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Libertarian socialism

This equality and freedom would be achieved through the abolition of authoritarian institutions that own and control productive means as private property,[6] so that direct control of thesemeans of production and resources will be shared by society as a whole. Libertarian socialism also constitutes a tendency of thought that informs the identification, criticism and practical dismantling of illegitimate authority in all aspects of social life. Accordingly libertarian socialists believe that “the exercise of power in any institutionalized form – whether economic, political, religious, or sexual – brutalizes both the wielder of power and the one over whom it is exercised.”[7]

Libertarian socialists place their hopes in trade unionsworkers’ councilsmunicipalities, citizens’ assemblies, and other non-bureaucratic, decentralized means of direct democracy.[8] Many libertarian socialists advocate doing away with the state altogether, seeing it as a bulwark of capitalist class rule, while others propose that a minimal, non-hierarchical version is unobjectionable.[9]

Political philosophies commonly described as libertarian socialist include most varieties of anarchism (especially anarchist communismanarchist collectivismanarcho-syndicalism,[10]mutualism,[11] social ecology,[12] autonomism and council communism).[13] Some writers use libertarian socialism synonymously with anarchism[14] and in particular socialist anarchism.[15][16]

Contents

[edit]Overview

Noam Chomsky, a noted libertarian socialist.

Libertarian socialism is an ideology with diverse interpretations, though some general commonalities can be found in its many incarnations. Its proponents advocate a worker-oriented system of distribution that radically departs from capitalist economics (socialism).[17] They proposed that this economic system be executed in a manner that attempts to maximize the liberty of individuals and minimize concentration of power or authority (libertarianism). Libertarian socialists are strongly critical of coercive institutions, which often leads them to reject the legitimacy of the state in favor of anarchism.[18] Adherents attempt to achieve this through the decentralization of political and economic power, usually involving the socialization of most large-scale property and enterprise. Libertarian socialism denies the legitimacy of most forms of economically significant private property, because they view capitalist property relations as forms of domination that are antagonistic to individual freedom.[19]

The first person to describe himself as a libertarian was Joseph Déjacque, an early French anarchist communist. The word stems from the French wordlibertaire, and was used to evade the French ban on anarchist publications.[20] In the context of the European socialist movement, libertarian has conventionally been used to describe those who opposed state socialism, such as Mikhail Bakunin. In the United States, the movement most commonly called libertarianism follows a capitalist philosophy; the term libertarian socialism therefore strikes many Americans as a contradiction in terms. However, the association of socialism to libertarianism predates that of capitalism, and many anti-authoritarians still decry what they see as a mistaken association of capitalism to libertarianism in the United States.[21] As Noam Chomsky put it, a consistent libertarian “must oppose private ownership of the means of production and the wage slavery which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer.”[22]

In a chapter recounting the history of libertarian socialism, radical economist Robin Hahnel relates that thus far the period where libertarian socialism has had its greatest impact was at the end of the 19th century through the first four decades of the twentieth century.

“Early in the twentieth century, libertarian socialism was as powerful a force as social democracy and communism. The Libertarian International – founded at the Congress of Saint Imier a few days after the split between Marxist and libertarians at the congress of the Socialist International held in The Hague in 1872 – competed successfully against social democrats and communists alike for the loyalty of anticapitalist activists, revolutionaries, workers, unions and political parties for over fifty years. Libertarian socialists played a major role in the Russian revolutions of 1905and 1917. Libertarian socialists played a dominant role in the Mexican Revolution of 1911. Twenty years after World War I was over, libertarian socialists were still strong enough to spearhead the social revolution that swept across Republican Spain in 1936 and 1937.”[23]

[edit]Anti-capitalism

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See also: Anti-capitalism

Libertarian socialists assert that when power is exercised, as exemplified by the economic, social, or physical dominance of one individual over another, the burden of proof is always on the authoritarian to justify their action as legitimate when taken against its effect of narrowing the scope of human freedom.[24] Typical examples of legitimate exercise of power would include the use of physical force to rescue someone from being injured by an oncoming vehicle, or self-defense. Libertarian socialists typically oppose rigid and stratified structures of authority, be they politicaleconomic, or social.[25]

Libertarian socialists believe that all social bonds should be developed by individuals who have an equal amount of bargaining power, that an accumulation of economic power in the hands of a few and the centralization of political power both reduce the bargaining power—and thus the liberty of the other individuals in society.[26] To put it another way, capitalist (and right-libertarian) principles concentrate economic power in the hands of those who own the most capital. Libertarian socialism aims to distribute power, and thus freedom, more equally amongst members of society. A key difference between libertarian socialism and free-market libertarianism is that advocates of the former generally believe that one’s degree of freedom is affected by one’s economic and social status, whereas advocates of the latter focus on freedom of choice. This is sometimes characterized as a desire to maximize “free creativity” in a society in preference to “free enterprise.”[27]

Libertarian socialists believe if freedom is valued, then society must work towards a system in which individuals have the power to decide economic issues along with political issues. Libertarian socialists seek to replace unjustified authority with direct democracy, voluntary federation, and popular autonomy in all aspects of life,[28] including physical communities and economic enterprises.

