On the February 4th edition of Thinkwing Radio (listen here), caller Nick disputed my contention that Libertarianism is just a different flavor of Anarchism.
I have previously posted on my feelings on this subject here.
In defense of his position, he emailed me these references and introductions:
“Kropotkin’s Encyclopedia entry on anarchism is a pretty good explanation of traditional anarchism: “Anarchism”, from The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910.Peter Kropotkin. Understand “neo-liberalism” to mean the dominant economic structure of the planet, characterized by “free trade” agreements, the IMF, the WTO, austerity programs, privatization, and corporate looting of resources.
“Modern anarchism is very much informed by Zapatismo and organized against neo-liberalism. The Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle is a clear document on this topic.”
The articles he references are long, and I will admit I have not read them thoroughly, but nothing I have scanned has changed my mind. I am respectfully responding to Nick thusly:
These are long screeds, but my impression from what I’ve scanned is this:
- Anarchists want no government to tell them what to do.
- Libertarians want a government that doesn’t tell them what to do.
To me, this sounds like a distinction without a difference.
Anarchists are considered to be at the extreme left of the leftist/communist/socialist philosophical wing (with which they have nothing in common except that they disagree with individual ownership of resources and means of production.)
Libertarians are considered to be on the far right of the rightwing conservative anti-government wing (with which they actually have very little in common except that they believe in the freedom to accumulate as much as possible of available resources and means of production without any sort of government interference).
Interestingly, the far left socialists require a government to meet their goals. The far right conservatives require a government to protect their acquisition of resources and the means of production.
Other than that, the far, far left and the far, far right mostly agree with each other, more than they agree with the more moderate elements of their respective philosophical wings. Namely, they want to be free to do whatever they want without government telling them what to do.
Essentially, the anarchists are so far left and the libertarians are so far right that they pretty much meet on the other side of the philosophical circle. They agree far more than they disagree. Except, of course, about that niggling little detail of ownership.
So I will re-assert my original position: Libertarianism is just a rebranded version (“version” being the operative word) of Anarchism. They can both be violent in pursuit of their goals. They both want the freedom to do whatever they want without government interference, except for their respective positions that one doesn’t want any government at all, and the other wants a government to protect what they acquire but capable of precious little else.
IMHO, of course.
- #Thinkwing Radio: Weds, FEB. 4 2015, 10PM, @KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). TOPIC(s): OPEN FORUM (Incl. Gov. Abbott & ‘liberty’, Barbary States Wars and ransoms, and more . [AUDIO]
- Libertarianism and Anarchism: Twins Separated at Birth?, Posted on October 10, 2010
- “Anarchism”, from The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910.Peter Kropotkin.
- The Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle