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Introduction to Libertarianism | A Libertarianism.org Guide

Libertarianism is the philosophy of freedom.

Its not easy to define freedom. The author Leonard Read said, Freedom is the absence of man-concocted restraints against the release of creative energy. The Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek referred to a state in which each can use his knowledge for his purpose and also to the possibility of a persons acting according to his own decisions and plans, in contrast to the position of one who was irrevocably subject to the will of another, who by arbitrary decision could coerce him to act or not to act in specific ways. Perhaps its best to understand freedom as the absence of physical force or the threat of physical force. John Locke offered this definition of freedom under the rule of law:

[T]he end of Law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge Freedom: For in all the states of created beings capable of Laws, where there is no Law, there is no Freedom. For Liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others which cannot be, where there is no Law: But Freedom is not, as we are told, A Liberty for every Man to do what he lists: (For who could be free, when every other Mans Humour might domineer over him?) But a Liberty to dispose, and order, as he lists, his Persons, Actions, Possessions, and his whole Property, within the Allowance of those Laws under which he is; and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary Will of another, but freely follow his own.

That is, a free person is not subject to the arbitrary will of another and is free to do as he chooses with his own person and property. But you can only have those freedoms when the law protects your freedom and everyone elses.

However we define freedom, we can certainly recognize aspects of it. Freedom means respecting the moral autonomy of each person, seeing each person as the owner of his or her own life, and each free to make the important decisions about his life.

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 propertyrights that people possess naturally, before governments are instituted. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used forceactions such as murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.

Libertarians believe in the presumption of liberty. That is, libertarians believe people ought to be free to live as they choose unless advocates of coercion can make a compelling case. Its the exercise of power, not the exercise of freedom, that requires justification. The burden of proof ought to be on those who want to limit our freedom.

The presumption of liberty should be as strong as the presumption of innocence in a criminal trial, for the same reason. Just as you cant prove your innocence of all possible charges against you, you cannot justify all of the ways in which you should be allowed to act. James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution, said in response to a proposal that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution: Enumerate all the rights of man! I am sure, sirs, that no gentleman in the late Convention would have attempted such a thing.

Why do libertarians value freedom? There are many reasons.

Freedom allows each of us to define the meaning of life, to define whats important to us. Each of us should be free to think, to speak, to write, to paint, to create, to marry, to eat and drink and smoke, to start and run a business, to associate with others as we choose. When we are free, we can construct our lives as we see fit. Freedom is part of whats needed to lead a full human life.

Freedom leads to social harmony. We have less conflict when we have fewer specific commands and prohibitions about how we should livein terms of class or caste, religion, dress, lifestyle, or schools.

Economic freedom means that people are free to produce and to exchange with others. Freely negotiated and agreed-upon prices carry information throughout the economy about what people want and what can be done more efficiently. For an economic order to function, prices must be free to tell the truth. A free economy gives people incentives to invent, innovate, and produce more goods and services for the whole society. That means more satisfaction of more wants, more economic growth, and a higher standard of living for everyone.

A political system of liberty gives us the opportunity to use our talents and to cooperate with others to create and produce, with the help of a few simple institutions that protect our rights. And those simple institutionsproperty rights, the rule of law, a prohibition on the initiation of forcemake possible invention, innovation, and progress in commerce, technology, and styles of living.

In barely 250 years of having widespread economic freedom, weve escaped from the back-breaking labor and short life expectancy that were the natural lot of mankind since time immemorial to the abundance we see around us today in more and more parts of the worldthough not yet enough of the world.

What does valuing freedom mean for the libertarian view of government?

For libertarians, the basic political issue is the relationship of the individual to the state. What rights do individuals have (if any)? What form of government (if any) will best protect those rights? What powers should government have? What demands may individuals make on one another through the mechanism of government?

We try to discover the rules that govern the world, and rules that will enable us all to live together and realize those wonderful rights in the Declaration of Independencelife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The worst governments are tyrannical predators; the best embody attempts at providing the framework of rules we need to live together.

We know who and what government is. It isnt some Platonic ideal. Government is people, specifically people using force against other people. We need some method to constrain and punish the violent, the thieves and fraudsters, and other dangers to our freedom, our rights, and our security. But that shouldnt eliminate our skepticism about empowering some people to use force against others. The power that government holds is wielded by real people, not ideal people, and real people are imperfect. Some are corrupt, some are even evil. Some of the worst are actually attracted to state power. But even the well-intentioned, the honest, and the wise are still just people exercising power over other people.

Thats why Americans have always feared the concentration of power. Its why I often say that Smokey the Bears rules for fire safety apply to government: Keep it small, keep it in a confined area, and keep an eye on it.

Libertarians, as the name implies, believe that the most important political value is liberty, not democracy. Many modern readers may wonder, whats the difference? Arent liberty and democracy the same thing?

Theyre not. Much of the confusion stems from two different senses of the word liberty, a distinction notably explored by the nineteenth-century French libertarian Benjamin Constant in an essay titled The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with That of the Moderns. Constant noted that to the ancient Greek writers the idea of liberty meant the right to participate in public life, in making decisions for the entire community. Thus Athens was a free polity because all the citizensthat is, all the free, adult, Athenian mencould go to the public square and participate in the decision-making process. Socrates, indeed, was free because he could participate in the collective decision to execute him for his heretical opinions. The modern concept of liberty, however, emphasizes the right of individuals to live as they choose, to speak and worship freely, to own property, to engage in commerce, to be free from arbitrary arrest or detentionin Constants words, to come and go without permission, and without having to account for their motives and undertakings. A government based on the participation of the governed is a valuable safeguard for individual rights, but liberty itself is the right to make choices and to pursue projects of ones own choosing.

I have attempted to sketch here what it means to be a libertarian. There are many kinds of libertarians, of course. Some are people who might describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, or say they want the government out of my pocketbook and out of my bedroom. Some believe in the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and want the government to remain within the limits of the Constitution. Some just have an instinctive belief in freedom or an instinctive aversion to being told what to do. Some are admirers of Dr. Ron Paul and his son, Senator Rand Paul, and their campaigns against war, government spending, the surveillance state, and the Federal Reserve. Some like the writings of Thomas Jefferson or John Stuart Mill. Some have studied economics. Some have learned from history that governments always seek to expand their size, scope, and power, and must be constrained to preserve freedom. Some have noticed that war, prohibition, cronyism, racial and religious discrimination, protectionism, central planning, welfare, taxes, and government spending have deleterious effects. Some are so radical they think all goods and services could be provided without a state. In this Guide, I welcome all those people to the libertarian cause. When I talk about libertarian ideas, I mean to include the ideas of thinkers from John Locke and Adam Smith to F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Robert Nozick, and Richard Epstein.

The old ideologies have been tried and found wanting. All around usfrom the postcommunist world to the military dictatorships of Africa to the insolvent welfare states of Europe and the Americaswe see the failed legacy of coercion and statism. At the same time we see moves toward libertarian solutions constitutional government in Eastern Europe and South Africa, privatization in Britain and Latin America, democracy and the rule of law in South Korea and Taiwan, the spread of womens rights and gay rights, and economic liberalization in China, India, and even some countries in Africa. Challenges to freedom remain, of course, including the continuing lack of Enlightenment values in much of the world, the unsustainable welfare states in the rich countries and the interests that fight reform, the recurring desire for centralized and top-down political institutions such as the Eurozone, Islamist theocracy, and the spread of populist, antilibertarian responses to social change and economic crisis. Libertarianism offers an alternative to coercive government that should appeal to peaceful, productive people everywhere.

No, a libertarian world wont be a perfect one. There will still be inequality, poverty, crime, corruption, mans inhumanity to man. But unlike the theocratic visionaries, the pie-in-the-sky socialist utopians, or the starry-eyed Mr. Fixits of the New Deal and Great Society, libertarians dont promise you a rose garden. Karl Popper once said that attempts to create heaven on earth invariably produce hell. Libertarianism holds out the goal not of a perfect society but of a better and freer one. It promises a world in which more of the decisions will be made in the right way by the right person: you. The result will be not an end to crime and poverty and inequality but lessoften much lessof most of those things most of the time.

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Introduction to Libertarianism | A Libertarianism.org Guide

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 …

Libertarianism (metaphysics) – Wikipedia

Libertarianism is one of the main philosophical positions related to the problems of free will and determinism, which are part of the larger domain of metaphysics.[1] In particular, libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position,[2][3] argues that free will is logically incompatible with a deterministic universe and that agents have free will, and that, therefore, determinism is false.[4] In the early modern period, some of the most important metaphysical libertarians were Ren Descartes, George Berkeley, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Reid.[5] Roderick Chisholm was a prominent defender of libertarianism in the 20th century,[6] and contemporary libertarians include Robert Kane, Peter van Inwagen and Robert Nozick.

The first recorded use of the term “libertarianism” was in 1789 by William Belsham in a discussion of free will and in opposition to “necessitarian” (or determinist) views.[7][8]

Metaphysical libertarianism is one philosophical view point under that of incompatibilism. Libertarianism holds onto a concept of free will that requires the agent to be able to take more than one possible course of action under a given set of circumstances.

Accounts of libertarianism subdivide into non-physical theories and physical or naturalistic theories. Non-physical theories hold that the events in the brain that lead to the performance of actions do not have an entirely physical explanation, and consequently the world is not closed under physics. Such interactionist dualists believe that some non-physical mind, will, or soul overrides physical causality.

Explanations of libertarianism that do not involve dispensing with physicalism require physical indeterminism, such as probabilistic subatomic particle behavior a theory unknown to many of the early writers on free will. Physical determinism, under the assumption of physicalism, implies there is only one possible future and is therefore not compatible with libertarian free will. Some libertarian explanations involve invoking panpsychism, the theory that a quality of mind is associated with all particles, and pervades the entire universe, in both animate and inanimate entities. Other approaches do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe; ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the “elbow room” believed to be necessary by libertarians.

Free volition is regarded as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of indeterminism. An example of this kind of approach has been developed by Robert Kane,[9] where he hypothesises that,

In each case, the indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her realizing one of her purposesa hindrance or obstacle in the form of resistance within her will which has to be overcome by effort.

Although at the time quantum mechanics (and physical indeterminism) was only in the initial stages of acceptance, in his book Miracles: A preliminary study C. S. Lewis stated the logical possibility that if the physical world were proved indeterministic this would provide an entry point to describe an action of a non-physical entity on physical reality.[10] Indeterministic physical models (particularly those involving quantum indeterminacy) introduce random occurrences at an atomic or subatomic level. These events might affect brain activity, and could seemingly allow incompatibilist free will if the apparent indeterminacy of some mental processes (for instance, subjective perceptions of control in conscious volition) map to the underlying indeterminacy of the physical construct. This relationship, however, requires a causative role over probabilities that is questionable,[11] and it is far from established that brain activity responsible for human action can be affected by such events. Secondarily, these incompatibilist models are dependent upon the relationship between action and conscious volition, as studied in the neuroscience of free will. It is evident that observation may disturb the outcome of the observation itself, rendering limited our ability to identify causality.[12] Niels Bohr, one of the main architects of quantum theory, suggested, however, that no connection could be made between indeterminism of nature and freedom of will.[13]

In non-physical theories of free will, agents are assumed power to intervene in the physical world, a view known as agent causation.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] Proponents of agent causation include George Berkeley,[22] Thomas Reid,[23] and Roderick Chisholm.[24]

Most events can be explained as the effects of prior events. When a tree falls, it does so because of the force of the wind, its own structural weakness, and so on. However, when a person performs a free act, agent causation theorists say that the action was not caused by any other events or states of affairs, but rather was caused by the agent. Agent causation is ontologically separate from event causation. The action was not uncaused, because the agent caused it. But the agent’s causing it was not determined by the agent’s character, desires, or past, since that would just be event causation.[25] As Chisholm explains it, humans have “a prerogative which some would attribute only to God: each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen, and nothing or no one causes us to cause those events to happen.”[26]

This theory involves a difficulty which has long been associated with the idea of an unmoved mover. If a free action was not caused by any event, such as a change in the agent or an act of the will, then what is the difference between saying that an agent caused the event and simply saying that the event happened on its own? As William James put it, “If a ‘free’ act be a sheer novelty, that comes not from me, the previous me, but ex nihilo, and simply tacks itself on to me, how can I, the previous I, be responsible? How can I have any permanent character that will stand still long enough for praise or blame to be awarded?”[27]

Agent causation advocates respond that agent causation is actually more intuitive than event causation. They point to David Hume’s argument that when we see two events happen in succession, our belief that one event caused the other cannot be justified rationally (known as the problem of induction). If that is so, where does our belief in causality come from? According to Thomas Reid, “the conception of an efficient cause may very probably be derived from the experience we have had…of our own power to produce certain effects.”[28] Our everyday experiences of agent causation provide the basis for the idea of event causation.[29]

Event-causal accounts of incompatibilist free will typically rely upon physicalist models of mind (like those of the compatibilist), yet they presuppose physical indeterminism, in which certain indeterministic events are said to be caused by the agent. A number of event-causal accounts of free will have been created, referenced here as deliberative indeterminism, centred accounts, and efforts of will theory.[30] The first two accounts do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe. Ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the “elbow room” that libertarians believe necessary. A first common objection to event-causal accounts is that the indeterminism could be destructive and could therefore diminish control by the agent rather than provide it (related to the problem of origination). A second common objection to these models is that it is questionable whether such indeterminism could add any value to deliberation over that which is already present in a deterministic world.

