Libertarianism And Socialism

Libertarianism is about providing personal freedoms by removing restrictions on personal freedoms which currently exist in government. Libertarianism strives for minimalist government.

Socialism is about providing people with personal freedoms by giving them the means of production.

Both aim to take away power from those who don’t deserve it. Both aim to redistribute that power back to the people.

In reality, what we’re really talking about here is the oldschool of socialist, libertarian, and anarchist theory, which all got along back when they spawned. They were all anti-authoritarian movements that felt that people needed more say in the world. They all felt that wealth and power was too top-heavy, and that hoarding of resources was immoral and oppressive.

All hell broke loose on the socialist side with Lenin and his likeminded contemporaries. He decided, in his infinite wisdom, that the best way to impliment socialism was to force state socialism on the people. Instead of letting the people democratically build a socialist system where the people controlled the resouces, he decided that it was the state’s job to enforce such a system on the people. According to Marx, the state would indeed control the means of production in a communist society, but this would ONLY work because in a communist society, the working class had become the state. In a communist society, EVERYONE is the state… and the state worked only for the people. Functionalitywise, it was a minimalist state, just like a libertarian state. It would be a tool of the people, not a ruling body.

Hell also broke loose on the libertarian side with the advent of capitalism. The new libertarianism has been hijacked by the idea that financial freedom is all that’s needed to make people truly free. This was driven by the neoliberal ideals of free market capitalism, and the writings of such philosophers as Ayn Rand. Gone were the days where libertarianism was linked primarily with social freedoms. Libertarianism had now become big business’s bitch.

So, if you look at the history, marxist socialism and classical libertarianism were essentially the same thing. There was a divergence on both sides from their roots… but most of the modern adherants of socialism actually fall more in line with classical libertarianism than most self proclaimed libertarians.

I quote Liberty Prime:


it seems to that the difference between classic socialist theory and classic libertarianism is that in socialism the means of production is in direct worker ownership where as libertarianism supports the right to private property, including the means of production. thi is rough difference and there are many gradients of political theory and ideas in both camps.

Squeaky: The point was simply that they’re not mutually exclusive theory… that at their cores, they actually have a lot of similarities.

well yeah okay, but that maybe has more to do with the psychology of individuals, or perhaps even mass psychology of group but out of the realm of political theory i think.

(Bytesmasher you might enjoy the documentaries of Adam Curtis( if you haven’t seen them already), and in particular
The Trap . )

I’ve seen his documentaries. The Power of Nightmares was particularly good. The Trap, however, seemed to have some inaccuracies in it… particularly the link between game theory and free market theory. I was always under the impression that John Nash actually disproved free market theory. I spent quite a while trying to find information backing up the stuff that was mentioned in The Trap, but I didn’t get very far. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

well i dunno, i’m no expert on either, but the way i understand game theory is that its just mathematical models about strategic choices which can then be applied to lots of different fields. (economics , biology etc)

So perhaps when applied to the free market you could say that the one particular game that Nash came up with (there are heaps more) , the so called “Fuck you , buddy” game which sort of proves that its best to be selfish is a nice model for the selfishness of the free market. where up untill now it seems as if thinking about the other person or business or country was not standard procedure . . . . .

i’m just speculating here btw.

what i like about Curtis’ documentaries is that he tries to prove how models and theories about politics or human behaviour or economics etc are always sort of doomed to fail, by their very nature, which is maybe what you were saying in your initial post ?

Actually, I’m a socialist/left libertarian… I feel that the best political model would be one that works off our current model to provide people with more social freedoms and safety nets so more people have a chance to succeed. I’m a proponent of subsidized higher education, and I feel basic healthcare should be free. I also think government should be minimalist regulation-wise, and stay out of people’s affairs as much as possible. I do see problems with limited liability corporations, and feel they should probably be dismantled or restricted so as to make them more accountable for their actions.

But yeh… I have serious issues with people twisting ideologies into something they were never meant to be. I cringe every time I hear people talking about both socialism and libertarianism, because people consistently get both ideologies wrong.

where are you from btw? i seem to remember Canada? how would you describe the current model there?

and what is your view on tax ? :rolleyes:

I by the way would also consider myself a social liberal at the moment, although i used to be more left when i was younger . . . and am originally from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Taxes are great presuming they go towards services that actually benefit the society. I’m Canadian… I’d describe our current model as a social democracy… though our current conservative government, which holds a neoliberal view of economics, is fucking things up hardcore. Harper just prorogued parliament for the 3rd time in a year. At this rate there’s going to be a vote of non-confidence in his minority rule soon.

But yah. I like our healthcare system, despite the fact that the doctors in this city/town are idiots. I like that we live in a country that prizes social freedoms. I love that we live in a country with a fairly secular government. I dislike the low voter turnout due to our segmented left party system.

coming back to your first post though and your conclusion about how “marxist socialism and classical libertarianism were essentially the same thing.”

the big difference between the two camps is the role of the state. socialism needs the state to protect the weak in society, where as libertarians want the state to have as little role as possible and are for personal responsability.
Both theories want something good for the people but i would say that it is a big difference in how to get there

Problem with giving power back to the people is; Most people are dumb.

Haha, that’s pretty Plato of you ;)

So is it okay to rule and exploit people if they are “dumb” ?

But nobody said anything about exploiting people? =/

i brought up exploitation because socialism would like to see power and means of production go back to the people because they believe that “in capitalism a small segment of society that controls capital and derives its wealth through exploitation, creates an unequal society, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potential.”

Unfortunately. They need to be spoonfed.
Some people like being told what to do anyway.
An extreme example:
Would you say a disabled person should have the power given to him to look after/provide for themselves?
They need looking after.
Who looks after them? Are they just and righteous? Probably not…noone is.
Anarchy then? but some are stronger than others…how is THAT fair in an anarchic state?
The answer is, it’s not. Nature is not fair.
There is no answer. Politics is UNNATURAL.
We are NOT all equal and therein lies the paradox of living under one political stance.
Really, we should all kill eachother, weed out the weeds, cull off the weak. That is what the laws of the universe suggest; Dominant over Recessive.
:ph34r: ?
I’m not suggesting anything, just dispelling belief that any political stance is good over another.
Live for yourself, and use the system to your benefit…If you can get into government and change things? good for you. But that’s it…good for YOU.

That suggests a government is either capitalist or socialist. Or rather: socialism or be exploited. I live in a country with a democratic multi-party system (with over 10 parties), with a social system for the less fortunate that co-exists with privatized public services. It’s far from being utopic, but it’s a road down the middle.

@ Botb: i know , i am from the same country as mentioned earlier in this topic…
the topic is about socialist theory vs libertarianist theory.

@Moss: if the people are dumb and its okay to exploit them, why bother with the democratic process?

To keep them happy?
And anyway, your putting words in my mouth. I dont think that it’s OK to exploit them. That happens anyway.
I’m saying some people NEED to be controlled.