Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week

Cryptocurrency News
Cryptocurrencies traded sideways since our last report on cryptos. However, I noticed something interesting when playing around with Yahoo! Finance’s cryptocurrency screener: There are profitable pockets in this market.

Incidentally, Yahoo’s screener is far superior to the one on CoinMarketCap, so if you’re looking to compare digital assets, I highly recommend it.

But let’s get back to my epiphany.

In the last month, at one point or another, most crypto assets on our favorites list saw double-digit increases. It’s true that each upswing was followed by a hard crash, but investors who rode the trend would have made a.

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Cryptocurrency News: XRP Validators, Malta, and Practical Tokens

Cryptocurrency News & Market Summary
Investors finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel last week, with cryptos soaring across the board. No one quite knows what kicked off the rally—as it could have been any of the stories we discuss below—but the net result was positive.

Of course, prices won’t stay on this rocket ride forever. I expect to see a resurgence of volatility in short order, because the market is moving as a single unit. Everything is rising in tandem.

This tells me that investors are simply “buying the dip” rather than identifying which cryptos have enough real-world value to outlive the crash.

So if you want to know when.

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Cryptocurrency News: XRP Validators, Malta, and Practical Tokens

Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto

Cryptocurrency News
This was a bloody week for cryptocurrencies. Everything was covered in red, from Ethereum (ETH) on down to the Basic Attention Token (BAT).

Some investors claim it was inevitable. Others say that price manipulation is to blame.

We think the answers are more complicated than either side has to offer, because our research reveals deep contradictions between the price of cryptos and the underlying development of blockchain projects.

For instance, a leading venture capital (VC) firm launched a $300.0-million crypto investment fund, yet liquidity continues to dry up in crypto markets.

Another example is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s.

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Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto

Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack

Another Crypto Hack Derails Recovery
Since our last report, hackers broke into yet another cryptocurrency exchange. This time the target was Bithumb, a Korean exchange known for high-flying prices and ultra-active traders.

While the hackers made off with approximately $31.5 million in funds, the exchange is working with relevant authorities to return the stolen tokens to their respective owners. In the event that some is still missing, the exchange will cover the losses. (Source: “Bithumb Working With Other Crypto Exchanges to Recover Hacked Funds,”.

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Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More

Cryptocurrency News
On the whole, cryptocurrency prices are down from our previous report on cryptos, with the market slipping on news of an exchange being hacked and a report about Bitcoin manipulation.

However, there have been two bright spots: 1) an official from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that Ethereum is not a security, and 2) Coinbase is expanding its selection of tokens.

Let’s start with the good news.
SEC Says ETH Is Not a Security
Investors have some reason to cheer this week. A high-ranking SEC official told attendees of the Yahoo! All Markets Summit: Crypto that Ethereum and Bitcoin are not.

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Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More

Ripple vs SWIFT: The War Begins
While most criticisms of XRP do nothing to curb my bullish Ripple price forecast, there is one obstacle that nags at my conscience. Its name is SWIFT.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is the king of international payments.

It coordinates wire transfers across 11,000 banks in more than 200 countries and territories, meaning that in order for XRP prices to ascend to $10.00, Ripple needs to launch a successful coup. That is, and always has been, an unwritten part of Ripple’s story.

We’ve seen a lot of progress on that score. In the last three years, Ripple wooed more than 100 financial firms onto its.

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Cryptocurrency Price Forecast: Trust Is Growing, But Prices Are Falling

Trust Is Growing…
Before we get to this week’s cryptocurrency news, analysis, and our cryptocurrency price forecast, I want to share an experience from this past week. I was at home watching the NBA playoffs, trying to ignore the commercials, when a strange advertisement caught my eye.

It followed a tomato from its birth on the vine to its end on the dinner table (where it was served as a bolognese sauce), and a diamond from its dusty beginnings to when it sparkled atop an engagement ring.

The voiceover said: “This is a shipment passed 200 times, transparently tracked from port to port. This is the IBM blockchain.”

Let that sink in—IBM.

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Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETF Rejection, AMD Microchip Sales, and Hedge Funds

Cryptocurrency News
Although cryptocurrency prices were heating up last week (Bitcoin, especially), regulators poured cold water on the rally by rejecting calls for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). This is the second time that the proposal fell on deaf ears. (More on that below.)

Crypto mining ran into similar trouble, as you can see from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.‘s (NASDAQ:AMD) most recent quarterly earnings. However, it wasn’t all bad news. Investors should, for instance, be cheering the fact that hedge funds are ramping up their involvement in cryptocurrency markets.

Without further ado, here are those stories in greater detail.
ETF Rejection.

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Cryptocurrency News: Vitalik Buterin Doesn’t Care About Bitcoin ETFs

Cryptocurrency News
While headline numbers look devastating this week, investors might take some solace in knowing that cryptocurrencies found their bottom at roughly $189.8 billion in market cap—that was the low point. Since then, investors put more than $20.0 billion back into the market.

During the rout, Ethereum broke below $300.00 and XRP fell below $0.30, marking yearly lows for both tokens. The same was true down the list of the top 100 biggest cryptos.

Altcoins took the brunt of the hit. BTC Dominance, which reveals how tightly investment is concentrated in Bitcoin, rose from 42.62% to 53.27% in just one month, showing that investors either fled altcoins at higher.

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Cryptocurrency News: New Exchanges Could Boost Crypto Liquidity

Cryptocurrency News
Even though the cryptocurrency news was upbeat in recent days, the market tumbled after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected calls for a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).

That news came as a blow to investors, many of whom believe the ETF would open the cryptocurrency industry up to pension funds and other institutional investors. This would create a massive tailwind for cryptos, they say.

So it only follows that a rejection of the Bitcoin ETF should send cryptos tumbling, correct? Well, maybe you can follow that logic. To me, it seems like a dramatic overreaction.

I understand that legitimizing cryptos is important. But.

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Advocates for Self-Government | World’s Smallest Political …

More than left and right

Our world-famous quiz challenges the dominant “Left versus Right” political model, which is misleading and fatally flawed.

Our Mission: To attract and persuade people to embrace libertarian principles and to empower libertarians to be highly successful at presenting the ideas of liberty to the world.

The philosophy of human respect. Libertarians believe you should be free to do as you choose with your own life and property, as long as you don’t harm the person or property of others.

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Libertarianism – Wikipedia

“Libertarians” redirects here. For political parties that may go by this name, see Libertarian Party.

Libertarianism (from Latin: libertas, meaning “freedom”) is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle.[1] Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association, and individual judgment.[2][3][4] Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions.[5]

Traditionally, libertarianism was a term for a form of left-wing politics; such Left-libertarian ideologies seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production, or else to restrict their purview or effects, in favor of common or cooperative ownership and management, viewing private property as a barrier to freedom and liberty.[6][7][8][9] In the United States, modern right-libertarian ideologies, such as minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, co-opted the term in the mid-20th century to instead advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights, such as in land, infrastructure, and natural resources.[10][11][12]

The first recorded use of the term “libertarian” was in 1789, when William Belsham wrote about libertarianism in the context of metaphysics.[13]

“Libertarian” came to mean an advocate or defender of liberty, especially in the political and social spheres, as early as 1796, when the London Packet printed on 12 February: “Lately marched out of the Prison at Bristol, 450 of the French Libertarians”.[14] The word was again used in a political sense in 1802 in a short piece critiquing a poem by “the author of Gebir” and has since been used with this meaning.[15][16][17]

The use of the word “libertarian” to describe a new set of political positions has been traced to the French cognate, libertaire, coined in a letter French libertarian communist Joseph Djacque wrote to mutualist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1857.[18][19][20] Djacque also used the term for his anarchist publication Le Libertaire: Journal du Mouvement Social, which was printed from 9 June 1858 to 4 February 1861 in New York City.[21][22]

In the mid-1890s, Sbastien Faure began publishing a new Le Libertaire while France’s Third Republic enacted the lois sclrates (“villainous laws”), which banned anarchist publications in France. Libertarianism has frequently been used as a synonym for anarchism since this time.[23][24][25]

The term “libertarianism” was first used in the United States as a synonym for classical liberalism in May 1955 by writer Dean Russell, a colleague of Leonard Read and a classical liberal himself.

He justified the choice of the word as follows: “Many of us call ourselves ‘liberals.’ And it is true that the word ‘liberal’ once described persons who respected the individual and feared the use of mass compulsions. But the leftists have now corrupted that once-proud term to identify themselves and their program of more government ownership of property and more controls over persons. As a result, those of us who believe in freedom must explain that when we call ourselves liberals, we mean liberals in the uncorrupted classical sense. At best, this is awkward and subject to misunderstanding. Here is a suggestion: Let those of us who love liberty trade-mark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word ‘libertarian'”.[26]

Subsequently, a growing number of Americans with classical liberal beliefs in the United States began to describe themselves as “libertarian”. The person most responsible for popularizing the term “libertarian” was Murray Rothbard,[27] who started publishing libertarian works in the 1960s. Rothbard describes this modern use of the words overtly as a ‘capture’ from his enemies, saying that “…for the first time in my memory, we, ‘our side,’ had captured a crucial word from the enemy… ‘Libertarians’… had long been simply a polite word for left-wing anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over…”[12][11]

Libertarianism in the United States has been described as conservative on economic issues and liberal on personal freedom[28] (for common meanings of conservative and liberal in the United States) and it is also often associated with a foreign policy of non-interventionism.[29][30]

There is contention about whether left and right libertarianism “represent distinct ideologies as opposed to variations on a theme”.[31] All libertarians begin with a conception of personal autonomy from which they argue in favor of civil liberties and a reduction or elimination of the state.

Left-libertarianism encompasses those libertarian beliefs that claim the Earth’s natural resources belong to everyone in an egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively. Contemporary left-libertarians such as Hillel Steiner, Peter Vallentyne, Philippe Van Parijs, Michael Otsuka and David Ellerman believe the appropriation of land must leave “enough and as good” for others or be taxed by society to compensate for the exclusionary effects of private property. Libertarian socialists (social and individualist anarchists, libertarian Marxists, council communists, Luxemburgists and DeLeonists) promote usufruct and socialist economic theories, including communism, collectivism, syndicalism and mutualism. They criticize the state for being the defender of private property and believe capitalism entails wage slavery.

Right-libertarianism[32] developed in the United States in the mid-20th century and is the most popular conception of libertarianism in that region.[33] It is commonly referred to as a continuation or radicalization of classical liberalism.[34][35] Right-libertarians, while often sharing left-libertarians’ advocacy for social freedom, also value the social institutions that enforce conditions of capitalism, while rejecting institutions that function in opposition to these on the grounds that such interventions represent unnecessary coercion of individuals and abrogation of their economic freedom.[36] Anarcho-capitalists[37][38] seek complete elimination of the state in favor of privately funded security services while minarchists defend “night-watchman states”, which maintain only those functions of government necessary to maintain conditions of capitalism and personal security.

Anarchism envisages freedom as a form of autonomy,[39] which Paul Goodman describes as “the ability to initiate a task and do it one’s own way, without orders from authorities who do not know the actual problem and the available means”.[40] All anarchists oppose political and legal authority, but collectivist strains also oppose the economic authority of private property.[41] These social anarchists emphasize mutual aid, whereas individualist anarchists extol individual sovereignty.[42]

Some right-libertarians consider the non-aggression principle (NAP) to be a core part of their beliefs.[43][44]

Libertarians have been advocates and activists of civil liberties, including free love and free thought.[45][46] Advocates of free love viewed sexual freedom as a clear, direct expression of individual sovereignty and they particularly stressed women’s rights as most sexual laws discriminated against women: for example, marriage laws and anti-birth control measures.[47]

Free love appeared alongside anarcha-feminism and advocacy of LGBT rights. Anarcha-feminism developed as a synthesis of radical feminism and anarchism and views patriarchy as a fundamental manifestation of compulsory government. It was inspired by the late-19th-century writings of early feminist anarchists such as Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Virginia Bolten.

Anarcha-feminists, like other radical feminists, criticize and advocate the abolition of traditional conceptions of family, education and gender roles. Free Society (18951897 as The Firebrand, 18971904 as Free Society) was an anarchist newspaper in the United States that staunchly advocated free love and women’s rights, while criticizing “comstockery”, the censorship of sexual information.[48] In recent times, anarchism has also voiced opinions and taken action around certain sex-related subjects such as pornography,[49] BDSM[50] and the sex industry.[50]

Free thought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic and reason in contrast with authority, tradition or other dogmas.[51][52] In the United States, free thought was an anti-Christian, anti-clerical movement whose purpose was to make the individual politically and spiritually free to decide on religious matters. A number of contributors to Liberty were prominent figures in both free thought and anarchism.

In 1901, Catalan anarchist and free-thinker Francesc Ferrer i Gurdia established “modern” or progressive schools in Barcelona in defiance of an educational system controlled by the Catholic Church.[53] Fiercely anti-clerical, Ferrer believed in “freedom in education”, i.e. education free from the authority of the church and state.[54] The schools’ stated goal was to “educate the working class in a rational, secular and non-coercive setting”.

Later in the 20th century, Austrian Freudo-Marxist Wilhelm Reich became a consistent propagandist for sexual freedom going as far as opening free sex-counseling clinics in Vienna for working-class patients[55] as well as coining the phrase “sexual revolution” in one of his books from the 1940s.[56] During the early 1970s, the English anarchist and pacifist Alex Comfort achieved international celebrity for writing the sex manuals The Joy of Sex and More Joy of Sex.

Most left-libertarians are anarchists and believe the state inherently violates personal autonomy: “As Robert Paul Wolff has argued, since ‘the state is authority, the right to rule’, anarchism which rejects the State is the only political doctrine consistent with autonomy in which the individual alone is the judge of his moral constraints”.[41] Social anarchists believe the state defends private property, which they view as intrinsically harmful, while market-oriented left-libertarians argue that so-called free markets actually consist of economic privileges granted by the state. These latter libertarians advocate instead for freed markets, which are freed from these privileges.[57]

There is a debate amongst right-libertarians as to whether or not the state is legitimate: while anarcho-capitalists advocate its abolition, minarchists support minimal states, often referred to as night-watchman states. Libertarians take a skeptical view of government authority.[58][unreliable source?] Minarchists maintain that the state is necessary for the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud. They believe the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police and courts, though some expand this list to include fire departments, prisons and the executive and legislative branches.[59]

They justify the state on the grounds that it is the logical consequence of adhering to the non-aggression principle and argue that anarchism is immoral because it implies that the non-aggression principle is optional, that the enforcement of laws under anarchism is open to competition.[citation needed] Another common justification is that private defense agencies and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough.[60]

Anarcho-capitalists argue that the state violates the non-aggression principle (NAP) by its nature because governments use force against those who have not stolen or vandalized private property, assaulted anyone or committed fraud.[61][62] Linda & Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a truly free market and that a government’s citizenry can not desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.[63]

Left-libertarians believe that neither claiming nor mixing one’s labor with natural resources is enough to generate full private property rights[64][65] and maintain that natural resources ought to be held in an egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively.[66]

Right-libertarians maintain that unowned natural resources “may be appropriated by the first person who discovers them, mixes his labor with them, or merely claims themwithout the consent of others, and with little or no payment to them”. They believe that natural resources are originally unowned and therefore private parties may appropriate them at will without the consent of, or owing to, others.[67]

Left-libertarians (social and individualist anarchists, libertarian Marxists and left-wing market anarchists) argue in favor of socialist theories such as communism, syndicalism and mutualism (anarchist economics). Daniel Gurin writes that “anarchism is really a synonym for socialism. The anarchist is primarily a socialist whose aim is to abolish the exploitation of man by man. Anarchism is only one of the streams of socialist thought, that stream whose main components are concern for liberty and haste to abolish the State”.[68]

Right-libertarians are economic liberals of either the Austrian School or Chicago school and support laissez-faire capitalism.[69]

Wage labor has long been compared by socialists and anarcho-syndicalists to slavery.[70][71][72][73] As a result, the term “wage slavery” is often utilized as a pejorative for wage labor.[74] Advocates of slavery looked upon the “comparative evils of Slave Society and of Free Society, of slavery to human Masters and slavery to Capital”[75] and proceeded to argue that wage slavery was actually worse than chattel slavery.[76] Slavery apologists like George Fitzhugh contended that workers only accepted wage labor with the passage of time, as they became “familiarized and inattentive to the infected social atmosphere they continually inhale[d]”.[75]

According to Noam Chomsky, analysis of the psychological implications of wage slavery goes back to the Enlightenment era. In his 1791 book On the Limits of State Action, classical liberal thinker Wilhelm von Humboldt explained how “whatever does not spring from a man’s free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness” and so when the laborer works under external control “we may admire what he does, but we despise what he is”.[77]

For Marxists, labour-as-commodity, which is how they regard wage labor,[78] provides an absolutely fundamental point of attack against capitalism.[79] “It can be persuasively argued”, noted philosopher John Nelson, “that the conception of the worker’s labor as a commodity confirms Marx’s stigmatization of the wage system of private capitalism as ‘wage-slavery;’ that is, as an instrument of the capitalist’s for reducing the worker’s condition to that of a slave, if not below it”.[80]

That this objection is fundamental follows immediately from Marx’s conclusion that wage labor is the very foundation of capitalism: “Without a class dependent on wages, the moment individuals confront each other as free persons, there can be no production of surplus value; without the production of surplus-value there can be no capitalist production, and hence no capital and no capitalist!”.[81]

Left-libertarianism (or left-wing libertarianism) names several related, but distinct approaches to political and social theory which stresses both individual freedom and social equality. In its classical usage, left-libertarianism is a synonym for anti-authoritarian varieties of left-wing politics, i.e. libertarian socialism, which includes anarchism and libertarian Marxism, among others.[82][83] Left-libertarianism can also refer to political positions associated with academic philosophers Hillel Steiner, Philippe Van Parijs and Peter Vallentyne that combine self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources.[84]

While maintaining full respect for personal property, left-libertarians are skeptical of or fully against private property, arguing that neither claiming nor mixing one’s labor with natural resources is enough to generate full private property rights[85][86] and maintain that natural resources (land, oil, gold and vegetation) should be held in an egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively. Those left-libertarians who support private property do so under the condition that recompense is offered to the local community.[86] Many left-libertarian schools of thought are communist, advocating the eventual replacement of money with labor vouchers or decentralized planning.