Deliberative indeterminism asserts that the indeterminism is confined to an earlier stage in the decision process.[31][32] This is intended to provide an indeterminate set of possibilities to choose from, while not risking the introduction of luck (random decision making). The selection process is deterministic, although it may be based on earlier preferences established by the same process. Deliberative indeterminism has been referenced by Daniel Dennett[33] and John Martin Fischer.[34] An obvious objection to such a view is that an agent cannot be assigned ownership over their decisions (or preferences used to make those decisions) to any greater degree than that of a compatibilist model.

Centred accounts propose that for any given decision between two possibilities, the strength of reason will be considered for each option, yet there is still a probability the weaker candidate will be chosen.[35][36][37][38][39][40][41] An obvious objection to such a view is that decisions are explicitly left up to chance, and origination or responsibility cannot be assigned for any given decision.

Efforts of will theory is related to the role of will power in decision making. It suggests that the indeterminacy of agent volition processes could map to the indeterminacy of certain physical events and the outcomes of these events could therefore be considered caused by the agent. Models of volition have been constructed in which it is seen as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of physical indeterminism. An example of this approach is that of Robert Kane, where he hypothesizes that “in each case, the indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her realizing one of her purposes a hindrance or obstacle in the form of resistance within her will which must be overcome by effort.”[9] According to Robert Kane such “ultimate responsibility” is a required condition for free will.[42] An important factor in such a theory is that the agent cannot be reduced to physical neuronal events, but rather mental processes are said to provide an equally valid account of the determination of outcome as their physical processes (see non-reductive physicalism).

Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher, argued that as atoms moved through the void, there were occasions when they would “swerve” (clinamen) from their otherwise determined paths, thus initiating new causal chains. Epicurus argued that these swerves would allow us to be more responsible for our actions, something impossible if every action was deterministically caused.

Epicurus did not say the swerve was directly involved in decisions. But following Aristotle, Epicurus thought human agents have the autonomous ability to transcend necessity and chance (both of which destroy responsibility), so that praise and blame are appropriate. Epicurus finds a tertium quid, beyond necessity (Democritus’ physics) and beyond chance. His tertium quid is agent autonomy, what is “up to us.”

…some things happen of necessity (), others by chance (), others through our own agency ( ).

…necessity destroys responsibility and chance is inconstant; whereas our own actions are autonomous, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach.[43]

Lucretius (1st century BC), a strong supporter of Epicurus, saw the randomness as enabling free will, even if he could not explain exactly how, beyond the fact that random swerves would break the causal chain of determinism.

Again, if all motion is always one long chain, and new motion arises out of the old in order invariable, and if the first-beginnings do not make by swerving a beginning of motion such as to break the decrees of fate, that cause may not follow cause from infinity, whence comes this freedom (libera) in living creatures all over the earth, whence I say is this will (voluntas) wrested from the fates by which we proceed whither pleasure leads each, swerving also our motions not at fixed times and fixed places, but just where our mind has taken us? For undoubtedly it is his own will in each that begins these things, and from the will movements go rippling through the limbs.

However, the interpretation of Greek philosophers is controversial. Tim O’Keefe has argued that Epicurus and Lucretius were not libertarians at all, but compatibilists.[44]

Robert Nozick put forward an indeterministic theory of free will in Philosophical Explanations (1981).[45]

When human beings become agents through reflexive self-awareness, they express their agency by having reasons for acting, to which they assign weights. Choosing the dimensions of one’s identity is a special case, in which the assigning of weight to a dimension is partly self-constitutive. But all acting for reasons is constitutive of the self in a broader sense, namely, by its shaping one’s character and personality in a manner analogous to the shaping that law undergoes through the precedent set by earlier court decisions. Just as a judge does not merely apply the law but to some degree makes it through judicial discretion, so too a person does not merely discover weights but assigns them; one not only weighs reasons but also weights them. Set in train is a process of building a framework for future decisions that we are tentatively committed to.

The lifelong process of self-definition in this broader sense is construed indeterministically by Nozick. The weighting is “up to us” in the sense that it is undetermined by antecedent causal factors, even though subsequent action is fully caused by the reasons one has accepted. He compares assigning weights in this deterministic sense to “the currently orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics”, following von Neumann in understanding a quantum mechanical system as in a superposition or probability mixture of states, which changes continuously in accordance with quantum mechanical equations of motion and discontinuously via measurement or observation that “collapses the wave packet” from a superposition to a particular state. Analogously, a person before decision has reasons without fixed weights: he is in a superposition of weights. The process of decision reduces the superposition to a particular state that causes action.

One particularly influential contemporary theory of libertarian free will is that of Robert Kane.[30][46][47] Kane argues that “(1) the existence of alternative possibilities (or the agent’s power to do otherwise) is a necessary condition for acting freely, and that (2) determinism is not compatible with alternative possibilities (it precludes the power to do otherwise)”.[48] It is important to note that the crux of Kane’s position is grounded not in a defense of alternative possibilities (AP) but in the notion of what Kane refers to as ultimate responsibility (UR). Thus, AP is a necessary but insufficient criterion for free will.[49] It is necessary that there be (metaphysically) real alternatives for our actions, but that is not enough; our actions could be random without being in our control. The control is found in “ultimate responsibility”.

Ultimate responsibility entails that agents must be the ultimate creators (or originators) and sustainers of their own ends and purposes. There must be more than one way for a person’s life to turn out (AP). More importantly, whichever way it turns out must be based in the person’s willing actions. As Kane defines it,

UR: An agent is ultimately responsible for some (event or state) E’s occurring only if (R) the agent is personally responsible for E’s occurring in a sense which entails that something the agent voluntarily (or willingly) did or omitted either was, or causally contributed to, E’s occurrence and made a difference to whether or not E occurred; and (U) for every X and Y (where X and Y represent occurrences of events and/or states) if the agent is personally responsible for X and if Y is an arche (sufficient condition, cause or motive) for X, then the agent must also be personally responsible for Y.

In short, “an agent must be responsible for anything that is a sufficient reason (condition, cause or motive) for the action’s occurring.”[50]

What allows for ultimacy of creation in Kane’s picture are what he refers to as “self-forming actions” or SFAsthose moments of indecision during which people experience conflicting wills. These SFAs are the undetermined, regress-stopping voluntary actions or refraining in the life histories of agents that are required for UR. UR does not require that every act done of our own free will be undetermined and thus that, for every act or choice, we could have done otherwise; it requires only that certain of our choices and actions be undetermined (and thus that we could have done otherwise), namely SFAs. These form our character or nature; they inform our future choices, reasons and motivations in action. If a person has had the opportunity to make a character-forming decision (SFA), they are responsible for the actions that are a result of their character.

Randolph Clarke objects that Kane’s depiction of free will is not truly libertarian but rather a form of compatibilism. The objection asserts that although the outcome of an SFA is not determined, one’s history up to the event is; so the fact that an SFA will occur is also determined. The outcome of the SFA is based on chance, and from that point on one’s life is determined. This kind of freedom, says Clarke, is no different than the kind of freedom argued for by compatibilists, who assert that even though our actions are determined, they are free because they are in accordance with our own wills, much like the outcome of an SFA.[51]

Kane responds that the difference between causal indeterminism and compatibilism is “ultimate controlthe originative control exercised by agents when it is ‘up to them’ which of a set of possible choices or actions will now occur, and up to no one and nothing else over which the agents themselves do not also have control”.[52] UR assures that the sufficient conditions for one’s actions do not lie before one’s own birth.

Galen Strawson holds that there is a fundamental sense in which free will is impossible, whether determinism is true or not. He argues for this position with what he calls his “basic argument”, which aims to show that no-one is ever ultimately morally responsible for their actions, and hence that no one has free will in the sense that usually concerns us.

In his book defending compatibilism, Freedom Evolves, Daniel Dennett spends a chapter criticising Kane’s theory.[53] Kane believes freedom is based on certain rare and exceptional events, which he calls self-forming actions or SFA’s. Dennett notes that there is no guarantee such an event will occur in an individual’s life. If it does not, the individual does not in fact have free will at all, according to Kane. Yet they will seem the same as anyone else. Dennett finds an essentially indetectable notion of free will to be incredible.

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Libertarianism (metaphysics) – Wikipedia

Definitions of Libertarianism – The Advocates

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

Libertarianism | Liberapedia | FANDOM powered by Wikia

If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early 21st century is organized along libertarian lines?: Michael Lind [1]

A Libertarian in the American term, is an individual with right-wing economic beliefs and left-wing social belief. Some ultra-conservatives, such as talk radio host Neil Boortz, pretend they are libertarians so that they can trick Liberals into listening to them for few minutes in hope of converting them to Conservatism. Libertarians are kind of like liberals, except they think they’re living in the 18th Century or in the first part of the 20th Century when Ayn Rand lived. They are just more appealing to conservatives. [2]

Stereotyping the libertarians would be unwise. Different people who see themselves as libertarians disagree with each other as to which freedoms they feel should be allowed and which should be restricted. Libertarians in a general sense agree with the following concepts. [3]

Libertarianism allows for freedom in consensual sex and relationships; it also provides freedom to use self-destructive drugs and the like. In fact, two famous libertarians, Penn and Teller have advocated legalizing prostitution, illegal drugs, gay marriage and polyamory, and they have advocated abolishing the FCC. Libertarianism gives freedom in areas that dont challenge anyone’s power, including the power of corporations.

Some Libertarians challenge corporate power by removing the corrupt practice of corporate welfare and privileges issues from corporations to the state. As one example many libertarians object to certain provisions in the 14th amendment which give personhood rights to corporations and LLC’s thus shielding misconduct done by the shareholders.

Many if not most Libertarians differ from Liberals in their commitment to individual Liberty.

Libertarians tend to be supporters of unchecked corporate power, depending on just how deep into it they are. That means businesses may force whatever they like onto their employees and those who buy their products. If workers are too weak to fight back against a bullying boss, that’s just too bad.

The top 1% of the population has an overwhelming advantage in securing top-level jobs, because their mommy and daddy were rich and paid them through school while networking with their corporate friends. Think of it as a lose-win situation, where a few win and many lose out.

Libertarians are squeamish towards those in the lower class reaching their full potential. To them, it would be unethical to provide others in society with the same opportunities the wealthy elite receive. If you’re born into poverty and your parents are unable to provide a decent upbringing, sad day for you.Libertarians want to restrict or abolish government protection for those who are struggling financially. Ironically, this restricts freedom for the majority.

Note:

Libertarianism is a logically consistent approach to politics based on the moral principle of self-ownership. Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speach, and property. Government’s only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.Libertarians are open-minded people who want to end the Federal Reserve and legalize marijuana.

In order to understand how one gets from the “moral principles” above to the sort of fanatical proselytizing found in chat rooms and blogs everywhere, it is important understand how the ideology works from theory to practice.Libertarianism is axiomatic. Note how the above quote touts its logically consistent approach. There’s a set of rules to be applied to evaluate what is proper, and the outcome given is the answer that is correct in terms of the moral principle of the theory. Are the religious thinking connections starting to become evident? The rules are simple and tight enough to produce surprisingly uniform positions compared to common political philosophies.

Libertarians are for “individual rights”, and against “force” and “fraud” – just as THEY define it. Their use of these words, however, when examined in detail, is not likely to accord with the common meanings of these terms. What person would proclaim themselves in favor of “force and fraud”? One of the little tricks Libertarians use in debate is to confuse the ordinary sense of these words with the meaning as “terms of art” in Libertarian axioms. They try to set up a situation where if you say you’re against “force and fraud”, then obviously you must agree with Libertarian ideology, since those are the definitions. If you are in favor of “force and fraud”, well, isn’t that highly immoral? So you’re either one of them, or some sort of degenerate (note the cultist aspect again), one who doesn’t think “force and fraud must be banished from human relationships”.

Taxation is undesirable since the coercive force of the state backs it.Do you agree, or do you disagree, that it is always wrong for one person to initiate force against another? If you disagree, then you disagree with the fundamental concept of libertarianism.On the other hand, if you agree with the proposition, yet you still don’t like the conclusions that libertarians draw from it, then we can refocus our attention on the chain of logic that leads to those conclusions and find where you feel the weak link is.From looking at the example above you could say it’s an “agree or disagree” where “initiate force” is implied to be the Libertarian definition. And it’s justified by the axioms (chain of logic).The idea that Libertarians don’t believe in the initiation of force is pure propaganda. They believe in using force as much as anyone else, if they think the application is morally correct. Most ordinary people who aren’t libertarians understand when rich corporations force relatively weak employees to accept bad working conditions of face Unemployment this amounts to coercion and that’s just one example of libertarian use of force. Initiation of force” is Libertarian term meaning essentially “do something improper according to Libertarian ideology”. It isn’t even connected much to the actions we normally think of as “force”. The question being asked above was really agree or disagree, that it is always wrong for one person to do something improper according to the libertarian ideology.Of course, we can only make you think this through our own insistence, because as you may notice we don’t even support this claim. So a libertarian would not consider this an objection at all. This is the same reason libertarians often ignore other liberal ideas.

Liberals approve of some of the above but vehemently oppose other aspects.

