion:

F.8 What role did the state take in the creation of capitalism?

The distinction you're attempting to make here between "personal possessions" on one hand and "private property" on the other is a false dichotomy.

No, it is a basic anarchist analysis and that propertarians deny it just goes to show how far they are from genuine libertarian ideas.

Consider -- how large, valuable, or infrequently used must something be, before you would say it ceases to be a "personal possession" and becomes "private property"?

Really, read some Proudhon! Please, it would help immensely if you had SOME understanding of basic libertarian ideas. He discusses when possession becomes property -- it is when you stop using it yourself and get others to use it for you and you exploit their labour.

Can someone else claim your "personal possession" after you've "abandoned" it for a minute? An hour? A day? A week? A month? A year? There is no basis upon which to draw a clear dividing line, and so any line that is drawn will be arbitrary and therefore philosophically unjustifiable.

Spoken like a true propertarian... I should not that anarchists used the term libertarian for over 100 years before the propertarians decided to appropriate it. According to your own argument, their action was theft (and Rothbard stated as much). It must, surely, be "philosophically unjustifiable" for propertarians to use that expression. Or are propertarians excluded from their own ideological positions?

>(Why do those who like to own stuff) tolerate a system in which a small minority own the bulk of resources and wealth?

Because we recognize that having a harmonious society requires us to respect the property rights of others, in order that our own property rights and those of people we care about will also be respected.

Now THAT is funny... So anarchism won't work because people want to own stuff but capitalism works because people will happily not own stuff! Make your mind up... And there can be no harmony between classes:

F.3.2 Can there be harmony of interests in an unequal society?

Those who do not succumb to malicious envy and hatred will not begrudge others their wealth, if they see that this wealth was honestly (consensually) earned, rather than being the result of State privilege.

You seem to lack even a basic awareness of how capitalism as a system actually developed! And anarchists wish to end capitalism because we consider freedom as more important than property. We do not degrudge those who work hard, we oppose those who get rich by getting others to work hard for them.

A balanced view of life will also recognize that there is more to life than material comforts, and that one's happiness need not depend upon having as much wealth as others.

People are happiest when they are free. They are not free when they are being bossed about by employers. One's freedom and happiness depends on all having access to the means of life -- otherwise we are just servants to those who do own the means of production. Any genuine libertarian would recognise that and aim to end it. Propertarians always seek to justify it...

In a free world no longer being plundered by the forces of government aggression, so much more wealth would be generated than is presently the case that it would be relatively simple for virtually everyone to get their basic material needs met.

And if they don't, well, they can find someone else's property to starve on? And a free world, by definition, is one in which people associate as equals rather than as masters and servants.

I.3.3 What does socialisation mean?

And I should not you have moved from liberty to property -- as is usual for a propertarian:

B.3.4 Can private property be justified?

As I said, please, read An Anarchist FAQ. It addresses precisely the kind of assertions you have made. We genuine libertarians have been hearing them for some time. Repeating them does not make them right. Just as repeatingly calling your authoritarian ideology "libertarian" does not make them right.

If you cannot be bothered with An Anarchist FAQ, here is the short version of why propertarianism is not libertarian:

An Anarchist critique of Anarcho-Statism: Or refuting "anarcho"-capitalism by means of "anarcho"-capitalism

And I should note that Rothbard once recognised the obvious, that propertarians are not anarchists:

Rothbard: "We must therefore conclude that we are not anarchists"

So, looked at both historically (in terms of what libertarians actually argued) and logically (in terms of what a libertarian society requires) it is obvious that the so-called "libertarians" of the right are NOT libertarians, they are propertarians. This becomes obvious when we study the actual origins and history of the term libertarian. It is a shame that propertarians seem unwilling to acknowledge that history and that they have, irony of ironies, stolen their name from the left.

This conversation is really

This conversation is really quite interesting. As "F.8 What role did the state take in the creation of capitalism?" points out, and as the history of the last several centuries show across the world, the institutions of public and private property were created through enormous state coercion and violence. In the countries where feudalism existed, enclosures of the commons and a parliament stacked in favor of the landed aristocracy and the emerging merchant class were the general measures needed to created the institutions of state capitalism.

In the countries where the dominator hierarchy of feudalism did not exist (Australia, US, India, etc.), capitalism was created by a lethal mixture of genocide, slavery, enclosures of the commons, unrelenting violence against the poor and workers, bought-off parliaments/congresses, and massive subsidies, bailouts and giveaways to landlords, capitalists, and the business class. Then the poor and workers, stripped of any substantive democratic control over their lives, were told that these institutions were the very apex of freedom. After having all possible avenues of livelihood stripped from them, workers are then told that capitalism is defined by negative liberty - general non-interference - but this is a sick joke. As has been pointed out above, such freedom is simply the choice to choose which master to sell yourself to. In state socialist economies (for instance, Bolshevist Russia), workers had only one choice: sell their labor to the state.