On the other hand, left-wing market anarchism, which includes Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s mutualism and Samuel Edward Konkin III’s agorism, appeals to left-wing concerns such as egalitarianism, gender and sexuality, class, immigration and environmentalism within the paradigm of a socialist free market.[82]

Right-libertarianism (or right-wing libertarianism) refers to libertarian political philosophies that advocate negative rights, natural law and a major reversal of the modern welfare state.[87] Right-libertarians strongly support private property rights and defend market distribution of natural resources and private property.[88] This position is contrasted with that of some versions of left-libertarianism, which maintain that natural resources belong to everyone in an egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively.[89] Right-libertarianism includes anarcho-capitalism and laissez-faire, minarchist liberalism.[note 1]

Elements of libertarianism can be traced as far back as the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu and the higher-law concepts of the Greeks and the Israelites.[90][91] In 17th-century England, libertarian ideas began to take modern form in the writings of the Levellers and John Locke. In the middle of that century, opponents of royal power began to be called Whigs, or sometimes simply “opposition” or “country” (as opposed to Court) writers.[92]

During the 18th century, classical liberal ideas flourished in Europe and North America.[93][94] Libertarians of various schools were influenced by classical liberal ideas.[95] For libertarian philosopher Roderick T. Long, both libertarian socialists and libertarian capitalists “share a commonor at least an overlapping intellectual ancestry… both claim the seventeenth century English Levellers and the eighteenth century French encyclopedists among their ideological forebears; and (also)… usually share an admiration for Thomas Jefferson[96][97][98] and Thomas Paine”.[99]

John Locke greatly influenced both libertarianism and the modern world in his writings published before and after the English Revolution of 1688, especially A Letter Concerning Toleration (1667), Two Treatises of Government (1689) and An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). In the text of 1689, he established the basis of liberal political theory: that people’s rights existed before government; that the purpose of government is to protect personal and property rights; that people may dissolve governments that do not do so; and that representative government is the best form to protect rights.[100]

The United States Declaration of Independence was inspired by Locke in its statement: “[T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”.[101] Nevertheless scholar Ellen Meiksins Wood says that “there are doctrines of individualism that are opposed to Lockean individualism… and non-Lockean individualism may encompass socialism”.[102]

According to Murray Rothbard, the libertarian creed emerged from the classical liberal challenges to an “absolute central State and a king ruling by divine right on top of an older, restrictive web of feudal land monopolies and urban guild controls and restrictions”, the mercantilism of a bureaucratic warfaring state allied with privileged merchants. The object of classical liberals was individual liberty in the economy, in personal freedoms and civil liberty, separation of state and religion, and peace as an alternative to imperial aggrandizement. He cites Locke’s contemporaries, the Levellers, who held similar views. Also influential were the English “Cato’s Letters” during the early 1700s, reprinted eagerly by American colonists who already were free of European aristocracy and feudal land monopolies.[101]

In January of 1776, only two years after coming to America from England, Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense calling for independence for the colonies.[103] Paine promoted classical liberal ideas in clear, concise language that allowed the general public to understand the debates among the political elites.[104] Common Sense was immensely popular in disseminating these ideas,[105] selling hundreds of thousands of copies.[106] Paine later would write the Rights of Man and The Age of Reason and participate in the French Revolution.[103] Paine’s theory of property showed a “libertarian concern” with the redistribution of resources.[107]

In 1793, William Godwin wrote a libertarian philosophical treatise, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness, which criticized ideas of human rights and of society by contract based on vague promises. He took classical liberalism to its logical anarchic conclusion by rejecting all political institutions, law, government and apparatus of coercion as well as all political protest and insurrection. Instead of institutionalized justice, Godwin proposed that people influence one another to moral goodness through informal reasoned persuasion, including in the associations they joined as this would facilitate happiness.[108][109]

Modern anarchism sprang from the secular or religious thought of the Enlightenment, particularly Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s arguments for the moral centrality of freedom.[110]

As part of the political turmoil of the 1790s in the wake of the French Revolution, William Godwin developed the first expression of modern anarchist thought.[111][112] According to Peter Kropotkin, Godwin was “the first to formulate the political and economical conceptions of anarchism, even though he did not give that name to the ideas developed in his work”,[113] while Godwin attached his anarchist ideas to an early Edmund Burke.[114]

Godwin is generally regarded as the founder of the school of thought known as philosophical anarchism. He argued in Political Justice (1793)[112][115] that government has an inherently malevolent influence on society and that it perpetuates dependency and ignorance. He thought that the spread of the use of reason to the masses would eventually cause government to wither away as an unnecessary force. Although he did not accord the state with moral legitimacy, he was against the use of revolutionary tactics for removing the government from power. Rather, Godwin advocated for its replacement through a process of peaceful evolution.[112][116]

His aversion to the imposition of a rules-based society led him to denounce, as a manifestation of the people’s “mental enslavement”, the foundations of law, property rights and even the institution of marriage. Godwin considered the basic foundations of society as constraining the natural development of individuals to use their powers of reasoning to arrive at a mutually beneficial method of social organization. In each case, government and its institutions are shown to constrain the development of our capacity to live wholly in accordance with the full and free exercise of private judgment.

In France, various anarchist currents were present during the Revolutionary period, with some revolutionaries using the term anarchiste in a positive light as early as September 1793.[117] The enrags opposed revolutionary government as a contradiction in terms. Denouncing the Jacobin dictatorship, Jean Varlet wrote in 1794 that “government and revolution are incompatible, unless the people wishes to set its constituted authorities in permanent insurrection against itself”.[118] In his “Manifesto of the Equals”, Sylvain Marchal looked forward to the disappearance, once and for all, of “the revolting distinction between rich and poor, of great and small, of masters and valets, of governors and governed”.[118]

Libertarian socialism, libertarian communism and libertarian Marxism are all phrases which activists with a variety of perspectives have applied to their views.[119]

Anarchist communist philosopher Joseph Djacque was the first person to describe himself as a libertarian.[120] Unlike mutualist anarchist philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, he argued that “it is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature”.[121][122]

According to anarchist historian Max Nettlau, the first use of the term “libertarian communism” was in November 1880, when a French anarchist congress employed it to more clearly identify its doctrines.[123] The French anarchist journalist Sbastien Faure started the weekly paper Le Libertaire (The Libertarian) in 1895.[124]

Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and their will over any kinds of external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems.[125][126] An influential form of individualist anarchism called egoism[127] or egoist anarchism was expounded by one of the earliest and best-known proponents of individualist anarchism, the German Max Stirner.[128] Stirner’s The Ego and Its Own, published in 1844, is a founding text of the philosophy.[128] According to Stirner, the only limitation on the rights of the individual is their power to obtain what they desire,[129] without regard for God, state or morality.[130]

Stirner advocated self-assertion and foresaw unions of egoists, non-systematic associations continually renewed by all parties’ support through an act of will,[131] which Stirner proposed as a form of organisation in place of the state.[132] Egoist anarchists argue that egoism will foster genuine and spontaneous union between individuals.[133] Egoism has inspired many interpretations of Stirner’s philosophy.

It was re-discovered and promoted by German philosophical anarchist and LGBT activist John Henry Mackay. Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist,[134] and the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, The Peaceful Revolutionist, was the first anarchist periodical published.[135] For American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster, “[i]t is apparent… that Proudhonian Anarchism was to be found in the United States at least as early as 1848 and that it was not conscious of its affinity to the Individualist Anarchism of Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews… William B. Greene presented this Proudhonian Mutualism in its purest and most systematic form.”.[136]

Later, Benjamin Tucker fused Stirner’s egoism with the economics of Warren and Proudhon in his eclectic influential publication Liberty. From these early influences, individualist anarchism in different countries attracted a small yet diverse following of bohemian artists and intellectuals,[137] free love and birth control advocates (anarchism and issues related to love and sex),[138][139] individualist naturists nudists (anarcho-naturism),[140][141][142] free thought and anti-clerical activists[143][144] as well as young anarchist outlaws in what became known as illegalism and individual reclamation[145][146] (European individualist anarchism and individualist anarchism in France). These authors and activists included Emile Armand, Han Ryner, Henri Zisly, Renzo Novatore, Miguel Gimenez Igualada, Adolf Brand and Lev Chernyi.

In 1873, the follower and translator of Proudhon, the Catalan Francesc Pi i Margall, became President of Spain with a program which wanted “to establish a decentralized, or “cantonalist,” political system on Proudhonian lines”,[147] who according to Rudolf Rocker had “political ideas…much in common with those of Richard Price, Joseph Priestly [sic], Thomas Paine, Jefferson, and other representatives of the Anglo-American liberalism of the first period. He wanted to limit the power of the state to a minimum and gradually replace it by a Socialist economic order”.[148]

On the other hand, Fermn Salvochea was a mayor of the city of Cdiz and a president of the province of Cdiz. He was one of the main propagators of anarchist thought in that area in the late 19th century and is considered to be “perhaps the most beloved figure in the Spanish Anarchist movement of the 19th century”.[149][150] Ideologically, he was influenced by Bradlaugh, Owen and Paine, whose works he had studied during his stay in England and Kropotkin, whom he read later.[149] The revolutionary wave of 19171923 saw the active participation of anarchists in Russia and Europe. Russian anarchists participated alongside the Bolsheviks in both the February and October 1917 revolutions.

However, Bolsheviks in central Russia quickly began to imprison or drive underground the libertarian anarchists. Many fled to the Ukraine.[151] There, in the Ukrainian Free Territory they fought in the Russian Civil War against the White movement, monarchists and other opponents of revolution and then against Bolsheviks as part of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine led by Nestor Makhno, who established an anarchist society in the region for a number of months. Expelled American anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman protested Bolshevik policy before they left Russia.[152]

The victory of the Bolsheviks damaged anarchist movements internationally as workers and activists joined Communist parties. In France and the United States, for example, members of the major syndicalist movements of the CGT and IWW joined the Communist International.[153] In Paris, the Dielo Truda group of Russian anarchist exiles, which included Nestor Makhno, issued a 1926 manifesto, the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft), calling for new anarchist organizing structures.[154][155]

The Bavarian Soviet Republic of 19181919 had libertarian socialist characteristics.[156][157] In Italy, from 1918 to 1921 the anarcho-syndicalist trade union Unione Sindacale Italiana grew to 800,000 members.[158]

In the 1920s and 1930s, with the rise of fascism in Europe, anarchists began to fight fascists in Italy,[159] in France during the February 1934 riots[160] and in Spain where the CNT (Confederacin Nacional del Trabajo) boycott of elections led to a right-wing victory and its later participation in voting in 1936 helped bring the popular front back to power. This led to a ruling class attempted coup and the Spanish Civil War (19361939).[161] Gruppo Comunista Anarchico di Firenze held that the during early twentieth century, the terms libertarian communism and anarchist communism became synonymous within the international anarchist movement as a result of the close connection they had in Spain (anarchism in Spain) (with libertarian communism becoming the prevalent term).[162]

Murray Bookchin wrote that the Spanish libertarian movement of the mid-1930s was unique because its workers’ control and collectiveswhich came out of a three-generation “massive libertarian movement”divided the republican camp and challenged the Marxists. “Urban anarchists” created libertarian communist forms of organization which evolved into the CNT, a syndicalist union providing the infrastructure for a libertarian society. Also formed were local bodies to administer social and economic life on a decentralized libertarian basis. Much of the infrastructure was destroyed during the 1930s Spanish Civil War against authoritarian and fascist forces.[163]

The Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth[164] (FIJL, Spanish: Federacin Ibrica de Juventudes Libertarias), sometimes abbreviated as Libertarian Youth (Juventudes Libertarias), was a libertarian socialist[165] organization created in 1932 in Madrid.[166]

In February 1937, the FIJL organized a plenum of regional organizations (second congress of FIJL). In October 1938, from the 16th through the 30th in Barcelona the FIJL participated in a national plenum of the libertarian movement, also attended by members of the CNT and the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI).[167] The FIJL exists until today. When the republican forces lost the Spanish Civil War, the city of Madrid was turned over to the Francoist forces in 1939 by the last non-Francoist mayor of the city, the anarchist Melchor Rodrguez Garca.[168] During autumn of 1931, the “Manifesto of the 30” was published by militants of the anarchist trade union CNT and among those who signed it there was the CNT General Secretary (19221923) Joan Peiro, Angel Pestaa CNT (General Secretary in 1929) and Juan Lopez Sanchez.

They were called treintismo and they were calling for “libertarian possibilism” which advocated achieving libertarian socialist ends with participation inside structures of contemporary parliamentary democracy.[169] In 1932, they establish the Syndicalist Party which participates in the 1936 Spanish general elections and proceed to be a part of the leftist coalition of parties known as the Popular Front obtaining 2 congressmen (Pestaa and Benito Pabon). In 1938, Horacio Prieto, general secretary of the CNT, proposes that the Iberian Anarchist Federation transforms itself into a “Libertarian Socialist Party” and that it participates in the national elections.[170]

The Manifesto of Libertarian Communism was written in 1953 by Georges Fontenis for the Federation Communiste Libertaire of France. It is one of the key texts of the anarchist-communist current known as platformism.[171] In 1968, in Carrara, Italy the International of Anarchist Federations was founded during an international anarchist conference to advance libertarian solidarity.

It wanted to form “a strong and organized workers movement, agreeing with the libertarian ideas”.[172][173] In the United States, the Libertarian League was founded in New York City in 1954 as a left-libertarian political organization building on the Libertarian Book Club.[174][175] Members included Sam Dolgoff,[176] Russell Blackwell, Dave Van Ronk, Enrico Arrigoni[177] and Murray Bookchin.

In Australia, the Sydney Push was a predominantly left-wing intellectual subculture in Sydney from the late 1940s to the early 1970s which became associated with the label “Sydney libertarianism”. Well known associates of the Push include Jim Baker, John Flaus, Harry Hooton, Margaret Fink, Sasha Soldatow,[178] Lex Banning, Eva Cox, Richard Appleton, Paddy McGuinness, David Makinson, Germaine Greer, Clive James, Robert Hughes, Frank Moorhouse and Lillian Roxon.

Amongst the key intellectual figures in Push debates were philosophers David J. Ivison, George Molnar, Roelof Smilde, Darcy Waters and Jim Baker, as recorded in Baker’s memoir Sydney Libertarians and the Push, published in the libertarian Broadsheet in 1975.[179] An understanding of libertarian values and social theory can be obtained from their publications, a few of which are available online.[180][181]

In 1969, French platformist anarcho-communist Daniel Gurin published an essay in 1969 called “Libertarian Marxism?” in which he dealt with the debate between Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin at the First International and afterwards suggested that “[L]ibertarian Marxism rejects determinism and fatalism, giving the greater place to individual will, intuition, imagination, reflex speeds, and to the deep instincts of the masses, which are more far-seeing in hours of crisis than the reasonings of the ‘elites’; libertarian Marxism thinks of the effects of surprise, provocation and boldness, refuses to be cluttered and paralyzed by a heavy ‘scientific’ apparatus, doesn’t equivocate or bluff, and guards itself from adventurism as much as from fear of the unknown”.[182]

Libertarian Marxist currents often draw from Marx and Engels’ later works, specifically the Grundrisse and The Civil War in France.[183] They emphasize the Marxist belief in the ability of the working class to forge its own destiny without the need for a revolutionary party or state.[184] Libertarian Marxism includes such currents as council communism, left communism, Socialisme ou Barbarie, Lettrism/Situationism and operaismo/autonomism and New Left.[185][unreliable source?]

In the United States, from 1970 to 1981 there existed the publication Root & Branch[186] which had as a subtitle “A Libertarian Marxist Journal”.[187] In 1974, the Libertarian Communism journal was started in the United Kingdom by a group inside the Socialist Party of Great Britain.[188] In 1986, the anarcho-syndicalist Sam Dolgoff started and led the publication Libertarian Labor Review in the United States[189] which decided to rename itself as Anarcho-Syndicalist Review in order to avoid confusion with right-libertarian views.[190]

The indigenous anarchist tradition in the United States was largely individualist.[191] In 1825, Josiah Warren became aware of the social system of utopian socialist Robert Owen and began to talk with others in Cincinnati about founding a communist colony.[192]

When this group failed to come to an agreement about the form and goals of their proposed community, Warren “sold his factory after only two years of operation, packed up his young family, and took his place as one of 900 or so Owenites who had decided to become part of the founding population of New Harmony, Indiana”.[193] Warren termed the phrase “cost the limit of price”[194] and “proposed a system to pay people with certificates indicating how many hours of work they did. They could exchange the notes at local time stores for goods that took the same amount of time to produce”.[195] He put his theories to the test by establishing an experimental labor-for-labor store called the Cincinnati Time Store where trade was facilitated by labor notes.