While you might be told Libertarianism is about individual rights and freedom, fundamentally, it’s about business. The words “individual rights”, in the context of the libertarian ideology means business.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of “voluntary” and contractual relations among individuals. That gives powerful corporations the chance to force unfavorable contracts onto weaker parties and the weaker parties don’t agree to those contracts voluntarily.

The whole idea of a contract is that government enforces relations among individuals. The sentence about governments no interfering in so-called voluntary contracts doesnt make sense. It’s conceptually that they oppose all interference by government in the areas of government enforcing relations among individuals.

The key to understanding this, and to understanding Libertarianism itself, is to realize that their concept of individual freedom is the right to have the state protect the business. Freedom is greatly reduced for ordinary people, the state should protect the business instead of the state protecting the person.

Libertarians claim they are for freedom. In practice this means freedom for the strong to oppress the weak. For example labor protection legislation protects ordinary workers against exploitation and arbitrary dismissal. Ordinary people have more freedom when the government protects them against richer and stronger people. Real Liberals aim to give freedom to the majority, not just to a rich minority. Hypocritically libertarians pretend their philosophy is, “If I want to do something it’s okay, as long as I don’t harm you.” In reality their philosophy is about rich people being free to exploit and harm ordinary people, or, “If I want to do something it’s okay, irregardless of the consequences that don’t involve my fists.”

Libertarians are radical in some ways and Conservative in other respects. Libertarianism is about protecting those who are already rich and powerful as is Conservatism.

There have been attempts to combine Libertarianism and Social Conservatism. Llewellyn H. Rockwell argued that Libertarians should drop their wish for freedoms that are conventionally restricted and join the conservatives. Notably he opposed artistic epression that is conventionally restricted. Basically he was saying, “Become like us and join us.” See Paleolibertarianism.

Libertarians value freedom. All too often that means freedom for the strong to oppress the weak. Libertarians value some real freedoms as well. Many Liberatarians support the “freedom” of individuals to do some things which Christian Conservatives believe are contrary to God’s law. Christian Conservatives can’t easily accept that.

Libertarians are cult members who worship business under the false pretence of loving freedom. Some who call themselves Libertarians are nothing but conservatives who are too embarrassed to say that they’re conservative because it sounds old fashioned. Others support radical ideas which Conservatives oppose. The philosophy of libertarianism might be summarized by “If rich people want to do something it’s okay, but if you want to oppose rich people, it’s not.”

Some Historians claim Libertarians were once Liberals, but changed the name of their belief system after Liberalism had been co-opted. If this is true, we Liberals will have to admit that Libetarians are our slow cousins who were unable to adapt and evolve.

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Libertarianism | Liberapedia | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Classical Libertarianism legal definition of Classical …

A political philosophy that advocates free will, individual rights, and voluntary cooperation.

The core doctrine of libertarianism begins with the recognition that people have certain natural rights and that deprivation of these rights is immoral. Among these natural rights are the right to personal autonomy and property rights, and the right to the utilization of previously unused resources. These two basic assumptions form the foundation of all libertarian ideals.

Libertarianism can be traced back to ancient China, where philosopher Lao-tzu advocated the recognition of individual liberties. The modern libertarian theory emerged in the sixteenth century through the writings of Etienne de La Boetie (15301563), an eminent French theorist. In the seventeenth century, John Locke and a group of British reformers known as the Levellers fashioned the classical basis for libertarianism with well-received philosophies on human nature and economics. Since the days of Locke, libertarianism has attracted pacifists, utopianists, utilitarianists, anarchists, and fascists. This wide array of support demonstrates the accessibility and elasticity of the libertarian promotion of natural rights.

Essential to the notion of natural rights is respect for the natural rights of others. Without a dignified population, voluntary cooperation is impossible. According to the libertarian, the means to achieving a dignified population and voluntary cooperation is inextricably tied to the promotion of natural rights.

Libertarianism holds that people lose their dignity as government gains control of their body and their life. The Abdication of natural rights to government prevents people from living in their own way and working and producing at their own pace. The result is a decrease in self-reliance and independence, which results in a decrease in personal dignity, which in turn depresses society and necessitates more government interference.

Thus, the libertarian views government as both the cause and the effect of societal ills. Government is the cause of crime and prejudice because it robs people of their independence and frustrates initiative and creativity. Then, having created the sources of crime and prejudice by depriving individuals of their natural rights, government attempts to exorcise the evils with more controls over natural rights.

Libertarians believe that government should be limited to the defense of its citizens. Actions such as murder, rape, Robbery, theft, Embezzlement, Fraud, Arson, Kidnapping, Battery, Trespass, and Pollution violate the rights of others, so government control of these actions is legitimate. Libertarians acknowledge human imperfection and the resulting need for some government deterrence and punishment of violence, Nuisance, and harassment. However, government control of human activity should be limited to these functions.

Boaz, David. 1997. Libertarianism: A Primer. New York: Free Press.

Otsuka, Michael. 2003. Libertarianism Without Inequality. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Anarchism; Independent Parties; Natural Law; Utilitarianism.

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Classical Libertarianism legal definition of Classical …

Eugenics – Wikipedia

Eugenics (; from Greek eugenes ‘well-born’ from eu, ‘good, well’ and genos, ‘race, stock, kin’)[2][3] is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population.[4][5] The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883. The concept predates this coinage, with Plato suggesting applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400BCE.

Frederick Osborn’s 1937 journal article “Development of a Eugenic Philosophy”[6] framed it as a social philosophythat is, a philosophy with implications for social order. That definition is not universally accepted. Osborn advocated for higher rates of sexual reproduction among people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics).

Alternatively, gene selection rather than “people selection” has recently been made possible through advances in genome editing,[7] leading to what is sometimes called new eugenics, also known as neo-eugenics, consumer eugenics, or liberal eugenics.

While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom[8] and spread to many countries including the United States, Canada[9] and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies with the intent to improve the quality of their populations’ genetic stock. Such programs included both “positive” measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly “fit” to reproduce, and “negative” measures such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed unfit to reproduce often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges of different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups. The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs.[10] In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually began to abandon eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them the United States and Sweden, continued to carry out forced sterilizations.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, when new assisted reproductive technology procedures became available such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989), and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear has emerged about a possible revival of eugenics.

A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether “negative” or “positive” policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in inbreeding depression due to lower genetic variation.

Seneca the Younger

The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[12] In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome, a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled.[13] Among the ancient Germanic tribes, people who were cowardly, unwarlike or “stained with abominable vices” were put to death, usually by being drowned in swamps.[14][15]

The first formal negative eugenics, that is a legal provision against birth of inferior human beings, was promulgated in Western European culture by the Christian Council of Agde in 506, which forbade marriage between cousins.[16]

This idea was also promoted by William Goodell (18291894) who advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[17][18]

The idea of a modern project of improving the human population through a statistical understanding of heredity used to encourage good breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton and, initially, was closely linked to Darwinism and his theory of natural selection.[19] Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, though Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory.[20] In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[21] With the introduction of genetics, eugenics became associated with genetic determinism, the belief that human character is entirely or in the majority caused by genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism.[19] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained controversial.

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources.[24] Organizations were formed to win public support and sway opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, including the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907 and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[25] In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.[25]

Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York City. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[26] It also took root in France, Germany, and Great Britain.[27] Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries including Belgium,[28] Brazil,[29] Canada,[30] Japan and Sweden.

In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Record Office. Politically, the movement advocated measures such as sterilization laws. In its moral dimension, eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness. Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure “Nordic race” or “Aryan” genetic pool and the eventual elimination of “unfit” races.

Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward,[39] the English writer G. K. Chesterton, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, who argued that advocates of eugenics greatly over-estimate the influence of biology,[40] and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Ward’s 1913 article “Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics”, Chesterton’s 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas’ 1916 article “Eugenics” (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address “Consumption: Its Cause and Cure”,[41] and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes. Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben.[42] Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of “defectives” would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.[43]

Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations.[44] Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalize voluntary sterilization were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party.[45] The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii.[25] In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.”[46]

As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals. Many countries enacted[47] various eugenics policies, including: genetic screenings, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and sequestering the mentally ill), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, ultimately culminating in genocide.

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925 and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. Some common early 20th century eugenics methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as “degenerate” or “unfit”, and therefore led to segregation, institutionalization, sterilization, euthanasia, and even mass murder. The Nazi practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.

By the end of World War II, many discriminatory eugenics laws were abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany.[50] H. G. Wells, who had called for “the sterilization of failures” in 1904,[51] stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights, which he believed should be available to all people, was “a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment”.[52] After World War II, the practice of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group” fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[53] The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims “the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons”.[54] In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, some government mandated sterilizations continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, 2,000 persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized.[55] China maintained its one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations.[56][57][58] In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan.[59] During the years 2005 to 2013, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.[60]

Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject.Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.[61] This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a “new era of eugenics”, and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, “where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products”.[62] In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction.[63]

Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Singapore, started promoting eugenics as early as 1983.[64][65]

In October 2015, the United Nations’ International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements. However, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want, or cannot afford, the technology.[66]

Transhumanism is often associated with eugenics, although most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term “eugenics” (preferring “germinal choice” or “reprogenetics”)[67] to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.

Prenatal screening can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.[68]

The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883,[69] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin.[70][71] Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (“good” or “well”) and the suffix -gens (“born”), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word “stirpiculture”, which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones.[73] Galton defined eugenics as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations”.[74]

Historically, the term eugenics has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia.[75] To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that “the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent.”[76] Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics continues today.[77]

Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry.[78] The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of “improvement” of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience.[79][80][81]

Early eugenists were mostly concerned with factors of perceived intelligence that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.[20]

Eugenics also had a place in medicine. In his lecture “Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics”, Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.[82]

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories.[75] Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning.[83] The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of a dystopian society that uses eugenics to decided what you are capable of and your place in the world. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally “undesirable”. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.[83] Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.[84]

Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution”.[85]

According to Richard Lynn, eugenics may be divided into two main categories based on the ways in which the methods of eugenics can be applied.[86]

The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan. He demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with white eyes from a family with red eyes. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate. Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined.[123] Despite Morgan’s public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.[124][125]

The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child.[126] The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.[126]

Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, it could be argued[by whom?] from certain perspectives that the practicality of “eliminating” traits is quite low.[citation needed]

There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (TaySachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease, and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[127]

Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect.[128] Andrzej Pkalski, from the University of Wrocaw, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects a pleiotropic gene that could possibly be associated with a positive trait. Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together.[129]

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted “improvement” of the gene pool could very likelyas evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.[130]

Edward M. Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes.[131] Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.[131]

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.

However, some genetic diseases cause people to consider some elements of eugenics.

Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement.[132] Many of the ethical concerns regarding eugenics arise from its controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws.[133] Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.[134] Therefore, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.[135]

With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion. The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion.[136] Philosophers disagree about the proper framework for reasoning about such actions, which change the very identity and existence of future persons.[137]

A common criticism of eugenics is that “it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical”.[138] Some fear future “eugenics wars” as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.[139] Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.[140][141]

In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement. He writes that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to “improve” themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome with technology. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.[142]

Some, for example Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family.[143] Comfort suggests that “the eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise.”[144] Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that “[e]ugenics doesn’t seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn’t sufficient to show that they’re wrong.”[145]

In their book published in 2000, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals’ reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements.[146]

Original position, a hypothetical situation developed by American philosopher John Rawls, has been used as an argument for negative eugenics.[147][148]

Notes

Bibliography

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Eugenics – Wikipedia

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Eugenics in the United States – Wikipedia

Eugenics, the set of beliefs and practices which aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population,[2][3] played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States prior to its involvement in World War II.[4]

Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany,[5] which were largely inspired by the previous American work.[6][7][8] Stefan Khl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.[9]

During the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century, eugenics was considered a method of preserving and improving the dominant groups in the population; it is now generally associated with racist and nativist elements, as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe, rather than scientific genetics.[10]

The American eugenics movement was rooted in the biological determinist ideas of Sir Francis Galton, which originated in the 1880s. Galton studied the upper classes of Britain, and arrived at the conclusion that their social positions were due to a superior genetic makeup.[11] Early proponents of eugenics believed that, through selective breeding, the human species should direct its own evolution. They tended to believe in the genetic superiority of Nordic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon peoples; supported strict immigration and anti-miscegenation laws; and supported the forcible sterilization of the poor, disabled and “immoral”.[12] Eugenics was also supported by African American intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Thomas Wyatt Turner, and many academics at Tuskegee University, Howard University, and Hampton University; however, they believed the best blacks were as good as the best whites and “The Talented Tenth” of all races should mix.[13] W. E. B. Du Bois believed “only fit blacks should procreate to eradicate the race’s heritage of moral iniquity.”[13][14]

