Anarchism vs libertarianism vs anomie



But that completely ignores the fact that anarchism IS a specific philosophy and has been for a while now.

Talking Episode 7 GIF by Curb Your Enthusiasm


[Edited on the basis of orenwolf’s comment below]

To my mind, this is a problem with calling themselves “anarchists” and expecting that it is an exclusive term that they can control - it’s bad branding to use an existing word that is already used in different ways in different contexts. The problem isn’t with their use of anarchy, it’s with attempting to be a prescriptivist with common words, trying to swim upstream against the current and blame others for their lack of progress.

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This was something that confused me as a young man when I read about anarchism, that it was a specific political philosophy (or group of philosophies, all debating each other) and not just simple absence of government. Bakunin is the usual port of entry, and he is basically describing small scale local communism.

It was maddening to read Orwell’s description of the Spanish Civil War with the different left wing factions who couldn’t cooperate, all jockeying for power and arguing over particulars of the new society they were going to create while the Nationalists were rolling over them.


One person does not a movement make. Can we please not resort to blaming people personally for the decisions of entire groups?

Thank you.


Absolutely. My point should be directed at the OP for the OP’s position or I should discuss the group generally. Yet the OP framed their post as speaking for an entire group, so responding in kind seemed appropriate at the time:

And we called ourselves libertarians 150 years ago, until the ayn-caps took the name from us 70 years ago and people told us to stop calling ourselves that because it was confusing. So we went back to calling ourselves anarchists and the same people complain as you did.

So we stopped giving a fuck what they thought. It’s not like they were anarchists or socialist libertarians to start off with. Whatever we call ourselves will become bad to non-anarchists eventually so we just accept it and move on.

And if you want to go back to the start, it was us reclaiming the word. People called us anarchists as an insult, so we started calling ourselves that as a mark of pride. If you don’t like that, make a time machine and complain to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

I fundamentally disagree with Murray Rothbard, but if he didn’t want to be connected with anarchism then I am more than happy to respect that.


It is in the nature of political philosophers to periodically redefine terms, so as to better highlight the root causes of human misery.

It’s also in the nature of people to try to vilify or appropriate political terms. Look how democracy has been applied to modern China and North Korea, or how socialist was used by Nazis to name themselves and by Republicans to describe just about anything except the corporate welfare they love.

You either dig in your heels against that, or you end up without any useful words to describe things. :man_shrugging:


I have found that Libertarians do not care about freedom at all (despite what their name would suggest). They are perfectly happy to see people exploited and deprived of their basic rights. As long as the government is not involved, they applaud exploitation. “Power to the man!” they seem to say as they fight to give already powerful private citizens and corporations even more freedom to fuck over everyone else.


Capital L Libertarianism, as in “anarcho-capitalists” and the like, is extremely simple.

It’s nothing more than feudalism minus the compulsory religion. They just replace the divine right of kings, with the “moral” right of corporations.


I am surprised we didn’t get one Dennis the Peasant clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I guess its up to me.


There’s an extremely brief, second appearance of Dennis in the movie I actually never even noticed until a year ago.

Right before Sir Robin and his minstrels encounter the giant 3-headed knight, very quickly as the camera pans across Dennis and his partner, and Dennis says (IIRC) something like “No, you see the point of Anarcho-Syndicalism is to preserve our freedom!”


The more i think about it, the more I realise that libertarian capitalism would be far more accurately called plutarchism than anarchism, as it is a system where the world is ruled by the rich rather than ruled by nobody.


I’d say some do, but they are the ones who didn’t know about any of the forms of anarchism because they had been taught that socialism=communism=totalitarianism. As it becomes more obvious that the Libertarian party is not about freedom, and because the last five years has brought about a revival of libertarian socialism as people fought against Trumpism, a lot of them have moved to the left.

A lot of those become mutualists, because market socialism is a middle ground for them. This leaves behind a larger majority of plutarchists and crypto-fascist Hoppeans in the Libertarian party, but it wasn’t like they were listening to the idealists to start with. The Agorists were marginalised in the 70s-80s and it has been downhill for the idealists ever since.


Riffing on your handle here, “skeptics” have the exact same problem. Using it in the “Skeptics Guide To The Universe” sense has a very specific meaning that is very different to what most people hear when you say “skeptic”. We need a new word for this group of people (or way of thinking about the world), but nobody has come up with a good one. I sometimes say “rationalist” because it resonates better with mainstream folk. Also because the word “skeptic” is increasingly being co-opted by anti-science people with bigger PR budgets, like “vaccine skeptics” and “climate skeptics”. They are rapidly ruining the word that we tried to attach to scientific evidence-based thinking.

The same thing happened with “atheist”. Despite the original definition of the word, it has come to mean “belief that no god exists” rather than what people now say “agnostic” for. Atheist used to mean something more like “the evidence for the God hypothesis is really poor so why bother considering it”, not “I’m certain of the proof of a negative statement” which is what mainstream people hear.


I agree. I use the moniker here in the forum, but it absolutely should not be presumed to be understood the way I want it to since it has been appropriated in the ways you note. If people don’t check my post history they don’t know what kind of “Skeptic” I am. Only the context of my posts tells that story, not the name by itself.

The history of atheist is more complicated. It was, IIRC, used by Hellenists to describe Christians, and Christians to describe Hellenists. It didn’t really mean without any god, it mean without the “right” god or gods. Now people argue over whether it means a person is positive atheist who asserts no gods are possible, or more of an agnostic atheist who does not believe in any gods, but thinks it’s impossible to disprove the existence of gods.

There was push by a group of atheists to create a brand of atheism with a more specific set of beliefs, under the moniker “Atheism+” - atheism with their particular interpretation of social justice and other issues they thought should be attached to atheism, but that was the same time that there were multiple schisms in the atheist community (to the extent there was or is an atheist community) and I lost track of and interest in following the discord that followed.


Yah, and truth be told the whole “atheist community” (such as it is) is mostly now* devoted to angry white men writing one solid book, then spending the rest of their careers spouting misogyny, racism, and eugenics to anyone who’ll listen. They become the poster children for the “dark intellectual” movement. Dawkins, Hitchens, Petersen, and all the rest. I hesitate to call myself an atheist at this point just because I don’t want to be lumped in with those jackasses. To ironic hell with all of them.

That said, I dislike “agnostic” because to me that’s like refusing to take a position on Bertrand Russell’s teapot orbiting Mars. Any school child would agree there isn’t one. I feel comfortable putting a nickel down on hypotheses that make the most outlandish possible claims with zero evidence beyond some old poorly-translated poetry.

Anyways, apologies for somewhat derailing this thread.

*maybe it always was, it just took me a while to figure that out


I appreciate the effort the borderer makes to share perspectives on what anarchism means. It would suck if they stopped educating others just because some people don’t understand something. To me, the message “this is what anarchism refers to” itself has value. I hope you’re not suggesting it doesn’t? If you are that’s fine I guess but please only speak for yourself? I don’t agree for one.


I feel like you are reflexively dog piling on me. The post you are replying does not mention the OP or anarchism. I was replying directly to a valid point posited by VeronicaConnor about my handle.

Surely it is possible to discuss the equivocal nature of the word “anarchism” without making it personal? I already edited my earlier post do do so well before your reply to a different post of mine.