The store proved successful and operated for three years, after which it was closed so that Warren could pursue establishing colonies based on mutualism, including Utopia and Modern Times. “After New Harmony failed, Warren shifted his ideological loyalties from socialism to anarchism (which was no great leap, given that Owen’s socialism had been predicated on Godwin’s anarchism)”.[196] Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist[195] and the four-page weekly paper The Peaceful Revolutionist he edited during 1833 was the first anarchist periodical published,[135] an enterprise for which he built his own printing press, cast his own type and made his own printing plates.[135]

Catalan historian Xavier Diez reports that the intentional communal experiments pioneered by Warren were influential in European individualist anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries such as mile Armand and the intentional communities started by them.[197] Warren said that Stephen Pearl Andrews, individualist anarchist and close associate, wrote the most lucid and complete exposition of Warren’s own theories in The Science of Society, published in 1852.[198] Andrews was formerly associated with the Fourierist movement, but converted to radical individualism after becoming acquainted with the work of Warren. Like Warren, he held the principle of “individual sovereignty” as being of paramount importance. Contemporary American anarchist Hakim Bey reports:

Steven Pearl Andrews… was not a Fourierist, but he lived through the brief craze for phalansteries in America and adopted a lot of Fourierist principles and practices… a maker of worlds out of words. He syncretized abolitionism in the United States, free love, spiritual universalism, Warren, and Fourier into a grand utopian scheme he called the Universal Pantarchy… He was instrumental in founding several ‘intentional communities,’ including the ‘Brownstone Utopia’ on 14th St. in New York, and ‘Modern Times’ in Brentwood, Long Island. The latter became as famous as the best-known Fourierist communes (Brook Farm in Massachusetts & the North American Phalanx in New Jersey)in fact, Modern Times became downright notorious (for ‘Free Love’) and finally foundered under a wave of scandalous publicity. Andrews (and Victoria Woodhull) were members of the infamous Section 12 of the 1st International, expelled by Marx for its anarchist, feminist, and spiritualist tendencies.[199]

For American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster, “[it is apparent… that Proudhonian Anarchism was to be found in the United States at least as early as 1848 and that it was not conscious of its affinity to the Individualist Anarchism of Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. William B. Greene presented this Proudhonian Mutualism in its purest and most systematic form”.[200] William Batchelder Greene was a 19th-century mutualist individualist anarchist, Unitarian minister, soldier and promoter of free banking in the United States. Greene is best known for the works Mutual Banking, which proposed an interest-free banking system; and Transcendentalism, a critique of the New England philosophical school.

After 1850, he became active in labor reform.[200] “He was elected vice-president of the New England Labor Reform League, the majority of the members holding to Proudhon’s scheme of mutual banking, and in 1869 president of the Massachusetts Labor Union”.[200] Greene then published Socialistic, Mutualistic, and Financial Fragments (1875).[200] He saw mutualism as the synthesis of “liberty and order”.[200] His “associationism… is checked by individualism… ‘Mind your own business,’ ‘Judge not that ye be not judged.’ Over matters which are purely personal, as for example, moral conduct, the individual is sovereign, as well as over that which he himself produces. For this reason he demands ‘mutuality’ in marriagethe equal right of a woman to her own personal freedom and property”.[200]

Poet, naturalist and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau was an important early influence in individualist anarchist thought in the United States and Europe. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings; and his essay Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government), an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. In Walden, Thoreau advocates simple living and self-sufficiency among natural surroundings in resistance to the advancement of industrial civilization.[201]

Civil Disobedience, first published in 1849, argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences and that people have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. These works influenced green anarchism, anarcho-primitivism and anarcho-pacifism,[202] as well as figures including Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Buber and Leo Tolstoy.[202] “Many have seen in Thoreau one of the precursors of ecologism and anarcho-primitivism represented today in John Zerzan.

For George Woodcock this attitude can be also motivated by certain idea of resistance to progress and of rejection of the growing materialism which is the nature of American society in the mid-19th century”.[201] Zerzan included Thoreau’s “Excursions” in his edited compilation of anti-civilization writings, Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections.[203] Individualist anarchists such as Thoreau[204][205] do not speak of economics, but simply the right of disunion from the state and foresee the gradual elimination of the state through social evolution. Agorist author J. Neil Schulman cites Thoreau as a primary inspiration.[206]

Many economists since Adam Smith have argued thatunlike other taxesa land value tax would not cause economic inefficiency.[207] It would be a progressive tax[208]primarily paid by the wealthyand increase wages, reduce economic inequality, remove incentives to misuse real estate and reduce the vulnerability that economies face from credit and property bubbles.[209][210]

Early proponents of this view include Thomas Paine, Herbert Spencer, and Hugo Grotius,[84] but the concept was widely popularized by the economist and social reformer Henry George.[211] George believed that people ought to own the fruits of their labor and the value of the improvements they make, thus he was opposed to income taxes, sales taxes, taxes on improvements and all other taxes on production, labor, trade or commerce.

George was among the staunchest defenders of free markets and his book Protection or Free Trade was read into the U.S. Congressional Record.[212] Yet he did support direct management of natural monopolies as a last resort, such as right-of-way monopolies necessary for railroads. George advocated for elimination of intellectual property arrangements in favor of government sponsored prizes for inventors.[213][not in citation given]

Early followers of George’s philosophy called themselves single taxers because they believed that the only legitimate, broad-based tax was land rent. The term Georgism was coined later, though some modern proponents prefer the term Geoism instead,[214] leaving the meaning of “geo” (Earth in Greek) deliberately ambiguous. The terms “Earth Sharing”,[215] “geonomics”[216] and “geolibertarianism”[217] are used by some Georgists to represent a difference of emphasis, or real differences about how land rent should be spent, but all agree that land rent should be recovered from its private owners.

Individualist anarchism found in the United States an important space for discussion and development within the group known as the “Boston anarchists”.[218] Even among the 19th-century American individualists there was no monolithic doctrine and they disagreed amongst each other on various issues including intellectual property rights and possession versus property in land.[219][220][221] Some Boston anarchists, including Benjamin Tucker, identified as socialists, which in the 19th century was often used in the sense of a commitment to improving conditions of the working class (i.e. “the labor problem”).[222]

Lysander Spooner, besides his individualist anarchist activism, was also an anti-slavery activist and member of the First International.[223] Tucker argued that the elimination of what he called “the four monopolies”the land monopoly, the money and banking monopoly, the monopoly powers conferred by patents and the quasi-monopolistic effects of tariffswould undermine the power of the wealthy and big business, making possible widespread property ownership and higher incomes for ordinary people, while minimizing the power of would-be bosses and achieving socialist goals without state action. Tucker’s anarchist periodical, Liberty, was published from August 1881 to April 1908.

The publication, emblazoned with Proudhon’s quote that liberty is “Not the Daughter But the Mother of Order” was instrumental in developing and formalizing the individualist anarchist philosophy through publishing essays and serving as a forum for debate. Contributors included Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert, Dyer Lum, Joshua K. Ingalls, John Henry Mackay, Victor Yarros, Wordsworth Donisthorpe, James L. Walker, J. William Lloyd, Florence Finch Kelly, Voltairine de Cleyre, Steven T. Byington, John Beverley Robinson, Jo Labadie, Lillian Harman and Henry Appleton.[224] Later, Tucker and others abandoned their traditional support of natural rights and converted to an egoism modeled upon the philosophy of Max Stirner.[220]

A number of natural rights proponents stopped contributing in protest and “[t]hereafter, Liberty championed egoism, although its general content did not change significantly”.[225] Several publications “were undoubtedly influenced by Liberty’s presentation of egoism. They included: I published by C.L. Swartz, edited by W.E. Gordak and J.W. Lloyd (all associates of Liberty); The Ego and The Egoist, both of which were edited by Edward H. Fulton. Among the egoist papers that Tucker followed were the German Der Eigene, edited by Adolf Brand, and The Eagle and The Serpent, issued from London. The latter, the most prominent English-language egoist journal, was published from 1898 to 1900 with the subtitle ‘A Journal of Egoistic Philosophy and Sociology'”.[225]

By around the start of the 20th century, the heyday of individualist anarchism had passed.[226] H. L. Mencken and Albert Jay Nock were the first prominent figures in the United States to describe themselves as libertarians;[227] they believed Franklin D. Roosevelt had co-opted the word “liberal” for his New Deal policies which they opposed and used “libertarian” to signify their allegiance to individualism.[citation needed] In 1914, Nock joined the staff of The Nation magazine, which at the time was supportive of liberal capitalism.

A lifelong admirer of Henry George, Nock went on to become co-editor of The Freeman from 1920 to 1924, a publication initially conceived as a vehicle for the single tax movement, financed by the wealthy wife of the magazine’s other editor, Francis Neilson.[228] Critic H.L. Mencken wrote that “[h]is editorials during the three brief years of the Freeman set a mark that no other man of his trade has ever quite managed to reach. They were well-informed and sometimes even learned, but there was never the slightest trace of pedantry in them”.[229]

Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, David Boaz, writes: “In 1943, at one of the lowest points for liberty and humanity in history, three remarkable women published books that could be said to have given birth to the modern libertarian movement”.[230] Isabel Paterson’s The God of the Machine, Rose Wilder Lane’s The Discovery of Freedom and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead each promoted individualism and capitalism. None of the three used the term libertarianism to describe their beliefs and Rand specifically rejected the label, criticizing the burgeoning American libertarian movement as the “hippies of the right”.[231] Rand’s own philosophy, Objectivism, is notedly similar to libertarianism and she accused libertarians of plagiarizing her ideas.[231] Rand stated:

All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies who are anarchists instead of leftist collectivists; but anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet libertarians combine capitalism and anarchism. That’s worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. Anarchists are the scum of the intellectual world of the Left, which has given them up. So the Right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the libertarian movement.[232]

In 1946, Leonard E. Read founded the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), an American nonprofit educational organization which promotes the principles of laissez-faire economics, private property, and limited government.[233] According to Gary North, former FEE director of seminars and a current Ludwig von Mises Institute scholar, FEE is the “granddaddy of all libertarian organizations”.[234] The initial officers of FEE were Leonard E. Read as President, Austrian School economist Henry Hazlitt as Vice-President and Chairman David Goodrich of B. F. Goodrich. Other trustees on the FEE board have included wealthy industrialist Jasper Crane of DuPont, H. W. Luhnow of William Volker & Co. and Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society.[236][237]

Austrian school economist Murray Rothbard was initially an enthusiastic partisan of the Old Right, particularly because of its general opposition to war and imperialism,[238] but long embraced a reading of American history that emphasized the role of elite privilege in shaping legal and political institutions. He was part of Ayn Rand’s circle for a brief period, but later harshly criticized Objectivism.[239] He praised Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and wrote that she “introduced me to the whole field of natural rights and natural law philosophy”, prompting him to learn “the glorious natural rights tradition”.[240](pp121, 132134) He soon broke with Rand over various differences, including his defense of anarchism. Rothbard was influenced by the work of the 19th-century American individualist anarchists[241] and sought to meld their advocacy of free markets and private defense with the principles of Austrian economics.[242] This new philosophy he called anarcho-capitalism.

Karl Hess, a speechwriter for Barry Goldwater and primary author of the Republican Party’s 1960 and 1964 platforms, became disillusioned with traditional politics following the 1964 presidential campaign in which Goldwater lost to Lyndon B. Johnson. He parted with the Republicans altogether after being rejected for employment with the party, and began work as a heavy-duty welder. Hess began reading American anarchists largely due to the recommendations of his friend Murray Rothbard and said that upon reading the works of communist anarchist Emma Goldman, he discovered that anarchists believed everything he had hoped the Republican Party would represent. For Hess, Goldman was the source for the best and most essential theories of Ayn Rand without any of the “crazy solipsism that Rand was so fond of”.[243] Hess and Rothbard founded the journal Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought, which was published from 1965 to 1968, with George Resch and Leonard P. Liggio. In 1969, they edited The Libertarian Forum 1969, which Hess left in 1971. Hess eventually put his focus on the small scale, stating that “Society is: people together making culture”. He deemed two of his cardinal social principles to be “opposition to central political authority” and “concern for people as individuals”. His rejection of standard American party politics was reflected in a lecture he gave during which he said: “The Democrats or liberals think that everybody is stupid and therefore they need somebody… to tell them how to behave themselves. The Republicans think everybody is lazy”.[244]

The Vietnam War split the uneasy alliance between growing numbers of American libertarians and conservatives who believed in limiting liberty to uphold moral virtues. Libertarians opposed to the war joined the draft resistance and peace movements, as well as organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1969 and 1970, Hess joined with others, including Murray Rothbard, Robert LeFevre, Dana Rohrabacher, Samuel Edward Konkin III and former SDS leader Carl Oglesby to speak at two “left-right” conferences which brought together activists from both the Old Right and the New Left in what was emerging as a nascent libertarian movement.[245] As part of his effort to unite right and left-libertarianism, Hess would join the SDS as well as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), of which he explained: “We used to have a labor movement in this country, until I.W.W. leaders were killed or imprisoned. You could tell labor unions had become captive when business and government began to praise them. They’re destroying the militant black leaders the same way now. If the slaughter continues, before long liberals will be asking, ‘What happened to the blacks? Why aren’t they militant anymore?'”.[246] Rothbard ultimately broke with the left, allying himself instead with the burgeoning paleoconservative movement.[247] He criticized the tendency of these left-libertarians to appeal to “‘free spirits,’ to people who don’t want to push other people around, and who don’t want to be pushed around themselves” in contrast to “the bulk of Americans,” who “might well be tight-assed conformists, who want to stamp out drugs in their vicinity, kick out people with strange dress habits, etc”.[248] This left-libertarian tradition has been carried to the present day by Samuel Edward Konkin III’s agorists, contemporary mutualists such as Kevin Carson and Roderick T. Long and other left-wing market anarchists.[249]

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Libertarianism – Wikipedia

libertarianism | Definition, Doctrines, History, & Facts …

Libertarianism, political philosophy that takes individual liberty to be the primary political value. It may be understood as a form of liberalism, the political philosophy associated with the English philosophers John Locke and John Stuart Mill, the Scottish economist Adam Smith, and the American statesman Thomas Jefferson. Liberalism seeks to define and justify the legitimate powers of government in terms of certain natural or God-given individual rights. These rights include the rights to life, liberty, private property, freedom of speech and association, freedom of worship, government by consent, equality under the law, and moral autonomy (the ability to pursue ones own conception of happiness, or the good life). The purpose of government, according to liberals, is to protect these and other individual rights, and in general liberals have contended that government power should be limited to that which is necessary to accomplish this task. Libertarians are classical liberals who strongly emphasize the individual right to liberty. They contend that the scope and powers of government should be constrained so as to allow each individual as much freedom of action as is consistent with a like freedom for everyone else. Thus, they believe that individuals should be free to behave and to dispose of their property as they see fit, provided that their actions do not infringe on the equal freedom of others.

Liberalism and libertarianism have deep roots in Western thought. A central feature of the religious and intellectual traditions of ancient Israel and ancient Greece was the idea of a higher moral law that applied universally and that constrained the powers of even kings and governments. Christian theologians, including Tertullian in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, stressed the moral worth of the individual and the division of the world into two realms, one of which was the province of God and thus beyond the power of the state to control.

Libertarianism also was influenced by debates within Scholasticism on slavery and private property. Scholastic thinkers such as Aquinas, Francisco de Vitoria, and Bartolom de Las Casas developed the concept of self-mastery (dominium)later called self-propriety, property in ones person, or self-ownershipand showed how it could be the foundation of a system of individual rights (see below Libertarian philosophy). In response to the growth of royal absolutism in early modern Europe, early libertarians, particularly those in the Netherlands and England, defended, developed, and radicalized existing notions of the rule of law, representative assemblies, and the rights of the people. In the mid-16th century, for example, the merchants of Antwerp successfully resisted the attempt by the Holy Roman emperor Charles V to introduce the Inquisition in their city, maintaining that it would contravene their traditional privileges and ruin their prosperity (and hence diminish the emperors tax income). Through the Petition of Right (1628) the English Parliament opposed efforts by King Charles I to impose taxes and compel loans from private citizens, to imprison subjects without due process of law, and to require subjects to quarter the kings soldiers (see petition of right). The first well-developed statement of libertarianism, An Agreement of the People (1647), was produced by the radical republican Leveler movement during the English Civil Wars (164251). Presented to Parliament in 1649, it included the ideas of self-ownership, private property, legal equality, religious toleration, and limited, representative government.

In the late 17th century, liberalism was given a sophisticated philosophical foundation in Lockes theories of natural rights, including the right to private property and to government by consent. In the 18th century, Smiths studies of the economic effects of free markets greatly advanced the liberal theory of spontaneous order, according to which some forms of order in society arise naturally and spontaneously, without central direction, from the independent activities of large numbers of individuals. The theory of spontaneous order is a central feature of libertarian social and economic thinking (see below Spontaneous order).

The American Revolution (177583) was a watershed for liberalism. In the Declaration of Independence (1776), Jefferson enunciated many liberal and libertarian ideas, including the belief in unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness and the belief in the right and duty of citizens to throw off such Government that violates these rights. Indeed, during and after the American Revolution, according to the American historian Bernard Bailyn, the major themes of eighteenth-century libertarianism were brought to realization in written constitutions, bills of rights, and limits on executive and legislative powers, especially the power to wage war. Such values have remained at the core of American political thought ever since.

During the 19th century, governments based on traditional liberal principles emerged in England and the United States and to a smaller extent in continental Europe. The rise of liberalism resulted in rapid technological development and a general increase in living standards, though large segments of the population remained in poverty, especially in the slums of industrial cities.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many liberals began to worry that persistent inequalities of income and wealth and the tremendous pace of social change were undermining democracy and threatening other classical liberal values, such as the right to moral autonomy. Fearful of what they considered a new despotism of the wealthy, modern liberals advocated government regulation of markets and major industries, heavier taxation of the rich, the legalization of trade unions, and the introduction of various government-funded social services, such as mandatory accident insurance. Some have regarded the modern liberals embrace of increased government power as a repudiation of the classical liberal belief in limited government, but others have seen it as a reconsideration of the kinds of power required by government to protect the individual rights that liberals believe in.

The new liberalism was exemplified by the English philosophers L.T. Hobhouse and T.H. Green, who argued that democratic governments should aim to advance the general welfare by providing direct services and benefits to citizens. Meanwhile, however, classical liberals such as the English philosopher Herbert Spencer insisted that the welfare of the poor and the middle classes would be best served by free markets and minimal government. In the 20th century, so-called welfare state liberalism, or social democracy, emerged as the dominant form of liberalism, and the term liberalism itself underwent a significant change in definition in English-speaking countries. Particularly after World War II, most self-described liberals no longer supported completely free markets and minimal government, though they continued to champion other individual rights, such as the right to freedom of speech. As liberalism became increasingly associated with government intervention in the economy and social-welfare programs, some classical liberals abandoned the old term and began to call themselves libertarians.