The American eugenics movement received extensive funding from various corporate foundations including the Carnegie Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harriman railroad fortune.[7] In 1906 J.H. Kellogg provided funding to help found the Race Betterment Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan.[11] The Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was founded in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in 1911 by the renowned biologist Charles B. Davenport, using money from both the Harriman railroad fortune and the Carnegie Institution. As late as the 1920s, the ERO was one of the leading organizations in the American eugenics movement.[11][15] In years to come, the ERO collected a mass of family pedigrees and concluded that those who were unfit came from economically and socially poor backgrounds. Eugenicists such as Davenport, the psychologist Henry H. Goddard, Harry H. Laughlin, and the conservationist Madison Grant (all well respected in their time) began to lobby for various solutions to the problem of the “unfit”. Davenport favored immigration restriction and sterilization as primary methods; Goddard favored segregation in his The Kallikak Family; Grant favored all of the above and more, even entertaining the idea of extermination.[16] The Eugenics Record Office later became the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Eugenics was widely accepted in the U.S. academic community.[7] By 1928, there were 376 separate university courses in some of the United States’ leading schools, enrolling more than 20,000 students, which included eugenics in the curriculum.[17] It did, however, have scientific detractors (notably, Thomas Hunt Morgan, one of the few Mendelians to explicitly criticize eugenics), though most of these focused more on what they considered the crude methodology of eugenicists, and the characterization of almost every human characteristic as being hereditary, rather than the idea of eugenics itself.[18]

By 1910, there was a large and dynamic network of scientists, reformers, and professionals engaged in national eugenics projects and actively promoting eugenic legislation. The American Breeder’s Association was the first eugenic body in the U.S., established in 1906 under the direction of biologist Charles B. Davenport. The ABA was formed specifically to “investigate and report on heredity in the human race, and emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood.” Membership included Alexander Graham Bell, Stanford president David Starr Jordan and Luther Burbank.[19][20] The American Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality was one of the first organizations to begin investigating infant mortality rates in terms of eugenics.[21] They promoted government intervention in attempts to promote the health of future citizens.[22][verification needed]

Several feminist reformers advocated an agenda of eugenic legal reform. The National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and the National League of Women Voters were among the variety of state and local feminist organization that at some point lobbied for eugenic reforms.[23]

One of the most prominent feminists to champion the eugenic agenda was Margaret Sanger, the leader of the American birth control movement. Margaret Sanger saw birth control as a means to prevent unwanted children from being born into a disadvantaged life, and incorporated the language of eugenics to advance the movement.[24][25] Sanger also sought to discourage the reproduction of persons who, it was believed, would pass on mental disease or serious physical defects. She advocated sterilization in cases where the subject was unable to use birth control.[24] She rejected euthanasia.[26] For Sanger, it was individual women and not the state who should determine whether or not to have a child.[27][28]

In the Deep South, women’s associations played an important role in rallying support for eugenic legal reform. Eugenicists recognized the political and social influence of southern clubwomen in their communities, and used them to help implement eugenics across the region.[29] Between 1915 and 1920, federated women’s clubs in every state of the Deep South had a critical role in establishing public eugenic institutions that were segregated by sex.[30] For example, the Legislative Committee of the Florida State Federation of Women’s Clubs successfully lobbied to institute a eugenic institution for the mentally retarded that was segregated by sex.[31] Their aim was to separate mentally retarded men and women to prevent them from breeding more “feebleminded” individuals.

Public acceptance in the U.S. was the reason eugenic legislation was passed.Almost 19 million people attended the PanamaPacific International Exposition in San Francisco, open for 10 months from 20 February to 4 December 1915.[32][33] The PPIE was a fair devoted to extolling the virtues of a rapidly progressing nation, featuring new developments in science, agriculture, manufacturing and technology. A subject that received a large amount of time and space was that of the developments concerning health and disease, particularly the areas of tropical medicine and race betterment (tropical medicine being the combined study of bacteriology, parasitology and entomology while racial betterment being the promotion of eugenic studies). Having these areas so closely intertwined, it seemed that they were both categorized in the main theme of the fair, the advancement of civilization. Thus in the public eye, the seemingly contradictory[clarification needed] areas of study were both represented under progressive banners of improvement and were made to seem like plausible courses of action to better American society.[34][35]

Beginning with Connecticut in 1896, many states enacted marriage laws with eugenic criteria, prohibiting anyone who was “epileptic, imbecile or feeble-minded”[36] from marrying.[37]

The first state to introduce a compulsory sterilization bill was Michigan, in 1897 but the proposed law failed to garner enough votes by legislators to be adopted. Eight years later Pennsylvania’s state legislators passed a sterilization bill that was vetoed by the governor. Indiana became the first state to enact sterilization legislation in 1907,[38] followed closely by Washington and California in 1909. Sterilization rates across the country were relatively low (California being the sole exception) until the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell which legitimized the forced sterilization of patients at a Virginia home for the mentally retarded. The number of sterilizations performed per year increased until another Supreme Court case, Skinner v. Oklahoma, 1942, complicated the legal situation by ruling against sterilization of criminals if the equal protection clause of the constitution was violated. That is, if sterilization was to be performed, then it could not exempt white-collar criminals.[39] The state of California was at the vanguard of the American eugenics movement, performing about 20,000 sterilizations or one third of the 60,000 nationwide from 1909 up until the 1960s.[40]

While California had the highest number of sterilizations, North Carolina’s eugenics program which operated from 1933 to 1977, was the most aggressive of the 32 states that had eugenics programs.[41] An IQ of 70 or lower meant sterilization was appropriate in North Carolina.[42] The North Carolina Eugenics Board almost always approved proposals brought before them by local welfare boards.[42] Of all states, only North Carolina gave social workers the power to designate people for sterilization.[41] “Here, at last, was a method of preventing unwanted pregnancies by an acceptable, practical, and inexpensive method,” wrote Wallace Kuralt in the March 1967 journal of the N.C. Board of Public Welfare. “The poor readily adopted the new techniques for birth control.”[42]

The Immigration Restriction League was the first American entity associated officially with eugenics. Founded in 1894 by three recent Harvard University graduates, the League sought to bar what it considered inferior races from entering America and diluting what it saw as the superior American racial stock (upper class Northerners of Anglo-Saxon heritage). They felt that social and sexual involvement with these less-evolved and less-civilized races would pose a biological threat to the American population. The League lobbied for a literacy test for immigrants, based on the belief that literacy rates were low among “inferior races”. Literacy test bills were vetoed by Presidents in 1897, 1913 and 1915; eventually, President Wilson’s second veto was overruled by Congress in 1917. Membership in the League included: A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, William DeWitt Hyde, president of Bowdoin College, James T. Young, director of Wharton School and David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University.[43]

The League allied themselves with the American Breeder’s Association to gain influence and further its goals and in 1909 established a Committee on Eugenics chaired by David Starr Jordan with members Charles Davenport, Alexander Graham Bell, Vernon Kellogg, Luther Burbank, William Ernest Castle, Adolf Meyer, H. J. Webber and Friedrich Woods. The ABA’s immigration legislation committee, formed in 1911 and headed by League’s founder Prescott F. Hall, formalized the committee’s already strong relationship with the Immigration Restriction League. They also founded the Eugenics Record Office, which was headed by Harry H. Laughlin.[44] In their mission statement, they wrote:

Society must protect itself; as it claims the right to deprive the murderer of his life so it may also annihilate the hideous serpent of hopelessly vicious protoplasm. Here is where appropriate legislation will aid in eugenics and creating a healthier, saner society in the future.[44]

Money from the Harriman railroad fortune was also given to local charities, in order to find immigrants from specific ethnic groups and deport, confine, or forcibly sterilize them.[7]

With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, eugenicists for the first time played an important role in the Congressional debate as expert advisers on the threat of “inferior stock” from eastern and southern Europe.[45][46] The new act, inspired by the eugenic belief in the racial superiority of “old stock” white Americans as members of the “Nordic race” (a form of white supremacy), strengthened the position of existing laws prohibiting race-mixing.[47] Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the U.S. and were used to justify many anti-miscegenation laws.[48]

Stephen Jay Gould asserted that restrictions on immigration passed in the United States during the 1920s (and overhauled in 1965 with the Immigration and Nationality Act) were motivated by the goals of eugenics. During the early 20th century, the United States and Canada began to receive far higher numbers of Southern and Eastern European immigrants. Influential eugenicists like Lothrop Stoddard and Harry Laughlin (who was appointed as an expert witness for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in 1920) presented arguments they would pollute the national gene pool if their numbers went unrestricted.[49][50] It has been argued that this stirred both Canada and the United States into passing laws creating a hierarchy of nationalities, rating them from the most desirable Anglo-Saxon and Nordic peoples to the Chinese and Japanese immigrants, who were almost completely banned from entering the country.[47][51]

Both class and race factored into eugenic definitions of “fit” and “unfit.” By using intelligence testing, American eugenicists asserted that social mobility was indicative of one’s genetic fitness.[52] This reaffirmed the existing class and racial hierarchies and explained why the upper-to-middle class was predominantly white. Middle-to-upper class status was a marker of “superior strains.”[31] In contrast, eugenicists believed poverty to be a characteristic of genetic inferiority, which meant that those deemed “unfit” were predominantly of the lower classes.[31]

Because class status designated some more fit than others, eugenicists treated upper and lower class women differently. Positive eugenicists, who promoted procreation among the fittest in society, encouraged middle class women to bear more children. Between 1900 and 1960, Eugenicists appealed to middle class white women to become more “family minded,” and to help better the race.[53] To this end, eugenicists often denied middle and upper class women sterilization and birth control.[54]

Since poverty was associated with prostitution and “mental idiocy,” women of the lower classes were the first to be deemed “unfit” and “promiscuous.”[31]

In 1907, Indiana passed the first eugenics-based compulsory sterilization law in the world. Thirty U.S. states would soon follow their lead.[55][56] Although the law was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921,[57] the U.S. Supreme Court, in Buck v. Bell, upheld the constitutionality of the Virginia Sterilization Act of 1924, allowing for the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions in 1927.[58]

Some states sterilized “imbeciles” for much of the 20th century. Although compulsory sterilization is now considered an abuse of human rights, Buck v. Bell was never overturned, and Virginia did not repeal its sterilization law until 1974.[59] The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963, when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States.[60] Beginning around 1930, there was a steady increase in the percentage of women sterilized, and in a few states only young women were sterilized. From 1930 to the 1960s, sterilizations were performed on many more institutionalized women than men.[31] By 1961, 61 percent of the 62,162 total eugenic sterilizations in the United States were performed on women.[31] A favorable report on the results of sterilization in California, the state with the most sterilizations by far, was published in book form by the biologist Paul Popenoe and was widely cited by the Nazi government as evidence that wide-reaching sterilization programs were feasible and humane.[61][62]

Men and women were compulsorily sterilized for different reasons. Men were sterilized to treat their aggression and to eliminate their criminal behavior, while women were sterilized to control the results of their sexuality.[31] Since women bore children, eugenicists held women more accountable than men for the reproduction of the less “desirable” members of society.[31] Eugenicists therefore predominantly targeted women in their efforts to regulate the birth rate, to “protect” white racial health, and weed out the “defectives” of society.[31]

A 1937 Fortune magazine poll found that 2/3 of respondents supported eugenic sterilization of “mental defectives”, 63% supported sterilization of criminals, and only 15% opposed both.[63][64]

In the 1970s, several activists and women’s rights groups discovered several physicians to be performing coerced sterilizations of specific ethnic groups of society. All were abuses of poor, nonwhite, or mentally retarded women, while no abuses against white or middle-class women were recorded.[65] Several court cases such as Madrigal v. Quilligan, a class action suit regarding forced or coerced postpartum sterilization of Latina women following cesarean sections, and Relf v. Weinberger,[66] the sterilization of two young black girls by tricking their illiterate mother into signing a waiver, helped bring to light some of the widespread abuses of sterilization supported by federal funds.[67][68]

After World War II, Dr. Clarence Gamble revived the eugenics movement in the United States through sterilization. Dr. Gamble supported the eugenics movement throughout his life. He worked as a researcher at Harvard Medical school and was well off financially, as the Procter and Gamble fortune was inherited by him. Gamble, a proponent of birth control, contributed to the founding of public birth control clinics. These were the first public clinics in the United States. Until the 1960’s and 1970’s, Gamble’s ideal form of eugenics, sterilization, was seen in various cases. Doctors told mothers that their daughters needed shots, but they were actually sterilizing them. Hispanic women were often sterilized due to the fact that they could not read the consent forms that doctors had given them. Poorer white people, African Americans, and Native American people were also targeted for forced sterilization.[69]

The number of eugenic sterilizations is agreed upon by most scholars and journalists. They claim that there were 64,000 cases of eugenic sterilization in the United States, but this number does not take into account the sterilizations that took place after 1963. Around this time was when women from different minority groups were singled out for sterilization. If the sterilizations after 1963 are taken into account, the number of eugenic sterilizations in the United States increases to 80,000. Half of these sterilizations took place after World War II. Sterilization still occurs today, in some states, drug addicts can get paid to be sterilized. Eugenic sterilization programs before World War II were mostly conducted on prisoners, or people in mental hospitals. After the war, eugenic sterilization was aimed more towards poor people and minorities. There were even judges who would force people on parole to be sterilized. People supported this revival of eugenic sterilizations because they thought it would help bring an end to some issues, like poverty and mental illness. Supporters also thought that these programs would save taxpayer money and boost the economy.[70]

In 1972, United States Senate committee testimony brought to light that at least 2,000 involuntary sterilizations had been performed on poor black women without their consent or knowledge.[71] An investigation revealed that the surgeries were all performed in the South, and were all performed on black welfare mothers with multiple children.[71] Testimony revealed that many of these women were threatened with an end to their welfare benefits until they consented to sterilization.[71] These surgeries were instances of sterilization abuse, a term applied to any sterilization performed without the consent or knowledge of the recipient, or in which the recipient is pressured into accepting the surgery. Because the funds used to carry out the surgeries came from the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, the sterilization abuse raised older suspicions, especially amongst the black community, that “federal programs were underwriting eugenicists who wanted to impose their views about population quality on minorities and poor women.”[31]