Many libertarian socialists argue that large-scale voluntary associations should manage industrial manufacture, while workers retain rights to the individual products of their labor.[29] As such, they see a distinction between the concepts of “private property” and “personal possession”. Whereas “private property” grants an individual exclusive control over a thing whether it is in use or not, and regardless of its productive capacity, “possession” grants no rights to things that are not in use.[30]

[edit]Opposition to the state

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See also: Anti-statism

Libertarian socialists regard concentrations of power as sources of oppression, leading many to oppose the state.

In lieu of states, libertarian socialists seek to organize themselves into voluntary associations (usually collectivescommunescooperativescommons, or syndicates) which use direct democracy or consensus for their decision-making process. Some libertarian socialists advocate combining these institutions using rotating, recallable delegates to higher-level federations.[31] Spanish anarchism is a major example of such federations in practice. Contemporary examples of libertarian socialist organizational and decision-making models in practice include a number of anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements[32] including: Zapatista Councils of Good Government and the Global Indymedia network (which covers 45 countries on 6 continents). There are also many examples of indigenous societies around the world whose political and economic systems can be accurately described as anarchist or libertarian socialist, each of which is unique and uniquely suited to the culture that birthed it.[33] For libertarians, that diversity of practice within a framework of common principles is proof of the vitality of those principles and of their flexibility and strength.

Contrary to popular opinion, libertarian socialism has not traditionally been a utopian movement, tending to avoid dense theoretical analysis or prediction of what a future society would or should look like. The tradition instead has been that such decisions cannot be made now, and must be made through struggle and experimentation, so that the best solution can be arrived at democratically and organically, and to base the direction for struggle on established historical example. Supporters often suggest that this focus on exploration over predetermination is one of their great strengths. They point out that the success of the scientific method comes from its adherence to open rational exploration, not its conclusions, rather than dogma and predetermined predictions.

Although critics claim that they are avoiding questions they cannot answer, libertarian socialists believe that a methodological approach to exploration is the best way to achieve their social goals. To them, dogmatic approaches to social organization are doomed to failure; and thus reject Marxist notions oflinear and inevitable historical progression. Noted anarchist Rudolf Rocker once stated, “I am an anarchist not because I believe anarchism is the final goal, but because there is no such thing as a final goal” (The London Years, 1956).

Because libertarian socialism encourages exploration and embraces a diversity of ideas rather than forming a compact movement, there have arisen inevitable controversies over individuals who describe themselves as libertarian socialists but disagree with some of the core principles of libertarian socialism. For example, Peter Hain interprets libertarian socialism as favoring radical decentralization of power without going as far as the complete abolition of the state[34] and libertarian socialist Noam Chomsky supports dismantling all forms of unjustified social or economic power, while also emphasizing that state intervention should be supported as a temporary protection while oppressive structures remain in existence.

Proponents are known for opposing the existence of states or government and refusing to participate in coercive state institutions. Indeed, in the past many refused to swear oaths in court or to participate in trials, even when they faced imprisonment[35] or deportation.[36]

[edit]Violent and non-violent means

Some libertarian socialists see violent revolution as necessary in the abolition of capitalist society. Along with many others, Errico Malatesta argued that the use of violence was necessary; as he put it in Umanità Nova (no. 125, September 6, 1921):

It is our aspiration and our aim that everyone should become socially conscious and effective; but to achieve this end, it is necessary to provide all with the means of life and for development, and it is therefore necessary to destroy with violence, since one cannot do otherwise, the violence which denies these means to the workers.[37]

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued in favor of a non-violent revolution. The progression towards violence in anarchism stemmed, in part, from the massacres of some of the communes inspired by the ideas of Proudhon and others. Many anarcho-communists began to see a need for revolutionary violence to counteract the violence inherent in both capitalism and government.[38]

[edit]Political roots

As Albert Meltzer and Stuart Christie stated in their book The Floodgates of Anarchy, anarchism has:

…its particular inheritance, part of which it shares with socialism, giving it a family resemblance to certain of its enemies. Another part of its inheritance it shares with liberalism, making it, at birth, kissing-cousins with American-type radical individualism, a large part of which has married out of the family into the Right Wing and is no longer on speaking terms. (The Floodgates of Anarchy, 1970, page 39.)