In response to the rise of totalitarian regimes in Russia, Italy, and Germany in the first half of the 20th century, some economists and political philosophers rediscovered aspects of the classical liberal tradition that were most distinctly individualist. In his seminal essay Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth (originally in German, 1920), the Austrian-American economist Ludwig von Mises challenged the basic tenets of socialism, arguing that a complex economy requires private property and freedom of exchange in order to solve problems of social and economic coordination. Von Misess work led to extensive studies of the processes by which the uncoordinated activities of numerous individuals can spontaneously generate complex forms of social order in societies where individual rights are well-defined and legally secure.

Classical liberalism rests on a presumption of libertythat is, on the presumption that the exercise of liberty does not require justification but that all restraints on liberty do. Libertarians have attempted to define the proper extent of individual liberty in terms of the notion of property in ones person, or self-ownership, which entails that each individual is entitled to exclusive control of his choices, his actions, and his body. Because no individual has the right to control the peaceful activities of other self-owning individualse.g., their religious practices, their occupations, or their pastimesno such power can be properly delegated to government. Legitimate governments are therefore severely limited in their authority.

According to the principle that libertarians call the nonaggression axiom, all acts of aggression against the rights of otherswhether committed by individuals or by governmentsare unjust. Indeed, libertarians believe that the primary purpose of government is to protect citizens from the illegitimate use of force. Accordingly, governments may not use force against their own citizens unless doing so is necessary to prevent the illegitimate use of force by one individual or group against another. This prohibition entails that governments may not engage in censorship, military conscription, price controls, confiscation of property, or any other type of intervention that curtails the voluntary and peaceful exercise of an individuals rights.

A fundamental characteristic of libertarian thinking is a deep skepticism of government power. Libertarianism and liberalism both arose in the West, where the division of power between spiritual and temporal rulers had been greater than in most other parts of the world. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), I Samuel 8: 1718, the Jews asked for a king, and God warned them that such a king would take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day. This admonition reminded Europeans for centuries of the predatory nature of states. The passage was cited by many liberals, including Thomas Paine and Lord Acton, who famously wrote that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Libertarian skepticism was reinforced by events of the 20th century, when unrestrained government power, among other factors, led to world war, genocide, and massive human rights violations.

Libertarians embrace individualism insofar as they attach supreme value to the rights and freedoms of individuals. Although various theories regarding the origin and justification of individual rights have been proposede.g., that they are given to human beings by God, that they are implied by the very idea of a moral law, and that respecting them produces better consequencesall libertarians agree that individual rights are imprescriptiblei.e., that they are not granted (and thus cannot be legitimately taken away) by governments or by any other human agency. Another aspect of the individualism of libertarians is their belief that the individual, rather than the group or the state, is the basic unit in terms of which a legal order should be understood.

Libertarians hold that some forms of order in society arise naturally and spontaneously from the actions of thousands or millions of individuals. The notion of spontaneous order may seem counterintuitive: it is natural to assume that order exists only because it has been designed by someone (indeed, in the philosophy of religion, the apparent order of the natural universe was traditionally considered proof of the existence of an intelligent designeri.e., God). Libertarians, however, maintain that the most important aspects of human societysuch as language, law, customs, money, and marketsdevelop by themselves, without conscious direction.

An appreciation for spontaneous order can be found in the writings of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu (6th century bce), who urged rulers to do nothing because without law or compulsion, men would dwell in harmony. A social science of spontaneous order arose in the 18th century in the work of the French physiocrats and in the writings of the Scottish philosopher David Hume. Both the physiocrats (the term physiocracy means the rule of nature) and Hume studied the natural order of economic and social life and concluded, contrary to the dominant theory of mercantilism, that the directing hand of the prince was not necessary to produce order and prosperity. Hume extended his analysis to the determination of interest rates and even to the emergence of the institutions of law and property. In A Treatise of Human Nature (173940), he argued that the rule concerning the stability of possession is a product of spontaneous ordering processes, because it arises gradually, and acquires force by a slow progression, and by our repeated experience of the inconveniences of transgressing it. He also compared the evolution of the institution of property to the evolution of languages and money.

Smith developed the concept of spontaneous order extensively in both The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). He made the idea central to his discussion of social cooperation, arguing that the division of labour did not arise from human wisdom but was the necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain propensity in human nature which has in view no such extensive utility: the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another. In Common Sense (1776), Paine combined the theory of spontaneous order with a theory of justice based on natural rights, maintaining that the great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government.

According to libertarians, free markets are among the most important (but not the only) examples of spontaneous order. They argue that individuals need to produce and trade in order to survive and flourish and that free markets are essential to the creation of wealth. Libertarians also maintain that self-help, mutual aid, charity, and economic growth do more to alleviate poverty than government social-welfare programs. Finally, they contend that, if the libertarian tradition often seems to stress private property and free markets at the expense of other principles, that is largely because these institutions were under attack for much of the 20th century by modern liberals, social democrats, fascists, and adherents of other leftist, nationalist, or socialist ideologies.

Libertarians consider the rule of law to be a crucial underpinning of a free society. In its simplest form, this principle means that individuals should be governed by generally applicable and publicly known laws and not by the arbitrary decisions of kings, presidents, or bureaucrats. Such laws should protect the freedom of all individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways and should not aim at any particular result or outcome.

Although most libertarians believe that some form of government is essential for protecting liberty, they also maintain that government is an inherently dangerous institution whose power must be strictly circumscribed. Thus, libertarians advocate limiting and dividing government power through a written constitution and a system of checks and balances. Indeed, libertarians often claim that the greater freedom and prosperity of European society (in comparison with other parts of the world) in the early modern era was the result of the fragmentation of power, both between church and state and among the continents many different kingdoms, principalities, and city-states. Some American libertarians, such as Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard, have opposed all forms of government. Rothbard called his doctrine anarcho-capitalism to distinguish it from the views of anarchists who oppose private property. Even those who describe themselves as anarchist libertarians, however, believe in a system of law and law enforcement to protect individual rights.

Much political analysis deals with conflict and conflict resolution. Libertarians hold that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive individuals in a just society. Citing David Ricardos theory of comparative advantagewhich states that individuals in all countries benefit when each countrys citizens specialize in producing that which they can produce more efficiently than the citizens of other countrieslibertarians claim that, over time, all individuals prosper from the operation of a free market, and conflict is thus not a necessary or inevitable part of a social order. When governments begin to distribute rewards on the basis of political pressure, however, individuals and groups will engage in wasteful and even violent conflict to gain benefits at the expense of others. Thus, libertarians maintain that minimal government is a key to the minimization of social conflict.

In international affairs, libertarians emphasize the value of peace. That may seem unexceptional, since most (though not all) modern thinkers have claimed allegiance to peace as a value. Historically, however, many rulers have seen little benefit to peace and have embarked upon sometimes long and destructive wars. Libertarians contend that war is inherently calamitous, bringing widespread death and destruction, disrupting family and economic life, and placing more power in the hands of ruling classes. Defensive or retaliatory violence may be justified, but, according to libertarians, violence is not valuable in itself, nor does it produce any additional benefits beyond the defense of life and liberty.

Despite the historical growth in the scope and powers of government, particularly after World War II, in the early 21st century the political and economic systems of most Western countriesespecially the United Kingdom and the United Statescontinued to be based largely on classical liberal principles. Accordingly, libertarians in those countries tended to focus on smaller deviations from liberal principles, creating the perception among many that their views were radical or extreme. In the early 21st century, self-identified libertarians constituted a major current of the antigovernment Tea Party movement in the United States. However, explicitly libertarian political parties (such as the Libertarian Party in the United States and the Libertarianz Party in New Zealand), where they did exist, garnered little support, even among self-professed libertarians. Most politically active libertarians supported classical liberal parties (such as the Free Democratic Party in Germany or the Flemish Liberals and Democrats in Belgium) or conservative parties (such as the Republican Party in the United States or the Conservative Party in Great Britain); they also backed pressure groups advocating policies such as tax reduction, the privatization of education, and the decriminalization of drug use and other so-called victimless crimes. There were also small but vocal groups of libertarians in Scandinavia, Latin America, India, and China.

The publication in 1974 of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, a sophisticated defense of libertarian principles by the American philosopher Robert Nozick, marked the beginning of an intellectual revival of libertarianism. Libertarian ideas in economics became increasingly influential as libertarian economists, such as Alan Greenspan, were appointed to prominent advisory positions in conservative governments in the United Kingdom and the United States and as some libertarians, such as James M. Buchanan, Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Vernon L. Smith, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. In 1982 the death of the libertarian novelist and social theorist Ayn Rand prompted a surge of popular interest in her work. Libertarian scholars, activists, and political leaders also played prominent roles in the worldwide campaign against apartheid and in the construction of democratic societies in eastern and central Europe following the collapse of communism there in 198991. In the early 21st century, libertarian ideas informed new research in diverse fields such as history, law, economic development, telecommunications, bioethics, globalization, and social theory.

A long-standing criticism of libertarianism is that it presupposes an unrealistic and undesirable conception of individual identity and of the conditions necessary for human flourishing. Opponents of libertarianism often refer to libertarian individualism as atomistic, arguing that it ignores the role of family, tribe, religious community, and state in forming individual identity and that such groups or institutions are the proper sources of legitimate authority. These critics contend that libertarian ideas of individuality are ahistorical, excessively abstract, and parasitic on unacknowledged forms of group identity and that libertarians ignore the obligations to community and government that accompany the benefits derived from these institutions. In the 19th century, Karl Marx decried liberal individualism, which he took to underlie civil (or bourgeois) society, as a decomposition of man that located mans essence no longer in community but in difference. More recently, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor maintained that the libertarian emphasis on the rights of the individual wrongly implies the self-sufficiency of man alone.

Libertarians deny that their views imply anything like atomistic individualism. The recognition and protection of individuality and difference, they contend, does not necessarily entail denying the existence of community or the benefits of living together. Rather, it merely requires that the bonds of community not be imposed on people by force and that individuals (adults, at least) be free to sever their attachments to others and to form new ones with those who choose to associate with them. Community, libertarians believe, is best served by freedom of association, an observation made by the 19th-century French historian of American democracy Alexis de Tocqueville, among others. Thus, for libertarians the central philosophical issue is not individuality versus community but rather consent versus coercion.

Other critics, including some prominent conservatives, have insisted that libertarianism is an amoral philosophy of libertinism in which the law loses its character as a source of moral instruction. The American philosopher Russell Kirk, for example, argued that libertarians bear no authority, temporal or spiritual, and do not venerate ancient beliefs and customs, or the natural world, or [their] country, or the immortal spark in [their] fellow men. Libertarians respond that they do venerate the ancient traditions of liberty and justice. They favour restricting the function of the law to enforcing those traditions, not only because they believe that individuals should be permitted to take moral responsibility for their own choices but also because they believe that law becomes corrupted when it is used as a tool for making men moral. Furthermore, they argue, a degree of humility about the variety of human goals should not be confused with radical moral skepticism or ethical relativism.

Some criticisms of libertarianism concern the social and economic effects of free markets and the libertarian view that all forms of government intervention are unjustified. Critics have alleged, for example, that completely unregulated markets create poverty as well as wealth; that they result in significant inequalities of income and wealth, along with corresponding inequalities of political power; that they encourage environmental pollution and the wasteful or destructive use of natural resources; that they are incapable of efficiently or fairly performing some necessary social services, such as health care, education, and policing; and that they tend toward monopoly, which increases inefficiency and compounds the problem of inequality of income and wealth.

Libertarians have responded by questioning whether government regulation, which would replace one set of imperfect institutions (private businesses) with another (government agencies), would solve or only worsen these problems. In addition, several libertarian scholars have argued that some of these problems are not caused by free markets but rather result from the failures and inefficiencies of political and legal institutions. Thus, they argue that environmental pollution could be minimized in a free market if property rights were properly defined and secured.

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libertarianism | Definition, Doctrines, History, & Facts …

Definitions of Libertarianism – The Advocates for Self …

Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each persons right to life, liberty, and property rights that people possess naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have themselves used force actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.

David Boaz, Executive Vice President, Cato Institute

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Definitions of Libertarianism – The Advocates for Self …

What Is Libertarianism? – YouTube

The Supreme Court ruled that President Obama’s recess appointments to fill openings in the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional. Was he abusing his power? This made us wonder, what sort of powers does the president actually have?

Learn More:Obama Recess Appointments Illegal, Supreme Court Findshttp://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2…Justices say presidents can only make recess appointments when the Senate says it’s in recess.

Presidential Powershttp://nationalparalegal.edu/conlawcr…Find out what powers the president actually has.

Supreme Court Says Obama’s NLRB Recess Appointments Were Unconstitutionalhttp://www.businessinsider.com/obama-…The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Barack Obama’s recess appointments to fill slots on the National Labor Relations Board in 2012 were unconstitutional. _________________________

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What Is Libertarianism? – YouTube

Libertarianism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

What it means to be a “libertarian” in a political sense is a contentious issue, especially among libertarians themselves. There is no single theory that can be safely identified as the libertarian theory, and probably no single principle or set of principles on which all libertarians can agree. Nevertheless, there is a certain family resemblance among libertarian theories that can serve as a framework for analysis. Although there is much disagreement about the details, libertarians are generally united by a rough agreement on a cluster of normative principles, empirical generalizations, and policy recommendations. Libertarians are committed to the belief that individuals, and not states or groups of any other kind, are both ontologically and normatively primary; that individuals have rights against certain kinds of forcible interference on the part of others; that liberty, understood as non-interference, is the only thing that can be legitimately demanded of others as a matter of legal or political right; that robust property rights and the economic liberty that follows from their consistent recognition are of central importance in respecting individual liberty; that social order is not at odds with but develops out of individual liberty; that the only proper use of coercion is defensive or to rectify an error; that governments are bound by essentially the same moral principles as individuals; and that most existing and historical governments have acted improperly insofar as they have utilized coercion for plunder, aggression, redistribution, and other purposes beyond the protection of individual liberty.

In terms of political recommendations, libertarians believe that most, if not all, of the activities currently undertaken by states should be either abandoned or transferred into private hands. The most well-known version of this conclusion finds expression in the so-called “minimal state” theories of Robert Nozick, Ayn Rand, and others (Nozick 1974; Rand 1963a, 1963b) which hold that states may legitimately provide police, courts, and a military, but nothing more. Any further activity on the part of the stateregulating or prohibiting the sale or use of drugs, conscripting individuals for military service, providing taxpayer-funded support to the poor, or even building public roadsis itself rights-violating and hence illegitimate.

Libertarian advocates of a strictly minimal state are to be distinguished from two closely related groups, who favor a smaller or greater role for government, and who may or may not also label themselves “libertarian.” On one hand are so-called anarcho-capitalists who believe that even the minimal state is too large, and that a proper respect for individual rights requires the abolition of government altogether and the provision of protective services by private markets. On the other hand are those who generally identify themselves as classical liberals. Members of this group tend to share libertarians’ confidence in free markets and skepticism over government power, but are more willing to allow greater room for coercive activity on the part of the state so as to allow, say, state provision of public goods or even limited tax-funded welfare transfers.

As this article will use the term, libertarianism is a theory about the proper role of government that can be, and has been, supported on a number of different metaphysical, epistemological, and moral grounds. Some libertarians are theists who believe that the doctrine follows from a God-made natural law. Others are atheists who believe it can be supported on purely secular grounds. Some libertarians are rationalists who deduce libertarian conclusions from axiomatic first principles. Others derive their libertarianism from empirical generalizations or a reliance on evolved tradition. And when it comes to comprehensive moral theories, libertarians represent an almost exhaustive array of positions. Some are egoists who believe that individuals have no natural duties to aid their fellow human beings, while others adhere to moral doctrines that hold that the better-off have significant duties to improve the lot of the worse-off. Some libertarians are deontologists, while others are consequentialists, contractarians, or virtue-theorists. Understanding libertarianism as a narrow, limited thesis about the proper moral standing, and proper zone of activity, of the stateand not a comprehensive ethical or metaphysical doctrineis crucial to making sense of this otherwise baffling diversity of broader philosophic positions.

This article will focus primarily on libertarianism as a philosophic doctrine. This means that, rather than giving close scrutiny to the important empirical claims made both in support and criticism of libertarianism, it will focus instead on the metaphysical, epistemological, and especially moral claims made by the discussants. Those interested in discussions of the non-philosophical aspects of libertarianism can find some recommendations in the reference list below.

Furthermore, this article will focus almost exclusively on libertarian arguments regarding just two philosophical subjects: distributive justice and political authority. There is a danger that this narrow focus will be misleading, since it ignores a number of interesting and important arguments that libertarians have made on subjects ranging from free speech to self-defense, to the proper social treatment of the mentally ill. More generally, it ignores the ways in which libertarianism is a doctrine of social or civil liberty, and not just one of economic liberty. For a variety of reasons, however, the philosophic literature on libertarianism has mostly ignored these other aspects of the theory, and so this article, as a summary of that literature, will generally reflect that trend.

Probably the most well-known and influential version of libertarianism, at least among academic philosophers, is that based upon a theory of natural rights. Natural rights theories vary, but are united by a common belief that individuals have certain moral rights simply by virtue of their status as human beings, that these rights exist prior to and logically independent of the existence of government, and that these rights constrain the ways in which it is morally permissible for both other individuals and governments to treat individuals.

Although one can find some earlier traces of this doctrine among, for instance, the English Levellers or the Spanish School of Salamanca, John Locke’s political thought is generally recognized as the most important historical influence on contemporary natural rights versions of libertarianism. The most important elements of Locke’s theory in this respect, set out in his Second Treatise, are his beliefs about the law of nature, and his doctrine of property rights in external goods.