Native American women were also victims of sterilization abuse up into the 1970s.[72] The organization WARN (Women of All Red Nations) publicized that Native American women were threatened that, if they had more children, they would be denied welfare benefits. The Indian Health Service also repeatedly refused to deliver Native American babies until their mothers, in labor, consented to sterilization. Many Native American women unknowingly gave consent, since directions were not given in their native language. According to the General Accounting Office, an estimate of 3,406 Indian women were sterilized.[72] The General Accounting Office stated that the Indian Health Service had not followed the necessary regulations, and that the “informed consent forms did not adhere to the standards set by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).”[73]

In 2013, it was reported that 148 female prisoners in two California prisons were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 in a supposedly voluntary program, but it was determined that the prisoners did not give consent to the procedures.[74] In September 2014, California enacted Bill SB1135 that bans sterilization in correctional facilities, unless the procedure is required to save an inmate’s life.[75]

Edwin Black wrote that one of the methods that was suggested to get rid of “defective germ-plasm in the human population” was euthanasia.[7] A 1911 Carnegie Institute report explored eighteen methods for removing defective genetic attributes, and method number eight was euthanasia.[7] The most commonly suggested method of euthanasia was to set up local gas chambers.[7] However, many in the eugenics movement did not believe that Americans were ready to implement a large-scale euthanasia program, so many doctors had to find clever ways of subtly implementing eugenic euthanasia in various medical institutions.[7] For example, a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk infected with tuberculosis (reasoning that genetically fit individuals would be resistant), resulting in 3040% annual death rates.[7] Other doctors practiced euthanasia through various forms of lethal neglect.[7]

In the 1930s, there was a wave of portrayals of eugenic “mercy killings” in American film, newspapers, and magazines. In 1931, the Illinois Homeopathic Medicine Association began lobbying for the right to euthanize “imbeciles” and other defectives.[76] The Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.[77]

Overall, however, euthanasia was marginalized in the U.S., motivating people to turn to forced segregation and sterilization programs as a means for keeping the “unfit” from reproducing.[7]

Mary deGormo, a former teacher, was the first person to combine ideas about health and intelligence standards with competitions at state fairs, in the form of baby contests. She developed the first such contest, the “Scientific Baby Contest” for the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport, in 1908. She saw these contests as a contribution to the “social efficiency” movement, which was advocating for the standardization of all aspects of American life as a means of increasing efficiency.[21] DeGarmo was assisted by Doctor Jacob Bodenheimer, a pediatrician who helped her develop grading sheets for contestants, which combined physical measurements with standardized measurements of intelligence.[78]

The contest spread to other U.S. states in the early twentieth century. In Indiana, for example, Ada Estelle Schweitzer, a eugenics advocate and director of the Indiana State Board of Health’s Division of Child and Infant Hygiene, organized and supervised the state’s Better Baby contests at the Indiana State Fair from 1920 to 1932. It was among the fair’s most popular events. During the contest’s first year at the fair, a total of 78 babies were examined; in 1925 the total reached 885. Contestants peaked at 1,301 infants in 1930, and the following year the number of entrants was capped at 1,200. Although the specific impact of the contests was difficult to assess, statistics helped to support Schweitzer’s claims that the contests helped reduce infant mortality.[79]

The intent of the contest was to educate the public about raising healthier children; however, its exclusionary practices reinforced social class and racial discrimination. In Indiana, for example, the contestants were limited to white infants; African American and immigrant children were barred from the competition for ribbons and cash prizes. In addition, the scoring was biased toward white, middle-class babies.[80][81] The contest procedure included recording each child’s health history, as well as evaluations of each contestant’s physical and mental health and overall development using medical professionals. Using a process similar to the one introduced at the Louisiana State Fair, and contest guidelines that the AMA and U.S. Children’s Bureau recommended, scoring for each contestant began with 1,000 points. Deductions were made for defects, including a child’s measurements below a designated average. The contestant with the most points (and the fewest defections) was declared the winner.[82][83][84]

Standardization through scientific judgment was a topic that was very serious in the eyes of the scientific community, but has often been downplayed as just a popular fad or trend. Nevertheless, a lot of time, effort, and money was put into these contests and their scientific backing, which would influence cultural ideas as well as local and state government practices.[85][86]

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People promoted eugenics by hosting “Better Baby” contests and the proceeds would go to its anti-lynching campaign.[13]

First appearing in 1920 at the Kansas Free Fair, Fitter Family competitions, continued all the way up to World War II. Mary T. Watts and Dr. Florence Brown Sherbon,[87][88] both initiators of the Better Baby Contests in Iowa, took the idea of positive eugenics for babies and combined it with a determinist concept of biology to come up with fitter family competitions.[89]

There were several different categories that families were judged in: Size of the family, overall attractiveness, and health of the family, all of which helped to determine the likelihood of having healthy children. These competitions were simply a continuation of the Better Baby contests that promoted certain physical and mental qualities.[90] At the time, it was believed that certain behavioral qualities were inherited from one’s parents. This led to the addition of several judging categories including: generosity, self-sacrificing, and quality of familial bonds. Additionally, there were negative features that were judged: selfishness, jealousy, suspiciousness, high-temperedness, and cruelty. Feeblemindedness, alcoholism, and paralysis were few among other traits that were included as physical traits to be judged when looking at family lineage.[91]

Doctors and specialists from the community would offer their time to judge these competitions, which were originally sponsored by the Red Cross.[91] The winners of these competitions were given a Bronze Medal as well as champion cups called “Capper Medals.” The cups were named after then Governor and Senator, Arthur Capper and he would present them to “Grade A individuals”.[92]

The perks of entering into the contests were that the competitions provided a way for families to get a free health check up by a doctor as well as some of the pride and prestige that came from winning the competitions.[91]

By 1925 the Eugenics Records Office was distributing standardized forms for judging eugenically fit families, which were used in contests in several U.S. states.[93]

Concerns about eugenics arose in the African American community after the implementation of the Negro Project of 1939, which was proposed by Margaret Sanger who was the founder of Planned Parenthood.[94] In this plan, Sanger offered birth control to Black families in the United States to give them the chance to have a better life than what the group had been experiencing in the United States.[95] She also noted that the project was proposed to empower women. The Project often sought after prominent African American leaders to spread knowledge regarding birth control and the perceived positive effects it would have on the African American community, such as poverty and the lack of education.[96] Because of this, Sanger believed that African American ministers in the South would be useful to gain the trust of people within disadvantaged, African American communities as the Church was a pillar within the community.[96] Also, political leaders such as W.E.B. Dubois were quoted in the Project proposal criticizing Black people in the United States for having many children and for being less intelligent than their white counterparts:

… the mass of ignorant Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among Whites, is from that part of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.[95]

Even though The Negro Project received a lot of praise from white leaders and eugenicists of the time, it is important to note that Margaret Sanger wanted to clear concerns that this was not a project to terminate African Americans.[96] To add to the clarification, she received support from prominent African American leaders such as Mary McLeod Bethune and Adam Clayton Powell Jr.[95] These leaders and many more would later serve on the Negro National Advisory Council of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942.

Still, many modern activists criticize Margaret Sanger for practicing eugenics on the African American community. Angela Davis, a leader who is associated with the Black Panther Party, made claims of Margaret Sanger targeting the African American community to reduce the population:

Calling for the recruitment of Black ministers to lead local birth control committees, the Federation’s proposal suggested that Black people should be rendered as vulnerable as possible to their birth control propaganda.[97]

Eugenics has been supported by members of the African American community for a long time.[when?] For example, Dr. Thomas Wyatt Turner, a professor at Howard University and a well respected scientist incorporated eugenics into his classes. The NAACP founder asked his students how eugenics can affect society in a good way in 1915. Eugenics seemed to be[weaselwords] accepted by all kinds of people. W.E.B DuBois, a historian and civil rights leader had some beliefs that lined up with eugenics. He believed in developing the best versions of African Americans in order for his race to succeed. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even received an award from Planned Parenthood in 1966 and in his acceptance speech, given by his wife, King discussed how large families are no longer functional in an urban setting. King claimed that in the cities, African Americans who continued to have children were over populating the ghettos. She continued by saying that having this many unwanted children is a bad problem that needs to be controlled, a belief that aligns with the eugenics movement.[98]

After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals.[7] By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s.[8]

The Rockefeller Foundation helped develop and fund various German eugenics programs,[99] including the one that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.[7]

Upon returning from Germany in 1934, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe bragged to a colleague:

You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought … I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.[7]

Eugenics researcher Harry H. Laughlin often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the 1935 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws.[100] In 1936, Laughlin was invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing”. Due to financial limitations, Laughlin was unable to attend the ceremony and had to pick it up from the Rockefeller Institute. Afterwards, he proudly shared the award with his colleagues, remarking that he felt that it symbolized the “common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics.”[101]

Henry Friedlander wrote that although the German and American eugenics movements were similar, the US did not follow the same slippery slope as Nazi eugenics because American “federalism and political heterogeneity encouraged diversity even with a single movement.” In contrast, the German eugenics movement was more centralized and had fewer diverse ideas.[102] Unlike the American movement, one publication and one society, the German Society for Racial Hygiene, represented all German eugenicists in the early 20th century.[102][103]

After 1945, however, historians began to try to portray the US eugenics movement as distinct and distant from Nazi eugenics.[104] Jon Entine wrote that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution.”[105]

After Hitler’s advanced idea of eugenics, the movement lost its place in society for a bit of time. Although eugenics was not thought about much, aspects like sterilization were still going on, just not at such a public level. Although as technology developed so did the movement, the new technologies made way for genetic engineering. Instead of sterilizing people to ultimately get rid of “undesirable” people, genetic engineering “changes or removes genes to prevent disease or improve the body in some significant way.”[106]

One positive of genetic engineering is its ability to cure and prevent life-threatening diseases. Genetic engineering began in the 1970s, this is when scientists began to clone and engineer genes. From this scientists were able to create human insulin, the first-ever genetically-engineered drug. Because of this development, over the years scientists were able to create new drugs to treat devastating diseases. For example, in the early 1990s, a group of scientists were able to use a gene-drug to treat severe combined immunodeficiency in a little girl. This disease forces victims to live inside a sanitized bubble. Due to the gene therapy, the girl was cured and able to live outside of her plastic bubble.[107] Developments like this are being made constantly because of genetic engineering, however genetic engineering also has many negatives.

One negative of genetic engineering is the practice of eliminating “undesirable traits” within humans and its ethics. This ultimately causes a link between genetic engineering and eugenics. This practice creates many social issues in society. Many people believe using genetic engineering to essentially “perfect” the human race is a damaging practice. For example, with current genetic tests, parents are able to test a fetus for any life-threatening diseases that may impact the child’s life and then choose to abort the baby.[106] The public fears this will cause issues due to the fact that practices like these may be used to eliminate entire groups of people, like the way Hitler used the idea. The basis of Hitler’s movement was to create a superior Aryan race, he wanted to eliminate every other race. While he did not have the genetic engineering technology then, this technology could be used with similar tactics as Hitler with permanent modifications to human germ lines and the ability to terminate a pregnancy that won’t produce the best baby.[108] Genetic engineering can also lead to trait selection and enhancement in embryos. One dilemma with this application is that most genes have an effect on more than one area of the body. For example, there is a gene that deals with memory, when scientists altered this gene to improve memory and learning in mice, it also increased their sensitivity to pain. There is also the issue of whether it is ethical to do such a thing to embryos because they cannot consent to the procedure. This also leads to issues within a socio-economic standpoint. Many people see this as an opportunity for the rich to continue to improve their children when the poor are left to “suffer” with their “undesirable” genes.[109]

The 1978 Federal Sterilization Regulations, created by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare or HEW, (now the United States Department of Health and Human Services) outline a variety of prohibited sterilization practices that were often used previously to coerce or force women into sterilization.[110] These were intended to prevent such eugenics and neo-eugenics as resulted in the involuntary sterilization of large groups of poor and minority women. Such practices include: not conveying to patients that sterilization is permanent and irreversible, in their own language (including the option to end the process or procedure at any time without conceding any future medical attention or federal benefits, the ability to ask any and all questions about the procedure and its ramifications, the requirement that the consent seeker describes the procedure fully including any and all possible discomforts and/or side-effects and any and all benefits of sterilization); failing to provide alternative information about methods of contraception, family planning, or pregnancy termination that are nonpermanent and/or irreversible (this includes abortion); conditioning receiving welfare and/or Medicaid benefits by the individual or his/her children on the individuals “consenting” to permanent sterilization; tying elected abortion to compulsory sterilization (cannot receive a sought out abortion without “consenting” to sterilization); using hysterectomy as sterilization; and subjecting minors and the mentally incompetent to sterilization.[110][67][111] The regulations also include an extension of the informed consent waiting period from 72 hours to 30 days (with a maximum of 180 days between informed consent and the sterilization procedure).[67][110][111]

However, several studies have indicated that the forms are often dense and complex and beyond the literacy aptitude of the average American, and those seeking publicly funded sterilization are more likely to possess below-average literacy skills.[112] High levels of misinformation concerning sterilization still exist among individuals who have already undergone sterilization procedures, with permanence being one of the most common gray factors.[112][113] Additionally, federal enforcement of the requirements of the 1978 Federal Sterilization Regulation is inconsistent and some of the prohibited abuses continue to be pervasive, particularly in underfunded hospitals and lower income patient hospitals and care centers.[67][111]

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Eugenics in the United States – Wikipedia

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”. One person responsible for popularizing the term “libertarian” in this sense 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.

