What's a l(L)ibertarian?

Where is this utopia which is?


I can’t find the original source of the quote but I always liked “A libertarian is a Republican who likes to smoke dope and get laid.”


Surely it’s “…Likes to smoke dope and would like to get laid…”?


Anybody’s got to have a better shot than these guys. They probably make the chess club’s get-togethers look like something out of Caligula.


If there’s one core idea to classical libertarian thought, it’s that the just goal of a sociopolitical system should be the balancing of egalitarian liberty, where everyone is as free as possible without infringing on the freedoms of one another. Views on what actually is possible and how to achieve it range all the way from free markets to the abolition of markets. In this way libertarianism can be seen less as a political agenda than a preference for bottom-up power-structures over top-down power-structures.


I consider myself to be part of the libertarian far-left (not fully anarchist, although some days it does seem appealing), but we have very different views to the Lib-Caps. Basically, I believe welfare and business regulations are the very last thing we should get rid off, only when getting rid of government seem plausible and there are alternatives in place to take over. I also view business with the same suspicion as I do the government and organised religion.

US Libertarians wouldn’t see me as libertarian, just like I don’t see them as libertarian.

The Koch/Rand strain of “libertarianism” is just authoritarian pseudo-feudalism with false promises of “Maybe you can be the boss one day, if you work hard enough”. There are other lib-cap philosophies that don’t seem to as bad (relatively), which are descended from disillusioned 19th century left-libertarians like Benjamin Tucker, although I would still prefer to not live under them.

As far as I can see, Objectivism is the only form of libertarianism (left or right) that doesn’t have it’s roots in the writings of Proudhon.

At some point I should try writing down what my beliefs are. It’s all in my head and it seems consistent, but I have never actually had it in one place to check.


As a social libertarian (if that’s the right term – roughly, “do what thou wilt and harm none”) with some anarchist/left-communist sympathies, I am properly fucked off with the application of the word “libertarianism” to what appears to be nineteenth-century laissez-faire robber-baron capitalism of the worst sort.

It’s almost bad as that appalling oxymoron “anarchocapitalism”, which in turn is only one whit less ridiculous than, and I shit you not this is an actual thing I found on Wikipedia, “anarchofascism”, of which the only sense I can make is “anarchy for me, fascism for everyone else”.


I always used this simple approach to translate:
libertarian: plutocrat
Libertarian: Plutocrat


Erinaceinocracy (rule by hedgehogs) is the future anyway :smiley:


Factsheet 5 (ca. 1991) said a libertarian is a Republican who does drugs, but I’m sure it’s older than that.

1 Like

Libertarianism was mostly anti-capitalist until the 1960s 1970s, when the US Libertarian party hijacked the term.

They claimed that no-one was using it anymore. Where have I heard that before?


A privilege, white, college educated, usually heterosexual, (usually) tech worker.

Little ‘l’ libertarians lost the battle over the name decades ago. Every time I meet one, I ask them “How often do you have to pull out your canned lecture when you tell people that you’re a ‘libertarian?’”


So how would you describe my politics then? I have already said that I am not an anarchist (although I have anarchist sympathies), and libertarians are trying (and succeeding) at hijacking that word too.


and “A Libertarian is a Democrat who has been mugged.”


Amen. When people like Bill Maher and Sarah Palin started using the label, it’s officially meaningless. Maybe it’s best to start out saying what libertarianism isn’t: probably the biggest abuses are that they are not Randians (necessarily; one could be both but most I know aren’t), they aren’t anarchist, not utopian, and they aren’t Republicans Who Smoke Pot. And they certainly don’t like Trump.

But having said that I am always on the side of reclaiming and not letting perfectly good words and symbols be taken over. To paraphrase Saffire as I have several times before- “you are free to mangle the language, but you will do so for you, not for me”. At a certain point an Italian really isn’t a Scotsman, even if he’s wearing a kilt while caber tossing.

Just a random scattershot of why I am a libertarian (besides as popo put it so concisely, the anti-authoritarianism) is the emphasis on the NAP, the lack of utopianism, the emphasis on self-ownership, that victimless crimes should not be crimes, taking the civil rights and the bill of rights seriously (even at the expense of other goals), acknowledgement of the difference between negative and positive rights, taking seriously regulatory capture and public choice theory, that individuals and individual freedom are given weight in the calculus of public policy, and the emphasis on social norms over laws for whatever one’s goals are. And probably some others but I’m trying to keep it short and broad.

To be fair, a libertarian would probably say that the only people who should be locked up are those who violate the NAP, which I think is a little more serious than “people you don’t agree with”. But libertarians are just as open to exploring alternate forms of punishment for crimes as people sometimes discuss around here. In fact, criminal justice reform (and high incarceration specifically) is high on the list of libertarian issues, and the issues that sparked BLM were things libertarians were talking about for quite a while.

I get super stressed about arguing on the internet and I’m not a particularly eloquent writer so please forgive if I don’t really get into it. I was making an effort and have been doing better about not reading political threads but whenever libertarianism comes up it’s usually a pile on of straw men and stereotypes so the thread title was like a red flag and thought it might be useful to post.


And because I have a sense of humor:


but not using a word guaranteed to be misunderstood to mean “a member or follower of the Libertarian Party.” Beyond that, not my concern or care. :slight_smile:

But, hey, if you like to confuse people conversationally, call yourself a “libertarian” and then trot out your canned lecture on what the word “really” means (and hope they don’t wander away mid-lecture).

One of my best friends is a little-l “libertarian” and he and I have had this conversation at least 10 or 15 times. It doesn’t change the fact that EVERY time I listen to him explain his politics to someone, he has to trot out a set piece to differentiate himself from Libertarians. EVERY DAMN TIME.

1 Like

So libertarian-socialist or libertarian-communist then.


You, non-sarcastically, think that clarifies and will work or, realistically, will you just confuse people further? Really, I want to know.

1 Like

That’s part of the problem I have with canned politics in general. The word isn’t that important. But most people (Americans especially) are unaware (or perhaps simply don’t care) that there is political dialogue that predates their birth, and I believe political discourse is dumbed-down by ignoring the works of political philosophers of past centuries and even millennia. If people want to consider libertarian socialism an oxymoron because it doesn’t fit their modern notion of a libertarian, fine. Just as long as they don’t dismiss the ideas that libertarian socialist thinkers advanced without first having some understanding of them, simply because they used a term for it that meant something different to them. Libertarian socialism is only one of many possible examples, but you get the idea.

TL;DR - I do take exception to people for whom words and labels are paramount over what they describe.