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The term libertarian is also claimed by libertarian socialism. The article Libertarianism (metaphysics) deals with a conception of free will. See also civil libertarian

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds that individuals should be allowed complete freedom of action as long as they do not infringe on the freedom of others. This is usually taken by libertarians to mean that no one may initiate coercion, which they define as the use of physical force, the threat of such, or the use of fraud against other individuals or their property; any action that is not affected by the influence of coercion is considered to be "voluntary." Libertarians believe that if individuals do not engage in coercion then they should not be regarded as violating the individual rights of anyone. As a result, they oppose prohibition of victimless crimes.

Libertarians believe that governments should be held to the same moral standards as the individuals of which they are composed. Therefore, they oppose the initiation of force by governments, even if it is supported by a democratic majority. However minarchist libertarians, as opposed to anarcho-capitalist libertarians, recommend taxation as a "necessary evil" as long as no more tax is levied than what is necessary for government to maximize the protection of liberty. To the extent that libertarians advocate any government at all, its functions tend to be limited to functions that they see as protecting civil liberties, private property, and a free market (private economic liberties). Hence, most libertarians favor taxation to fund a police force, a military and courts.

While libertarianism's influence has grown in the past few decades, most libertarians see their ultimate vision for society as far from realized.



The term "libertarianism" in the above sense has been in widespread use only since the 1950s. Originally, it referred to a variant of anarchist socialism. After the French Government banned anarchism, some French anarchists adopted libertaire as an alternative term. It was first used in print in 1857 by French anarchist Joseph Dejacque in a letter to Proudhon from New Orleans. Dejacque also published a periodical in New York called "Le Libertaire" (The Libertarian) from 1858 to 1861.

This usage spread to English, but for the most part, English-speaking anarchists choose to call themselves anarchists, individualist anarchists, or anarcho-syndicalists, (they may subscribe to certain forms of socialism called libertarian socialism). Often, when distinguishing between the different uses of the term, the word libertarian is qualified as in "left-libertarian" or "right-wing libertarian."

A typographical convention

When the L in Libertarian is capitalized, the word refers specifically to a member of a Libertarian Party, as opposed to someone who favors the philosophy of libertarianism. This distinction is important because some libertarians do not align themselves with a Libertarian Party, and may even be members of other parties.

Libertarianism in the political spectrum

While the traditional political spectrum is a line, the Chart turns it to a plane to accommodate libertarians and others.
While the traditional political spectrum is a line, the Nolan Chart turns it to a plane to accommodate libertarians and others.

Many libertarians do not identify themselves as either "right-wing" or "left-wing". In the U.S. some conservatives such as Andrew Sullivan regard themselves as both conservative and libertarian, but other libertarians argue that the two conflict and that libertarianism is really a form of liberalism. One example of this position is Friedrich Hayek's Why I am Not a Conservative[26]

^  Advocates for Self Government website. "The World's Smallest Political Quiz".[27]

^  Callahan, Gene. Winning the Neocon Way, Lew Rockwell's webpage, February 6, 2001[28]

^  The Capitalism Tour. Capitalism Magazine. [29]

^  Chait, Jonathan. Blocking Move, The New Republic, March 21, 2005 [30]

^  Cleveland, Paul and Stevenson, Brian. Individual Responsibility and Economic Well-Being. The Freeman, August 1995.[31]

^  Friedman, Jeffrey. What's Wrong With Libertarianism, Critical Review Vol. 11, No. 3. Summer 1997[32] (large PDF file)

^  Friedman, Jeffrey, "Politics or Scholarship?", Critical Review, Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 1993. Pp 429-45.

^  Gillespie, Nick. Rand Redux, Reason Magazine, March 2005 [33]

^  Goldberg, Jonah. Libertarians, in Theory. National Review Online, August 6, 1999.[34]

^  Goldberg, Jonah. Freedom Kills. National Review Online, December 12, 2001.[35]

^  Goldberg, Jonah. Libertarians Under My Skin. National Review Online, March 2, 2001.[36]

^  Hayek, F.A. Why I am not a Conservative, University of Chicago Press, 1960[37]

^  Huben, Michael. A Non-Libertarian FAQ, March 15, 2005 version.[38]

^  Huben, Michael, A Non-Libertarian FAQ, March 15, 2005 [39]

^  Kangas, Steve. Chile: the Laboratory Test. Liberalism Resurgent , [40]

^  Levy, Jacob. SELF-CRITICISM, The Volokh Conspiracy, March 19, 2003 [41]

^  Libertarian Party News. Murray Rothbard: 1926-1995, February 1995.[42]

^  Machan, Tibor R. Revisiting Anarchism and Government, [43].

^  Nettlau, Max. A Short History of Anarchism, 2000. p. 75

^  Partridge, Ernest. "With Liberty and Justice for Some." Environmental Philosophy edited by Michael Zimmerman , Baird Callicott , Karen Warren , Irene Klaver , and John Clark, 2004.[44]

^  Rand, Ayn. Ayn Rand’s Q&A on Libertarians from a 1971 interview [45]

^  Sanchez, Julian. "The Other Guevara." Reason Magazine, August 12, 2003.[46]

^  Young, Cathy. Ayn Rand at 100, Reason Magazine. March 2005 [47]

External links

Libertarian political parties around the world

Libertarian think tanks

Other libertarian political projects

Libertarian publications and websites

Critiques of libertarianism

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