Many 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 (metaphysics) – Wikipedia

Libertarianism is one of the main philosophical positions related to the problems of free will and determinism, which are part of the larger domain of metaphysics.[1] In particular, libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position,[2][3] argues that free will is logically incompatible with a deterministic universe and that agents have free will, and that, therefore, determinism is false.[4] In the early modern period, some of the most important metaphysical libertarians were Ren Descartes, George Berkeley, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Reid.[5] Roderick Chisholm was a prominent defender of libertarianism in the 20th century,[6] and contemporary libertarians include Robert Kane, Peter van Inwagen and Robert Nozick.

The first recorded use of the term “libertarianism” was in 1789 by William Belsham in a discussion of free will and in opposition to “necessitarian” (or determinist) views.[7][8]

Metaphysical libertarianism is one philosophical view point under that of incompatibilism. Libertarianism holds onto a concept of free will that requires the agent to be able to take more than one possible course of action under a given set of circumstances.

Accounts of libertarianism subdivide into non-physical theories and physical or naturalistic theories. Non-physical theories hold that the events in the brain that lead to the performance of actions do not have an entirely physical explanation, and consequently the world is not closed under physics. Such interactionist dualists believe that some non-physical mind, will, or soul overrides physical causality.

Explanations of libertarianism that do not involve dispensing with physicalism require physical indeterminism, such as probabilistic subatomic particle behavior a theory unknown to many of the early writers on free will. Physical determinism, under the assumption of physicalism, implies there is only one possible future and is therefore not compatible with libertarian free will. Some libertarian explanations involve invoking panpsychism, the theory that a quality of mind is associated with all particles, and pervades the entire universe, in both animate and inanimate entities. Other approaches do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe; ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the “elbow room” believed to be necessary by libertarians.

Free volition is regarded as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of indeterminism. An example of this kind of approach has been developed by Robert Kane,[9] where he hypothesises that,

In each case, the indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her realizing one of her purposesa hindrance or obstacle in the form of resistance within her will which has to be overcome by effort.

Although at the time quantum mechanics (and physical indeterminism) was only in the initial stages of acceptance, in his book Miracles: A preliminary study C. S. Lewis stated the logical possibility that if the physical world were proved indeterministic this would provide an entry point to describe an action of a non-physical entity on physical reality.[10] Indeterministic physical models (particularly those involving quantum indeterminacy) introduce random occurrences at an atomic or subatomic level. These events might affect brain activity, and could seemingly allow incompatibilist free will if the apparent indeterminacy of some mental processes (for instance, subjective perceptions of control in conscious volition) map to the underlying indeterminacy of the physical construct. This relationship, however, requires a causative role over probabilities that is questionable,[11] and it is far from established that brain activity responsible for human action can be affected by such events. Secondarily, these incompatibilist models are dependent upon the relationship between action and conscious volition, as studied in the neuroscience of free will. It is evident that observation may disturb the outcome of the observation itself, rendering limited our ability to identify causality.[12] Niels Bohr, one of the main architects of quantum theory, suggested, however, that no connection could be made between indeterminism of nature and freedom of will.[13]

In non-physical theories of free will, agents are assumed power to intervene in the physical world, a view known as agent causation.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] Proponents of agent causation include George Berkeley,[22] Thomas Reid,[23] and Roderick Chisholm.[24]

Most events can be explained as the effects of prior events. When a tree falls, it does so because of the force of the wind, its own structural weakness, and so on. However, when a person performs a free act, agent causation theorists say that the action was not caused by any other events or states of affairs, but rather was caused by the agent. Agent causation is ontologically separate from event causation. The action was not uncaused, because the agent caused it. But the agent’s causing it was not determined by the agent’s character, desires, or past, since that would just be event causation.[25] As Chisholm explains it, humans have “a prerogative which some would attribute only to God: each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen, and nothing or no one causes us to cause those events to happen.”[26]

This theory involves a difficulty which has long been associated with the idea of an unmoved mover. If a free action was not caused by any event, such as a change in the agent or an act of the will, then what is the difference between saying that an agent caused the event and simply saying that the event happened on its own? As William James put it, “If a ‘free’ act be a sheer novelty, that comes not from me, the previous me, but ex nihilo, and simply tacks itself on to me, how can I, the previous I, be responsible? How can I have any permanent character that will stand still long enough for praise or blame to be awarded?”[27]

Agent causation advocates respond that agent causation is actually more intuitive than event causation. They point to David Hume’s argument that when we see two events happen in succession, our belief that one event caused the other cannot be justified rationally (known as the problem of induction). If that is so, where does our belief in causality come from? According to Thomas Reid, “the conception of an efficient cause may very probably be derived from the experience we have had…of our own power to produce certain effects.”[28] Our everyday experiences of agent causation provide the basis for the idea of event causation.[29]

Event-causal accounts of incompatibilist free will typically rely upon physicalist models of mind (like those of the compatibilist), yet they presuppose physical indeterminism, in which certain indeterministic events are said to be caused by the agent. A number of event-causal accounts of free will have been created, referenced here as deliberative indeterminism, centred accounts, and efforts of will theory.[30] The first two accounts do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe. Ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the “elbow room” that libertarians believe necessary. A first common objection to event-causal accounts is that the indeterminism could be destructive and could therefore diminish control by the agent rather than provide it (related to the problem of origination). A second common objection to these models is that it is questionable whether such indeterminism could add any value to deliberation over that which is already present in a deterministic world.

Deliberative indeterminism asserts that the indeterminism is confined to an earlier stage in the decision process.[31][32] This is intended to provide an indeterminate set of possibilities to choose from, while not risking the introduction of luck (random decision making). The selection process is deterministic, although it may be based on earlier preferences established by the same process. Deliberative indeterminism has been referenced by Daniel Dennett[33] and John Martin Fischer.[34] An obvious objection to such a view is that an agent cannot be assigned ownership over their decisions (or preferences used to make those decisions) to any greater degree than that of a compatibilist model.

Centred accounts propose that for any given decision between two possibilities, the strength of reason will be considered for each option, yet there is still a probability the weaker candidate will be chosen.[35][36][37][38][39][40][41] An obvious objection to such a view is that decisions are explicitly left up to chance, and origination or responsibility cannot be assigned for any given decision.

Efforts of will theory is related to the role of will power in decision making. It suggests that the indeterminacy of agent volition processes could map to the indeterminacy of certain physical events and the outcomes of these events could therefore be considered caused by the agent. Models of volition have been constructed in which it is seen as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of physical indeterminism. An example of this approach is that of Robert Kane, where he hypothesizes that “in each case, the indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her realizing one of her purposes a hindrance or obstacle in the form of resistance within her will which must be overcome by effort.”[9] According to Robert Kane such “ultimate responsibility” is a required condition for free will.[42] An important factor in such a theory is that the agent cannot be reduced to physical neuronal events, but rather mental processes are said to provide an equally valid account of the determination of outcome as their physical processes (see non-reductive physicalism).

Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher, argued that as atoms moved through the void, there were occasions when they would “swerve” (clinamen) from their otherwise determined paths, thus initiating new causal chains. Epicurus argued that these swerves would allow us to be more responsible for our actions, something impossible if every action was deterministically caused.

Epicurus did not say the swerve was directly involved in decisions. But following Aristotle, Epicurus thought human agents have the autonomous ability to transcend necessity and chance (both of which destroy responsibility), so that praise and blame are appropriate. Epicurus finds a tertium quid, beyond necessity (Democritus’ physics) and beyond chance. His tertium quid is agent autonomy, what is “up to us.”

…some things happen of necessity (), others by chance (), others through our own agency ( ).

…necessity destroys responsibility and chance is inconstant; whereas our own actions are autonomous, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach.[43]

Lucretius (1st century BC), a strong supporter of Epicurus, saw the randomness as enabling free will, even if he could not explain exactly how, beyond the fact that random swerves would break the causal chain of determinism.

Again, if all motion is always one long chain, and new motion arises out of the old in order invariable, and if the first-beginnings do not make by swerving a beginning of motion such as to break the decrees of fate, that cause may not follow cause from infinity, whence comes this freedom (libera) in living creatures all over the earth, whence I say is this will (voluntas) wrested from the fates by which we proceed whither pleasure leads each, swerving also our motions not at fixed times and fixed places, but just where our mind has taken us? For undoubtedly it is his own will in each that begins these things, and from the will movements go rippling through the limbs.

However, the interpretation of Greek philosophers is controversial. Tim O’Keefe has argued that Epicurus and Lucretius were not libertarians at all, but compatibilists.[44]

Robert Nozick put forward an indeterministic theory of free will in Philosophical Explanations (1981).[45]

When human beings become agents through reflexive self-awareness, they express their agency by having reasons for acting, to which they assign weights. Choosing the dimensions of one’s identity is a special case, in which the assigning of weight to a dimension is partly self-constitutive. But all acting for reasons is constitutive of the self in a broader sense, namely, by its shaping one’s character and personality in a manner analogous to the shaping that law undergoes through the precedent set by earlier court decisions. Just as a judge does not merely apply the law but to some degree makes it through judicial discretion, so too a person does not merely discover weights but assigns them; one not only weighs reasons but also weights them. Set in train is a process of building a framework for future decisions that we are tentatively committed to.

The lifelong process of self-definition in this broader sense is construed indeterministically by Nozick. The weighting is “up to us” in the sense that it is undetermined by antecedent causal factors, even though subsequent action is fully caused by the reasons one has accepted. He compares assigning weights in this deterministic sense to “the currently orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics”, following von Neumann in understanding a quantum mechanical system as in a superposition or probability mixture of states, which changes continuously in accordance with quantum mechanical equations of motion and discontinuously via measurement or observation that “collapses the wave packet” from a superposition to a particular state. Analogously, a person before decision has reasons without fixed weights: he is in a superposition of weights. The process of decision reduces the superposition to a particular state that causes action.

One particularly influential contemporary theory of libertarian free will is that of Robert Kane.[30][46][47] Kane argues that “(1) the existence of alternative possibilities (or the agent’s power to do otherwise) is a necessary condition for acting freely, and that (2) determinism is not compatible with alternative possibilities (it precludes the power to do otherwise)”.[48] It is important to note that the crux of Kane’s position is grounded not in a defense of alternative possibilities (AP) but in the notion of what Kane refers to as ultimate responsibility (UR). Thus, AP is a necessary but insufficient criterion for free will.[49] It is necessary that there be (metaphysically) real alternatives for our actions, but that is not enough; our actions could be random without being in our control. The control is found in “ultimate responsibility”.

Ultimate responsibility entails that agents must be the ultimate creators (or originators) and sustainers of their own ends and purposes. There must be more than one way for a person’s life to turn out (AP). More importantly, whichever way it turns out must be based in the person’s willing actions. As Kane defines it,

UR: An agent is ultimately responsible for some (event or state) E’s occurring only if (R) the agent is personally responsible for E’s occurring in a sense which entails that something the agent voluntarily (or willingly) did or omitted either was, or causally contributed to, E’s occurrence and made a difference to whether or not E occurred; and (U) for every X and Y (where X and Y represent occurrences of events and/or states) if the agent is personally responsible for X and if Y is an arche (sufficient condition, cause or motive) for X, then the agent must also be personally responsible for Y.

In short, “an agent must be responsible for anything that is a sufficient reason (condition, cause or motive) for the action’s occurring.”[50]

What allows for ultimacy of creation in Kane’s picture are what he refers to as “self-forming actions” or SFAsthose moments of indecision during which people experience conflicting wills. These SFAs are the undetermined, regress-stopping voluntary actions or refraining in the life histories of agents that are required for UR. UR does not require that every act done of our own free will be undetermined and thus that, for every act or choice, we could have done otherwise; it requires only that certain of our choices and actions be undetermined (and thus that we could have done otherwise), namely SFAs. These form our character or nature; they inform our future choices, reasons and motivations in action. If a person has had the opportunity to make a character-forming decision (SFA), they are responsible for the actions that are a result of their character.

Randolph Clarke objects that Kane’s depiction of free will is not truly libertarian but rather a form of compatibilism. The objection asserts that although the outcome of an SFA is not determined, one’s history up to the event is; so the fact that an SFA will occur is also determined. The outcome of the SFA is based on chance, and from that point on one’s life is determined. This kind of freedom, says Clarke, is no different than the kind of freedom argued for by compatibilists, who assert that even though our actions are determined, they are free because they are in accordance with our own wills, much like the outcome of an SFA.[51]

Kane responds that the difference between causal indeterminism and compatibilism is “ultimate controlthe originative control exercised by agents when it is ‘up to them’ which of a set of possible choices or actions will now occur, and up to no one and nothing else over which the agents themselves do not also have control”.[52] UR assures that the sufficient conditions for one’s actions do not lie before one’s own birth.

Galen Strawson holds that there is a fundamental sense in which free will is impossible, whether determinism is true or not. He argues for this position with what he calls his “basic argument”, which aims to show that no-one is ever ultimately morally responsible for their actions, and hence that no one has free will in the sense that usually concerns us.