Locke’s idea of the law of nature draws on a distinction between law and government that has been profoundly influential on the development of libertarian thought. According to Locke, even if no government existed over men, the state of nature would nevertheless not be a state of “license.” In other words, men would still be governed by law, albeit one that does not originate from any political source (c.f. Hayek 1973, ch. 4). This law, which Locke calls the “law of nature” holds that “being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or possessions” (Locke 1952, para. 6). This law of nature serves as a normative standard to govern human conduct, rather than as a description of behavioral regularities in the world (as are other laws of nature like, for instance, the law of gravity). Nevertheless, it is a normative standard that Locke believes is discoverable by human reason, and that binds us all equally as rational agents.

Locke’s belief in a prohibition on harming others stems from his more basic belief that each individual “has a property in his own person” (Locke 1952, para. 27). In other words, individuals are self-owners. Throughout this essay we will refer to this principle, which has been enormously influential on later libertarians, as the “self-ownership principle.” Though controversial, it has generally been taken to mean that each individual possesses over her own body all those rights of exclusive use that we normally associate with property in external goods. But if this were all that individuals owned, their liberties and ability to sustain themselves would obviously be extremely limited. For almost anything we want to doeating, walking, even breathing, or speaking in order to ask another’s permissioninvolves the use of external goods such as land, trees, or air. From this, Locke concludes, we must have some way of acquiring property in those external goods, else they will be of no use to anyone. But since we own ourselves, Locke argues, we therefore also own our labor. And by “mixing” our labor with external goods, we can come to own those external goods too. This allows individuals to make private use of the world that God has given to them in common. There is a limit, however, to this ability to appropriate external goods for private use, which Locke captures in his famous “proviso” that holds that a legitimate act of appropriation must leave “enough, and as good… in common for others” (Locke 1952, para. 27). Still, even with this limit, the combination of time, inheritance, and differential abilities, motivation, and luck will lead to possibly substantial inequalities in wealth between persons, and Locke acknowledges this as an acceptable consequence of his doctrine (Locke 1952, para. 50).

By far the single most important influence on the perception of libertarianism among contemporary academic philosophers was Robert Nozick in his book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). This book is an explanation and exploration of libertarian rights that attempts to show how a minimal, and no more than a minimal, state can arise via an “invisible hand” process out of a state of nature without violating the rights of individuals; to challenge the highly influential claims of John Rawls that purport to show that a more-than-minimal state was justified and required to achieve distributive justice; and to show that a regime of libertarian rights could establish a “framework for utopia” wherein different individuals would be free to seek out and create mediating institutions to help them achieve their own distinctive visions of the good life.

The details of Nozick’s arguments can be found at Robert Nozick. Here, we will just briefly point out a few elements of particular importance in understanding Nozick’s place in contemporary libertarian thoughthis focus on the “negative” aspects of liberty and rights, his Kantian defense of rights, his historical theory of entitlement, and his acceptance of a modified Lockean proviso on property acquisition. A discussion of his argument for the minimal state can be found in the section on anarcho-capitalism below.

First, Nozick, like almost all natural rights libertarians, stresses negative liberties and rights above positive liberties and rights. The distinction between positive and negative liberty, made famous by Isaiah Berlin (Berlin 1990), is often thought of as a distinction between “freedom to” and “freedom from.” One has positive liberty when one has the opportunity and ability to do what one wishes (or, perhaps, what one “rationally” wishes or “ought” to wish). One has negative liberty, on the other hand, when there is an absence of external interferences to one’s doing what one wishesspecifically, when there is an absence of external interferences by other people. A person who is too sick to gather food has his negative liberty intactno one is stopping him from gathering foodbut not his positive liberty as he is unable to gather food even though he wants to do so. Nozick and most libertarians see the proper role of the state as protecting negative liberty, not as promoting positive liberty, and so toward this end Nozick focuses on negative rights as opposed to positive rights. Negative rights are claims against others to refrain from certain kinds of actions against you. Positive rights are claims against others to perform some sort of positive action. Rights against assault, for instance, are negative rights, since they simply require others not to assault you. Welfare rights, on the other hand, are positive rights insofar as they require others to provide you with money or services. By enforcing negative rights, the state protects our negative liberty. It is an empirical question whether enforcing merely negative rights or, as more left-liberal philosophers would promote, enforcing a mix of both negative and positive rights would better promote positive liberty.

Second, while Nozick agrees with the broadly Lockean picture of the content and government-independence of natural law and natural rights, his remarks in defense of those rights draw their inspiration more from Immanuel Kant than from Locke. Nozick does not provide a full-blown argument to justify libertarian rights against other non-libertarian rights theoriesa point for which he has been widely criticized, most famously by Thomas Nagel (Nagel 1975). But what he does say in their defense suggests that he sees libertarian rights as an entailment of the other-regarding element in Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperativethat we treat the humanity in ourselves and others as an end in itself, and never merely as a means. According to Nozick, both utilitarianism and theories that uphold positive rights sanction the involuntary sacrifice of one individual’s interests for the sake of others. Only libertarian rights, which for Nozick take the form of absolute side-constraints against force and fraud, show proper respect for the separateness of persons by barring such sacrifice altogether, and allowing each individual the liberty to pursue his or her own goals without interference.

Third, it is important to note that Nozick’s libertarianism evaluates the justice of states of affairs, such as distributions of property, in terms of the history or process by which that state of affairs arose, and not by the extent to which it satisfies what he calls a patterned or end-state principle of justice. Distributions of property are just, according to Nozick, if they arose from previously just distributions by just procedures. Discerning the justice of current distributions thus requires that we establish a theory of justice in transferto tell us which procedures constitute legitimate means of transferring ownership between personsand a theory of justice in acquisitionto tell us how individuals might come to own external goods that were previously owned by no one. And while Nozick does not fully develop either of these theories, his skeletal position is nevertheless significant, for it implies that it is only the proper historical pedigree that makes a distribution just, and it is only deviations from the proper pedigree that renders a distribution unjust. An implication of this position is that one cannot discern from time-slice statistical data alonesuch as the claim that the top fifth of the income distribution in the United States controls more than 80 percent of the nation’s wealththat a distribution is unjust. Rather, the justice of a distribution depends on how it came aboutby force or by trade? By differing degrees of hard work and luck? Or by fraud and theft? Libertarianism’s historical focus thus sets the doctrine against both outcome-egalitarian views that hold that only equal distributions are just, utilitarian views that hold that distributions are just to the extent they maximize utility, and prioritarian views that hold that distributions are just to the extent they benefit the worse-off. Justice in distribution is a matter of respecting people’s rights, not of achieving a certain outcome.

The final distinctive element of Nozick’s view is his acceptance of a modified version of the Lockean proviso as part of his theory of justice in acquisition. Nozick reads Locke’s claim that legitimate acts of appropriation must leave enough and as good for others as a claim that such appropriations must not worsen the situation of others (Nozick 1974, 175, 178). On the face of it, this seems like a small change from Locke’s original statement, but Nozick believes it allows for much greater freedom for free exchange and capitalism (Nozick 1974, 182). Nozick reaches this conclusion on the basis of certain empirical beliefs about the beneficial effects of private property:

it increases the social product by putting means of production in the hands of those who can use them most efficiently (profitably); experimentation is encouraged, because with separate persons controlling resources, there is no one person or small group whom someone with a new idea must convince to try it out; private property enables people to decide on the pattern and type of risks they wish to bear, leading to specialized types of risk bearing; private property protects future persons by leading some to hold back resources from current consumption for future markets; it provides alternative sources of employment for unpopular persons who don’t have to convince any one person or small group to hire them, and so on. (Nozick 1974, 177)

If these assumptions are correct, then persons might not be made worse off by acts of original appropriation even if those acts fail to leave enough and as good for others to appropriate. Private property and the capitalist markets to which it gives rise generate an abundance of wealth, and latecomers to the appropriation game (like people today) are in a much better position as a result. As David Schmidtz puts the point:

Original appropriation diminishes the stock of what can be originally appropriated, at least in the case of land, but that is not the same thing as diminishing the stock of what can be owned. On the contrary, in taking control of resources and thereby removing those particular resources from the stock of goods that can be acquired by original appropriation, people typically generate massive increases in the stock of goods that can be acquired by trade. The lesson is that appropriation is typically not a zero-sum game. It normally is a positive-sum game. (Schmidtz and Goodin 1998, 30)

Relative to their level of well-being in a world where nothing is privately held, then, individuals are generally not made worse off by acts of private appropriation. Thus, Nozick concludes, the Lockean proviso will “not provide a significant opportunity for future state action” in the form of redistribution or regulation of private property (Nozick 1974, 182).

Nozick’s libertarian theory has been subject to criticism on a number of grounds. Here we will focus on two primary categories of criticism of Lockean/Nozickian natural rights libertarianismnamely, with respect to the principle of self-ownership and the derivation of private property rights from self-ownership.

Criticisms of the self-ownership principle generally take one of two forms. Some arguments attempt to sever the connection between the principle of self-ownership and the more fundamental moral principles that are thought to justify it. Nozick’s suggestion that self-ownership is warranted by the Kantian principle that no one should be treated as a mere means, for instance, is criticized by G.A. Cohen on the grounds that policies that violate self-ownership by forcing the well-off to support the less advantaged do not necessarily treat the well-off merely as means (Cohen 1995, 239241). We can satisfy Kant’s imperative against treating others as mere means without thereby committing ourselves to full self-ownership, Cohen argues, and we have good reason to do so insofar as the principle of self-ownership has other, implausible, consequences. The same general pattern of argument holds against more intuitive defenses of the self-ownership principle. Nozick’s concern (Nozick 1977, 206), elaborated by Cohen (Cohen 1995, 70), that theories that deny self-ownership might license the forcible transfer of eyes from the sight-endowed to the blind, for instance, or Murray Rothbard’s claim that the only alternatives to self-ownership are slavery or communism (Rothbard 1973, 29), have been met with the response that a denial of the permissibility of slavery, communism, and eye-transplants can be madeand usually better madeon grounds other than self-ownership.

Other criticisms of self-ownership focus on the counterintuitive or otherwise objectionable implications of self-ownership. Cohen, for instance, argues that recognizing rights to full self-ownership allows individuals’ lives to be objectionably governed by brute luck in the distribution of natural assets, since the self that people own is largely a product of their luck in receiving a good or bad genetic endowment, and being raised in a good or bad environment (Cohen 1995, 229). Richard Arneson, on the other hand, has argued that self-ownership conflicts with Pareto-Optimality (Arneson 1991). His concern is that since self-ownership is construed by libertarians as an absolute right, it follows that it cannot be violated even in small ways and even when great benefit would accrue from doing so. Thus, to modify David Hume, absolute rights of self-ownership seem to prevent us from scratching the finger of another even to prevent the destruction of the whole world. And although the real objection here seems to be to the absoluteness of self-ownership rights, rather than to self-ownership rights as such, it remains unclear whether strict libertarianism can be preserved if rights of self-ownership are given a less than absolute status.

Even if individuals have absolute rights to full self-ownership, it can still be questioned whether there is a legitimate way of moving from ownership of the self to ownership of external goods.

Left-libertarians, such as Hillel Steiner, Peter Vallentyne, and Michael Otsuka, grant the self-ownership principle but deny that it can yield full private property rights in external goods, especially land (Steiner 1994; Vallentyne 2000; Otsuka 2003). Natural resources, such theorists hold, belong to everyone in some equal way, and private appropriation of them amounts to theft. Rather than returning all such goods to the state of nature, however, most left-libertarians suggest that those who claim ownership of such resources be subjected to a tax to compensate others for the loss of their rights of use. Since the tax is on the value of the external resource and not on individuals’ natural talents or efforts, it is thought that this line of argument can provide a justification for a kind of egalitarian redistribution that is compatible with full individual self-ownership.

While left-libertarians doubt that self-ownership can yield full private property rights in external goods, others are doubtful that the concept is determinate enough to yield any theory of justified property ownership at all. Locke’s metaphor on labor mixing, for instance, is intuitively appealing, but notoriously difficult to work out in detail (Waldron 1983). First, it is not clear why mixing one’s labor with something generates any rights at all. As Nozick himself asks, “why isn’t mixing what I own with what I don’t own a way of losing what I own rather than a way of gaining what I don’t?” (Nozick 1974, 174175). Second, it is not clear what the scope of the rights generated by labor-mixing are. Again, Nozick playfully suggests (but does not answer) this question when he asks whether a person who builds a fence around virgin land thereby comes to own the enclosed land, or simply the fence, or just the land immediately under it. But the point is more worrisome than Nozick acknowledges. For as critics such as Barbara Fried have pointed out, following Hohfeld, property ownership is not a single right but a bundle of rights, and it is far from clear which “sticks” from this bundle individuals should come to control by virtue of their self-ownership (Fried 2004). Does one’s ownership right over a plot of land entail the right to store radioactive waste on it? To dam the river that runs through it? To shine a very bright light from it in the middle of the night (Friedman 1989, 168)? Problems such as these must, of course, be resolved by any political theorynot just libertarians. The problem is that the concept of self-ownership seems to offer little, if any, help in doing so.

While Nozickian libertarianism finds its inspiration in Locke and Kant, there is another species of libertarianism that draws its influence from David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. This variety of libertarianism holds its political principles to be grounded not in self-ownership or the natural rights of humanity, but in the beneficial consequences that libertarian rights and institutions produce, relative to possible and realistic alternatives. To the extent that such theorists hold that consequences, and only consequences, are relevant in the justification of libertarianism, they can properly be labeled a form of consequentialism. Some of these consequentialist forms of libertarianism are utilitarian. But consequentialism is not identical to utilitarianism, and this section will explore both traditional quantitative utilitarian defenses of libertarianism, and other forms more difficult to classify.

Philosophically, the approach that seeks to justify political institutions by demonstrating their tendency to maximize utility has its clearest origins in the thought of Jeremy Bentham, himself a legal reformer as well as moral theorist. But, while Bentham was no advocate of unfettered laissez-faire, his approach has been enormously influential among economists, especially the Austrian and Chicago Schools of Economics, many of whom have utilized utilitarian analysis in support of libertarian political conclusions. Some influential economists have been self-consciously libertarianthe most notable of which being Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan, and Milton Friedman (the latter three are Nobel laureates). Richard Epstein, more legal theorist than economist, nevertheless utilizes utilitarian argument with an economic analysis of law to defend his version of classical liberalism. His work in Principles for a Free Society (1998) and Skepticism and Freedom (2003) is probably the most philosophical of contemporary utilitarian defenses of libertarianism. Buchanan’s work is generally described as contractarian, though it certainly draws heavily on utilitarian analysis. It too is highly philosophical.

Utilitarian defenses of libertarianism generally consist of two prongs: utilitarian arguments in support of private property and free exchange and utilitarian arguments against government policies that exceed the bounds of the minimal state. Utilitarian defenses of private property and free exchange are too diverse to thoroughly canvass in a single article. For the purposes of this article, however, the focus will be on two main arguments that have been especially influential: the so-called “Tragedy of the Commons” argument for private property and the “Invisible Hand” argument for free exchange.

The Tragedy of the Commons argument notes that under certain conditions when property is commonly owned or, equivalently, owned by no one, it will be inefficiently used and quickly depleted. In his original description of the problem of the commons, Garrett Hardin asks us to imagine a pasture open to all, on which various herders graze their cattle (Hardin 1968). Each additional animal that the herder is able to graze means greater profit for the herder, who captures that entire benefit for his or her self. Of course, additional cattle on the pasture has a cost as well in terms of crowding and diminished carrying capacity of the land, but importantly this cost of additional grazing, unlike the benefit, is dispersed among all herders. Since each herder thus receives the full benefit of each additional animal but bears only a fraction of the dispersed cost, it benefits him or her to graze more and more animals on the land. But since this same logic applies equally well to all herders, we can expect them all to act this way, with the result that the carrying capacity of the field will quickly be exceeded.

The tragedy of the Tragedy of the Commons is especially apparent if we model it as a Prisoner’s Dilemma, wherein each party has the option to graze additional animals or not to graze. (See figure 1, below, where A and B represent two herders, “graze” and “don’t graze” their possible options, and the four possible outcomes of their joint action. Within the boxes, the numbers represent the utility each herder receives from the outcome, with A’s outcome listed on the left and B’s on the right). As the discussion above suggests, the best outcome for each individual herder is to graze an additional animal, but for the other herder not tohere the herder reaps all the benefit and only a fraction of the cost. The worst outcome for each individual herder, conversely, is to refrain from grazing an additional animal while the other herder indulgesin this situation, the herder bears costs but receives no benefit. The relationship between the other two possible outcomes is important. Both herders would be better off if neither grazed an additional animal, compared to the outcome in which both do graze an additional animal. The long-term benefits of operating within the carrying capacity of the land, we can assume, outweigh the short-term gains to be had from mutual overgrazing. By the logic of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, however, rational self-interested herders will not choose mutual restraint over mutual exploitation of the resource. This is because, so long as the costs of over-grazing are partially externalized on to other users of the resource, it is in each herder’s interest to overgraze regardless of what the other party does. In the language of game theory, overgrazing dominates restraint. As a result, not only is the resource consumed, but both parties are made worse off individually than they could have been. Mutual overgrazing creates a situation that not only yields a lower total utility than mutual restraint (2 vs. 6), but that is Pareto-inferior to mutual restraintat least one party (indeed, both!) would have been made better off by mutual restraint without anyone having been made worse off.


Don’t Graze



Don’t Graze

3, 3

0, 5


5, 0

1, 1

Figure 1. The Tragedy of the Commons as Prisoner’s Dilemma

The classic solution to the Tragedy of the Commons is private property. Recall that the tragedy arises because individual herders do not have to bear the full costs of their actions. Because the land is common to all, the costs of overgrazing are partially externalized on to other users of the resource. But private property changes this. If, instead of being commonly owned by all, the field was instead divided into smaller pieces of private property, then herders would have the power to exclude others from using their own property. One would only be able to graze cattle on one’s own field, or on others’ fields on terms specified by their owners, and this means that the costs of that overgrazing (in terms of diminished usability of the land or diminished resale value because of that diminished usability) would be borne by the overgrazer alone. Private property forces individuals to internalize the cost of their actions, and this in turn provides individuals with an incentive to use the resource wisely.