As the AFAQ points out, capitalism cannot be defined by market organization, commodity production or exchange, which many libertarians are in favor of (economic democracy, market socialism,) but rather wage labor and private property (which constitutes only one type of possible property relation).

One only has to compare the organizational structure of a capitalist firm with the fascist or Bolshevist state to figure out just how free these institutions really are: they are identical. Orders come from the top, are passed down through layers of management, and carried out by workers. Firms are internally totalitarian and have a Maoist quality to them: absolute subordination and obedience to the central board and dear leader (the unelected board of directors and CEO). The Wikileaks website has an interesting comparison of firms to states:

1) The right to vote does not exist except for share holders (analogous to land owners) and even there voting power is in proportion to ownership.
2) All power issues from a central committee.
3) There is no balancing division of power. There is no fourth estate. There are no juries and innocence is not presumed.
4) Failure to submit to any order may result in instant exile.
5) There is no freedom of speech.
6) There is no right of association. Even romance between men and women is often forbidden without approval.
7) The economy is centrally planned.
8) There is pervasive surveillance of movement and electronic communication.
9) The society is heavily regulated, to the degree many employees are told when, where and how many times a day they can go to the toilet.
10) There is little transparency and something like the Freedom of Information Act is unimaginable.
11) Internal opposition groups, such as unions, are blackbanned, surveilled and/or marginalized whenever and wherever possible.

A great deal of political economy, combined with ethics, over the decades, has attempted to do two things: (1) justify the violence and coercion that was used by the state to create capitalism and (2) to justify that renting oneself to these totalitarian institutions is actually the democratic heights of freedom and individuality. This is unsurprising, given that any system of power requires convenient fictions like these in order to ensure that the victims will submit to them without question. In all the overflowing praises of capitalism, (1) is never touched upon, apart from some, such as Rothbard and Nozick (which the AFAQ tears apart), and (2) is obviously the whole point of praising factory fascism and office oligarchy.

It is quite possible there will always be people who want to subject themselves to private bosses; no doubt there were many twisted people who thought that Bolshevism was the highest form of democracy and would happily subject themselves to the state boss. No doubt there are those who prefer political authoritarianism, but most would of course prefer political democracy, just as most would prefer economic democracy, within and without the workplace.

The propertarian's economic solution for limiting and doing away with the state is so unrealistic, in theory and in practice. They have so twisted economic methodology to do away with public goods, externalities, information asymmetry, market failures, class, groups, and society in order to make it look that a system based upon markets will be efficient, that in the end it bears no resemblance at all to any form of science.

The only reason why capitalist markets actually do anything substantive is because the conservative nanny state (Dean Baker's expression) bribes capitalists to invest through the issuance of corporate charters and intellectual property, among other state interventions for the rich (below-market rate loans, oligopolistic/duopolistic/monopolistic market structures, research and development credits, preferential tax breaks, etc.). As those with a minimal attachment to economic theory and history can see, firms will never be able to gather enough capital together to invest in some medium/all large projects without massive protection and subsidies, thus necessitating corporate charters with their ludicrous rights of limited liability, sovereignty and immortality, allowing conglomerations of capital far above what would exist in a free market.

Then comes the second problem: in a free market, uncertainty is so extreme that investments have to be limited to the very near future, are small/medium in size, and only in projects that have an almost guaranteed chance of success. The larger the project, and the further into the future, the more uncertain the investment becomes. Thus, the need for the state to socialize risks and costs, so that capitalists can privatize management and profits. Section "I.1.5 Does capitalism efficiently allocate resources?" looks at this more in depth. For instance, the Internet could never be developed by the market because it took approximately 30 years to develop through large-scale government and university R&D. Many other examples abound.

The last point is that many industries have a high fixed cost and low/zero marginal cost structure. For instance, the pharmaceutical industry has high fixed costs (R&D) but low marginal costs (medicine production). If medicines are produced at marginal cost within a competitive market, firms will never be able to recoup fixed costs. For the software industry, it is even worse: high fixed costs, zero marginal costs. With this type of firm structure, many of today's industries would cease to exist; they would not be difficult to identify (pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical devices, aeronautics, software, hardware, shipping, space travel, train and tram systems, etc.). The most prominent industry in the 19th century US was the railroads. They required enormous fixed costs (land, track, locomotives, stations, carriages) but the marginal costs (one more person or freight per ton/mile) were tiny. Nearly all the land had to be given away to the capitalists by the state for free (and was often confiscated from the Indians through genocide). The historical evidence for this had been around since the 19th century US, and the empirical evidence since 1948 in the US. Overwhelmingly, Austrian and neoclassical economists ignore this evidence because it conflicts with their fantasies about what capitalist markets can actually do. Only a handful of Keynesian economists (Keen, Lee, Blinder) and one Marxist (Perelman) have actually bothered to gather and examine the evidence.