That is, anarchism arose as a cross between socialism and liberalism, incorporating the anti-capitalist attitude of socialists and the anti-statist, what would today be called libertarian, attitude of classical liberalismPierre-Joseph Proudhon, who is often considered the father of modern anarchism, coined the phrase “Property is theft” to describe part of his view on the complex nature of ownership in relation to freedom. When he said property is theft, he was referring to the capitalist who he believed stole profit from laborers. For Proudhon, the capitalist’s employee was “subordinated, exploited: his permanent condition is one of obedience.”[39]

Seventeen years (1857) after Proudhon first called himself an anarchist (1840), anarchist communist Joseph Déjacque was the first person to describe himself as a libertarian.[40] Outside the United States, “libertarian” generally refers to anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist ideologies.[41] For these reasons the term “libertarian socialism” is today almost synonymous with anarchism, outside of the US the term “libertarian socialism” would be considered redundant.

Back in the United States, Henry George spearheaded the Single Tax Movement, which sought socialism via progressive taxation, with tax only on natural resources. This might be seen as a predecessor to libertarian socialism trends there.

Libertarian socialism has its roots in both classical liberalism and socialism, though it is often in conflict with liberalism (especially neoliberalism and right-libertarianism) and authoritarianState socialism simultaneously. While libertarian socialism has roots in both socialism and liberalism, different forms have different levels of influence from the two traditions. For instancemutualist anarchism is more influenced by liberalism while communist and syndicalist anarchism are more influenced by socialism. It is interesting to note, however, that mutualist anarchism has its origins in 18th and 19th century European socialism (such as Fourierian socialism)[42][43] while communist and syndicalist anarchism has its earliest origins in early 18th century liberalism (such as the French Revolution).[44]

[edit]Conflict with Marxism

Mikhail Bakunin, 1814-1876.

In rejecting both capitalism and the state, some libertarian socialists align themselves with anarchists in opposition to both capitalist representative democracy and to authoritarian forms of Marxism. Although anarchists and Marxists share an ultimate goal of a stateless society, anarchists criticise most Marxists for advocating a transitional phase under which the state is used to achieve this aim. Nonetheless, libertarian Marxist tendencies such asautonomist Marxism and council communism have historically been intertwined with the anarchist movement. Anarchist movements have come into conflict with both capitalist and Marxist forces, sometimes at the same time, as in the Spanish Civil War, though as in that war Marxists themselves are often divided in support or opposition to anarchism. Other political persecutions under bureaucratic parties have resulted in a strong historical antagonism between anarchists and libertarian Marxists on the one hand and Leninist Marxists and their derivatives such as Maoists on the other. In recent history, however, libertarian socialists have repeatedly formed temporary alliances with Marxist-Leninist groups for the purposes of protest against institutions they both reject.

Part of this antagonism can be traced to the International Workingmen’s Association, the First International, a congress of radical workers, where Mikhail Bakunin, who was fairly representative of anarchist views, and Karl Marx, whom anarchists accused of being an “authoritarian”, came into conflict on various issues. Bakunin’s viewpoint on the illegitimacy of the state as an institution and the role of electoral politics was starkly counterposed to Marx’s views in the First International. Marx and Bakunin’s disputes eventually led to Marx taking control of the First International and expelling Bakunin and his followers from the organization. This was the beginning of a long-running feud and schism between libertarian socialists and what they call “authoritarian communists”, or alternatively just “authoritarians”.

Some Marxists have formulated views that closely resemble syndicalism, and thus express more affinity with anarchist ideas. Several libertarian socialists, notably Noam Chomsky, believe that anarchism shares much in common with certain variants of Marxism such as the council communism of Marxist Anton Pannekoek. In Chomsky’s Notes on Anarchism,[45] he suggests the possibility “that some form of council communism is the natural form of revolutionary socialism in an industrial society. It reflects the belief that democracy is severely limited when the industrial system is controlled by any form of autocratic elite, whether of owners, managers, and technocrats, a ‘vanguard’ party, or a State bureaucracy.”