The lesson is that by creating and respecting private property rights in external resources, governments can provide individuals with an incentive to use those resources in an efficient way, without the need for complicated government regulation and oversight of those resources. Libertarians have used this basic insight to argue for everything from privatization of roads (Klein and Fielding 1992) to private property as a solution to various environmental problems (Anderson and Leal 1991).

Libertarians believe that individuals and groups should be free to trade just about anything they wish with whomever they wish, with little to no governmental restriction. They therefore oppose laws that prohibit certain types of exchanges (such as prohibitions on prostitution and sale of illegal drugs, minimum wage laws that effectively prohibit low-wage labor agreements, and so on) as well as laws that burden exchanges by imposing high transaction costs (such as import tariffs).

The reason utilitarian libertarians support free exchange is that, they argue, it tends to allocate resources into the hands of those who value them most, and in so doing to increase the total amount of utility in society. The first step in seeing this is to understand that even if trade is a zero-sum game in terms of the objects that are traded (nothing is created or destroyed, just moved about), it is a positive-sum game in terms of utility. This is because individuals differ in terms of the subjective utility they assign to goods. A person planning to move from Chicago to San Diego might assign a relatively low utility value to her large, heavy furniture. It’s difficult and costly to move, and might not match the style of the new home anyway. But to someone else who has just moved into an empty apartment in Chicago, that furniture might have a very high utility value indeed. If the first person values the furniture at $200 (or its equivalent in terms of utility) and the second person values it at $500, both will gain if they exchange for a price anywhere between those two values. Each will have given up something they value less in exchange for something they value more, and net utility will have increased as a result.

As Friedrich Hayek has noted, much of the information about the relative utility values assigned to different goods is transmitted to different actors in the market via the price system (Hayek 1980). An increase in a resource’s price signals that demand for that resource has increased relative to supply. Consumers can respond to this price increase by continuing to use the resource at the now-higher price, switching to a substitute good, or discontinuing use of that sort of resource altogether. Each individual’s decision is both affected by the price of the relevant resources, and affects the price insofar as it adds to or subtracts from aggregate supply and demand. Thus, though they generally do not know it, each person’s decision is a response to the decisions of millions of other consumers and producers of the resource, each of whom bases her decision on her own specialized, local knowledge about that resource. And although all they are trying to do is maximize their own utility, each individual will be led to act in a way that leads the resource toward its highest-valued use. Those who derive the most utility from the good will outbid others for its use, and others will be led to look for cheaper substitutes.

On this account, one deeply influenced by the Austrian School of Economics, the market is a constantly churning process of competition, discovery, and innovation. Market prices represent aggregates of information and so generally represent an advance over what any one individual could hope to know on his own, but the individual decisions out of which market prices arise are themselves based on imperfect information. There are always opportunities that nobody has discovered, and the passage of time, the changing of people’s preferences, and the development of new technological possibilities ensures that this ignorance will never be fully overcome. The market is thus never in a state of competitive equilibrium, and it will always “fail” by the test of perfect efficiency. But it is precisely today’s market failures that provide the opportunities for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to profit by new innovation (Kirzner 1996). Competition is a process, not a goal to be reached, and it is a process driven by the particular decisions of individuals who are mostly unaware of the overall and long-term tendencies of their decisions taken as a whole. Even if no market actor cares about increasing the aggregate level of utility in society, he will be, as Adam Smith wrote, “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention” (Smith 1981). The dispersed knowledge of millions of market actors will be taken into account in producing a distribution that comes as close as practically possible to that which would be selected by a benign, omniscient, and omnipotent despot. In reality, however, all that government is required to do in order to achieve this effect is to define and enforce clear property rights and to allow the price system to freely adjust in response to changing conditions.

The above two arguments, if successful, demonstrate that free markets and private property generate good utilitarian outcomes. But even if this is true, it remains possible that selective government intervention in the economy could produce outcomes that are even better. Governments might use taxation and coercion for the provision of public goods, or to prevent other sorts of market failures like monopolies. Or governments might engage in redistributive taxation on the grounds that given the diminishing marginal utility of wealth, doing so will provide higher levels of overall utility. In order to maintain their opposition to government intervention, then, libertarians must produce arguments to show that such policies will not produce greater utility than a policy of laissez-faire. Producing such arguments is something of a cottage industry among libertarian economists, and so we cannot hope to provide a complete summary here. Two main categories of argument, however, have been especially influential. We can call them incentive-based arguments and public choice arguments.

Incentive arguments proceed by claiming that government policies designed to promote utility actually produce incentives for individuals to act in ways that run contrary to promotion of utility. Examples of incentive arguments include arguments that (a) government-provided (welfare) benefits dissuade individuals from taking responsibility for their own economic well-being (Murray 1984), (b) mandatory minimum wage laws generate unemployment among low-skilled workers (Friedman 1962, 180181), (c) legal prohibition of drugs create a black market with inflated prices, low quality control, and violence (Thornton 1991), and (d) higher taxes lead people to work and/or invest less, and hence lead to lower economic growth.

Public choice arguments, on the other hand, are often employed by libertarians to undermine the assumption that government will use its powers to promote the public interest in the way its proponents claim it will. Public choice as a field is based on the assumption that the model of rational self-interest typically employed by economists to predict the behavior of market agents can also be used to predict the behavior of government agents. Rather than trying to maximize profit, however, government agents are thought to be aiming at re-election (in the case of elected officials) or maintenance or expansion of budget and influence (in the case of bureaucrats). From this basic analytical model, public choice theorists have argued that (a) the fact that the costs of many policies are widely dispersed among taxpayers, while their benefits are often concentrated in the hands of a few beneficiaries, means that even grossly inefficient policies will be enacted and, once enacted, very difficult to remove, (b) politicians and bureaucrats will engage in “rent-seeking” behavior by exploiting the powers of their office for personal gain rather than public good, and (c) certain public goods will be over-supplied by political processes, while others will be under-supplied, since government agents lack both knowledge and incentives necessary to provide such goods at efficient levels (Mitchell and Simmons 1994). These problems are held to be endemic to political processes, and not easily subject to legislative or constitutional correction. Hence, many conclude that the only way to minimize the problems of political power is to minimize the scope of political power itself by subjecting as few areas of life as possible to political regulation.

The quantitative utilitarians are often both rationalist and radical in their approach to social reform. For them, the maximization of utility serves as an axiomatic first principle, from which policy conclusions can be straightforwardly deduced once empirical (or quasi-empirical) assessments of causal relationships in the world have been made. From Jeremy Bentham to Peter Singer, quantitative utilitarians have advocated dramatic changes in social institutions, all justified in the name of reason and the morality it gives rise to.

There is, however, another strain of consequentialism that is less confident in the ability of human reason to radically reform social institutions for the better. For these consequentialists, social institutions are the product of an evolutionary process that itself is the product of the decisions of millions of discrete individuals. Each of these individuals in turn possess knowledge that, though by itself is insignificant, in the aggregate represents more than any single social reformer could ever hope to match. Humility, not radicalism, is counseled by this variety of consequentialism.

Though it has its affinities with conservative doctrines such as those of Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, and Russell Kirk, this strain of consequentialism had its greatest influence on libertarianism through the work of Friedrich Hayek. Hayek, however, takes pains to distance himself from conservative ideology, noting that his respect for tradition is not grounded in a fetish for the status quo or an opposition to change as such, but in deeper, distinctively liberal principles (Hayek 1960). For Hayek, tradition is valuable because, and only to the extent that, it evolves in a peaceful, decentralized way. Social norms that are chosen by free individuals and survive competition from competing norms without being maintained by coercion are, for that reason, worthy of respect even if we are not consciously aware of all the reasons that the institution has survived. Somewhat paradoxically then, Hayek believes that we can rationally support institutions even when we lack substantive justifying reasons for supporting them. The reason this can be rational is that even when we lack substantive justifying reasons, we nevertheless have justifying reasons in a procedural sensethe fact that the institution is the result of an evolutionary procedure of a certain sort gives us reason to believe that there are substantive justifying reasons for it, even if we do not know what they are (Gaus 2006).

For Hayek, the procedures that lend justifying force to institutions are, essentially, ones that leave individuals free to act as they wish so long as they do not act aggressively toward others. For Hayek, however, this principle is not a moral axiom but rather follows from his beliefs regarding the limits and uses of knowledge in society. A crucial piece of Hayek’s arguments regarding the price system, (see above) is his claim that each individual possesses a unique set of knowledge about his or her local circumstances, special interests, desires, abilities, and so forth. The price system, if allowed to function freely without artificial floors or ceilings, will reflect this knowledge and transmit it to other interested individuals, thus allowing society to make effective use of dispersed knowledge. But Hayek’s defense of the price system is only one application of a more general point. The fact that knowledge of all sorts exists in dispersed form among many individuals is a fundamental fact about human existence. And since this knowledge is constantly changing in response to changing circumstances and cannot therefore be collected and acted upon by any central authority, the only way to make use of this knowledge effectively is to allow individuals the freedom to act on it themselves. This means that government must disallow individuals from coercing one another, and also must refrain from coercing them themselves. The social order that such voluntary actions produce is one that, given the complexity of social and economic systems and radical limitations on our ability to acquire knowledge about its particular details (Gaus 2007), cannot be imposed by fiat, but must evolve spontaneously in a bottom-up manner. Hayek, like Mill before him (Mill 1989), thus celebrates the fact that a free society allows individuals to engage in “experiments in living” and therefore, as Nozick argued in the neglected third part of his Anarchy, State, and Utopia, can serve as a “utopia of utopias” where individuals are at liberty to organize their own conception of the good life with others who voluntarily choose to share their vision (Hayek 1960).

Hayek’s ideas about the relationship between knowledge, freedom, and a constitutional order were first developed at length in The Constitution of Liberty, later developed in his series Law, Legislation and Liberty, and given their last, and most accessible (though not necessarily most reliable (Caldwell 2005)) statement in The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (1988). Since then, the most extensive integration of these ideas into a libertarian framework is in Randy Barnett’s The Structure of Liberty, wherein Barnett argues that a “polycentric constitutional order” (see below regarding anarcho-capitalism) is best suited to solve not only the Hayekian problem of the use of knowledge in society, but also what he calls the problems of “interest” and “power” (Barnett 1998). More recently, Hayekian insights have been put to use by contemporary philosophers Chandran Kukathas (1989; 2006) and Gerald Gaus (2006; 2007).

Consequentialist defenses of libertarianism are, of course, varieties of consequentialist moral argument, and are susceptible therefore to the same kinds of criticisms leveled against consequentialist moral arguments in general. Beyond these standard criticisms, moreover, consequentialist defenses of libertarianism are subject to four special difficulties.

First, consequentialist arguments seem unlikely to lead one to full-fledged libertarianism, as opposed to more moderate forms of classical liberalism. Intuitively, it seems implausible that simple protection of individual negative liberties would do a better job than any alternative institutional arrangement at maximizing utility or peace and prosperity or whatever. And this intuitive doubt is buttressed by economic analyses showing that unregulated capitalist markets suffer from production of negative externalities, from monopoly power, and from undersupply of certain public goods, all of which cry out for some form of government protection (Buchanan 1985). Even granting libertarian claims that (a) these problems are vastly overstated, (b) often caused by previous failures of government to adequately respect or enforce private property rights, and (c) government ability to correct these is not as great as one might think, it’s nevertheless implausible to suppose, a priori, that it will never be the case that government can do a better job than the market by interfering with strict libertarian rights.

Second, consequentialist defenses of libertarianism are subject to objections when a great deal of benefit can be had at a very low cost. So-called cases of “easy rescue,” for instance, challenge the wisdom of adhering to absolute prohibitions on coercive conduct. After all, if the majority of the world’s population lives in dire poverty and suffer from easily preventable diseases and deaths, couldn’t utility be increased by increasing taxes slightly on wealthy Americans and using that surplus to provide basic medical aid to those in desperate need? The prevalence of such cases is an empirical question, but their possibility points (at least) to a “fragility” in the consequentialist case for libertarian prohibitions on redistributive taxation.

Third, the consequentialist theories at the root of these libertarian arguments are often seriously under-theorized. For instance, Randy Barnett bases his defense of libertarian natural rights on the claim that they promote the end of “happiness, peace and prosperity” (Barnett 1998). But this leaves a host of difficult questions unaddressed. The meaning of each of these terms, for instance, has been subject to intense philosophical debate. Which sense of happiness, then, does libertarianism promote? What happens when these ends conflictwhen we have to choose, say, between peace and prosperity? And in what sense do libertarian rights “promote” these ends? Are they supposed to maximize happiness in the aggregate? Or to maximize each person’s happiness? Or to maximize the weighted sum of happiness, peace, and prosperity? Richard Epstein is on more familiar and hence, perhaps, firmer ground when he says that his version of classical liberalism is meant to maximize utility, but even here the claim that utility maximization is the proper end of political action is asserted without argument. The lesson is that while consequentialist political arguments might seem less abstract and philosophical (in the pejorative sense) than deontological arguments, consequentialism is still, nevertheless, a moral theory, and needs to be clearly articulated and defended as any other moral theory. Possibly because consequentialist defenses of libertarianism have been put forward mainly by non-philosophers, this challenge has yet to be met.

A fourth and related point has to do with issues surrounding the distribution of wealth, happiness, opportunities, and other goods allegedly promoted by libertarian rights. In part, this is a worry common to all maximizing versions of consequentialism, but it is of special relevance in this context given the close relation between economic systems and distributional issues. The worry is that morality, or justice, requires more than simply producing an abundance of wealth, happiness, or whatever. It requires that each person gets a fair sharewhether that is defined as an equal share, a share sufficient for living a good life, or something else. Intuitively fair distributions are simply not something that libertarian institutions can guarantee, devoid as they are of any means for redistributing these goods from the well-off to the less well-off. Furthermore, once it is granted that libertarianism is likely to produce unequal distributions of wealth, the Hayekian argument for relying on the free price system to allocate goods no longer holds as strongly as it appeared to. For we cannot simply assume that a free price system will lead to goods being allocated to their most valued use if some people have an abundance of wealth and others very little at all. A free market of self-interested persons will not distribute bread to the starving man, no matter how much utility he would derive from it, if he cannot pay for it. And a wealthy person, such as Bill Gates, will still always be able to outbid a poor person for season tickets to the Mariners, even if the poor person values the tickets much more highly than he, since the marginal value of the dollars he spends on the tickets is much lower to him than the marginal value of the poor person’s dollars. Both by an external standard of fairness and by an internal standard of utility-maximization, then, unregulated free markets seem to fall short.

Anarcho-capitalists claim that no state is morally justified (hence their anarchism), and that the traditional functions of the state ought to be provided by voluntary production and trade instead (hence their capitalism). This position poses a serious challenge to both moderate classical liberals and more radical minimal state libertarians, though, as we shall see, the stability of the latter position is especially threatened by the anarchist challenge.

Anarcho-capitalism can be defended on either consequentialist or deontological grounds, though usually a mix of both arguments is proffered. On the consequentialist side, it is argued that police protection, court systems, and even law itself can be provided voluntarily for a price like any other market good (Friedman 1989; Rothbard 1978; Barnett 1998; Hasnas 2003; Hasnas 2007). And not only is it possible for markets to provide these traditionally state-supplied goods, it is actually more desirable for them to do so given that competitive pressures in this market, as in others, will produce an array of goods that is of higher general quality and that is diverse enough to satisfy individuals’ differing preferences (Friedman 1989; Barnett 1998). Deontologically, anarcho-capitalists argue that the minimal state necessarily violates individual rights insofar as it (1) claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and thereby prohibits other individuals from exercising force in accordance with their natural rights, and (2) funds its protective services with coercively obtained tax revenue that it sometimes (3) uses redistributively to pay for protection for those who are unable to pay for themselves (Rothbard 1978; Childs 1994).

Robert Nozick was one of the first academic philosophers to take the anarchist challenge seriously. In the first part of his Anarchy, State, and Utopia he argued that the minimal state can evolve out of an anarcho-capitalist society through an invisible hand process that does not violate anyone’s rights. Competitive pressures and violent conflict, he argued, will provide incentives for competing defensive agencies to merge or collude so that, effectively, monopolies will emerge over certain geographical areas (Nozick 1974). Since these monopolies are merely de facto, however, the dominant protection agency does not yet constitute a state. For that to occur, the “dominant protection agency” must claim that it would be morally illegitimate for other protection agencies to operate, and make some reasonably effective attempt to prohibit them from doing so. Nozick’s argument that it would be legitimate for the dominant protection agency to do so is one of the most controversial aspects of his argument. Essentially, he argues that individuals have rights not to be subject to the risk of rights-violation, and that the dominant protection agency may legitimately prohibit the protective activities of its competitors on grounds that their procedures involve the imposition of risk. In claiming and enforcing this monopoly, the dominant protection agency becomes what Nozick calls the “ultraminimal state”ultraminimal because it does not provide protective services for all persons within its geographical territory, but only those who pay for them. The transition from the ultraminimal state to the minimal one occurs when the dominant protection agency (now state) provides protective services to all individuals within its territory, and Nozick argues that the state is morally obligated to do this in order to provide compensation to the individuals who have been disadvantaged by its seizure of monopoly power.

Nozick’s arguments against the anarchist have been challenged on a number of grounds. First, the justification for the state it provides is entirely hypotheticalthe most he attempts to claim is that a state could arise legitimately from the state of nature, not that any actual state has (Rothbard 1977). But if hypotheticals were all that mattered, then an equally compelling story could be told of how the minimal state could devolve back into merely one competitive agency among others by a process that violates no one’s rights (Childs 1977), thus leaving us at a justificatory stalemate. Second, it is questionable whether prohibiting activities that run the risk of violating rights, but do not actually violate any, is compatible with fundamental liberal principles (Rothbard 1977). Finally, even if the general principle of prohibition with compensation is legitimate, it is nevertheless doubtful that the proper way to compensate the anarchist who has been harmed by the state’s claim of monopoly is to provide him with precisely what he does not wantstate police and military services (Childs 1977).

