This is a very brief “let’s think about this notion”, train-of-thought essay piece. I haven’t really begun to reason it through or deeply research it, but today a light bulb went off in my mind, and I want to explore it out in the open so I can get your ideas on it. To the extent that anyone out there wishes to provide arguments pro or con, I very much want to hear from you.
About 100-120 years ago, Anarchism was the political bugaboo of the day. It’s occurred to me to think about parallels between anarchism and libertarianism. At first, that connection seemed so simple as to be improbable, but as I’ve looked into it, it seems more and more likely to me that there is at least ‘a family resemblance’.
Is it possible that Libertarianism is just a re-branded form of Anarchism, since we assume that Anarchism would never get any political traction here?
In Wikipedia (Hey, I told you that my exploration of the idea at this point has been cursory), there are in part these definitions. You can click on the links and read whole articles.
Anarchism: a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. It seeks to diminish or even abolish authority in the conduct of human relations. Anarchists may widely disagree on what additional criteria are required in anarchism. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy says, “there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance.”
Libertarianism: the advocacy of individual liberty, especially freedom of thought and action. Roderick T. Long defines libertarianism as “any political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power [either “total or merely substantial”] from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals”, whether “voluntary association” takes the form of the free market or of communal co-operatives. David Boaz writes that, “Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others” and that, “Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property–rights that people have naturally, before governments are created.” Karl Widerquist writes of left-libertarianism and libertarian socialism as being distinct ideologies also claiming the label “libertarianism”. However, many works broadly distinguish right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism as related forms of libertarian philosophy. Also identified is a large faction advocating minarchism, though libertarianism has also long been associated with anarchism (and sometimes is used as a synonym for such), especially outside of the United States. Anarchism remains one of the significant branches of libertarianism.
Anyone want to comment, agree or disagree?