Autonomist MarxismNeo-Marxism and Situationist theory are also regarded as being anti-authoritarian variants of Marxism that are firmly within the libertarian socialist tradition. Similarly,William Morris is regarded as both a libertarian socialist and a Marxist.[citation needed]

[edit]Notable libertarian socialist tendencies

[edit]Mutualism

Proudhon and his children, by Gustave Courbet (1865).

Mutualism is a political and economic theory largely associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon was in favor of private ownership of the means of production for small enterprises, but in large scale enterprises supported replacing wage labour by workers’ co-operatives, arguing “it is necessary to form an ASSOCIATION among workers . . . because without that, they would remain related as subordinates and superiors, and there would ensue two . . . castes of masters and wage-workers, which is repugnant to a free and democratic society.”[46] Mutualists believe that a free labor market would allow for conditions of equal income in proportion to exerted labor.[47] As Jonathan Beecher puts it, Proudhon’s aim was to, “emancipate labor from the constraints imposed by capital”.[48]

Proudhon supported individual possession of land rather than community ownership. However, Proudhon believed that an individual only had a right to land while he was using or occupying it. If the individual ceases doing so, it reverts to unowned land.[49]Mutualists hold a labor theory of value, arguing that in exchange labor should always be worth “the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility,”[47] and considering anything less to be exploitation, theft of labor, or usury.

Mutualists oppose the institutions by which individuals gain income through loans, investments, and rent, as they believe the income received through these activities is not in direct accord with labor spent.[47] In place of these capitalist institutions they advocatelabor-owned cooperative firms and associations.[50] Mutualists advocate mutual banks, owned by the workers, that do not charge interest on secured loans. Most mutualists believe that anarchy should be achieved gradually rather than through revolution.[51]

Worker cooperatives such as the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation follow an economic model similar to that of mutualism. The model followed by the corporation WL Gore and Associates, inventor of Gore-Tex fabrics, is also similar to mutualism as there is no chain of command and salaries are determined collectively by the workers.

G.D.H. Cole‘s guild socialism was similar to mutualism.[52] Today, mutualism’s stress on worker association is similar to the more developed modern theory of Participatory Economics, although Participatory Economists do not believe in markets.

Mutualist anarchist ideas continue to have influence today, even if indirectly. Many modern day cooperatives are influenced directly or indirectly by economic mutualism that became popular in the late 19th century.[53]

Some individualist anarchists, such as Benjamin Tucker, were influenced by Proudhon’s Mutualism, but unlike Proudhon, they did not call for “association” in large enterprises.[54]

[edit]Anarchist communism

Main article: Anarchist communism

Anarchist communism was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International, by Carlo CafieroErrico MalatestaAndrea Costa, and other ex-Mazzinian republicans. Out of respect for Mikhail Bakunin, they did not make their differences from standard anarchism explicit until after the latter’s death.[55] In 1876, at the Florence Conference of the Italian Federation of the International (which was actually held in a forest outside Florence, due to police activity), they declared the principles of anarcho-communism, beginning with:

“The Italian Federation considers the collective property of the products of labour as the necessary complement to the collectivist programme, the aid of all for the satisfaction of the needs of each being the only rule of production and consumption which corresponds to the principle of solidarity. The federal congress at Florence has eloquently demonstrated the opinion of the Italian International on this point…”

This report was made in an article by Malatesta and Cafiero in the (Swiss) Jura federation‘s bulletin later that year. Cafiero notes, in Anarchie et Communisme, that private property in the product of labor will lead to unequal accumulation of capital, and therefore undesirable class distinctions.

Anarcho-communists hold that the liberation of the individual, as well as the abolition of wage slavery and the State, requires the introduction of a free distribution economy, and therefore the abolition of the market.[56] In this belief they are contrasted with some anarchists and libertarian socialists who advocate collective ownership with market elements and sometimes barter. Anarcho-communists assert that a gift economy can be operated by collectives through direct democracy.

As Peter Kropotkin put it, “We must recognize, and loudly proclaim, that every one, whatever his grade in the old society, whether strong or weak, capable or incapable, has, before everything, THE RIGHT TO LIVE, and that society is bound to share amongst all, without exception, the means of existence at its disposal.” (Conquest of Bread ch. 3)

[edit]Anarcho-syndicalism

Main article: Anarcho-syndicalism

Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labor movement.[57] Anarcho-syndicalists view labor unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the State with a new society democratically self-managed by workers.