Until decisively rebutted, then, the anarchist position remains a serious challenge for libertarians, especially of the minimal state variety. This is true regardless of whether their libertarianism is defended on consequentialist or natural rights grounds. For the consequentialist libertarian, the challenge is to explain why law and protective services are the only goods that require state provision in order to maximize utility (or whatever the maximandum may be). If, for instance, the consequentialist justification for the state provision of law is that law is a public good, then the question is: Why should other public goods not also be provided? The claim that only police, courts, and military fit the bill appears to be more an a priori article of faith than a consequence of empirical analysis. This consideration might explain why so many consequentialist libertarians are in fact classical liberals who are willing to grant legitimacy to a larger than minimal state (Friedman 1962; Hayek 1960; Epstein 2003). For deontological libertarians, on the other hand, the challenge is to show why the state is justified in (a) prohibiting individuals from exercising or purchasing protective activities on their own and (b) financing protective services through coercive and redistributive taxation. If this sort of prohibition, and this sort of coercion and redistribution is justified, why not others? Once the bright line of non-aggression has been crossed, it is difficult to find a compelling substitute.

This is not to say that anarcho-capitalists do not face challenges of their own. First, many have pointed out that there is a paucity of empirical evidence to support the claim that anarcho-capitalism could function in a modern post-industrial society. Pointing to quasi-examples from Medieval Iceland (Friedman 1979) does little to alleviate this concern (Epstein 2003). Second, even if a plausible case could be made for the market provision of law and private defense, the market provision of national defense, which fits the characteristics of a public good almost perfectly, remains a far more difficult challenge (Friedman 1989). Finally, when it comes to rights and anarchy, one philosopher’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens. If respect for robust rights of self-ownership and property in external goods, as libertarians understand them, entail anarcho-capitalism, why not then reject these rights rather than embrace anarcho-capitalism? Rothbard, Nozick and other natural rights libertarians are notoriously lacking in foundational arguments to support their strong belief in these rights. In the absence of strong countervailing reasons to accept these rights and the libertarian interpretation of them, the fact that they lead to what might seem to be absurd conclusions could be a decisive reason to reject them.

This entry has focused on the main approaches to libertarianism popular among academic philosophers. But it has not been exhaustive. There are other philosophical defenses of libertarianism that space prevents exploring in detail, but deserve mention nevertheless. These include defenses of libertarianism that proceed from teleological and contractual considerations.

One increasingly influential approach takes as its normative foundation a virtue-centered ethical theory. Such theories hold that libertarian political institutions are justified in the way they allow individuals to develop as virtuous agents. Ayn Rand was perhaps the earliest modern proponent of such theory, and while her writings were largely ignored by academics, the core idea has since been picked up and developed with greater sophistication by philosophers like Tara Smith, Douglas Rasmussen, and Douglas Den Uyl (Rasmussen and Den Uyl 1991; 2005).

Teleological versions of libertarianism are in some significant respects similar to consequentialist versions, insofar as they hold that political institutions are to be judged in light of their tendency to yield a certain sort of outcome. But the consequentialism at work here is markedly different from the aggregative and impartial consequentialism of act-utilitarianism. Political institutions are to be judged based on the extent to which they allow individuals to flourish, but flourishing is a value that is agent-relative (and not agent-neutral as is happiness for the utilitarian), and also one that can only be achieved by the self-directed activity of each individual agent (and not something that can be distributed among individuals by the state). It is thus not the job of political institutions to promote flourishing by means of activist policies, but merely to make room for it by enforcing the core set of libertarian rights.

These claims lead to challenges for the teleological libertarian, however. If human flourishing is good, it must be so in an agent-neutral or in an agent-relative sense. If it is good in an agent-neutral sense, then it is unclear why we do not share positive duties to promote the flourishing of others, alongside merely negative duties to refrain from hindering their pursuit of their own flourishing.

Teleological libertarians generally argue that flourishing is something that cannot be provided for one by others since it is essentially a matter of exercising one’s own practical reason in the pursuit of a good life. But surely others can provide for us some of the means for our exercise of practical reasonfrom basics such as food and shelter to more complex goods such as education and perhaps even the social bases of self-respect. If, on the other hand, human flourishing is a good in merely an agent-relative sense, then it is unclear why others’ flourishing imposes any duties on us at allpositive or negative. If duties to respect the negative rights of others are not grounded in the agent-neutral value of others’ flourishing, then presumably they must be grounded in our own flourishing, but (a) making the wrongness of harming others depend on its negative effect on us seems to make that wrongness too contingent on situational factssurely there are some cases in which violating the rights of others can benefit us, even in the long-term holistic sense required by eudaimonistic accounts. And (b) the fact that wronging others will hurt us seems to be the wrong kind of explanation for why rights-violating acts are wrong. It seems to get matters backwards: rights-violating actions are wrong because of their effects on the person whose rights are violated, not because they detract from the rights-violator’s virtue.

Another moral framework that has become increasingly popular among philosophers since Rawls’s Theory of Justice (1971) is contractarianism. As a moral theory, contractarianism is the idea that moral principles are justified if and only if they are the product of a certain kind of agreement among persons. Among libertarians, this idea has been developed by Jan Narveson in his book, The Libertarian Idea (1988), which attempts to show that rational individuals would agree to a government that took individual negative liberty as the only relevant consideration in setting policy. And, while not self-described as a contractarian, Loren Lomasky’s work in Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community (1987) has many affinities with this approach, as it attempts to defend libertarianism as a kind of policy of mutual-advantage between persons.

Most of the libertarian theories we have surveyed in this article have a common structure: foundational philosophical commitments are set out, theories are built upon them, and practical conclusions are derived from those theories. This approach has the advantage of thoroughnessone’s ultimate political conclusions are undergirded by a weighty philosophical system to which any challengers can be directed. The downside of this approach is that anyone who disagrees with one’s philosophic foundations will not be much persuaded by one’s conclusions drawn from themand philosophers are not generally known for their widespread agreement on foundational issues.

As a result, much of the most interesting work in contemporary libertarian theory skips systematic theory-building altogether, and heads straight to the analysis of concrete problems. Often this analysis proceeds by accepting some set of values as givenoften the values embraced by those who are not sympathetic to libertarianism as a political theoryand showing that libertarian political institutions will better realize those values than competing institutional frameworks. Daniel Shapiro’s recent work on welfare states (Shapiro 2007), for instance, is a good example of this trend, in arguing that contemporary welfare states are unjustifiable from a variety of popular theoretical approaches. Loren Lomasky (2005) has written a humorous but important piece arguing that Rawls’s foundational principles are better suited to defending Nozickian libertarianism than even Nozick’s foundational principles are. And David Schmidtz (Schmidtz and Goodin 1998) has argued that market institutions are supported on grounds of individual responsibility that any moral framework ought to take seriously. While such approaches lack the theoretical completeness that philosophers naturally crave, they nevertheless have the virtue of addressing crucially important social issues in a way that dispenses with the need for complete agreement on comprehensive moral theories.

A theoretical justification of this approach can be found in John Rawls’s notion of an overlapping consensus, as developed in his work Political Liberalism (1993). Rawls’s idea is that decisions about which political institutions and principles to adopt ought to be based on those aspects of morality on which all reasonable theories converge, rather than any one particular foundational moral theory, because there is reasonable and apparently intractable disagreement about foundational moral issues. Extending this overlapping consensus approach to libertarianism, then, entails viewing libertarianism as a political theory that is compatible with a variety of foundational metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical views. Individuals need not settle their reasonable disagreements regarding moral issues in order to agree upon a framework for political association; and libertarianism, with its robust toleration of individual differences, seems well-suited to serve as the principle for such a framework (Barnett 2004).

Matt ZwolinskiEmail: mzwolinski@sandiego.eduUniversity of San DiegoU. S. A.

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Libertarianism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Libertarianism – Wikiquote

A ‘popular libertarian’ might … feel all that needs to be done to bring the world to justice is to institute the minimal state now, starting as it were from present holdings. On this view, then, libertarianism starts tomorrow, and we take the present possession of property for granted. There is, of course, something very problematic about this attitude. Part of the libertarian position involves treating property rights as natural rights, as so as being as important as anything can be. On the libertarian view, the fact that an injustice is old, and, perhaps, difficult to prove, does not make it any less of an injustice. … We should try to work out what would have happened had the injustice not taken place. If the present state of affairs does not correspond to this hypothetical description, then it should be made to correspond. ~ Jonathan Wolff

Libertarianism is a political philosophy which advocates the maximization of individual liberty in thought and action and the minimization or even elimination of the powers of the state. Though libertarians embrace or dispute many viewpoints upon a broad range of economic strategies, ranging from laissez-faire capitalists such as those who dominate in the US Libertarian Party to libertarian socialists, the political policies they advocate tend toward those of a minimal state (minarchism), or forms of anarchism, and an insistence on the need to maintain the integrity of individual rights and responsibilities.

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Libertarianism – Wikiquote

Cyberpunk – Wikipedia

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on a “combination of lowlife and high tech”[1] featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.[2]

Much of cyberpunk is rooted in the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 70s, when writers like Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny, J. G. Ballard, Philip Jos Farmer and Harlan Ellison examined the impact of drug culture, technology and the sexual revolution while avoiding the utopian tendencies of earlier science fiction. Released in 1984, William Gibson’s influential debut novel Neuromancer would help solidify cyberpunk as a genre, drawing influence from punk subculture and early hacker culture. Other influential cyberpunk writers included Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker.

Early films in the genre include Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, one of several of Philip K. Dick’s works that have been adapted into films. The films Johnny Mnemonic[3] and New Rose Hotel,[4][5] both based upon short stories by William Gibson, flopped commercially and critically. More recent additions to this genre of filmmaking include the 2017 release of Blade Runner 2049, sequel to the original 1982 film, and the 2018 Netflix TV series Altered Carbon.

Lawrence Person has attempted to define the content and ethos of the cyberpunk literary movement stating:

Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.

Cyberpunk plots often center on conflict among artificial intelligences, hackers, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than in the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov’s Foundation or Frank Herbert’s Dune.[7] The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to feature extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its original inventors (“the street finds its own uses for things”).[8] Much of the genre’s atmosphere echoes film noir, and written works in the genre often use techniques from detective fiction.[9]

The origins of cyberpunk are rooted in the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 70s, where New Worlds, under the editorship of Michael Moorcock, began inviting and encouraging stories that examined new writing styles, techniques, and archetypes. Reacting to conventional storytelling, New Wave authors attempted to present a world where society coped with a constant upheaval of new technology and culture, generally with dystopian outcomes. Writers like Roger Zelazny, J.G. Ballard, Philip Jose Farmer, and Harlan Ellison often examined the impact of drug culture, technology, and the sexual revolution with an avant-garde style influenced by the Beat Generation (especially William S. Burroughs’ own SF), dadaism, and their own ideas.[10] Ballard attacked the idea that stories should follow the “archetypes” popular since the time of Ancient Greece, and the assumption that these would somehow be the same ones that would call to modern readers, as Joseph Campbell argued in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Instead, Ballard wanted to write a new myth for the modern reader, a style with “more psycho-literary ideas, more meta-biological and meta-chemical concepts, private time systems, synthetic psychologies and space-times, more of the sombre half-worlds one glimpses in the paintings of schizophrenics.”[11]

This had a profound influence on a new generation of writers, some of whom would come to call their movement “Cyberpunk”. One, Bruce Sterling, later said:

Ballard, Zelazny, and the rest of New Wave was seen by the subsequent generation as delivering more “realism” to science fiction, and they attempted to build on this.

Similarly influential, and generally cited as proto-cyberpunk, is the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, first published in 1968. Presenting precisely the general feeling of dystopian post-economic-apocalyptic future as Gibson and Sterling later deliver, it examines ethical and moral problems with cybernetic, artificial intelligence in a way more “realist” than the Isaac Asimov Robot series that laid its philosophical foundation. This novel was made into the seminal movie Blade Runner, released in 1982. This was one year after another story, “Johnny Mnemonic” helped move proto-cyberpunk concepts into the mainstream. This story, which also became a film years later, involves another dystopian future, where human couriers deliver computer data, stored cybernetically in their own minds.

In 1983 a short story written by Bruce Bethke, called Cyberpunk, was published in Amazing Stories. The term was picked up by Gardner Dozois, editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and popularized in his editorials. Bethke says he made two lists of words, one for technology, one for troublemakers, and experimented with combining them variously into compound words, consciously attempting to coin a term that encompassed both punk attitudes and high technology.

He described the idea thus:

Afterward, Dozois began using this term in his own writing, most notably in a Washington Post article where he said “About the closest thing here to a self-willed esthetic school would be the purveyors of bizarre hard-edged, high-tech stuff, who have on occasion been referred to as cyberpunks Sterling, Gibson, Shiner, Cadigan, Bear.”[14]

About that time, William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer was published, delivering a glimpse of a future encompassed by what became an archetype of cyberpunk “virtual reality”, with the human mind being fed light-based worldscapes through a computer interface. Some, perhaps ironically including Bethke himself, argued at the time that the writers whose style Gibson’s books epitomized should be called “Neuromantics”, a pun on the name of the novel plus “New Romantics”, a term used for a New Wave pop music movement that had just occurred in Britain, but this term did not catch on. Bethke later paraphrased Michael Swanwick’s argument for the term: “the movement writers should properly be termed neuromantics, since so much of what they were doing was clearly Imitation Neuromancer”.

Sterling was another writer who played a central role, often consciously, in the cyberpunk genre, variously seen as keeping it on track, or distorting its natural path into a stagnant formula.[15] In 1986 he edited a volume of cyberpunk stories called Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, an attempt to establish what cyberpunk was, from Sterling’s perspective.[16]

In the subsequent decade, the motifs of Gibson’s Neuromancer became formulaic, climaxing in the satirical extremes of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash in 1992.

Bookending the Cyberpunk era, Bethke himself published a novel in 1995 called Headcrash: like Snow Crash a satirical attack on the genre’s excesses. It won the key cyberpunk honor named after its spiritual founder, the Philip K. Dick Award.

It satirized the genre in this way:

The impact of cyberpunk, though, has been long-lasting. Elements of both the setting and storytelling have become normal in science fiction in general, and a slew of sub-genres now have -punk tacked onto their names, most obviously Steampunk, but also a host of other Cyberpunk derivatives.

Primary figures in the cyberpunk movement include William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Bruce Bethke, Pat Cadigan, Rudy Rucker, and John Shirley. Philip K. Dick (author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, from which the film Blade Runner was adapted) is also seen by some as prefiguring the movement.[18]

Blade Runner can be seen as a quintessential example of the cyberpunk style and theme.[7] Video games, board games, and tabletop role-playing games, such as Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun, often feature storylines that are heavily influenced by cyberpunk writing and movies. Beginning in the early 1990s, some trends in fashion and music were also labeled as cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is also featured prominently in anime and manga:[19] Akira, Gunnm, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain, Dennou Coil, Ergo Proxy and Psycho Pass being among the most notable.[19]

Cyberpunk writers tend to use elements from hardboiled detective fiction, film noir, and postmodernist prose to describe an often nihilistic underground side of an electronic society. The genre’s vision of a troubled future is often called the antithesis of the generally utopian visions of the future popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Gibson defined cyberpunk’s antipathy towards utopian SF in his 1981 short story “The Gernsback Continuum,” which pokes fun at and, to a certain extent, condemns utopian science fiction.[22][23][24]

In some cyberpunk writing, much of the action takes place online, in cyberspace, blurring the line between actual and virtual reality.[25] A typical trope in such work is a direct connection between the human brain and computer systems. Cyberpunk settings are dystopias with corruption, computers and internet connectivity. Giant, multinational corporations have for the most part replaced governments as centers of political, economic, and even military power.

The economic and technological state of Japan is a regular theme in the Cyberpunk literature of the ’80s. Of Japan’s influence on the genre, William Gibson said, “Modern Japan simply was cyberpunk.”[21] Cyberpunk is often set in urbanized, artificial landscapes, and “city lights, receding” was used by Gibson as one of the genre’s first metaphors for cyberspace and virtual reality.[26] The cityscapes of Hong Kong[27] and Shanghai[28] have had major influences in the urban backgrounds, ambiance and settings in many cyberpunk works such as Blade Runner and Shadowrun. Ridley Scott envisioned the landscape of cyberpunk Los Angeles in Blade Runner to be “Hong Kong on a very bad day”.[29] The streetscapes of Ghost in the Shell were based on Hong Kong. Its director Mamoru Oshii felt that Hong Kong’s strange and chaotic streets where “old and new exist in confusing relationships”, fit the theme of the film well.[27] Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City is particularly notable for its disorganized hyper-urbanization and breakdown in traditional urban planning to be an inspiration to cyberpunk landscapes.

One of the cyberpunk genre’s prototype characters is Case, from Gibson’s Neuromancer.[30] Case is a “console cowboy,” a brilliant hacker who has betrayed his organized criminal partners. Robbed of his talent through a crippling injury inflicted by the vengeful partners, Case unexpectedly receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be healed by expert medical care but only if he participates in another criminal enterprise with a new crew.