Markets are good for producing and selling goods/services and making minor evolutionary changes, but it requires enormous state intervention to keep capitalism industry from collapsing. I often say to my left-wing friends that if they want to advocate a return to social democracy, just advocate free markets in the private sector - this will result in a colossal collapse of one capitalist industry after another as government intervention is removed. Then the state can take over ownership and management.

For those who cling to Austrian Rothbardian fantasies, there is one solution: ignore the evidence. For all others, a strong mixed-mode economy producing, allocating and consuming a fairly equal mix of public and private goods/services leads to the best outcomes. The trick that is made, as David Schweickart has pointed out, is to assume that markets have to be based upon wage slavery and private property - they do not. The problem is to search for a non-market, non-state solution to the production and allocation of public goods, which in any society is considerable.

There is little to nothing worthwhile to be found within propertarian political and economic analysis.

Philip

To add to my last

To add to my last comment...

It has been known for decades that capitalists have resisted implementing new and innovative technologies/methods because it would result in empowering workers and dis-empowering management. It is more important for capitalists to control the workforce within these internally totalitarian institutions which employ command and control structures than to increase efficiency. As with all forms of authoritarianism, it results in inefficiency and inequality.

The historian of technology David Nobel has written about this for decades, and his historical and empirical work should come as no surprise to genuine libertarians. As the AFAQ has referenced, there are so many studies that show that worker-owned democratically-run workplaces are as efficient, if not more so, than equivalent capitalist firms.

It's quite likely that the authoritarian Marxist vision of a totally state-run economy will actually be far more efficient than Rothbard's market utopia (and this is saying something considering how inefficient Bolshevism was/is). This is because Rothbard's system will be able to produce, allocate & consume only private goods. No rational capitalist is going to invest in any good/service that has the hint of the characteristics of a public good because they can't appropriate the efficient level of returns to the amount of capital invested.

On the other hand, we know from history that while a command economy can produce, allocate & consume public goods fairly efficiently, it was fairly pathetic at producing, allocating & consuming private goods. But at least such a system can produce the opposite type of good (private) is wasn't efficient at producing.

Since the 1970s and the end of social democracy, as capitalist markets have been given a greater role, inequality and instability has increased, not decreased, the opposite to what Austrian and neoclassical economic theory would have us believe. In response, most of their arguments revolve around demonizing the state for the failings of capitalist markets (as the AFAQ has pointed out).

Rothbard's vision has some small flaws in it: it would drive society back to the 2nd/3rd world, and for some strange reason we can't seem to fathom, the capitalist and managerial classes are against that (not to mention workers). At least state planners and corporatists, as vile as they are, have their minds in the real world, unlike Rothbard & Co., with their fantastical theories of efficient free markets.

Philip

thank you

thank you

- For left-libertarians

- For left-libertarians property & freedom are center stage.

- For right-libertarians property & freedom are center stage.

The cores are similar in topic but not in many details. Regardless - squabbles over the core word are a waste of space when we can just add a "right" or "left" to the front.

Broadly (generalizing) the left libertarian values most highly a rejection of hierarchy in the workplace, in property rules and capital control. The right libertarian values most highly a rejection of the initiation of force. (Of course the right libertarian rejects notions that wealth or hierarchal concentration are acts of rule.)

Anarchy means "No Rulers". A right libertarian anarchist perceives any 3rd party physical force initiated against property acquired through original appropriation or voluntary exchange as an act of a "ruler".

Indeed the difference between a formal ruler and an informal ruler is nothing but a social norm, what truly defines the ruler is their willingness (+ability) to put others into an involuntary position. Someone willing and eager to put others into involuntary position without first seeking to use whatever peaceful means possible first, is not particularly libertarian, not left or right.

Hello, I'm a frenchman, and

Hello,

I'm a frenchman, and I'm also a 'classical liberal', that is, what is meaned today by the word 'libertarian'. I think you're right in pointing the confusion resulting in the use of the word 'libertarian' by those which would be better called 'classical liberals' (not 'propertarians', since, indeed, classical liberalism is not about property per se, even if it has for consequences the right of property), and another confusion is the use, in USA, of the word 'liberal' to mean 'democratic socialist'... which explain why true classical liberals have begun to use the word 'libertarian' to distinguish themselves from the modern 'social-liberal' (really a lot social but a little liberal). However, I think word 'libertarian' is no more appropriate to call left-wing anarchists. The reason is that this word was used before Dejacque, in 1789, by William Belsham, to qualify persons who believe in true free will and its incompatibility with determinism.

It's true, in France, classical liberals don't called themselves 'libertaires' which has a left-wing anarchist connotation, but simply 'libéraux' which has kept its true original meaning. However, and that adds confusion, radical classical liberals, in favor of a very limited government or of no government at all, sometimes call themselves 'libertariens'...

Sincerly yours,
Mikaël

P.-S.: I hope my english is not too bad...

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