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In what way do anarchists relate to libertarians on the right?

+1 vote
What are the differences? Where is the common ground?
asked Apr 6, 2010 by wally direct (250 points)
edited Apr 7, 2010 by dot

3 Answers

+1 vote
the short answer is that we don't at all, mostly due to our vastly different understanding and respective analyses of capital, economics, and political representation. all the (party) libertarians are pro-capital and private property, which means that the strategies and goals of (party) libertarians and anarchists are diametrically opposed, since anarchists are opposed to capital and private property. the glaring distinction in strategies can be seen in the (party) libertarians' formation as a political party working to elect representatives in a parliamentary framework. consistent anarchists reject parliamentarianism, electoralism, and representational politics on principle. while (party) libertarians may not be our enemies, they are certainly not our allies.
answered Apr 6, 2010 by lawrence (550 points)
i don't think wally was talking about Libertarians with a big L (party ones).
They are only not our enemies because they are not in power.  Anarchist want political, economic, and social freedom.  Libertarians want unbridled capitalism and corporate rule.  The only apparent "overlap" of ideas is that we both believe that the state will hinder our goals.
taigarun, you seem to also be commenting based on the Libertarian party, rather than small l libertarians.
libertarians come in as many flavors as anarchists do, which is why it's hard to answer this question. in fact, anarchists are sometimes called libertarians.
i think the question of what we have in common with right libertarians is interesting in principle but not in reality, since engaging people with such varying politics would have to be on a strictly case-by-case, individual and contextual basis.
no general answer is feasible or useful.
My understanding is that "libertarian" means a different thing in the US than it does in the rest of the world.  In most of the world, "libertarian" means anarchist, whereas in the US "libertarian" means Ron Paul.  I live in the US and understood "right libertarian" to mean the US concept of libertarian.
If someone believes in Private Property, or the philosophy of classical liberalism, I generally think of them as my enemy.  (or at least my enemy for now)
there is a Libertarian Party in the u.s.
there are also libertarians in the u.s.
hence lawrence speaking of the party, and me speaking of big L (party) and little l (non-party).  
i don't think it is a european/u.s. divide except in as much as the party is a u.s. phenomenon. i have noticed a possible generational tendency however (older people speaking of anarchists as libertarians, and younger people not as much, probably because of the party coming on the scene and confusing things).
0 votes
Right "libertarians" (whether or not they are members of the Libertarian Party) have very little in common with anarchists. Many (maybe most) are "minarchists" meaning they advocate small states rather than no states. Compare the "small government" rallying cry of the Republicans, often advocated but rarely attempted. Some right libertarians call themselves anarchists, meaning they oppose the state. Overall, libertarianism is mostly a holdover from classical liberalism. Its political philosophy is drawn from a lot of the bourgie Western political philosophers, with some recent developments. Anarchism initially borrowed a bit from classical liberalism and state socialism, but has developed into quite a constellation of very different political paradigms. A lot of libertarians embrace the Austrian School of economics. There is no school of anarchist economics (a positive project), though some embrace the Marxist school and others reject it. There is only the opposition to capitalism held in common by all anarchists, which is anathema to right libertarians.

Anarchism seems to question the fundamentals that most other political philosophies are based on, including libertarianism. It seems possible that there could be some ideas or concepts worth appropriating from right libertarianism, but we should be careful to be VERY SELECTIVE about what to borrow. In order to do this one must first study the principles of both right libertarianism and anarchism in great detail. If one undertakes this project they must be careful in order not to contaminate anarchism with hidden authoritarian ideas. There seems to be some interesting right-libertarian writings on the topic of coercion. If we want to convert right-libertarians, we might try to write a polemic demonstrating how capitalism is coercive.