The basic principles of anarcho-syndicalism are:

  1. Workers’ solidarity
  2. Direct action
  3. Workers’ self-management

Flag used by Anarcho-syndicalists and Anarcho-Communists.

Workers’ solidarity means that anarcho-syndicalists believe all workers—no matter their racegender, or ethnic group—are in a similar situation in regard to their boss (class consciousness). Furthermore, it means that, within capitalism, any gains or losses made by some workers from or to bosses will eventually affect all workers. Therefore, to liberate themselves, all workers must support one another in their class conflict.

Anarcho-syndicalists believe that only direct action—that is, action concentrated on directly attaining a goal, as opposed to indirect action, such as electing a representative to a government position—will allow workers to liberate themselves.[58]

Moreover, anarcho-syndicalists believe that workers’ organizations (the organizations that struggle against the wage system, which, in anarcho-syndicalist theory, will eventually form the basis of a new society) should be self-managing. They should not have bosses or “business agents”; rather, the workers should be able to make all the decisions that affect them themselves.

Rudolf Rocker was one of the most popular voices in the anarcho-syndicalist movement. He outlined a view of the origins of the movement, what it sought, and why it was important to the future of labor in his 1938 pamphlet Anarcho-Syndicalism.

The International Workers Association is an international anarcho-syndicalist federation of various labor unions from different countries. The Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajoplayed and still plays a major role in the Spanish labor movement. It was also an important force in the Spanish Civil War.

[edit]Council communism

Main article: Council Communism

Council communism was a radical Left movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. Its primary organization was the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD). Council communism continues today as a theoretical and activist position within Marxism, and also within libertarian socialism. The central argument of council communism, in contrast to those of Social democracy and Leninist communism, is that workers’ councils arising in the factories and municipalities are the natural and legitimate form of working class organisation and government power. This view is opposed to the reformist and Bolshevik stress on vanguard partiesparliaments, or the State.

The core principle of council communism is that the state and the economy should be managed by workers’ councils, composed of delegates elected at workplaces and recallable at any moment. As such, council communists oppose state-run “bureaucratic socialism”. They also oppose the idea of a “revolutionary party”, since council communists believe that a revolution led by a party will necessarily produce a party dictatorship. Council communists support a workers’ democracy, which they want to produce through a federation of workers’ councils.

The Russian word for council is “soviet,” and during the early years of the revolution worker’s councils were politically significant in Russia. It was to take advantage of the aura of workplace power that the word became used by Lenin for various political organs. Indeed, the name “Supreme Soviet,” by which the parliament was called; and that of the Soviet Union itself make use of this terminology, but they do not imply any decentralization.

Furthermore, council communists held a critique of the Soviet Union as a capitalist state, believing that the Bolshevik revolution in Russia became a “bourgeois revolution” when a party bureaucracy replaced the old feudal aristocracy. Although most felt the Russian Revolution was working class in character, they believed that, since capitalist relations still existed (because the workers had no say in running the economy), the Soviet Union ended up as a state capitalist country, with the state replacing the individual capitalist. Thus, council communists support workers’ revolutions, but oppose one-party dictatorships.

Council communists also believed in diminishing the role of the party to one of agitation and propaganda, rejected all participation in elections or parliament, and argued that workers should leave the reactionary trade unions and form one big revolutionary union.

[edit]Within the political mainstream

There was a strong libertarian current in the British labour movement and the term “libertarian socialist” has been applied to a number of democratic socialists, including some prominent members of the British Labour Party. The Socialist League was formed in 1885 by William Morris and others critical of the authoritarian socialism of the Social Democratic Federation. It was involved in the New Unionism, the rank and file union militancy of the 1880s-90s which anticipated syndicalism in some key ways (Tom Mann, a New Unionist leader, was one of the first British syndicalists). The Socialist League was dominated by anarchists by the 1890s.[59]

The Independent Labour Party, formed at that time, drew more on the Non-Conformist religious traditions in the British working class than on Marxist theory, and had a libertarian strain. Others in the tradition of the ILP, and described as libertarian socialists, have been Nye BevanMichael FootRobin Cook, and most importantly, G. D. H. Cole. Labour minister Peter Hainhas written in support of libertarian socialism, identifying an axis involving a “bottom-up vision of socialism, with anarchists at the revolutionary end and democratic socialists [such as himself] at its reformist end”, as opposed to the axis of state socialism with Marxist-Leninists at the revolutionary end and social democrats at the reformist end.[60] Defined in this way, libertarian socialism in the contemporary political mainstream is distinguished from modern social democracy principally by its political decentralism rather than by its economics. Katja Kipping of DresdenGermany is an example of a contemporary libertarian socialist politician operating within a mainstream government.

