The Limited World of Libertarianism

A long time ago, a coworker quickly explained that he was a libertarian because it was internally consistent – he was in favor of less government control of both his personal life and his business life. He felt that Conservatives wanted to control him personally but let corporations run amok, and that Liberals wanted to rein in corporations but let people do what they wanted personally. Libertarians, he said, believed in less government all the way around.

In practice though, libertarianism only seems to have room for white people and a few people of color that act like white people. A lot of folk have noted that many libertarians seem like good ol’ conservatives that want to legalize pot. Anyway, one link led to another, and I found this critique at Salon:

Anarchism was libertarianism fully realized. Political libertarianism was a deformation of the ideology, only attractive to those who valued the sentiments of libertarianism but weren’t principled enough to carry it to its logical (and moral) conclusions. Once I realized this, there was no going back. But anarchism isn’t a part of libertarianism. Anarchism is its own broad political and social philosophy. Libertarianism is just one school of thought that can (and should) lead you to statelessness. So I stopped calling myself a libertarian, preferring “anarchist” when labels were necessary. I still considered most of my beliefs to technically fall under the umbrella of libertarianism. But somewhere in the last few years even that association has faded.

Update 20140618: If you’re stuck at anarchy, it is worth reading Dmitry Orlov’s In Praise of Anarchy Parts I, II & III, in which he discusses the theories of Kropotkin.

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