Like Case, many cyberpunk protagonists are manipulated, placed in situations where they have little or no choice, and although they might see things through, they do not necessarily come out any further ahead than they previously were. These anti-heroes”criminals, outcasts, visionaries, dissenters and misfits”[31]call to mind the private eye of detective fiction. This emphasis on the misfits and the malcontents is the “punk” component of cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk can be intended to disquiet readers and call them to action. It often expresses a sense of rebellion, suggesting that one could describe it as a type of culture revolution in science fiction. In the words of author and critic David Brin:

…a closer look [at cyberpunk authors] reveals that they nearly always portray future societies in which governments have become wimpy and pathetic …Popular science fiction tales by Gibson, Williams, Cadigan and others do depict Orwellian accumulations of power in the next century, but nearly always clutched in the secretive hands of a wealthy or corporate elite.[32]

Cyberpunk stories have also been seen as fictional forecasts of the evolution of the Internet. The earliest descriptions of a global communications network came long before the World Wide Web entered popular awareness, though not before traditional science-fiction writers such as Arthur C. Clarke and some social commentators such as James Burke began predicting that such networks would eventually form.[33]

Minnesota writer Bruce Bethke coined the term in 1980 for his short story “Cyberpunk,” which was published in the November 1983 issue of Amazing Science Fiction Stories.[34] The term was quickly appropriated as a label to be applied to the works of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan and others. Of these, Sterling became the movement’s chief ideologue, thanks to his fanzine Cheap Truth. John Shirley wrote articles on Sterling and Rucker’s significance.[35] John Brunner’s 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider is considered by many[who?] to be the first cyberpunk novel with many of the tropes commonly associated with the genre, some five years before the term was popularized by Dozois.[36]

William Gibson with his novel Neuromancer (1984) is arguably the most famous writer connected with the term cyberpunk. He emphasized style, a fascination with surfaces, and atmosphere over traditional science-fiction tropes. Regarded as ground-breaking and sometimes as “the archetypal cyberpunk work,”[6] Neuromancer was awarded the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards. Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) followed after Gibson’s popular debut novel. According to the Jargon File, “Gibson’s near-total ignorance of computers and the present-day hacker culture enabled him to speculate about the role of computers and hackers in the future in ways hackers have since found both irritatingly nave and tremendously stimulating.”[37]

Early on, cyberpunk was hailed as a radical departure from science-fiction standards and a new manifestation of vitality.[38] Shortly thereafter, however, some critics arose to challenge its status as a revolutionary movement. These critics said that the SF New Wave of the 1960s was much more innovative as far as narrative techniques and styles were concerned.[39] Furthermore, while Neuromancer’s narrator may have had an unusual “voice” for science fiction, much older examples can be found: Gibson’s narrative voice, for example, resembles that of an updated Raymond Chandler, as in his novel The Big Sleep (1939).[38] Others noted that almost all traits claimed to be uniquely cyberpunk could in fact be found in older writers’ worksoften citing J. G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Stanisaw Lem, Samuel R. Delany, and even William S. Burroughs.[38] For example, Philip K. Dick’s works contain recurring themes of social decay, artificial intelligence, paranoia, and blurred lines between objective and subjective realities.[40] The influential cyberpunk movie Blade Runner (1982) is based on his book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.[41] Humans linked to machines are found in Pohl and Kornbluth’s Wolfbane (1959) and Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness (1968).[citation needed]

In 1994, scholar Brian Stonehill suggested that Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel Gravity’s Rainbow “not only curses but precurses what we now glibly dub cyberspace.”[42] Other important predecessors include Alfred Bester’s two most celebrated novels, The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination,[43] as well as Vernor Vinge’s novella True Names.[44]

Science-fiction writer David Brin describes cyberpunk as “the finest free promotion campaign ever waged on behalf of science fiction.” It may not have attracted the “real punks,” but it did ensnare many new readers, and it provided the sort of movement that postmodern literary critics found alluring. Cyberpunk made science fiction more attractive to academics, argues Brin; in addition, it made science fiction more profitable to Hollywood and to the visual arts generally. Although the “self-important rhetoric and whines of persecution” on the part of cyberpunk fans were irritating at worst and humorous at best, Brin declares that the “rebels did shake things up. We owe them a debt.”[45]

Fredric Jameson considers cyberpunk the “supreme literary expression if not of postmodernism, then of late capitalism itself”.[46]

Cyberpunk further inspired many professional writers who were not among the “original” cyberpunks to incorporate cyberpunk ideas into their own works,[citation needed] such as George Alec Effinger’s When Gravity Fails. Wired magazine, created by Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, mixes new technology, art, literature, and current topics in order to interest today’s cyberpunk fans, which Paula Yoo claims “proves that hardcore hackers, multimedia junkies, cyberpunks and cellular freaks are poised to take over the world.”[47]

The film Blade Runner (1982)adapted from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?is set in 2019 in a dystopian future in which manufactured beings called replicants are slaves used on space colonies and are legal prey on Earth to various bounty hunters who “retire” (kill) them. Although Blade Runner was largely unsuccessful in its first theatrical release, it found a viewership in the home video market and became a cult film.[48] Since the movie omits the religious and mythical elements of Dick’s original novel (e.g. empathy boxes and Wilbur Mercer), it falls more strictly within the cyberpunk genre than the novel does. William Gibson would later reveal that upon first viewing the film, he was surprised at how the look of this film matched his vision when he was working on Neuromancer. The film’s tone has since been the staple of many cyberpunk movies, such as The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003), which uses a wide variety of cyberpunk elements.

The number of films in the genre or at least using a few genre elements has grown steadily since Blade Runner. Several of Philip K. Dick’s works have been adapted to the silver screen. The films Johnny Mnemonic[3] and New Rose Hotel,[4][5] both based upon short stories by William Gibson, flopped commercially and critically. These box offices misses significantly slowed the development of cyberpunk as a literary or cultural form although a sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner was released in October 2017 with Harrison Ford reprising his role from the original film.

In addition, “tech-noir” film as a hybrid genre, means a work of combining neo-noir and science fiction or cyberpunk. It includes many cyberpunk films such as Blade Runner, Burst City,[49] Robocop, 12 Monkeys, The Lawnmower Man, Hackers, Hardware, and Strange Days.

Cyberpunk themes are widely visible in anime and manga. In Japan, where cosplay is popular and not only teenagers display such fashion styles, cyberpunk has been accepted and its influence is widespread. William Gibson’s Neuromancer, whose influence dominated the early cyberpunk movement, was also set in Chiba, one of Japan’s largest industrial areas, although at the time of writing the novel Gibson did not know the location of Chiba and had no idea how perfectly it fit his vision in some ways. The exposure to cyberpunk ideas and fiction in the mid 1980s has allowed it to seep into the Japanese culture.

Cyberpunk anime and manga draw upon a futuristic vision which has elements in common with western science fiction and therefore have received wide international acceptance outside Japan. “The conceptualization involved in cyberpunk is more of forging ahead, looking at the new global culture. It is a culture that does not exist right now, so the Japanese concept of a cyberpunk future, seems just as valid as a Western one, especially as Western cyberpunk often incorporates many Japanese elements.”[50] William Gibson is now a frequent visitor to Japan, and he came to see that many of his visions of Japan have become a reality:

Modern Japan simply was cyberpunk. The Japanese themselves knew it and delighted in it. I remember my first glimpse of Shibuya, when one of the young Tokyo journalists who had taken me there, his face drenched with the light of a thousand media-sunsall that towering, animated crawl of commercial informationsaid, “You see? You see? It is Blade Runner town.” And it was. It so evidently was.[21]

Cyberpunk has influenced many anime and manga including the ground-breaking Akira, Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell, Ergo Proxy, Battle Angel Alita, Megazone 23, Neo Tokyo, Goku Midnight Eye, Cyber City Oedo 808, Bubblegum Crisis, A.D. Police: Dead End City, Angel Cop, Extra, Blame!, Armitage III, Texhnolyze, Serial Experiments Lain, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Psycho-Pass.

There are many cyberpunk video games. Popular series include the Megami Tensei series, Deus Ex series, Syndicate series, and System Shock and its sequel. Other games, like Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and the Matrix series, are based upon genre movies, or role-playing games (for instance the various Shadowrun games).

Several RPGs called Cyberpunk exist: Cyberpunk, Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk v3, by R. Talsorian Games, and GURPS Cyberpunk, published by Steve Jackson Games as a module of the GURPS family of RPGs. Cyberpunk 2020 was designed with the settings of William Gibson’s writings in mind, and to some extent with his approval[citation needed], unlike the approach taken by FASA in producing the transgenre Shadowrun game. Both are set in the near future, in a world where cybernetics are prominent. In addition, Iron Crown Enterprises released an RPG named Cyberspace, which was out of print for several years until recently being re-released in online PDF form. CD Projekt Red is currently developing Cyberpunk 2077, a cyberpunk first-person open world RPG video-game based on the tabletop RPG Cyberpunk 2020[51][52][53].In 1990, in a convergence of cyberpunk art and reality, the United States Secret Service raided Steve Jackson Games’s headquarters and confiscated all their computers. Officials denied that the target had been the GURPS Cyberpunk sourcebook, but Jackson would later write that he and his colleagues “were never able to secure the return of the complete manuscript; […] The Secret Service at first flatly refused to return anything then agreed to let us copy files, but when we got to their office, restricted us to one set of out-of-date files then agreed to make copies for us, but said “tomorrow” every day from March 4 to March 26. On March 26 we received a set of disks which purported to be our files, but the material was late, incomplete and well-nigh useless.”[54] Steve Jackson Games won a lawsuit against the Secret Service, aided by the new Electronic Frontier Foundation. This event has achieved a sort of notoriety, which has extended to the book itself as well. All published editions of GURPS Cyberpunk have a tagline on the front cover, which reads “The book that was seized by the U.S. Secret Service!” Inside, the book provides a summary of the raid and its aftermath.

Cyberpunk has also inspired several tabletop, miniature and board games such as Necromunda by Games Workshop. Netrunner is a collectible card game introduced in 1996, based on the Cyberpunk 2020 role-playing game. Tokyo NOVA, debuting in 1993, is a cyberpunk role-playing game that uses playing cards instead of dice.

Julie Romandetta[55]

Some musicians and acts have been classified as cyberpunk due to their aesthetic style and musical content. Often dealing with dystopian visions of the future or biomechanical themes, some fit more squarely in the category than others. Bands whose music has been classified as cyberpunk include Psydoll, Front Line Assembly, Clock DVA and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Some musicians not normally associated with cyberpunk have at times been inspired to create concept albums exploring such themes. Albums such as Gary Numan’s Replicas, The Pleasure Principle and Telekon were heavily inspired by the works of Philip K. Dick. Kraftwerk’s The Man-Machine and Computer World albums both explored the theme of humanity becoming dependent on technology. Nine Inch Nails’ concept album Year Zero also fits into this category. Fear Factory concept albums are heavily based upon future dystopia, cybernetics, clash between man and machines, virtual worlds. Billy Idol’s Cyberpunk drew heavily from cyberpunk literature and the cyberdelic counter culture in its creation. 1. Outside, a cyberpunk narrative fueled concept album by David Bowie, was warmly met by critics upon its release in 1995. Many musicians have also taken inspiration from specific cyberpunk works or authors, including Sonic Youth, whose albums Sister and Daydream Nation take influence from the works of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson respectively.

Vaporwave and Synthwave are also influenced by cyberpunk. The former has been interpreted as a dystopian[56] critique of capitalism[57] in the vein of cyberpunk and the latter as a nostalgic retrofuturistic revival of aspects of cyberpunk’s origins.

Some Neo-Futurism artworks and cityscapes have been influenced by cyberpunk, such as[21] the Sony Center in the Potsdamer Platz public square of Berlin, Germany.[58]

Several subcultures have been inspired by cyberpunk fiction. These include the cyberdelic counter culture of the late 1980s and early 90s. Cyberdelic, whose adherents referred to themselves as “cyberpunks”, attempted to blend the psychedelic art and drug movement with the technology of cyberculture. Early adherents included Timothy Leary, Mark Frauenfelder and R. U. Sirius. The movement largely faded following the dot-com bubble implosion of 2000.

Cybergoth is a fashion and dance subculture which draws its inspiration from cyberpunk fiction, as well as rave and Gothic subcultures. In addition, a distinct cyberpunk fashion of its own has emerged in recent years[when?] which rejects the raver and goth influences of cybergoth, and draws inspiration from urban street fashion, “post apocalypse”, functional clothing, high tech sports wear, tactical uniform and multifunction. This fashion goes by names like “tech wear”, “goth ninja” or “tech ninja”. Important designers in this type of fashion[according to whom?] are ACRONYM, Demobaza,[59] Boris Bidjan Saberi, Rick Owens and Alexander Wang.

The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong (demolished in 1994) is often referenced as the model cyberpunk/dystopian slum as, given its poor living conditions at the time coupled with the city’s political, physical, and economic isolation has caused many in academia to be fascinated by the ingenuity of its spawning.[60]

As a wider variety of writers began to work with cyberpunk concepts, new subgenres of science fiction emerged, some of which could be considered as playing off the cyberpunk label, others which could be considered as legitimate explorations into newer territory. These focused on technology and its social effects in different ways. One prominent subgenre is “steampunk,” which is set in an alternate history Victorian era that combines anachronistic technology with cyberpunk’s bleak film noir world view. The term was originally coined around 1987 as a joke to describe some of the novels of Tim Powers, James P. Blaylock, and K.W. Jeter, but by the time Gibson and Sterling entered the subgenre with their collaborative novel The Difference Engine the term was being used earnestly as well.[61]

Another subgenre is “biopunk” (cyberpunk themes dominated by biotechnology) from the early 1990s, a derivative style building on biotechnology rather than informational technology. In these stories, people are changed in some way not by mechanical means, but by genetic manipulation. Paul Di Filippo is seen as the most prominent biopunk writer, including his half-serious ribofunk. Bruce Sterling’s Shaper/Mechanist cycle is also seen as a major influence. In addition, some people consider works such as Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age to be postcyberpunk.

Cyberpunk works have been described as well-situated within postmodern literature.[62]

Role playing game publisher R. Talsorian Games, owner of the Cyberpunk 2020 franchise, trademarked the word “Cyberpunk” in the United States in 2012.[63] Video game developer CD Projekt, which is developing Cyberpunk 2077, bought the U.S. trademark from R. Talsorian Games, and has filed a trademark in the European Union.[64][65]

See more here:

Cyberpunk – Wikipedia

Best Cyberpunk Books | BestScienceFictionBooks.com

So here we have a sub-genre of science fiction that has a cool name, because of which its authors dress in leather jackets and wear mirror shades – at least according to one well known scion of the craft – Neal Stephenson. But what – aside from an excuse to wear cool shades – is Cyberpunk?

Well basically Cyberpunk is all about dystopian, networked, future earth type societies. The technological focus is usually on computing, genetics and artificial or virtual intelligences, primarily. Oh and corporations. Usually big ones. Sub-sub genres (have we all gone mad?) include Steampunk – the same thing with Victorian overtones, and Biopunk – the same thing focused on genetic engineering and such. Additionally, books written after 1993 have a nasty habit of being called Post Cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk Derrivates — “The Punks”

Post-Cyberpunk – which is cyberpunk, but all grown up, after the teenage hormones and depressions have dissipated some – leaving the genre feeling a little more respectable. Then there’s Dieselpunk – sometimes referred to as ‘gritty Steampunk’

Decopunk – Dieselpunk made all shiny and modernistic, like the Art Deco art styles of the 1920’s to 1950’s

Nanopunk – the new kid on the block, still deciding what kind of a creature he’s going to be – but focussed on nanotechnology at the expense of biotechnology so far; Stonepunk – sic. The Flintstones (fancy stone age tech)

Clockpunk – concerned with clockwork mechanisms, likes to live in the renaissance period;

Teslapunk – alternate history where we got stuck at electricity, never going so far as to try anything else, and got really good at it (traces family line back to 18th, 19th and early 20th century imaginings of what electricity would do)

Atompunk – which would pretty much be Superman’s pre-digital world in DC Comics (think: cold war, Sputnik, Space and arms races, superheroes, Dick Tracy);

Elfpunk – what elves and other folklorish creatures would be like if they managed to survive to inhabit our current or future world

Mythpunk – same as Elfpunk, but rooted in ancient myth (Hercules, the Valkyries – that sort of thing)

Nowpunk – which is a word invented by Bruce Stirling to describe one of his books. I really have no idea why it has stuck around, but you can go look it up for yourself – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nowpunk#Nowpunk.

I think it means Cyberpunk set – well – like now. I guess the movie ‘hackers’ would be an example here.

It should be noted (for those new to this) that the term ‘Cyberpunk’ is derivative of the term ‘cyberspace’, not ‘cyborg’. Cyborgs do occasionally appear in cyberpunk novels, as do other forms of synthetic life, and the synthesis of biological life with technology is a recurring theme, but the focus of cyberpunk is more on information technologies: networks, computers, being able to plug oneself directly into virtual environments by whatever means – that sort of thing. An example would be the ‘Tron’ movies. Both of them. Most of the action is contained within a virtual environment Another popular example of cyberpunk is the ‘Matrix’ series of movies. Technically most of the movies took place in cyberspace, not out in the ‘real’ world. I still think that ‘the matrix’ establishes a great premise for arguing in favour of existentialism – but that’s for another time.

Finally: a quote that may help clarify things: “Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with marginalized people in technologically-enhanced cultural ‘systems’. In cyberpunk stories’ settings, there is usually a ‘system’ which dominates the lives of most ‘ordinary’ people, be it an oppressive government, a group of large, paternalistic corporations, or a fundamentalist religion. These systems are enhanced by certain technologies (today advancing at a rate that is bewildering to most people), particularly ‘information technology’ (computers, the mass media), making the system better at keeping those within it inside it. Often this technological system extends into its human ‘components’ as well, via brain implants, prosthetic limbs, cloned or genetically engineered organs, etc. Humans themselves become part of ‘the Machine’. This is the ‘cyber’ aspect of cyberpunk. However, in any cultural system, there are always those who live on its margins, on ‘the Edge’: criminals, outcasts, visionaries, or those who simply want freedom for its own sake. Cyberpunk literature focuses on these people, and often on how they turn the system’s technological tools to their own ends. This is the ‘punk’ aspect of cyberpunk.” Erich Schneider of ‘The Cyberpunk Project’.

So without further ado: the top 25 best Cyberpunk (and derivative otherpunk) novels – arranged from best to less so.

You can view the crowd-ranked version of this list and vote on the entries at the bottom of this page.

The rest is here:

Best Cyberpunk Books | BestScienceFictionBooks.com