Libertarian Socialism is a term essentially synonymous with the word "Anarchism". Anarchy, strictly meaning "without rulers", leads one to wonder what sort of system would exist in place of one without state or capitalist masters... the answer being a radically democratic society while preserving the maximal amount of individual liberty and freedom possible.
Libertarian Socialism recognizes that the concept of "property" (specifically, the means of production, factories, land used for profit, rented space) is theft and that in a truly libertarian society, the individual would be free of exploitation caused by the concentration of all means of wealth-making into the hands of an elite minority of capitalists.
Libertarian Socialism is as Libertarian as it is radically Socialist: It emphasizes the liberties and rights of the individual, of whom most on the planet are members of the working class (those who must sell their time and labor for a wage), as opposed to governmental solutions such as extensive social programs or regulation: rather than government bureaucracy there is organization, education and awareness, and every individual is encouraged to become an active, rather than passive participant in that which effect their lives.
"Sebastien Faure, who founded Le Libertaire in 1895, is often credited with having invented the word 'libertarian' as a convenient synonym for 'anarchist.' However, [Joseph] Dejacque's use of the word as early as 1858 suggests that it may have had a long currency before Faure adopted it."While a number of pro-capitalist, free-market "Libertarian" organizations and publications tend to have recently appeared in the United States and a few other countries, these entities serve the interests of small business owners, landlords, investors and some upwardly-mobile professionals. Essentially secular neo-conservative organizations, with strong inspiration from the writings of the ultra-capitalist Ayn Rand, economist Murray Rothbard, and science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein. Typical of these advocates of the sacredcy of private property is a distortion of the theories of the moral individualist philosophers of the 19th century (Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Josiah Warren, Henry David Thoreau, etc.) who respected the rights of the individual but were highly critical of the concentrations of wealth and power which led to capitalism and economic oppression since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Due to the elite privilege for the few over the many inherent in a 'pure' capitalist system, "libertarian" capitalism is un-democratic and anti-libertarian. For more information see the essay "Libertarianism: Bogus Anarchy", by Peter Sabatini, and an interview with Noam Chomsky.
[George Woodcock, Anarchism, p. 281 (footnote)]
Most significantly, unlike liberals and "Democratic Socialists" (social democrats), libertarian socialists reject participation in the mainstream representaive voting process. Libertarian socialism is, in effect, a revolutionary theory and approach to political life.
Libertarian Socialists see humankind divided in a struggle between different social classes: the property-owning class, and the working class. Libertarian socialists are against all forms of coercion, state and capitalist, and do not seek to regulate human behaviors by way of the state, including such issues as possession of firearms, drugs, sexual conduct between consenting individuals, and related issues.
Libertarian Socialists see such things as gun control, "speech codes", drug, alcohol, pornography and prostitution prohibition as a waste of time, and an unnecessary violation of individual choice. Most of humanities woes arise from the inherently coercive, undemocratic and un-libertine capitalist and state systems which human society is currently forced to follow. The answer is not regulation or limitation, but organization and education with a working-class emphasis. Libertarian Socialists reject the "social democratic" solution of keeping the state & military apparatus around but raising taxes to support social programs. These are merely "band-aids" for problems which under capitalism will never go away, and always threaten to get worse. World problems will not be solved by "professionals", free-market entrepreneurs, the ruling capitalist class, politicians or statist bureaucrats. Only the people, organized and educated, can solve their own problems.
Last update: October 16, 1995
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