In his book defending compatibilism, Freedom Evolves, Daniel Dennett spends a chapter criticising Kane’s theory.[53] Kane believes freedom is based on certain rare and exceptional events, which he calls self-forming actions or SFA’s. Dennett notes that there is no guarantee such an event will occur in an individual’s life. If it does not, the individual does not in fact have free will at all, according to Kane. Yet they will seem the same as anyone else. Dennett finds an essentially indetectable notion of free will to be incredible.

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Libertarianism (metaphysics) – Wikipedia

Introduction to Political Philosophy | A Libertarianism …

Most political debate is superficial. If you want superficial debate, you need only turn on cable news. Political philosophy is for people who want to understand and debate the deep questions.

People debate whether its more just for the rich to pay a 40% or 38% marginal tax rate. They rarely ask the deeper questions: Why should we be forced to pay taxes at all?

People debate whether we should speed up the process for immigrants to become nationalized, or how many skilled immigrants we should allow in. They rarely ask the deeper questions: Why should we divide the world into nation-states with strict territorial borders in the first place? If I want to hire a Haitian to clean my house, why should the rest of you be allowed to stop me?

People debate whether congressional districts are gerrymandered or whether voters should be required to show ID. They rarely ask the deeper questions: Why should our fellow citizensmost of whom know nothing or less than nothing about politicsget to decide who gets to lead the country? Why not instead, say, limit the right to vote to people who can pass the US citizenship exam, or who show a basic understanding of economics and history?

People debate whether a too-big-to-fail corporation should get a bail out. They debate whether a local government should use its power of eminent domain to transfer land from poor people to General Motors. They rarely ask the deeper questions: Why should we allow limited-liability corporations to exist in the first place? Why should anyone be able to claim land as her own? Why not instead hold that the world and all its resources belong to all us equally?

People debate whether the American police are too brutal and violent, and what can be done to make the police force more civil. But they rarely ask the deeper questions: Why should we create governments in the first place? A government claims a monopoly on the use of violence to create and enforce rules. If it would be bad for, say, Walmart or Target to become monopolies, why would we want a monopoly on the coercive power? Why shouldnt I be allowed to choose which police force will protect me, just as I can choose where to shop for clothes or food?

Political philosophy is the branch of philosophy that asks and attempts to answer these deeper questions. There are many other questions: Which matters more, individuals or the community as a whole? What kind of government, if any, ought we have, and what should it be permitted and forbidden to do? Do we have any moral obligation to obey our governments laws and commands? What rights do people have, and why? Should be people be allowed to own private property? If they dont have enough property to live well, should the government provide it through tax-funded welfare programs? Should people be free to choose what to eat, how to live, what to worship, what to say, or on what terms they will work? Is it important that everyone have equal opportunity to succeed? Should we make sure everyone ends up equally successful? Should people be allowed to emigrate freely? When, if ever, is war justifiable? Whats more important, liberty or equality? And what exactly is liberty, anyways? Of all the ways people could be equal, which, if any, matter from the standpoint of justice?

We manage to live together peacefully (more or less) because we accept and live by commonly accepted rules. I dont show up at your house to drink your beer, and you dont snatch my car out of the parking lot. When we come to a four-way stop sign, we all know what to do. I dont tell you not to let your kids play Minecraft, and you dont forbid me from letting mine have ice cream. You dont force me to attend your church, and I dont force you to stay away from yours.

Our lives are governed by many such rules, most of which we rarely notice or think about. Economists refer to the various rules of social life as institutions. Institutions are the rules of the game that structure our lives together. For example, if you think about it, democracy and monarchy are really a set of rules about who gets to make the rules. The institution of marriage is a set of rules about how to allocate and control property, children, and sex. The institution of private property is a set of rules about who gets to use, modify, trade, and destroy various external goods.

The main goal of political philosophy is to determine the standards by which to judge different institutions good or bad, just or unjust.

Some people might think they dont have much need of political philosophy: Who cares about wishy-washy obtuse notions of justice? Im a pragmatist. I just want to know what works.

But this isnt a way of avoiding political philosophy; its a way of being dogmatic about it. After all, before we can just do what works, we have to know what counts as working. I look at a system in which both the poor and the rich are getting richer and think, Its working! A friend looks at that same system, sees the income gap between the poor and rich growing, and thinks, Its not working. We can both pound the table and call ourselves pragmatists. But at the end of the day, were divided not by our lack of pragmatism, but by our different political philosophies.

John Rawls, an eminent twentieth-century political philosopher, Rawls says that theories of justice are about assigning the rights and duties and determining the proper distribution of benefits and burdens of social cooperation.1 What make different political philosophies distinct from one another is what rights and duties they think people ought to have, what principles they think determine the proper distribution of benefits and burdens ought to be, and most fundamentally, what they regard as a society.

The purpose of this primer in political philosophy is to introduce you to some of the major theories of justice, to see some of the arguments philosophers have adduced for and against these theories, and, ultimately, to help you be more thoughtful and rigorous in your own thinking. My goal is to supply you with questions more so than answers.

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Introduction to Political Philosophy | A Libertarianism …

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

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”. One person responsible for popularizing the term “libertarian” in this sense 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.

Many 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 …

Introduction to Libertarianism | A Libertarianism.org Guide

Libertarianism is the philosophy of freedom.

Its not easy to define freedom. The author Leonard Read said, Freedom is the absence of man-concocted restraints against the release of creative energy. The Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek referred to a state in which each can use his knowledge for his purpose and also to the possibility of a persons acting according to his own decisions and plans, in contrast to the position of one who was irrevocably subject to the will of another, who by arbitrary decision could coerce him to act or not to act in specific ways. Perhaps its best to understand freedom as the absence of physical force or the threat of physical force. John Locke offered this definition of freedom under the rule of law:

[T]he end of Law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge Freedom: For in all the states of created beings capable of Laws, where there is no Law, there is no Freedom. For Liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others which cannot be, where there is no Law: But Freedom is not, as we are told, A Liberty for every Man to do what he lists: (For who could be free, when every other Mans Humour might domineer over him?) But a Liberty to dispose, and order, as he lists, his Persons, Actions, Possessions, and his whole Property, within the Allowance of those Laws under which he is; and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary Will of another, but freely follow his own.

That is, a free person is not subject to the arbitrary will of another and is free to do as he chooses with his own person and property. But you can only have those freedoms when the law protects your freedom and everyone elses.

However we define freedom, we can certainly recognize aspects of it. Freedom means respecting the moral autonomy of each person, seeing each person as the owner of his or her own life, and each free to make the important decisions about his life.

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 propertyrights that people possess naturally, before governments are instituted. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used forceactions such as murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.

Libertarians believe in the presumption of liberty. That is, libertarians believe people ought to be free to live as they choose unless advocates of coercion can make a compelling case. Its the exercise of power, not the exercise of freedom, that requires justification. The burden of proof ought to be on those who want to limit our freedom.

The presumption of liberty should be as strong as the presumption of innocence in a criminal trial, for the same reason. Just as you cant prove your innocence of all possible charges against you, you cannot justify all of the ways in which you should be allowed to act. James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution, said in response to a proposal that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution: Enumerate all the rights of man! I am sure, sirs, that no gentleman in the late Convention would have attempted such a thing.

Why do libertarians value freedom? There are many reasons.

Freedom allows each of us to define the meaning of life, to define whats important to us. Each of us should be free to think, to speak, to write, to paint, to create, to marry, to eat and drink and smoke, to start and run a business, to associate with others as we choose. When we are free, we can construct our lives as we see fit. Freedom is part of whats needed to lead a full human life.

Freedom leads to social harmony. We have less conflict when we have fewer specific commands and prohibitions about how we should livein terms of class or caste, religion, dress, lifestyle, or schools.

Economic freedom means that people are free to produce and to exchange with others. Freely negotiated and agreed-upon prices carry information throughout the economy about what people want and what can be done more efficiently. For an economic order to function, prices must be free to tell the truth. A free economy gives people incentives to invent, innovate, and produce more goods and services for the whole society. That means more satisfaction of more wants, more economic growth, and a higher standard of living for everyone.

A political system of liberty gives us the opportunity to use our talents and to cooperate with others to create and produce, with the help of a few simple institutions that protect our rights. And those simple institutionsproperty rights, the rule of law, a prohibition on the initiation of forcemake possible invention, innovation, and progress in commerce, technology, and styles of living.

In barely 250 years of having widespread economic freedom, weve escaped from the back-breaking labor and short life expectancy that were the natural lot of mankind since time immemorial to the abundance we see around us today in more and more parts of the worldthough not yet enough of the world.

What does valuing freedom mean for the libertarian view of government?

For libertarians, the basic political issue is the relationship of the individual to the state. What rights do individuals have (if any)? What form of government (if any) will best protect those rights? What powers should government have? What demands may individuals make on one another through the mechanism of government?

We try to discover the rules that govern the world, and rules that will enable us all to live together and realize those wonderful rights in the Declaration of Independencelife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The worst governments are tyrannical predators; the best embody attempts at providing the framework of rules we need to live together.

We know who and what government is. It isnt some Platonic ideal. Government is people, specifically people using force against other people. We need some method to constrain and punish the violent, the thieves and fraudsters, and other dangers to our freedom, our rights, and our security. But that shouldnt eliminate our skepticism about empowering some people to use force against others. The power that government holds is wielded by real people, not ideal people, and real people are imperfect. Some are corrupt, some are even evil. Some of the worst are actually attracted to state power. But even the well-intentioned, the honest, and the wise are still just people exercising power over other people.

Thats why Americans have always feared the concentration of power. Its why I often say that Smokey the Bears rules for fire safety apply to government: Keep it small, keep it in a confined area, and keep an eye on it.

Libertarians, as the name implies, believe that the most important political value is liberty, not democracy. Many modern readers may wonder, whats the difference? Arent liberty and democracy the same thing?

Theyre not. Much of the confusion stems from two different senses of the word liberty, a distinction notably explored by the nineteenth-century French libertarian Benjamin Constant in an essay titled The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with That of the Moderns. Constant noted that to the ancient Greek writers the idea of liberty meant the right to participate in public life, in making decisions for the entire community. Thus Athens was a free polity because all the citizensthat is, all the free, adult, Athenian mencould go to the public square and participate in the decision-making process. Socrates, indeed, was free because he could participate in the collective decision to execute him for his heretical opinions. The modern concept of liberty, however, emphasizes the right of individuals to live as they choose, to speak and worship freely, to own property, to engage in commerce, to be free from arbitrary arrest or detentionin Constants words, to come and go without permission, and without having to account for their motives and undertakings. A government based on the participation of the governed is a valuable safeguard for individual rights, but liberty itself is the right to make choices and to pursue projects of ones own choosing.

I have attempted to sketch here what it means to be a libertarian. There are many kinds of libertarians, of course. Some are people who might describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, or say they want the government out of my pocketbook and out of my bedroom. Some believe in the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and want the government to remain within the limits of the Constitution. Some just have an instinctive belief in freedom or an instinctive aversion to being told what to do. Some are admirers of Dr. Ron Paul and his son, Senator Rand Paul, and their campaigns against war, government spending, the surveillance state, and the Federal Reserve. Some like the writings of Thomas Jefferson or John Stuart Mill. Some have studied economics. Some have learned from history that governments always seek to expand their size, scope, and power, and must be constrained to preserve freedom. Some have noticed that war, prohibition, cronyism, racial and religious discrimination, protectionism, central planning, welfare, taxes, and government spending have deleterious effects. Some are so radical they think all goods and services could be provided without a state. In this Guide, I welcome all those people to the libertarian cause. When I talk about libertarian ideas, I mean to include the ideas of thinkers from John Locke and Adam Smith to F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Robert Nozick, and Richard Epstein.

The old ideologies have been tried and found wanting. All around usfrom the postcommunist world to the military dictatorships of Africa to the insolvent welfare states of Europe and the Americaswe see the failed legacy of coercion and statism. At the same time we see moves toward libertarian solutions constitutional government in Eastern Europe and South Africa, privatization in Britain and Latin America, democracy and the rule of law in South Korea and Taiwan, the spread of womens rights and gay rights, and economic liberalization in China, India, and even some countries in Africa. Challenges to freedom remain, of course, including the continuing lack of Enlightenment values in much of the world, the unsustainable welfare states in the rich countries and the interests that fight reform, the recurring desire for centralized and top-down political institutions such as the Eurozone, Islamist theocracy, and the spread of populist, antilibertarian responses to social change and economic crisis. Libertarianism offers an alternative to coercive government that should appeal to peaceful, productive people everywhere.

No, a libertarian world wont be a perfect one. There will still be inequality, poverty, crime, corruption, mans inhumanity to man. But unlike the theocratic visionaries, the pie-in-the-sky socialist utopians, or the starry-eyed Mr. Fixits of the New Deal and Great Society, libertarians dont promise you a rose garden. Karl Popper once said that attempts to create heaven on earth invariably produce hell. Libertarianism holds out the goal not of a perfect society but of a better and freer one. It promises a world in which more of the decisions will be made in the right way by the right person: you. The result will be not an end to crime and poverty and inequality but lessoften much lessof most of those things most of the time.