[edit]Within the New Left

Main article: New Left

The emergence of the New Left in the 1950s and 1960s led to a revival of interest in libertarian socialism.[61] The New Left’s critique of the Old Left‘s authoritarianism was associated with a strong interest in personal liberty, autonomy (see the thinking of Cornelius Castoriadis) and led to a rediscovery of older socialist traditions, such as left communismcouncil communism, and the Industrial Workers of the World. The New Left also led to a revival of anarchism. Journals like Radical America and Black Mask in America, SolidarityBig Flame and Democracy & Nature, succeeded by The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy,[62] in the UK, introduced a range of left libertarian ideas to a new generation. Social ecologyautonomism and, more recently, participatory economics (parecon), and Inclusive Democracy emerged from this.

[edit]Social ecology

Main article: Social ecology

Social ecology is closely related to the work and ideas of Murray Bookchin and influenced by anarchist Peter Kropotkin. Social ecologists assert that the present ecological crisis has its roots in human social problems, and that the domination of human-over-nature stems from the domination of human-over-human.[63]

Politically, social ecologists advocate a network of directly democratic citizens’ assemblies organized in a confederal fashion. This approach is called Libertarian Municipalism. Economically, social ecologists favour libertarian communism and the principle “from each according to ability, to each according to need.”[citation needed]

[edit]Libertarian socialism in modern times

Libertarian socialists in the early 21st century have been involved in the squatter movement; social centersinfoshops; anti-poverty groups such as OCAP and Food Not Bombstenants’unions; housing cooperativesintentional communities generally and egalitarian communities; anti-sexist organizing; grassroots media initiatives; digital media and computer activism; experiments in participatory economicsanti-racist and anti-fascist groups like Anti-Racist Action and Anti-Fascist Action; activist groups protecting the rights of immigrants and promoting the free movement of people, such as the No Border network and No One is Illegalworker co-operativescountercultural and artist groups; and the peace movement etc.

Libertarian Socialists have, also, an MP in Turkish Parliament; Ufuk Uras, selected in 2007 General Elections in Turkey.[64]

[edit]Criticism of libertarian socialism

Some capitalist libertarians argue that freedom and equality are often in conflict with one another, and that promoting equality (as valued by socialism) will inherently require restrictions on liberty (as valued by libertarianism), forcing the society to choose one or the other as their primary value. The Kurt Vonnegut story “Harrison Bergeron“, in which equality is enforced by imposing physical and mental handicaps on overachievers, can be seen as illustrating this point through hyperbole (though Vonnegut’s own belief in socialism is a point of interest).[65]

Libertarian socialists typically dismiss the perceived contradiction between freedom and equality as a red herringNoam Chomsky states that, “human talents vary considerably, within a fixed framework that is characteristic of the species and that permits ample scope for creative work, including the appreciation of the creative achievements of others. This should be a matter of delight rather than a condition to be abhorred.”[66]

Other libertarian philosophers (often referred to as liberals, in the classical sense) such as Frederic BastiatLudwig von MisesMurray Rothbard, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, stress that liberty is a state of affairs in which one is free from the unjustified aggression of others, and that any understanding of liberty must be grounded in natural rights – and especially property rights. Thus, they argue that absolute freedom for all is not a contradiction, and that the abolition of natural rights (including property rights) would, by definition, also be the abolition of liberty.[67][68][69] As Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian economist, put it, “The continued existence of society depends upon private property.”[70]

Libertarian socialists believe that this criticism stems from a misconception that conflates simple possession with private property as a legal and social institution. For libertarian socialists, the latter produces exploitation and oppression (Proudhon’s “theft” and “despotism”) and so reduces individual freedom for the working class to the ability to change masters.[71] As such, they argue, liberalism fails to understand how private property undermines liberty.[72] For libertarian socialists, “[t]o demonise state authoritarianism while ignoring identical albeit contract-consecrated subservient arrangements in the large-scale corporations which control the world economy is fetishism at its worst.”[73]

[edit]Libertarian socialist periodicals

[edit]See also

(sometimes called socialist anarchism,[1][2] and sometimes left libertarianism[3][4]) is a group of political philosophies that aspire to create a society without political, economic, or social hierarchies, i.e. a society in which all violent or coercive institutions would be dissolved (or at least drastically reduced in scope), and in their place every person would have free, equal access to the tools of information and production.[5]

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