Overall it seems like we may benefit from limited, brief and strategic alliances with right-libertarians. However, this could also backfire if non-anarchists perceive anarchists and libertarians to be associated. I'm also skeptical that a hostile confrontation with Tea Baggers is a useful tactic, either. Antifa is a wonderful tactic, but doesn't apply so well to right libertarians who are skeptical of the state (or government) and are not uniformly racist.
answered Apr 9, 2010 by enkidu (6,110 points)
if "some libertarians call themselves anarchists, meaning they oppose the state" then how can you say we have so little in common with them?
most of your answer is very vague--lacking the detail that would make it meaningful. libertarianism is drawn from western political philosophers like whom? what principles are you talking about? how is that different from anarchism? what fundamentals does anarchism question? what do you mean "contaminate" anarchism--can a living changing practice be pure (ie it must first be pure in order to be contaminated, no?)? where have you found pure anarchism, outside of a book?
finally, your assumptions about why we would want to engage right libertarians (to convert them?!), and the fear that we would be tarred with the right-libertarian brush, take a lot for granted about what an anarchist relationship to non-anarchists is/should be.
i do agree that it seems like capitalism is a major component of the disagreement(s) between right-libertarians and anarchists.
"how can you say we have so little in common with them?"
Anti-statism is the conclusion of anarchist and anarcho-capitalists. Perhaps this might seem like a large similarity to some, but not to me. I see a wide chasm between the two because of the reasons both groups have come to this conclusion. Insofar as I can claim to understand both, anarchism rejects the state both because capitalism is dependent on it and because it is inherently oppressive by itself, whereas anarcho-capitalists seem usually to oppose the state because it inhibits their ability to use exploitative economic means (capitalism). Notice the contradictory views of the relationship of the state to capitalism.

Now I don't claim to have a great understanding of libertarianism because I haven't spent a whole lot of time researching it. Thus I accept your critique of the vagueness of my response. Anyone wanting to research classical liberalism can do so. Some founding figures include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, David Hume and Adam Smith.

"what fundamentals does anarchism question?"
...the state, state-based economics, hierarchy, authority... do I really need to answer this?

"what do you mean "contaminate" anarchism--can a living changing practice be pure (ie it must first be pure in order to be contaminated, no?)? where have you found pure anarchism, outside of a book?"
Well I certainly wouldn't characterize anarchism as "pure," there are already plenty of unexpurgated authoritarian tendencies. Perhaps I should have put "further contaminate"? Or better yet, avoid the discussion of purity altogether - "mar," "corrupt," "infect," - whichever you prefer.

My assumptions are not as solid as you seem to want to make them: "If we want to convert right-libertarians..." "Overall it seems like..." Pretty qualified language. If your read the Phoenix Class War article you'll notice they take a different tact entirely than what I explored in my initial response. What the relationship should be is still quite an open question, IMO.
i am (mostly) not challenging your opinion, but your explanation of your opinion. sometimes i'm anally logical. hence the question about how we can not have things in common with people who call themselves anarchists, and the request for more info about the fundamentals questioned by anarchism, and the background of both in liberalism, etc.
if you're going to answer the question in some kind of scholarly way, which you're attempting to do, then do the work to make your answer meaningful. saying "Overall, libertarianism is mostly a holdover from classical liberalism" without more explanation (and then saying that people who want to know what you're talking about should go do their own research) is an odd way to answer a question, afaic.
my main issue with your response though is the concept of purity, and your change of words to mar, corrupt, infect, etc are based on exactly the same concept. the premise is still something pure (or healthy, or whatever) that has been corrupted.
to me anarchy is a practice, and there is no purity involved.
0 votes
These semantics have changed widely through the last couple of hundred years. The modern, very visible libertarian political movement though is just that; a political movement. We have nothing in common with that.

The other lil L libertarians, who are stockpiling stringbeans and guns, wish for the overthrow of the US government in order to break it up into states or territories. No libertarian advocates for the overthrow of all states. Short of some clothing choices for some we have nothing in common with them.

If I may be a prick, I think that the thing that anarchists have in common with libertarians is that we sometimes may wish that we were as bad-ass as some of them, with their string-beans and guns.
answered Apr 26, 2010 by matt.the.prick (520 points)
Many of the "tea party people" still support so-called "limited 'government,'" (a completely illogical contradiction), and therefore are not anarchists, but, theyre surely closer to being anarchists than a bunch of communists, "democratic socialists," etc. Anarchy and Libertarianism are the same thing. The only "libertarian" position, is anarchy, statelessness, no rulers...and that logically entails (by extension of my natural rights) my right to property and free trade/free market economics (of course, i realize many of you still probably think a "capitalist" RULES you, but, they don't. maybe we'll get into that later...).. in supporting "limited 'govt,'" a so-called "libertarian" is not actually a libertarian, theyre still a statist and therefore still a socialist. the only difference between the "limited govt" people and the "democrats" is in rhetoric.. they just bicker over WHEN/WHY the "govt' should be able to demand your money for central programs 50%+1 of "the people" voted for /decided they wanted/declared "law"...and initiate violence against you/put you in a cage/kick you off the commune if you don't pay. if "libertarianism" is not synonymous with anarchy, then it has nothing to do with liberty.
P.S. "left" and "right" are nothing but differences in statist rhetoric... what are the significant differences between stalin and hitler?
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