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Introduction to Libertarianism | A Libertarianism.org Guide

Libertarianism (metaphysics) – Wikipedia

Libertarianism is one of the main philosophical positions related to the problems of free will and determinism, which are part of the larger domain of metaphysics.[1] In particular, libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position,[2][3] argues that free will is logically incompatible with a deterministic universe and that agents have free will, and that, therefore, determinism is false.[4] In the early modern period, some of the most important metaphysical libertarians were Ren Descartes, George Berkeley, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Reid.[5] Roderick Chisholm was a prominent defender of libertarianism in the 20th century,[6] and contemporary libertarians include Robert Kane, Peter van Inwagen and Robert Nozick.

The first recorded use of the term “libertarianism” was in 1789 by William Belsham in a discussion of free will and in opposition to “necessitarian” (or determinist) views.[7][8]

Metaphysical libertarianism is one philosophical view point under that of incompatibilism. Libertarianism holds onto a concept of free will that requires the agent to be able to take more than one possible course of action under a given set of circumstances.

Accounts of libertarianism subdivide into non-physical theories and physical or naturalistic theories. Non-physical theories hold that the events in the brain that lead to the performance of actions do not have an entirely physical explanation, and consequently the world is not closed under physics. Such interactionist dualists believe that some non-physical mind, will, or soul overrides physical causality.

Explanations of libertarianism that do not involve dispensing with physicalism require physical indeterminism, such as probabilistic subatomic particle behavior a theory unknown to many of the early writers on free will. Physical determinism, under the assumption of physicalism, implies there is only one possible future and is therefore not compatible with libertarian free will. Some libertarian explanations involve invoking panpsychism, the theory that a quality of mind is associated with all particles, and pervades the entire universe, in both animate and inanimate entities. Other approaches do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe; ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the “elbow room” believed to be necessary by libertarians.

Free volition is regarded as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of indeterminism. An example of this kind of approach has been developed by Robert Kane,[9] where he hypothesises that,

In each case, the indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her realizing one of her purposesa hindrance or obstacle in the form of resistance within her will which has to be overcome by effort.

Although at the time quantum mechanics (and physical indeterminism) was only in the initial stages of acceptance, in his book Miracles: A preliminary study C. S. Lewis stated the logical possibility that if the physical world were proved indeterministic this would provide an entry point to describe an action of a non-physical entity on physical reality.[10] Indeterministic physical models (particularly those involving quantum indeterminacy) introduce random occurrences at an atomic or subatomic level. These events might affect brain activity, and could seemingly allow incompatibilist free will if the apparent indeterminacy of some mental processes (for instance, subjective perceptions of control in conscious volition) map to the underlying indeterminacy of the physical construct. This relationship, however, requires a causative role over probabilities that is questionable,[11] and it is far from established that brain activity responsible for human action can be affected by such events. Secondarily, these incompatibilist models are dependent upon the relationship between action and conscious volition, as studied in the neuroscience of free will. It is evident that observation may disturb the outcome of the observation itself, rendering limited our ability to identify causality.[12] Niels Bohr, one of the main architects of quantum theory, suggested, however, that no connection could be made between indeterminism of nature and freedom of will.[13]

In non-physical theories of free will, agents are assumed power to intervene in the physical world, a view known as agent causation.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] Proponents of agent causation include George Berkeley,[22] Thomas Reid,[23] and Roderick Chisholm.[24]

Most events can be explained as the effects of prior events. When a tree falls, it does so because of the force of the wind, its own structural weakness, and so on. However, when a person performs a free act, agent causation theorists say that the action was not caused by any other events or states of affairs, but rather was caused by the agent. Agent causation is ontologically separate from event causation. The action was not uncaused, because the agent caused it. But the agent’s causing it was not determined by the agent’s character, desires, or past, since that would just be event causation.[25] As Chisholm explains it, humans have “a prerogative which some would attribute only to God: each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen, and nothing or no one causes us to cause those events to happen.”[26]

This theory involves a difficulty which has long been associated with the idea of an unmoved mover. If a free action was not caused by any event, such as a change in the agent or an act of the will, then what is the difference between saying that an agent caused the event and simply saying that the event happened on its own? As William James put it, “If a ‘free’ act be a sheer novelty, that comes not from me, the previous me, but ex nihilo, and simply tacks itself on to me, how can I, the previous I, be responsible? How can I have any permanent character that will stand still long enough for praise or blame to be awarded?”[27]

Agent causation advocates respond that agent causation is actually more intuitive than event causation. They point to David Hume’s argument that when we see two events happen in succession, our belief that one event caused the other cannot be justified rationally (known as the problem of induction). If that is so, where does our belief in causality come from? According to Thomas Reid, “the conception of an efficient cause may very probably be derived from the experience we have had…of our own power to produce certain effects.”[28] Our everyday experiences of agent causation provide the basis for the idea of event causation.[29]

Event-causal accounts of incompatibilist free will typically rely upon physicalist models of mind (like those of the compatibilist), yet they presuppose physical indeterminism, in which certain indeterministic events are said to be caused by the agent. A number of event-causal accounts of free will have been created, referenced here as deliberative indeterminism, centred accounts, and efforts of will theory.[30] The first two accounts do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe. Ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the “elbow room” that libertarians believe necessary. A first common objection to event-causal accounts is that the indeterminism could be destructive and could therefore diminish control by the agent rather than provide it (related to the problem of origination). A second common objection to these models is that it is questionable whether such indeterminism could add any value to deliberation over that which is already present in a deterministic world.

Deliberative indeterminism asserts that the indeterminism is confined to an earlier stage in the decision process.[31][32] This is intended to provide an indeterminate set of possibilities to choose from, while not risking the introduction of luck (random decision making). The selection process is deterministic, although it may be based on earlier preferences established by the same process. Deliberative indeterminism has been referenced by Daniel Dennett[33] and John Martin Fischer.[34] An obvious objection to such a view is that an agent cannot be assigned ownership over their decisions (or preferences used to make those decisions) to any greater degree than that of a compatibilist model.

Centred accounts propose that for any given decision between two possibilities, the strength of reason will be considered for each option, yet there is still a probability the weaker candidate will be chosen.[35][36][37][38][39][40][41] An obvious objection to such a view is that decisions are explicitly left up to chance, and origination or responsibility cannot be assigned for any given decision.

Efforts of will theory is related to the role of will power in decision making. It suggests that the indeterminacy of agent volition processes could map to the indeterminacy of certain physical events and the outcomes of these events could therefore be considered caused by the agent. Models of volition have been constructed in which it is seen as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of physical indeterminism. An example of this approach is that of Robert Kane, where he hypothesizes that “in each case, the indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her realizing one of her purposes a hindrance or obstacle in the form of resistance within her will which must be overcome by effort.”[9] According to Robert Kane such “ultimate responsibility” is a required condition for free will.[42] An important factor in such a theory is that the agent cannot be reduced to physical neuronal events, but rather mental processes are said to provide an equally valid account of the determination of outcome as their physical processes (see non-reductive physicalism).

Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher, argued that as atoms moved through the void, there were occasions when they would “swerve” (clinamen) from their otherwise determined paths, thus initiating new causal chains. Epicurus argued that these swerves would allow us to be more responsible for our actions, something impossible if every action was deterministically caused.

Epicurus did not say the swerve was directly involved in decisions. But following Aristotle, Epicurus thought human agents have the autonomous ability to transcend necessity and chance (both of which destroy responsibility), so that praise and blame are appropriate. Epicurus finds a tertium quid, beyond necessity (Democritus’ physics) and beyond chance. His tertium quid is agent autonomy, what is “up to us.”

…some things happen of necessity (), others by chance (), others through our own agency ( ).

…necessity destroys responsibility and chance is inconstant; whereas our own actions are autonomous, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach.[43]

Lucretius (1st century BC), a strong supporter of Epicurus, saw the randomness as enabling free will, even if he could not explain exactly how, beyond the fact that random swerves would break the causal chain of determinism.

Again, if all motion is always one long chain, and new motion arises out of the old in order invariable, and if the first-beginnings do not make by swerving a beginning of motion such as to break the decrees of fate, that cause may not follow cause from infinity, whence comes this freedom (libera) in living creatures all over the earth, whence I say is this will (voluntas) wrested from the fates by which we proceed whither pleasure leads each, swerving also our motions not at fixed times and fixed places, but just where our mind has taken us? For undoubtedly it is his own will in each that begins these things, and from the will movements go rippling through the limbs.

However, the interpretation of Greek philosophers is controversial. Tim O’Keefe has argued that Epicurus and Lucretius were not libertarians at all, but compatibilists.[44]

Robert Nozick put forward an indeterministic theory of free will in Philosophical Explanations (1981).[45]

When human beings become agents through reflexive self-awareness, they express their agency by having reasons for acting, to which they assign weights. Choosing the dimensions of one’s identity is a special case, in which the assigning of weight to a dimension is partly self-constitutive. But all acting for reasons is constitutive of the self in a broader sense, namely, by its shaping one’s character and personality in a manner analogous to the shaping that law undergoes through the precedent set by earlier court decisions. Just as a judge does not merely apply the law but to some degree makes it through judicial discretion, so too a person does not merely discover weights but assigns them; one not only weighs reasons but also weights them. Set in train is a process of building a framework for future decisions that we are tentatively committed to.

The lifelong process of self-definition in this broader sense is construed indeterministically by Nozick. The weighting is “up to us” in the sense that it is undetermined by antecedent causal factors, even though subsequent action is fully caused by the reasons one has accepted. He compares assigning weights in this deterministic sense to “the currently orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics”, following von Neumann in understanding a quantum mechanical system as in a superposition or probability mixture of states, which changes continuously in accordance with quantum mechanical equations of motion and discontinuously via measurement or observation that “collapses the wave packet” from a superposition to a particular state. Analogously, a person before decision has reasons without fixed weights: he is in a superposition of weights. The process of decision reduces the superposition to a particular state that causes action.

One particularly influential contemporary theory of libertarian free will is that of Robert Kane.[30][46][47] Kane argues that “(1) the existence of alternative possibilities (or the agent’s power to do otherwise) is a necessary condition for acting freely, and that (2) determinism is not compatible with alternative possibilities (it precludes the power to do otherwise)”.[48] It is important to note that the crux of Kane’s position is grounded not in a defense of alternative possibilities (AP) but in the notion of what Kane refers to as ultimate responsibility (UR). Thus, AP is a necessary but insufficient criterion for free will.[49] It is necessary that there be (metaphysically) real alternatives for our actions, but that is not enough; our actions could be random without being in our control. The control is found in “ultimate responsibility”.

Ultimate responsibility entails that agents must be the ultimate creators (or originators) and sustainers of their own ends and purposes. There must be more than one way for a person’s life to turn out (AP). More importantly, whichever way it turns out must be based in the person’s willing actions. As Kane defines it,

UR: An agent is ultimately responsible for some (event or state) E’s occurring only if (R) the agent is personally responsible for E’s occurring in a sense which entails that something the agent voluntarily (or willingly) did or omitted either was, or causally contributed to, E’s occurrence and made a difference to whether or not E occurred; and (U) for every X and Y (where X and Y represent occurrences of events and/or states) if the agent is personally responsible for X and if Y is an arche (sufficient condition, cause or motive) for X, then the agent must also be personally responsible for Y.

In short, “an agent must be responsible for anything that is a sufficient reason (condition, cause or motive) for the action’s occurring.”[50]

What allows for ultimacy of creation in Kane’s picture are what he refers to as “self-forming actions” or SFAsthose moments of indecision during which people experience conflicting wills. These SFAs are the undetermined, regress-stopping voluntary actions or refraining in the life histories of agents that are required for UR. UR does not require that every act done of our own free will be undetermined and thus that, for every act or choice, we could have done otherwise; it requires only that certain of our choices and actions be undetermined (and thus that we could have done otherwise), namely SFAs. These form our character or nature; they inform our future choices, reasons and motivations in action. If a person has had the opportunity to make a character-forming decision (SFA), they are responsible for the actions that are a result of their character.

Randolph Clarke objects that Kane’s depiction of free will is not truly libertarian but rather a form of compatibilism. The objection asserts that although the outcome of an SFA is not determined, one’s history up to the event is; so the fact that an SFA will occur is also determined. The outcome of the SFA is based on chance, and from that point on one’s life is determined. This kind of freedom, says Clarke, is no different than the kind of freedom argued for by compatibilists, who assert that even though our actions are determined, they are free because they are in accordance with our own wills, much like the outcome of an SFA.[51]

Kane responds that the difference between causal indeterminism and compatibilism is “ultimate controlthe originative control exercised by agents when it is ‘up to them’ which of a set of possible choices or actions will now occur, and up to no one and nothing else over which the agents themselves do not also have control”.[52] UR assures that the sufficient conditions for one’s actions do not lie before one’s own birth.

Galen Strawson holds that there is a fundamental sense in which free will is impossible, whether determinism is true or not. He argues for this position with what he calls his “basic argument”, which aims to show that no-one is ever ultimately morally responsible for their actions, and hence that no one has free will in the sense that usually concerns us.

In his book defending compatibilism, Freedom Evolves, Daniel Dennett spends a chapter criticising Kane’s theory.[53] Kane believes freedom is based on certain rare and exceptional events, which he calls self-forming actions or SFA’s. Dennett notes that there is no guarantee such an event will occur in an individual’s life. If it does not, the individual does not in fact have free will at all, according to Kane. Yet they will seem the same as anyone else. Dennett finds an essentially indetectable notion of free will to be incredible.

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Libertarianism (metaphysics) – Wikipedia


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